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“Brute Facts” vs. “Sufficient Reasons”

The metaphysical principle that every thing must have a sufficient reason for its being or coming-to-be is challenged by those who claim that some “brute facts” exist, that is, things for which there are simply no reasons at all.

The opponents of sufficient reason’s universality claim that science works quite well by finding reasons for many things, even though we allow that one thing or some things might turn out just to be “brute facts,” that is, things without a reason. But that is to ignore valid logic.

Even a single exception to a rule refutes the rule, since it is now always possible that the next thing encountered will be another “exception.” Moreover, it simply isn’t how science or the human mind actually works.

Does anyone seriously suggest that the driving force behind modern science is not the effort to “unlock the secrets of the universe?” Why not say that the whole of physical reality is just a bunch of “brute facts,” and then forget it all?

The incontestable history of science has been to probe ever deeper understanding of cosmic mysteries – from the “aether puzzle” of the Michelson-Morley experiments to the orbital oddities of Mercury to the  present conflict between quantum mechanics and relativity theory. Since when have scientists been heard to say, “We give up! Maybe it is just a bunch of brute facts,” and then end their enquiries? Rather, they are frustrated at their inability to find answers beyond the latest frontiers of knowledge, while relevantly, they still cannot resist asking, “Why?”

If scientists did not hold the universal conviction that phenomena reveal the underlying reasons that manifest themselves through those phenomena, they would not even bother making observations at all.

Thomism, common sense, and natural science concur in seeking reasons for all things. Certain atheists, though, seem obsessed with vacating the scientific quest for reasons when it comes to why the universe as a whole exists – yet, they arbitrarily and illogically seek to protect the demand for reasons as they are needed for the rest of science. This is totally illogical and a case of special pleading, since they refuse to see that they have allegedly already ruined the intellectual foundations for their beloved science.

Why should it bother anyone if claims are not fully intelligible and logically coherent?  Atheists steeped in scientism are very much into logical demonstrations. But, that is to demand true premises and valid inferences. Premises stand as causes to their conclusions. So skeptics universally demand logical proof for all philosophical claims – except, of course, for their claim that something “just is” without a reason.

Still, as Aristotle points out in his Posterior Analytics, logic is ultimately grounded in premises that have no prior premises. No, these are not “brute facts. Rather, logical conclusions ultimately lead back to either self-evident or immediately evident initial premises. If such initial premises ultimately were grounded in irrational, unintelligible “brute facts,” why bother with all the pretense of pursuing the strictly rational and logical steps leading back to them?

Some statements are self-evident because their denial would be self-contradictory. But this presupposes the metaphysical principle of non-contradiction. Why are even scientistic atheists so sure of the truth of that principle that they apply it universally with logical rigor? Is it just an irrational “brute fact” that has no reason to be true? If that were the case, it would be worthless for either logic or common sense. Clearly, this metaphysical first principle is grounded in a philosophical birthplace quite foreign to “scientific verification.”

More importantly, what of those statements that are “immediately evident?” Are they not “brute facts?” For those who are not willfully blind to the reality of immediate experience, consider the immediately-given fact of motion or change. Is that merely a “brute fact,” concerning which nothing further can be known? Amazingly, some of those who affirm the existence of “brute facts” actually take the philosophically absurd position that change or motion is impossible! In so doing, they employ a highly convoluted process of reasoning that contradicts an undeniable given of the very starting point of human knowledge.

Some are so deceived by their own alleged “logic” that they fail to realize that even if the experience of change is purely illusory, hallucinatory, subjective, based solely on mistaken neural patterns, and totally removed from any objective extramental order, it is still real in its own “psychotic,” delusional order. That is because no aspect of immediately experienced being is totally non-being – and the mind immediately recognizes it as something having some kind of changing existence. As such, it constitutes real change or motion, which is immediately evident, and that still must be rationally explained as real, rather than simply denied. The posited illusory experience of becoming itself entails becoming.

Does its property of being immediately evident make change itself a “brute fact?” Not if we can explain it, or if there is a reason for its existence, even if we cannot fully understand it ourselves. Just because motion or change is a first for us in the order of immediate experience does not mean that it is also first in the order of being – since its intelligibility can still be examined and explained.

In his Physics, Aristotle explains motion in terms of potency and act. Skeptics may not agree with his explanation, but the mere fact that one can argue about what constitutes an adequate explanation again points to the ability and need for the human mind to seek intelligible reasons for things.

Why do skeptics demand that philosophical claims be intelligible and logically defensible – and that there be no “holes” in that logic? If they are correct about the existence of “brute facts,” then perhaps claims are simply true without reason and should be accepted on face value.

The fact that those who deny the universality of the principle of sufficient reason universally and absolutely and insistently demand even a single prior premise for claims bespeaks the urgency of the mind’s demand for reasons for all things. It is the same intellectual impulse that makes the mind challenge every philosophical or scientific claim with a firm, “Why?” or, “How do you know this?”

That includes the anti-intellectual claim that something “just is.” Such a claim is a proclamation that being is essentially unintelligible, that there is nothing to understand. But the proper function of the intellect is precisely the opposite. Its natural driving impulse is “to understand.”

Yet, we are told that the very basis of this whole universe – a universe that yields itself to the mind of brilliant scientists with a panorama of intensely complex structures fully amenable to the highly intellectual parsing of sophisticated mathematical physics -- that this complex and highly intelligible universe is really, at its very existential foundation, essentially unintelligible and meaningless. That is what it really means to say that the cosmos “just is.” We are being asked to believe that the cosmos, with all its near-infinitely structured splendor, is, in the last analysis, just the product of some sort of deaf, dumb and blind cosmic “burp.”

We cannot resist the urge to know the “why” of everything – that is, unless we have a reason not to see reasons for everything. It is always possible to say things that, in practice, we don’t really believe or live by.

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that involves a loss of contact with reality.” What makes psychosis an “abnormal” condition is that the normal human mind does stay in contact with reality.

If the human mind cannot resist searching for the reasons for everything, including the universe itself, how could it be that out of contact with the way reality really works, without us having to conclude that we are all psychotic? Conversely, since, by definition the entire human race cannot be abnormal or psychotic, it must be that the natural tendency of the human mind to demand reasons for all things is grounded in its natural ability to see the implications of the concept of being itself – the same ability that enables it to see the universal certitude of the principle of non-contradiction, which latter principle even scientistic atheists affirm -- although they cannot explain the basis for its certitude through natural science alone.

Just as the intellect cannot think a contradiction because it thinks in terms of being itself, so it cannot think anything at all without a reason to do so. If it thinks something with certitude, it does so because it is compelled by a sufficient reason to do so. True thought is simply being in the intellect understood as forced by a reason to affirm it. The “rules of logic” do not dictate the rules of thought, but reflect the intellect understanding its own conformity to being, and then, carefully describing the actual process by which it attained that conformity.

This is why the principle that all things have reasons is simply described as “self-evident.” The intellect must seek reasons in all things because its natural function is to demand the intelligibility of what it knows – and, as shown above, that natural function must conform to the laws of being itself.

That every being must have a reason for being or becoming does not say whether the reason must be intrinsic or extrinsic to that being. If it is extrinsic, it is called a “cause.” But that in no way rules out the possibility that the reason for being is intrinsic to the being itself.

Metaphysicians advance a concept of God in which his essence or nature is identical with his own act of existence, making him the Necessary Being. Completely unlike a “brute fact,” which has no reason at all for existing, God would be his own reason for existing – which is perfectly consistent with the principle that every being must have a reason for its being or coming-to-be.

Dr. Dennis Bonnette

Written by

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

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  • Richard Morley

    If anything it is my recollection that you rejected the full Principle of Sufficient Reason for some situations, some meanings of 'thing' and 'reason'. I note the very careful qualifier that things need reasons specifically (only?) for their "being or coming-to-be". I did get the impression that, for example, you asserted that God's (hypothetical) free will choice being to create this universe needed no sufficient reason beyond 'God's free will choice was to create this universe'.

    Again, I think this boils down to being very careful about what 'things' need 'reasons', for what, and what counts as a reason. You have never laid this out clearly, that I recall. If every 'thing' needs a reason that must be a 'thing', you have causal loops or infinite regress. Brute facts are the only way out of that.

    At the end of the day, if you accept that the principle of non contradiction is true, and that it is not reliant on any sufficient reason, that surely is a brute fact. To assert that this makes it "irrational, unintelligible" seems the irrational, unintelligible statement.

    • If anything it is my recollection that you rejected the full Principle of Sufficient Reason for some situations, some meanings of 'thing' and 'reason'.

      I don't recall that and I do recall that you deleted two crucial words of Dr. Bonnette's:

      DB: Just because one thing does not have a reason outside itself does not mean that other things do not.

      RM: Just because one thing does not have a reason does not mean that other things do not.

      If every 'thing' needs a reason that must be a 'thing', you have causal loops or infinite regress.

      Dr. Bonnette surely holds to creatio ex nihilo, which means that a thing (our universe) came from a non-thing. This combines well with his apparent endorsement of a rejection of univocity of being.

  • Again Dr Bonnette narrows the discussion into a false dilemma of either science must accept PSR or that there are no reasons for anything.

    Science simply need not take a position on this. That’s why it’s called physics not metaphysics. Science is a method, not a metaphysical position. It works if the PSR is true or not.

    The scientific practice looks for a reasons. If it finds them it says so. If it does not, it does not, but of course it need not make conclusions when it’s enquiry is inconclusive. It may be because the phenomena is a brute fact or because the reasons are not knowable through our investigation given our human limitations.

    I simply don’t see any logical invalidity in there being some events that have reasons and some that do not?

    • Are you saying that science could chug along quite healthily with a constantly accruing list of brute facts? I myself would see that situation as the erecting of more and more barriers to inquiry. I think science would grind to a halt, or at least asymptotically decline.

      If you accept the above reasoning, then the only other option for your position is for there to be a relatively small number of brute facts. There would be just a few aspects of reality into which we cannot further investigate. But even this raises the specter of the Wizard of Oz, where one is disallowed from peeking behind the curtain. It could easily be that finding out how the brute fact isn't, is key to unlocking vast new frontiers of knowledge.

      • No. I am saying science will never know when it fails to conclude a reason that it is because the phenomena is a brute fact, or it just failed to find a reason. We never get a list of brute facts. Just unanswered questions.

        Science is simply silent on whether there are brute facts or not.

        • It sounds to me that the belief that some aspect of reality is a brute fact is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. For all we know, the methodological denial of the PSR would hamstring if not destroy science. But we'd have blinded ourselves to this; we would have gouged out our [scientific] eyes.

          Science can be silent on the prerequisites of scientific research. For example, science doesn't tell us that reality is rationally intelligible; instead we presuppose that and can thereby do science.

          • I don’t see why the denial of the PSR would hamstring or destroy science. Not sure what you mean by “methodological”. Certainly some belief that there are no reasons for phenomena would do that. But that is a different issue.

            Yes science does have a philosophical basis. Philosophy of science, which is philosophy, not science. Through this philosophy certain presumptions may be identied that science relies on, the PSR just isn’t one of them.

          • I don’t see why the denial of the PSR would hamstring or destroy science.

            I explained that in my first response.

            Not sure what you mean by “methodological”.

            It was in direct response to your "Science is a method, not a metaphysical position.", as well as an allusion to 'methodological naturalism'.

          • I’m sorry I don’t see that in your first response.

            You asked if I was saying that science was finding brute facts and then if it was this would hamstring science.

            I said no I wasn’t saying that. I don’t think anyone has ever demonstrated that there are brute facts or that everything has a reason.

            The philosophy of science perspective is to assume there may be causes for phenomena, but not necessarily for all, or any. It’s as restraint free as one can be!

          • How is it not obvious that thinking there is no reason will make it less likely one will search for a reason? If there is a reason, then every nanosecond considering that there isn't one is harmful to scientific inquiry.

            The idea that there might not be causes for "any" phenomena is one no scientist believes, nor any philosopher of science.

          • But no one is saying or thinking there is “no reason” for anything. This is the point! You don’t need to decide between everything has a reason or nothing has a reason or even some thIngs do or don’t for science or any other endeavors other than Thomism or other philosophical arguments.

            Simply put scientists are wasting as much time on whether there are brute facts or PSR as they are worrying that Ba’al is the source of dark energy. It’s just not relevant in any significant way.

            The question is whether or not you need to decide if there are brute facts or PSR is true to do science. You don’t.

          • Hey, you're free to clarify what you meant by "or any". By making the philosophy of science "as restraint free as one can be!", you seem to be allowing that nothing might have a cause. If anything is damaging to scientific inquiry, it would be that.

            If you just meant to repeat "not necessarily for all", then what I said still applies: "thinking there is no reason will make it less likely one will search for a reason". So unless the scientist holds to the PSR methodologically, [s]he will be a bad scientist wherever [s]he fails to hold to it. Unless there are in fact brute facts.

            As to the waste of time: if there are no brute facts, will you agree that every nanosecond spend considering that something might be a brute fact is a waste of time?

          • Yes I suppose I have not ruled out that nothing has a cause. I have no reason to believe that and reasons to believe the contrary and it is not my belief. Yes, if it were true it would be damaging to science.

            I certainly don’t disagree that there are causes and that when doing science we are always looking for causes. But that is not the PSR. I don’t agree that if you fail to adopt PSR you would be less likely to engage in science. But even if it were true I don’t think people should adopt it so they will be more likely to do science. I think people should only adopt it with good justification.

            No I don’t agree with your last paragraph. If there are no brute facts but we have no reason to believe there are no brute facts there is still value to trying to see if we can justify a belief in brute facts or PSR.

            but to be clear I spend no time believing in or defending the existence of brute facts. This is about whether belief in the PSR is justified. A determination of a brute fact would be a defeater but just like I don’t have any reason to make a call on brute facts or PSR, the issue is an open one.

          • So … science doesn't have to presuppose the PSR, but if it violates the PSR in practice, there will be problems in any concrete situation we can imagine?

            If you think we should only adopt beliefs "with good justification": do you believe reality is rational—that is, that it contains no true contradictions?

          • No the PSR is not something science can “violate”, whether it is true or not.

            Yes I believe reality contains no true contradictions.

          • Why can't a principle be violated? Or what's so special about the PSR that it can't be violated? It seems obvious that a scientist who thinks that something is a brute fact has indeed violated the PSR. Do you just want to play semantics and choose a different word? Do I have to restrict the matter to what I've called the 'methodological PSR'?

            I don't see how you can be more justified in believing that reality is contradiction-free than in the PSR.

          • PSR either is or it isn’t true. If it is true then it could only be violated by the existence of a brute fact which is impossible because PSR is true so there are no brute facts. Vice versa if it is false. So there is no way to violate the PSR.

            No I don’t want to play semantics and talk about versions of PSR
            -like principles or guidelines. The question is simply is there good reason to believe the PSR is true or not.

            It’s also not about whether one believes reality is contradiction-free that is its own topic. Lets stay on target.

          • One can violate the methodological PSR. Just like one can act in accordance with or at variance with methodological naturalism—regardless of whether metaphysical naturalism is true or false.

            If you cannot show how your are justified in believing that reality is contradiction-free, then I'm going to be skeptical that you have any more justification for that, than I have for accepting the PSR. Scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist.

          • Sure your entitled to your opinion. And I encourage you to be skeptical.

            If the issue was whether reality has contradictions I would take that bait but it isn’t. And this move that you now seem to be making, well I can make it too.

            You show me your justification for believing the PSR is true and I will tell you why I wrote that I believe reality contains no contradictions.

          • As far as I can tell, rational thought presupposes the PSR and the PNC. Every single brute facts is an obstacle to rational thought. Just like every contradiction is an obstacle to rational thought.

            Ok, your turn.

          • No, I mean if for example gravity exists as a brute fact, why can’t I have the rational thought “all cars are vehicles, the trans am is a car therefore a vehicle”?

          • When atheists say that religious dogma hinders a person's ability to be rational, they don't mean that the person can no longer think logically at all.

            Ok, your turn. × 2

          • Sure I agree with that.

          • Ok, your turn. × 3

          • Phil

            I don’t see why the denial of the PSR would hamstring or destroy science.

            Science assumes that there is an adequate, sufficient, and reasonable explanation for physical phenomenon.

            If the PSR is false then not everything (or nothing) has an adequate, sufficient, and reasonable explanation. So science is then chasing something that doesn't exist. A wild goose chase so to say.

          • “Science assumes that there is an adequate, sufficient, and reasonable explanation for physical phenomenon.”

            But this is NOT the PSR! The PSR holds that ALL phenomena have sufficient reasons. Science is open to some being brute facts, whereas Thomism rejects this without justification other than its intuitive I guess?

            Science may indeed be chasing things that don’t exist, but that also doesn’t make the PSR true any more than the billion plus Muslims praying to Allah when Islam is false means Catholicism is true.

          • Phil

            But this is NOT the PSR! The PSR holds that ALL phenomena have sufficient reasons

            I think what you meant to say is that that is the PSR, but you are saying that science doesn't assume the PSR.

            Science may indeed be chasing things that don’t exist

            And that is why denying the PSR hamstrings or destroys science because we have no reason to believe that science has actually come to any truth.

            In other words, if the PSR is false, your belief that the world is even intelligible could just be an unreasonable brute belief that is false and has no sufficient reason for being believed.

          • No. I meant what I said. You misrepresented the PSR.

            Bit science doesn’t deny the PSR nor does it affirm it. It doesn’t care. The only people who seem to care are Thomists because it is nevessary to adopt as a Thomist.

            That science cannot confirm truth is a conditional on science that will be there irrespective of whether brute facts or the PSR were demonstrated certain. It is an epistemological problem that philosophy of science has not solved and the PSR wouldn’t solve it.

            The PSR being true or false is irrelevant to whether the world is intelligible.

            The issue is not whether there are reasons. Science assumes reasons exist. The issue is whether there are ALWAYS reasons. Science doesn’t really care.

          • Phil

            Science assumes reasons exist. The issue is whether there are ALWAYS reasons.

            Can you clarify this a bit? Are you saying that science assumes there are sufficient and reasonable explanations for somethings existence but sometimes there really isn't?

            For example, science could assume that a collapsed star is the sufficient reason for a black hole, but in reality black holes just pop into existence for no rational reason whatsoever. Is that what you are saying?

            The PSR being true or false is irrelevant to whether the world is intelligible.

            If the world is intelligible then PSR is true. The world cannot be intelligible and the PSR be false.

            That's the issue we are dealing with here.

            The only people who seem to care are Thomists because it is nevessary to adopt as a Thomist.

            The PSR goes way back to before Aquinas...all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Aristotle.

          • No science looks for causes, and reasons. it doesn’t say there are not causes for some things not does it assume there are always causes. It looks and tells us what it finds.

            No, if science finds a Star collapse is the reason for a black hole it finds that and concludes that is the reason.

            It does mean that all phenomena have reasons or that there cannot be other reasons for black holes.

            Sure the world can be intelligible if PSR is false. That which has reasons the reasons may be intelligible or may be beyond our ken. For those that are brute facts then there is nothing to know.

            Again, and I think it’s interesting that the theists here seem incapable of considered a middle ground here that there can be some events not all that are brute facts.

            Lots of ideas have been around for a long time. PSR is not a generally accepted philosophical principle. Dr Bonnette admits this.

          • No science looks for causes, and reasons. it doesn’t say there are not causes for some things not does it assume there are always causes. It looks and tells us what it finds.

            Suppose that scientists collectively agree that X is a brute fact. Won't this be a self-fulfilling prophecy, regardless of whether X is a brute fact? Now, we could hope that some young upstart comes along and finds a deeper explanation if there is one. But it seems flagrantly irresponsible to just assume that will happen.

            Again, and I think it’s interesting that the theists here seem incapable of considered a middle ground here that there can be some events not all that are brute facts.

            That's odd; I see theists considering that possibility concretely in multiple places on this page. It's just that every time the possibility is explored with a bit of rigor, the results seem bad. But perhaps you mean "agree to" instead of "consider"?

          • “Suppose that scientists collectively agree that X is a brute fact. Won't this be a self-fulfilling prophecy, regardless of whether X is a brute fact?”

            No. I assume you mean by “self fulfilling prophecy” that by not ruling out the possibility of brute facts an individual or process will become biased towards funding a brute fact? I don’t see why this would be the case. If somehow science could conclude a phenomena were a brute fact it will depend on its justification. And certainly since science is biased towards critical thinking there are incentives to show any flaws in the process that led to the conclusion of a brute fact. But I really don’t thInk science can identify brute facts, all it can do is fail to find reasons, or fail to find reasons.

            What I think would be irresponsible would be to presume PSR without justification and same for brute facts. It would be wrong to assume either when doing science. They are irrelevant to the process.

            My experience is that when I say I Do not know if PSR is true that theists assume I mean I believe there are brute facts or that all fav s are brute. If this is wrong fine. I just raised it because I feel like I keep having to clarify this.

          • LB: Suppose that scientists collectively agree that X is a brute fact. Won't this be a self-fulfilling prophecy, regardless of whether X is a brute fact?

            BGA: No. I assume you mean by “self fulfilling prophecy” that by not ruling out the possibility of brute facts an individual or process will become biased towards funding a brute fact?

            No. I mean that for some concrete X, if scientists decide that it is a brute fact, they are in danger of not expending the requisite effort to find out how it isn't a brute fact.

            P.S. The strictly correct statement would be if one thinks brute facts are possible, then one will be more likely to conclude that some X is a brute fact. My only assumption there is that possibility is more than infinitesimal. But one can still be very biased toward looking for reasons/​causes.

            … If somehow science could conclude a phenomena were a brute fact it will depend on its justification. …

            My experience is that when I say I Do not know if PSR is true that theists assume I mean I believe there are brute facts or that all fav s are brute. If this is wrong fine. I just raised it because I feel like I keep having to clarify this.

            You wave around the specter of a justification without ever providing a sample justification. One wonders whether such a thing is even logically possible. It looks like you want to follow the PSR methodologically, but deny that it holds completely. This is a stronger position than what you've stated, but you're making a really big deal about the bare possibility of some justification of a brute fact. It is as if you're working really hard to avoid the PSR being true with high probability. If the theist's argument is deductively false but extremely probable, many will see that as a quibble, not a refutation. And yet your words come off as constant refutation.

          • Ok, there is always this danger I suppose in science whether the conclusion is brute fact or any cause. This is why science is biased to challenging its own conclusions. Certainly the converse is just as true.

            But I think this danger is minimal to non-existant as I think any conclusion of a brute fact is extremely unlikely to occur in science as I don’t see how any statement that X is a brute fact is testable or falsifiable. To my knowledge it has never done so. As I maintained, science will almost certainly always conclude that it just hasn’t found a reason, not there cannot be a reason. I think the latter could only be a philosophical conclusion. This is why I say the issue is irrelevant to science.

            Justification is not my onus here. No I do not want to “follow the PSR methodically” it is not a method it is a principle. I am not a scientist. I do not do science. This piece implies as do your comments, that science tacitly accepts the PSR. I think I’ve shown this not to be the case.

            Looks like your best argument is that there could be some danger if science were to claim something is a brute fact. This tells us nothing about whether the PSR is true.

            I am not making a big deal about the possibility of determining a brute fact exists. I don’t think this will ever happen. Nor do I think the PSR can ever be justified.

            I’m not working hard to show the PSR is true or false. It’s a conjecture that hasn’t been justified.

            It’s an intuitive principle like induction, but unlike induction, we don’t need to assume it to do science. We only need to assume it for some of Aquinas’ arguments for the existence of god. That is why it is being advanced. The PSR is a big deal in Catholic apologetics, not the philosophy of science.

            I see no way to place probabilities on the PSR, nor has any argument been adavanced that it is likely true.

            I’ve not seen any argument to accept the PSR. If you have one, please advance it.

          • As I maintained, science will almost certainly always conclude that it just hasn’t found a reason, not there cannot be a reason.

            Interesting; in this very thread Ray wrote:

            R: More concretely, an example of a feature of our current understanding of the universe which seems likely not to be explained in terms of anything deeper, is the fact that our universe obeys quantum mechanics as described by the standard axioms of quantum mechanics …

            Do you think he's an outlier?

            Looks like your best argument is that there could be some danger if science were to claim something is a brute fact. This tells us nothing about whether the PSR is true.

            I'm not sure how relevant your second sentence is, given the vanishingly few things we can know with certainty. For example, I see no reason that we can be more convinced that reality is contradiction-free, than that the PSR holds. And yet you hold the former.

            Nor do I think the PSR can ever be justified.

            Yeah, but what does that mean? In a sense, my belief that "the sun will rise tomorrow" is not justified. And yet, I predicate many, many actions in life on that belief. Could reliance on the PSR follow a similar pattern?

            I’ve not seen any argument to accept the PSR.

            From where I'm sitting, you just said science follows the methodological PSR:

            BGA: As I maintained, science will almost certainly always conclude that it just hasn’t found a reason, not there cannot be a reason.

          • No, we are on all fours, this is as good as science will I think b able to do. Fail to find reasons not find a brute fact.

            If you want to call looking for reasons or a belief that there are some reasons a methodological PSR I can’t stop you. But this is again, not the issue.

            The issue is whether there is good reason to believe that all phenomena have reasons and there are no brute facts.

            I’ve just seen a post below where you define meth-PSR as doing science with no allowance for brute facts. I don’t think that’s good science either. I see no reason to limit the enquiry this way.

          • So … you don't think scientists can currently [justifiably] declare anything a brute fact and you're skeptical that they will ever will, but you want to keep open the mere possibility that maybe they will? That mere possibility is enough for you to utterly discount the PSR?

            Hopefully you will grant that we can know very little with certainty; such that we usually have to act on what we think is probably true. But when it comes to the PSR, it being probably true is not enough for you; it has to be proven true without a doubt or it is … irrelevant?

          • Yep. I think you and I have discussed my position that we can know almost nothing with certainty.

            I have no reason nor have you suggested any way to place probabilities on PSR being true. There has to be some basis for me to take a position on it.

            If you have some, for example we might look at whether or not we have determined there are reasons for phenomena. We have identified many, many more are unknown. And those we have identified, we are uncertain. Can we infer from this that there are likely reasons for everything? I don’t think so.

            We can consider intuition. I would grant my intuition favors the PSR. But my intuition equally cries foul at something being its own reason or containing its own reason. Which supports some brute fact at some point.

            We can consider if there is just some practical imperative to assume PSR. None that I can think of.

          • Is there a practical imperative to suppose that reality has no true contradictions?

          • Off topic.

          • Convenient.

          • So … you don't think scientists can currently [justifiably] declare anything a brute fact and you're skeptical that they will ever will, but you want to keep open the mere possibility that maybe they will?

            I can think of no way that scientists could ever distinguish between an actual brute fact and a phenomenon that they were simply unable to explain because of their human cognitive limitations. That being so, no empirical discovery could ever falsify the PSR.

            That mere possibility is enough for you to utterly discount the PSR?

            I don't know if I utterly discount it. I don't accept it because none of its defenders has shown me a good reason to accept it.

          • How often do you act as if the PSR is false?

          • Insofar as I can discern my own thinking and understand my own behavior, I never act as if it is either true or false. I am as susceptible any anyone else to self-deceit, but that is how it seems to me. Epistemologically speaking, the PSR is just irrelevant to me, as best I can tell. One reason for that is, as I mentioned just a short while ago in another post, that the PSR seems to be empirically unfalsifiable.

          • Doesn't belief in the PSR, plus the desire to know more, mean that you'll never let anything be a brute fact? And so if you never let anything be a brute fact, it would mean you are acting as if:

                 (1) you want to learn more about everything†
                 (2) you do not accept any brute facts

            † Of course you may care much more about learning in some areas than others.

          • Doesn't belief in the PSR, plus the desire to know more, mean that you'll never let anything be a brute fact?

            I'm not sure what you mean by "let" in this context, but I'll assume, pending correction, that by "let anything be a brute fact" you mean "affirm the existence of a brute fact." If I correctly understand what the PSR is all about in any of its versions, it includes an assumption that brute facts do not exist. If I assume that no brute facts exist, then I cannot affirm that any brute fact exists without contradicting myself.

          • Phil

            Yes, so you say that science assumes that reasons exist for phenomenon. But if the PSR is false, that means that sufficient and rational reasons don't exist for some or all of what science is looking for.
            I.e., science is on a wild goose chase for things that don't exist.

            No, if science finds a Star collapse is the reason for a black hole it finds that and concludes that is the reason.

            If there is no sufficient and rational explanation for a black hole, then why not conclude that you drank a beer and created the black hole at the center of the Milky Way? Or it just popped into existence for no sufficient and rational reason?

            If there need be no sufficient and rational explanation for a black hole, then there is no more reason to believe it was a collapsed star than those other two hypotheses. All 3 hypotheses are equally reasonable.

          • I’d say science believes reasons do exist for some phenomena and can for others. That’s true, if PSR is falde not all phenomena would have reasons. There would be at least one random or arbitrary phenomena. And yes, if science is looking for a reason for a brute fact it will not find a reason it might be able to confirm a brute fact but I don’t see how. But the possibility of a wild goose chase for scientific endeavor is nothing new. And doesn’t need brute facts. Consider search for extra terrestrial life or a cure for cancer. These may never be solved and be a wild goose chase even if PSR is true.

            I guess when you say the collapsed star is the cause it can be seen as sufficient reason, but of course it depends where you draw the line. If you need reasons for the star itself you’ll need to keep looking.

            We don’t say the beer caused the black hole because there is no nexus between it and the hole. We look to how we make inductive inferences. There is no reason to conclude the beer caused it or it is uncaused.

            It’s not an issue if “need be sufficient reasons” for the black home. Either there are or there aren’t. If there are we may or may not be able to determine the reasons. If there aren’t we may or not be able to rule out any reasons. In the example you’ve given, reasons are a given so in that example it is reasonable to believe the black hole is not a brute fact. It is good reason to accept that there is at least one phenomena with reasons. It is insufficient to infer that ALL phenomena have causes.

            It’s respect to the black hole, you have identified three hypotheses that a star and gravity are the reason, if accepted science would have passed the testing. That it is a brute fact is not a hypothesis is falsified by way of the year for the collapsed star so it is less likely. And the test that it was caused by someone drinking a beer can be tested and if you find drinking a beer is temporally related to the creation of black holes in some identifiable way, you could have a theory there too. But I think you’ll agree there are good reasons to think this is implausible.

          • Phil

            If one doesn't need necessary and sufficient reasons for things, why believe one explanation over the other? We only believe one explanation over the other because we say it is a more sufficient and rational explanation. But if you deny the PSR, one is saying that things don't have to have a necessary and rational explanation.

            So with that being the case, drinking a beer is just as necessary, rational, and sufficient as an explanation for a black hole as a collapsed star.

            Only if we first say that the PSR is true can we then rationally say that the more sufficient and rational explanation is actually true.

          • Phil, you keep mischaracteizing the PSR. The PSR is not epistemology it is ontological, or metaphysical.

            The PSR does not say “we need necessary and sufficient reasons to believe something” it says “irrespective of what anyone believes there are always sufficient reasons for any phenomena”

            We accept one that explanation over others for many reasons, this the entire field of epistemology which I won’t attempt to summarize in this comment box.

            Let’s suffice to say, for example, that if I observe three apples in a bowl, and I have ten people make the same observation, I’m more reasonable to conclude that there are three apples there, as opposed to there being a chicken in the bowl. This inference is the same whether the quantum vacuum has no reason so existence or contains its own reason for existence, right? If not please explain why.

            If I deny the three apples, because I have crafted an elaborate hologram and fooled you, it is because I have different facts, not because I deny there are any reasons for anything.

            No drinking a beer is just as VALID an argument for the black hole, but it is an UNSOUND reason. Because there are fewer facts that imply the a nexus between the events, and in fact many facts that imply the beer is unrelated.

            No, we don’t need to make assumptions about all phenomena to make conclusions about some phenomena. The statement “all phenomena have necessary and sufficient reasons” is not a necessary premise for any argument other than the Thomist arguments and thief like. It isn’t required to make inferences about individual phenomena.

          • Phil

            you keep mischaracteizing the PSR. The PSR is not epistemology it is ontological, or metaphysical.

            Correct. I'm sorry if it came across like that.

            The point I'm making is if metaphysically the PSR is false, then there are no metaphysical reasons why it is not equally as likely that a collapsed star and drinking a beer caused a black hole.

            So if there are no metaphysical reasons, then epistemologically, the search for the knowledge goes out the window (since metaphysics--how something actually exists precedes our epistemology--our search to know how it exists).

          • No, well of course the beer being the cause is still a reason for the black hole. Is the PSR is not true then there would be no metaphysical reason the black hole doesn’t just exist as a brute fact.

            There are Epistemological reasons for why the beer is not the cause and why it is not a brute fact. And these done depend on the PSR. they depend on the metaphysics (i guess) of reality existing and our ability to make inductive inferences.

          • Richard Morley

            So what is the sufficient reason for the really fundamental principles such as contradiction and sufficient reason? How can one prove the very principles which are used to prove or disprove other statements?

            The law/principle of contradiction might be argued to be its own reason, if you allow a statement to be its own reason. For it to be false, there would have to be a contradiction, which is against the law of contradiction. I personally find this less intuitively and logically satisfying than just accepting the PNC as a brute fact, especially as it seems to open the door to saying that any proposed principle is justified because for it to be false something would have to not satisfy that proposed principle. But at least it doesn't contradict itself.

            But, it seems to me, for the principle of sufficient reason to not have a reason outside itself actually leads to it contradicting or vitiating itself. If a statement can be its own reason, the PSR means nothing as any statement is true if it is true, and if not the PSR violates itself if it has no external reason.

            But accepting that only very basic abstract axioms are true without external reasons (a.k.a. 'brute facts') does not [seem to me to] lead to discarding all logic and reason and science.

          • Phil

            But, it seems to me, for the principle of sufficient reason to not have a reason outside itself actually leads to it contradicting or vitiating itself. If a statement can be its own reason, the PSR means nothing as any statement is true if it is true, and if not the PSR violates itself if it has no external reason.

            I'd argue that the PSR does have sufficient reason for its own existence and belief.

            The PSR is simply stating that all things are intelligible. But if one denies it, the intelligibility of even the claim that the PSR is false become unintelligible. (Because to hold the PSR says that everything is intelligible).

            So again, it is a moment of truth by contradiction. If to hold a statement as true means that you can't hold that very statement, then that is a contradiction.

          • Richard Morley

            Because to hold the PSR says that everything is intelligible

            But to reject the full, unqualified, strongest possible PSR is not to say that everything is 'unintelligible'. It may just be to say that the fundamental axioms and laws of logic have to be accepted as 'self evident'.

          • Phil

            But to reject the full, unqualified, strongest possible PSR is not to say that everything is 'unintelligible'. It may just be to say that the fundamental axioms and laws of logic have to be accepted as 'self evident'.

            To say that they are "self-evident" is not to say that they are "brute facts". Something can be self-evident and have a sufficient reason for its existence (i.e., PSR is satisfied).

            To claim that the fundamental axions and laws of logic are
            "brute facts" (i.e., denial of PSR), is to say that there is no sufficient reason for their existence.

            Which would be incoherent because something exists for which there is no sufficient reason for its existence.

          • Richard Morley

            To say that they are "self-evident" is not to say that they are "brute facts".

            To say that they are just self evident, i.e. they are self evident and have no (other?) reason, would seem to me to say that they are brute facts. How would that make everything unintelligible?

            What, after all, do you claim could be the proof of the principle of non contradiction? The axioms of logic are what one uses to prove everything else. Nor are they 'existent things' in the same way you or I are, so you risk confusing categories by saying they 'exist' without a sufficient reason for their existence.

            Again, which option of Agrippa's trilemma do you claim to be the actual one?

          • Phil

            Again, which option of Agrippa's trilemma do you claim to be the actual one?

            Agrippa was wrong that there are only 3 choices. The 4th choice is that there is something that exists which is perfectly self-explanatory and therefore grounds all else that exists in intelligibility (this is what we call "God"). Hence, all three of Agrippa's choices are avoided.

            To say that they are just self evident, i.e. they are self evident and have no (other?) reason, would seem to me to say that they are brute facts. How would that make everything unintelligible?

            I think we are using "self-evident" in different ways. When I say "self-evident" I don't mean that there aren't sufficient reasons for somethings existence (in fact there must be sufficient reasons for somethings existence...or it wouldn't exist!).

            So again, the PSR must be true, because to deny the PSR means that you hold that something can exist for which sufficient reasons for its existence do not exist. (Which is obviously contradictory and incoherent.)

          • Richard Morley

            The 4th choice is that there is something that exists which is perfectly self-explanatory and therefore grounds all else that exists in intelligibility (this is what we call "God").

            You are either asserting that God needs no reason, which is contrary to the PSR, or that he is his own reason, which is circular and still arguably makes his existence a brute fact.

            If he exists, he causes his own existence, but if he doesn't exist then he does not, so there is no contradiction. Like the statement "this statement is true". Like Munchausen pulling himself out of the bog by his pigtails. The tiny causal loop (God exists→God exists) still requires an external cause not to be a brute fact.

            And a statement is not an existent thing.

            And you have not said what you think could be the cause of the axioms of logic.

          • Phil

            I think we should first agree that it is true that everything that exists has had all sufficient reasons for its existence fulfilled (i.e., the PSR is true).

            You are either asserting that God needs no reason, which is contrary to the PSR, or that he is his own reason, which is circular and still arguably makes his existence a brute fact.

            Let's be clear that every first principle will be "circular" because there is nothing further to explain. You have hit rock bottom of reality.

            So yes, God is perfectly self-explanatory, because God very nature is simply "to exist". God is existence itself. To be perfectly self-explanatory is not to be a brute fact.

            And you have not said what you think could be the cause of the axioms of logic.

            That which is the source of all existence...God of course.

          • Richard Morley

            I think we should first agree that it is true that everything that exists has had all sufficient reasons for its existence fulfilled (i.e., the PSR is true).

            That sounds as though you are confusing necessary conditions with a sufficient reason.

            By definition, for a statement to be true all of its necessary conditions must be met. On the other hand it will necessarily be true if only one sufficient condition is met.

            The assertion that any statement Q can only be true if it has another statement P that is true and that stands as a sufficient condition for Q, (P→Q), is the strongest version of the PSR. Which I would love to be true in an unqualified form, but leads to determinism and an infinite regress, and I don't see how it can apply to basic axioms of logic.

            So yes, God is perfectly self-explanatory, because God very nature is simply "to exist". God is existence itself. To be perfectly self-explanatory is not to be a brute fact.

            The definition of 'brute fact' is debatable, but allowing a statement's own truth to be its own sufficient reason for being true, or an existent thing's own existence to be 'explained by' its own existence, is circular and makes the PSR meaningless.

            Any statement is true if it is true. Any potentially existent thing exists if it exists. This gets you nowhere and is (as far as I can see) just a failure to examine the logic carefully.

            So by any useful definition of 'brute fact', I think that saying that God's nature is simply "to exist" so his existence is "perfectly self-explanatory" is indeed to make his existence a brute fact.

            That which is the source of all existence...God of course.

            If you claim that God is above the laws of logic, we're done. We can't talk about him. At all. You can't even say he 'is' anything as that invokes at the very least the law of identity. He can contradict himself or observed reality. He can exist and not exist, in the same sense.

            You can have a weaker version of the PSR and still have rationality. But if you make the fundamental laws of logic contingent, then you really have tossed reason and logic out the window.

          • Phil

            That sounds as though you are confusing necessary conditions with a sufficient reason.

            You are speaking of this distinction in logic which uses the word to mean a specific thing, I am using as it is used in metaphyiscs.

            So, if you say that something has insufficient reasons for being able to exist, it can't exist. (If one denies this, one is saying that something can exist that can't exist. Which is a contradiction.)

            But you could phrase the PSR in they way you are saying:
            The PSR says that it is true that everything that exists has had all necessary reasons for its existence fulfilled.

            To deny this is to be again saying that something exists which can't exist. An absurd contradiction.

          • Richard Morley

            You are speaking of this distinction in logic which uses the word to mean a specific thing, I am using as it is used in metaphyiscs.

            As you use it in metaphysics maybe. But you dilute its meaning to the point of being useless.

            But you could phrase the PSR in they way you are saying:
            The PSR says that it is true that everything that exists has had all necessary reasons for its existence fulfilled.

            But there could be no necessary reasons. Which is absolutely not what the PSR says. You have redefined the PSR to meaninglessness.

          • Phil

            But there could be no necessary reasons. Which is absolutely not what the PSR says. You have redefined the PSR to meaninglessness.

            So you would say that for me to stand on the earth it isn't necessary that the earth exists?

          • Richard Morley

            I'm saying that that is not what the PSR states.

          • Phil

            I'm saying that that is not what the PSR states.

            And I'm saying that that is exactly what the PSR states. The PSR states that for something to exist as it does, all reasons sufficient and necessary for its existence must be fulfilled.

            There must be sufficient and necessary reasons fulfilled for me to be standing on the earth. One of the sufficient reasons is the existence of the earth.

            If the earth doesn't exist, I ipso facto can't be standing on the earth.

          • Richard Morley

            And I'm saying that that is exactly what the PSR states.

            This could easily degenerate into us just repeating assertions at each other.

            I can wave you at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or cite Leibniz, who actually coined the phrase, who put it as:

            And that [principle] of sufficient reason, by virtue of which we consider that we can find no true or existent fact, no true assertion, without there being a sufficient reason why it is thus and not otherwise, although most of the time these reasons cannot be known to us.

            That doesn't really sound like your version does it?

            More to the point, your version is next to meaningless. It just says that for something to exist, or some event to happen, or some statement to be true, it must be possible. That is true, but trivial and not the PSR - which is why it is called the principle of sufficient reason not the principle of necessary conditions.

            Indeed your version is arguably a pointless statement of a special case of the more famous PNC, the principle of non contradiction. P cannot be true unless all conditions for it to be possible are satisfied. But being possible does not explain why it is actual.

            "It is true that everything that exists has had all necessary reasons for its existence fulfilled" is perfectly compatible with something having no necessary conditions or reasons for its existence, in which case it can exist without having to have a reason or satisfy any precondition, it just is. Or is not, as the mood takes it. No need for sufficient reason as I would mean it.

            The PSR states that for something to exist as it does, all reasons sufficient and necessary for its existence must be fulfilled.

            When you use the phrase 'sufficient and necessary' it really is quite explicit that you are using the word 'sufficient' as I mean it: if P is sufficient reason for Q then if P is true Q must be true. P→Q

            One of the sufficient reasons is the existence of the earth.

            No, that is a necessary condition, not a sufficient reason. For it to be a sufficient reason would mean that if the Earth exists you must be standing on it.

          • Phil

            That is true, but trivial and not the PSR - which is why it is called the principle of sufficient reason not the principle of necessary conditions.

            That is why the PSR is so obviously true. Nothing can exist for which its conditions for existence have not been met. There must be conditions met for why it exists as 'X' and not 'Y'.

            Why does this black hole exist as a black hole and not a tree? The PSR says ontologically there is an intelligible reason for this.

            That doesn't really sound like your version does it?

            What I am saying is perfectly harmonious with what Leibniz said. It is perfectly reasonable that I am not explaining it well, or using the best language to convey the PSR.

            Maybe a better phrasing would be: Nothing can exist for which its conditions for existing as it does have not been met.

            To clarify, Aristotle was speaking of the PSR over 2300 years ago, so it wouldn't Leibniz who coined the phrase PSR.

          • Richard Morley

            That is why the PSR is so obviously true.

            It is not, as the PSR is usually defined, it is highly contraversial. See the SEP link I gave you.

            Nothing can exist for which its conditions for existence have not been met.

            That is obviously true, but is just a particular restatement of the principle of non contradiction: nothing can exist unless it can exist.

            The most general form of the PSR applies to all statements, not just things existing, or events occurring, but since what you refer to is not the PSR, that is a side issue.

            There must be conditions met for why it exists as 'X' and not 'Y'.

            You seem still to be confusing necessary conditions with sufficient causes.

            If P is a necessary condition for X, P must be true for X to be true but does not guarantee that X will be true. Like the Earth must exist for you to be standing on it, but even if the Earth exists that does not prove that you are standing on it. You may not exist, or you may be on Mars, or you may be sitting down, or dangling upside down over a pit of scorpions.

            If P is a sufficient reason for X, then if P is true then X must be true, but there might be other ways for X to be true. P would have to include all the necessary conditions for X, but in general there might be other conditions which are not individually necessary, but one of them must be true for X to be guaranteed to be true. So for a light to come on there are necessary conditions (bulb in the socket, electricity is working and so on) but there are three switches any one of which, if on, will cause the the light to come on if the necessary conditions are also met.

            So if P represents the necessary conditions and Q, R and S each represent one of the three switches being on, there are three potential sufficient reasons for the light to come on: (P+Q), (P+R) and (P+S).

            If having all of its necessary conditions fulfilled means that X will be true, then the complete set of necessary conditions add up to a sufficient reason.

            In principle one could imagine that if all the necessary conditions are met, but do not together form a sufficient reason (do not guarantee that X will be true, just that it is possible), then X might still sometimes be true without further reason. So without sufficient reason that proves that X must be true. This is counter to intuition, and I don't like it, but this is what some claim 'free will' requires. It is also what the strongest form of the PSR denies. Unfortunately it also appears to be what Quantum Mechanics shows to happen, as with vacuum particle pair creation which can occur or not occur as soon as it is possible (i.e. there is a suitable patch of spacetime for it to occur in) without further cause, but there are PSR friendly ways around that.

            To clarify, Aristotle was speaking of the PSR over 2300 years ago, so it wouldn't Leibniz who coined the phrase PSR.

            Aristotle was obviously not writing in english, and did not use a phrase that translates directly as "the Principle of Sufficient Reason". Leibniz did coin the phrase, although earlier philosophers used concepts close enough to be recognisably the PSR. As well as concepts similar but significantly distinguishable from it, such as the principle of universal causation.

          • Phil

            That is obviously true, but is just a particular restatement of the principle of non contradiction: nothing can exist unless it can exist.

            The PSR follows from the PNC. They are intimately connected. So if one accepts the PNC as true, the PSR follows as also true.

            The reason why the PSR is true is because to deny the PSR is to violate the PNC.

          • Richard Morley

            The PSR follows from the PNC.

            Only your unique version of the PSR, which is a subset of the PNC.

            The real PSR says more than just the PNC, it says that there must be reasons why X is true, whereas yours would be satisfied even if something had no necessary conditions and so 'all necessary conditions' were automatically satisfied. It further says that all the reasons must add up to a sufficient reason.

          • Phil

            The real PSR says more than just the PNC, it says that there must be reasons why X is true.

            Yes, and my point is that the statement "there are no reasons why X exists as it does" violates the PNC because it is stating that something exists which has not had all its conditions met to exist as it does. This is a contradiction, and therefore violates the PNC.

            Put another way, it is incoherent to hold that something exists which ought not exist as it does. (Which is what one is saying when one holds that something has no "reasons" for existing as it does.)

          • Richard Morley

            Yes, and my point is that the statement "there are no reasons why X
            exists as it does" violates the PNC because it is stating that something
            exists which has not had all its conditions met to exist as it does

            It may not have any necessary conditions. That would be completely in line with your Principle of Sufficient Reason Necessary Conditions.

            You really should read that Stanford Encyclopedia article. Or at least indicate if you understand/agree with the distinction I draw between sufficient reasons and necessary conditions.

          • Phil

            It may not have any necessary conditions. That would be completely in line with your Principle of Sufficient Reason Necessary Conditions.

            As long as an entity does not explain its existence perfectly from within, then there are always necessary conditions that need to be met for something's existence.

            So this is not possible in anything that does not necessarily exist by its very nature. If it exists and does not necessarily exist by its very nature, there must be a reason why it exists as it does. If it didn't then it wouldn't exist.

          • Richard Morley

            As long as an entity does not explain its existence perfectly from within, then there are always necessary conditions that need to be met for something's existence.

            That is an assertion that was not in your Principle of Sufficient Reason Necessary Conditions. It brings it closer to, but not quite the same as, what I know as the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

            The principle of sufficient reason requires every 'thing' (potentially meaning every true statement) to have not just necessary conditions that have been met, but a logically sufficient reason that is itself true. I am still not sure that you are clear on the difference between necessary condition and sufficient reason.

            For an entity to be its own cause or explanation is very much like Baron Munchhausen pulling himself out of the bog by his own pigtails, it is just circular and makes the PSR meaningless as any statement is true if it is true. Defining it so God alone can fulfill the PSR in this way is begging the question on its knees with real tears.

            Something may exist because it is not logically possible for it to not exist, but:
            a) noone has yet, as far as I can see, explain how something not existing can per se lead to paradox
            b) this arguably makes the laws of logic themselves more fundamental than and the cause of that necessary thing
            c) the laws of logic still seem, to me, necessarily brute facts (by which I would include them circularly proving their own validity) as there is nothing else that can prove them.

          • Phil

            The principle of sufficient reason requires every 'thing' (potentially meaning every true statement) to have not just necessary conditions that have been met, but a logically sufficient reason that is itself true.

            I may simply not agree with your formulation of the PSR. So ultimately, the PSR I believe is true is different from yours that you believe is false.

            And I do completely agree with Leibniz's basic formulation of it that there must be a reason why something exists as it does and not another another way. It could have existed in another way, but for some reason it does not.

          • Richard Morley

            I may simply not agree with your formulation of the PSR.

            Then it might be most helpful for you to give what you think it is, one more time, clearly and fully. I have tried to be clear about what I think it is widely agreed to mean, but you seem to have given a number of differing definitions.

            Do you still stick to something like 'for something to exist, all necessary conditions for its existence must be fulfilled'? Or was that only a partial definition? Do you, for that matter, understand and/or agree with my distinction between necessary conditions and sufficient reasons?

            And I do completely agree with Leibniz's basic formulation of it that there must be a reason why something exists as it does and not another another way.

            His formulation applies to all true statements, not just existence of things. He admits to necessary truths, whose sufficient reason is just that their falsehood would lead to contradiction, but this still leaves the principle of non contradiction (which, by the way, he explicitly lists as as separate basic principle) as a circular, self justifying truth. Or a brute fact.

            Again, you would note that for something to be true just because the alternative would be paradox does not really fit into the formulation of having a necessary condition fulfilled.

          • Phil

            Then it might be most helpful for you to give what you think it is, one more time, clearly and fully. I have tried to be clear about what I think it is widely agreed to mean, but you seem to have given a number of differing definitions.

            Put simply the PSR could be stated as such:

            Everything that exists must have a reason for why it exists as it does and not in some other way, or not exist at all.

            To deny this is get to rid of intelligibility and undermine your ability for truth (including your ability to argue for whether the PSR is true or false). You are saying that your view that the PSR is false can have no reason for existing and you wouldn't know it. You don't believe the PSR is false because that is actually the truth about reality. Who knows why you actually believe it.

            Therefore to deny the PSR is a self-undermining view and therefore to be rejected. We can then conclude, that the PSR is true.

          • Richard Morley

            Everything that exists must have a reason for why it exists as it does and not in some other way, or not exist at all.

            Can you see how that is crucially different from 'for something to exist, all necessary conditions for its existence must be fulfilled'?

            Consider, for example, alleged virtual particles in quantum mechanics. All necessary conditions for their existence are fulfilled, and they obey various laws about their properties and actions. But there is no sufficient reason such that it is predictable that a particle will appear at such and such a place and time. Likewise for radioactive decay and so on.

            This (I think) fulfills your principle of necessary conditions, but not Leibniz' PSR or your version above.

            For your statement of the PSR to be "clearly and fully" stated, you need to say what counts as a 'thing' that needs a reason for its existence, or what counts as a reason. One way out of the Agrippan trilemma is to allow a 'reason' that does not itself need a reason.

            A question whose answer would clarify your position to me would be whether the principle of non contradiction has or needs a sufficient reason itself (does it 'exist' or is it just a statement that is true?), or can it count as a sufficient reason for something else? Or for that matter that question, but for the PSR rather than the principle of non contradiction.

            You are saying that your view that the PSR is false can have no reason for existing and you wouldn't know it.

            No, I am saying that there seem to be some statements that have to be accepted as just being true, such as the PSR (in a less absolute version than I would instinctively like) and the PNC. Accepting this does not mean that I cannot know that something else does have a reason - for example, if I know what the reason for X is, then I know that X has a reason.

            So it is not so much that the PSR is false, as that it is not the absolute, strongest version that I instinctively would like it to be.

            I still don't get the reasoning behind those (you are not the only one) who apparently argue that one brute fact would mean that absolutely nothing is intelligible, not even where we know the logic and causes.

            We can then conclude, that the PSR is true.

            I don't think anyone rejects the PSR entirely, it is just a question of how limited a version one accepts.

          • Phil

            Can you see how that is crucially different from 'for something to exist, all necessary conditions for its existence must be fulfilled'?

            I do agree; I believe both what I said and what you say right here is true.

            A question whose answer would clarify your position to me would be whether the principle of non contradiction has or needs a sufficient reason itself (does it 'exist' or is it just a statement that is true?), or can it count as a sufficient reason for something else? Or for that matter that question, but for the PSR rather than the principle of non contradiction.

            It does. We can ask the question, could the PNC exist in any other way? The answer is no. So the PSR is full-filled.

            For something that could exist in another way, the PSR must ways be fulfilled.

            I still don't get the reasoning behind those (you are not the only one) who apparently argue that one brute fact would mean that absolutely nothing is intelligible, not even where we know the logic and causes.

            How do you know that your belief that the PSR is false has rational reasons for its existence? If not everything has a reason for existing, how do you give rational reasons for the falsity of the PSR that I should believe?

          • Richard Morley

            RM:"A question whose answer would clarify your position to me would be whether the principle of non contradiction has or needs a sufficient reason itself"
            It does.

            Which is what? The next bit does not seem to be an explicit 'reason'. So my position is not that the PSR is 'false', but that it does not extend to things like the PNC, and probably itself.

            We can ask the question, could the PNC exist in any other way?

            That is a question, not a reason why the PNC cannot simply be false. How can you prove that A and ¬A cannot be true in the same way at the same time except by assuming the PNC, or just asserting 'it is self evident'? How can you prove the fundamental axioms of logic without using logic?

            How do you know that your belief that the PSR is false has rational reasons for its existence?

            Because I know what they are. I've given them briefly above. For what I actually believe, which, as stated, not 'the PSR is false'.

            You didn't clarify your meaning of 'thing' and 'reason' in the PSR. If it covers the PNC, does a 'thing' that needs reason to 'exist' actually mean a 'statement' that needs reason to 'be true'?

          • Phil

            Which is what? The next bit does not seem to be an explicit 'reason'. So my position is not that the PSR is 'false', but that it does not extend to things like the PNC, and probably itself.

            The PSR says that there must be a reason for why something exists as it does and not in another way.

            And if something cannot existence in any other way, then it must exist as it does. Therefore the PSR is satisfied.

            This is the case with both the PSR and PNC.

          • Richard Morley

            Any statement cannot 'exist' in any other way, otherwise it is a different statement, not the statement of the first instance. (Although that is an appeal to the principle of identity, another of the basic axioms of logic.) But this does not mean that all statements are true. Some are false, not to sound all Donald-Trump-y. So why can the principle of non contradiction (or identity or sufficient reason) not be false? Without appealing to the laws of logic?

            And if something cannot existence in any other way, then it must exist as it does.

            Or not exist. But even if you prove that 'X cannot exist in any other way or not at all' how does that lead to it existing without appealing to the law of contradiction?

            Take a step back - just look at the question 'how do you prove the laws of logic without appealing to the laws of logic?' How is the answer not obviously that 'you cannot'?

          • Phil

            Any statement cannot 'exist' in any other way, otherwise it is a different statement, not the statement of the first instance.

            I'm not talking about the existence of the statement itself, I'm speaking of the ontological truth of the PSR itself.

            In others words, we are asking, could the PSR be false. And if saying that the PSR is false leads to a direct contradiction with the truth of the PSR being false, that is called "true by contradiction".

          • Richard Morley

            And if saying that the PSR is false leads to a direct contradiction with the truth of the PSR being false, that is called "true by contradiction".

            Which is an appeal to the law of contradiction. QED

            Aside: How does the PSR being false - one brute fact, for example - lead to contradictions? I didn't follow that.

          • Phil

            Which is an appeal to the law of contradiction

            Correct, which is why I said in the beginning that the PNC is primary, the PSR follows when the PNC is recogizied to be true.

            How does the PSR being false - one brute fact, for example - lead to contradictions? I didn't follow that.

            It is self-undermining. Your ability to say that there is good reason to believe that the PSR is false is undermined by claiming something can exist which has no good reason for being true (i.e., existing as it does).

            For example, you believe the PSR is false because you believe there are better arguments for believing it is false than for it being true. If you deny the PSR, you are saying, somethings existence need not any good reasons for existing as it does.

            So you can't believe something as true just because it has better and more reasonable evidence. Because something can be true which doesn't have good and reasonable evidence for existing. It is sawing off the branch you are seated on to say that anything is true or false.

          • Richard Morley

            Correct, which is why I said in the beginning that the PNC is primary, the PSR follows when the PNC is recogizied to be true.

            That is the main trunk of the argument. So, while I will ask later (again) about how you are getting the PSR from the Principle of Non Contradiction (PNC), let us assume arguendo that, in some Titanic feat of reasoning, all the other axioms of logic and all other true statements can be derived from the PNC. How then do you prove the PNC itself?

            My position is that you cannot, it has to be accepted as 'self evident' or somesuch, in what I would like to believe is the only necessary divergence from the absolute version of the PSR, which I would like, (which would otherwise apply to all true statements requiring a sufficient reason why they are true, thus and not otherwise). Even if you can find some 'reason' for the PNC, you face the same old Agrippan trilemma of either having an infinite regress of reasons, a circular argument (A→B→C→A), or a reason with no reason of its own - a brute fact.

            Back to the side issue of how your proof of the PSR from the PNC works:

            For example, you believe the PSR is false because you believe there are better arguments for believing it is false than for it being true.

            I believe the absolute version of the PSR (which I would intuitively like to be true) is false because we have a counterexample, one true statement (the PNC) that cannot have a proof ('reason for being true thus and not otherwise') other than itself, something we would allow for no other statement. One exception proves the rule false.

            So you can't believe something as true just because it has better and more reasonable evidence. Because something can be true which doesn't have good and reasonable evidence for existing. It is sawing off the branch you are seated on to say that anything is true or false.

            You can still say that something is true if you have proof that it is true, or say that it is false if you have proof that it is false, but we are just saying (for the sake of argument) that there is at least one statement that is true but has no proof. Where is the contradiction? I still don't see one.

            Any proof relies on axioms, if you have proofs for the axioms those proofs also rely on axioms, unless you have an infinite argument with no first term, no beginning.

            Point of clarification, do I understand correctly that for you a 'thing' 'existing' covers 'a statement being true'? In contrast, one might say that the statement "8 is a prime number" exists (it is right there on the screen), but is false.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You and Phil are having an excellent discussion, and I hope you both will forgive me for adding a passing comment – just one.

            Of course the principle of non-contradiction is self-evident, as Aristotle and classical metaphysicians have always maintained. There is no need for any trilemmas. For some reason, some think that nothing can really be its own reason, and thus, an infinite regress ensues. For some reason, they assume that anything that is its own reason must be a brute fact. But a brute fact has no reason at all, which is entirely other than for something to be its own reason.

            No one can really doubt or deny the principle of non-contradiction – for the very act of denying or doubting
            presupposes its validity. To say, “I deny,” is to affirm that you deny and deny that you affirm, both of which need the PNC for their very intelligibility. To say “I doubt” is to absolutely affirm that you doubt, which is to deny its contradictory of not doubting. Nor does the PNC derive from math, since every math supposition or axiom presupposes the PNC for its intelligibility. Let p > q presupposes that you are affirming that supposition, and the affirmation has meaning solely if it excludes its denial. Even modal logic wherein statements are qualified presupposes the absolute affirmation of its statements expressed.

            The reason we must speak this way is that we cannot even think otherwise. The mind operates by judgments that
            combine or divide subjects from predicates in the form of “is” or “is not” or some variant thereof – all of which reflect the PNC.

            Clearly, science cannot “prove” the PNC, and all scientists operatively presuppose it every time a statement is made. It cannot be inductively derived the way Hume views induction by multiplying particulars, but rather is induced the moment we form the concept of being derived from encounter with any being at all. The reason for our certitude is simply that the intellect “sees” being and instantly recognizes that it is, as Parmenides noted, being and not non-being. Yes, the mind is judging itself in its act of judging being, and in so doing recognizes that it is so constituted as to see the truth of being. That is why all men are intellectually forced to admit its truth as a presupposition of any statement whatever they may utter or even think.

            You may not agree with all of this, but this explanation is why the PNC is not viewed by classical metaphysicians as either a brute fact or something that requires prior reasons for its truth. The mind simply knows being, and knows that it knows being – just as it necessarily seeks to know truth (which is simply being in the mind).

            But then, is it simply a brute fact that the mind is so made? (Those who constantly look for brute facts simply do not accept the PSR, but those who accept the PSR realize that no brute facts can exist.) To the classical metaphysician, the mind works as it does because that is the nature of intellect itself. It is constituted by nature to seek truth and know being. As to why such intellectual natures exist, the basis for that is the nature of the Intellectual Creator. And why does he exist? Of course, the answer is that he is his own sufficient reason.

            Since brute facts imply there is no reason at all for something, God is not a brute fact, since he is his own reason for being. And he is his own reason for being because his essence includes his act of existence -- according to classical metaphysics.

            You may still doubt or deny that the PNC is self-evident, but at least I hope this renders more coherent the position of those of us who insist that it is.

          • Richard Morley

            Of course the principle of non-contradiction is self-evident

            I don't think anyone denies that. But something can be self evident and still have a 'sufficient reason' or proof from more basic principles. Most people (including me) would think that "1+1=2" is self evident and leave it at that, but in Principia Mathematica Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell famously have 300 pages of proof of that. I would argue that such proof is of value as it ties the body of maths together into a coherent whole, and I am still miffed at Godel for kicking that project in the nuts.

            For some reason, they assume that anything that is its own reason must be a brute fact.

            Well, I don't want to get into a quibble about how 'brute fact' should be defined, but I think this all boils down to how one views basic axioms and their relationship to the PSR and how strictly the PSR is formulated.

            Certainly I would draw a distinction between something like the PNC which I consider to be "just true" or "self evident" or similar, but which is true in all possible worlds, and more troubling 'brute facts' such as quantum events satisfying necessary conditions but not (for example) having a deterministic reason why the radioactive decay happened just then and in just that way which could be different in other possible worlds.

            As discussed before, if you allow the PNC to be its own reason in the sense that 'if the PNC is true then the PNC is true', I feel that makes a nonsense of the PSR. If you have a more developed argument that uses the PNC to prove the PNC (or a larger set of basic axioms to prove eachother), that is the circular horn of the trilemma and while it technically satisfies the PNC still leaves the truth of the set as a whole apparently a 'brute fact' as I would use it. And I am curious as to what the argument is. "It is self evident" doesn't seem an appeal to the PNC.

            Or you can say that "the PNC is self evident" is the 'sufficient reason' for the PNC, but then "the PNC is self evident" needs a sufficient reason. One could claim that in turn 'it is self evident that the PNC is self evident' is the sufficient reason for "the PNC is self evident", and so on with an infinite regress of trivial sufficient reasons. Obviously the infinite regress horn of the trilemma.

            Or you can just say that self evident facts do not need sufficient reason. They can just be necessarily true. The remaining horn of the trilemma, whatever you wish to call it.

            At the end of the day, it seems to be just a question of how one regards the fundamental axioms, especially as regards how they satisfy the PSR, not whether they are true. Beyond wondering how some claim to prove the PNC or PSR with the PNC, I suspect it is just a difference of point of view.

            The reason we must speak this way is that we cannot even think otherwise.

            That is the troubling part. How certain can we be that the way we think is the way reality works, especially when our own maths and logic throws up things like Godel's incompleteness theorem? Like the (reasonable) trustworthiness of our memory and senses, it seems to be one of the things we have to take 'on faith', or on pragmatic grounds.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Without getting into endless discussion, I was mainly trying to point out that there is at least one basic certitude that we simply do not and cannot get through natural science or math, namely, the PNC. This is a curious situation in a world where many think that natural science and math are the only roads to truth, if there is any.

            Of course, the PNC has to have a sufficient reason for its truth. But recall that the PNC as stated is simply a judgment of the mind, not a thing in itself. The reason for its certitude is that the intellect “sees” being, that is, understands the nature of being (once encountered) and sees with certitude that it cannot both be and not be.

            If you ask how this is possible, consider that act of seeing. Do we have to prove that we are seeing, or is the act of seeing its own proof of its operation and the nature of it as a cognitive power?

            That is why, once the mind grasps the nature of being, even without considering all of its metaphysical implications, it knows that “it is” and that “it is not non-being.”

            Moreover, please reflect on the fact that this principle cannot be derived from any other principle, science, math, or any other act of knowledge that is inherently secondary to it. Nor is it based on faith, since faith is an assent to something unseen, whereas being and the PNC are “seen,” that is, understood by the intellect.

            As to what is the reason for its being this way, that is another question altogether, just as one can ask why we have this power of sight, whose evidence of its reality is given in the very act of its exercise. Even the PSR presupposes the PNC for the coherence of its expression. I don’t want to get into the question as to whether and how the PSR might be derived from the PNC here. My focus is exclusively on the PNC.

            I think I gave some explanation in my prior post as why the human intellect has this ability, so am not concerned with it here. I just want to note that the PNC is an immediately given truth that is neither derived from a prior truth nor a matter of faith.

            The problem for those who think that physics and math are the only sources for rational knowledge is how to explain
            the existence and certitude and epistemic preeminence of such a principle, since it clearly does not come from physics or math, but is absolutely presupposed in every judgment rendered in such disciplines.

            As I have said elsewhere, if the way we must think is not the way reality works, then we are all, by definition, psychotic. But more optimistically, I would point out that the certitude that our thought is correct in affirming the PNC is given in the very act by which we “see” being, just as the reality of sight is given in its very exercise.

            Just as one cannot doubt the experience of sight, neither can one doubt his understanding of being as not non-being, once he grasps its concept.

          • Richard Morley

            Without getting into endless discussion, I was mainly trying to point out that there is at least one basic certitude that we simply do not and cannot get through natural science or math, namely, the PNC.

            I am still feeling some animosity towards natural science, and now towards mathematics. I don't see why, especially as these days arguably both theoretical physics and higher pure mathematics overlap with what would be considered philosophy, and can certainly be very useful to it. The Agrippan trilemma and many of the arguments around first causes and the like all are beautifully and rigorously expressed in graph theory, for example.

            If you ask how this is possible, consider that act of seeing. Do we have to prove that we are seeing, or is the act of seeing its own proof of its operation and the nature of it as a cognitive power?

            I suppose the smug self satisfied Dick answer (did I warn you that I am welsh? I forget) would be that the answer depends on whether you are the sort of person who just accepts that "1+1=2" and turns on the telly, or the kind who writes 300 pages of rigorous proof tying "1+1=2" to yet more basic axioms.

            At the end of the day, the strictest, most absolute form of the PSR would indeed say that you do need 'sufficient' reason to assert that you are seeing. But if I recall correctly you already reject the strictest forms of the PSR to maintain 'free will' (at least for God).

            The problem for those who think that physics and math are the only sources for rational knowledge..

            I don't see anyone here arguing that, nor is there much point in debating such dogmatism. That is where the apparent stance that if our experience of reality contradicts one's philosophy, reality must be wrong actually weakens the 'philosophical' position.

          • Phil

            How then do you prove the PNC itself?

            It is a first principle, as every system of thought must have a first principle:

            First Principle: A first principle is a basic, foundational, self-evident proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.

            In point of fact, the PNC is self-evident because one can't deny the PNC without reducing themself to incoherency. If one can't deny the PNC coherently, then it is clear that the PNC ought to be accepted as self-evident first principle.

            (I.e., you can't discuss your view above without assuming that the PNC is true. So even you are assuming it is true.)

          • Richard Morley

            A first principle is a basic, foundational, self-evident proposition or assumption that cannot be deduced from any other proposition or assumption.

            So it has no 'sufficent reason', is its own 'sufficent reason', or one has an infinite regress of principles (even trivial ones like "it is self evident that principle(n+1) is true" and so no first principle. The three horns of the trilemma. See my post to Dr Bonnette.

            In point of fact, the PNC is self-evident because one can't deny the PNC without reducing themself to incoherency.

            You keep repeating the assertion, not backing it up. See my questions on this in earlier posts.

            So even you are assuming it is true.

            Absolutely. The question is whether and how it satisfies the strictest possible formulation of the PSR.

          • Phil

            So it has no 'sufficent reason', is its own 'sufficent reason', or one has an infinite regress of principles (even trivial ones like "it is self evident that principle(n+1) is true" and so no first principle. The three horns of the trilemma.

            As I explained before, the PSR in broadest terms states that everything that exists has a sufficient reason for why it exists as it does and not in some other way. If something can only exist as it does, then the PSR is satisfied, because only being able to exist in a certain way is a sufficient and rational reason for why it exists as it does.

            One's belief in the PNC satisfies the PSR because the PNC cannot rationally be false. Therefore, it can only reasonably be true. It can't exist as false. Therefore the PSR is satisfied.

          • Richard Morley

            Therefore the PSR is satisfied.

            Not until you also provide 'sufficient reason' for the statements "Therefore, it can only reasonably be true" and "It can't exist as false."

            Further, in providing such 'sufficient reason', there would be a problem with using the basic axioms of logic, which you have not yet proven, in order to prove themselves.

            I don't disagree that the PNC and some form of the PSR are true, I am just pointing out the issues with such fundamental axioms and the strictest possible form of the PSR.

          • Phil

            "Therefore, it can only reasonably be true" and "It can't exist as false."

            I said above that let's assume that the PSR is false. When you do that, that leads to an incoherency, therefore one can reject the belief that the PSR is false. (This reasoning is based upon the truth of the PNC, that is why the PNC is the first principle.)

          • Richard Morley

            I said above that let's assume that the PSR is false. When you do that, that leads to an incoherency,

            And as I tried to explain then, I found your claim that it leads to an incoherency too brief to follow. How, exactly? If you cannot explain it to me, so be it, but at present it is very unclear.

            (This reasoning is based upon the truth of the PNC, that is why the PNC is the first principle.)

            As we have already gone over, that still leaves at least one basic axiom that must effectively be accepted as just true, whichever horn of the trilemma one dresses it up as.

          • Phil

            And as I tried to explain then, I found your claim that it leads to an incoherency too brief to follow. How, exactly? If you cannot explain it to me, so be it, but at present it is very unclear.

            I'll spell it out a little more in separate "thoughts":

            1) Why do we believe anything to be true? Because we have reason and evidence that it is actually true.

            2) If the PSR is false, that means something can be true (i.e., exist) without any reason or evidence.

            3) This includes our belief that the PSR is false. So the belief that the PSR is false can exist without any sufficient reason or evidence. Therefore, the justification for one's belief that the PSR is false is itself undermined.

          • Richard Morley

            I'll spell it out a little more in separate "thoughts":

            I appreciate that. But this doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so unless you have specific questions I may well leave it at that after this. I would just be repeating myself.

            1) Why do we believe anything to be true?

            Not directly relevant to the argument, but the PSR is not (I think) about what we believe to be true, but about what actually is true. It is ontological not epistemological, in other words. Leibniz' formulation explicitly says that we may well not know what the reason is.

            2) If the PSR is false, that means something can be true (i.e., exist) without any reason or evidence.

            Also a side issue, but only "at least" one thing, and it may be only with limited reason, but not sufficient reason, as opposed to without any reason. See the virtual particle example.

            3) This includes our belief that the PSR is false.

            No. Absolutely not. If you accept for the sake of argument that it is proven that the basic axiom[s] of logic cannot themselves be proven by yet more basic axioms, that just proves that they are 'brute facts' in that sense. It does not prove that everything else is. (Unless you are using a transitive definition of 'brute fact' whereby anything whose proof relies on a brute fact is itself a brute fact?)

            The existence of one brute fact might raise the possibility that any statement is another brute fact, but only where we do not know of a sufficient reason that the statement is true. If we have a sufficient reason that something is true (or false), I don't see why the existence of one brute fact changes that. We know of a sufficient reason, so there is no possibility of that statement being a brute fact.

            If we have one example of a statement (the PNC) that we accept as true but which cannot be proven without referring to itself, that proves the PSR (in its strictest form) is false. Only a less strict form can hold true.

            Once you accept the PNC you can test it against itself to look for inconsistencies, but I do not feel it is valid to use the PNC to "prove itself" in any rigorous sense. It is something we 'perceive' or 'believe' to be true directly, not something that can be proven from more basic axioms in the way "1+1=2" can be.

          • Phil

            Not directly relevant to the argument, but the PSR is not (I think) about what we believe to be true, but about what actually is true. It is ontological not epistemological, in other words. Leibniz' formulation explicitly says that we may well not know what the reason is.

            I agree 100%, the issue is ontological. Your belief that the PSR is false can pop into existence with no reason and no cause. If that is the case, then it has no intrinsic connection to the truth of how reality actually exists (the ontological issue).

            You are ultimately admitting that your belief that the PSR is false needs no ontological cause or reason for existing. Ultimately, if the PSR is false, no belief you have need have any real connection to how reality actually exists ontologically.

          • Richard Morley

            Ouch. OK, you are apparently just not reading or understanding what I wrote, at all, so I think I've had all I'm going to get out of this and am not getting through to you. Thank you for an interesting discussion.

          • Phil

            I mean, if you believe that the PSR is false, this means your belief that the PSR is false also needs no ontological reason for cause for its existence. That is the intellectual pickle that denying the PSR gets one into.

          • Richard Morley

            I mean, if you believe that the PSR is false, this means your belief that the PSR is false also needs no ontological reason for cause for its existence.

            It does not mean that it does not have an "ontological reason for its existence", especially if we know what that reason is.

            Seriously, if you want me to re-engage, show that you have read my answers so far. Answering my questions would be a good start.

          • Phil

            It does not mean that it does not have an "ontological reason for its existence", especially if we know what that reason is.

            It means you have no ontological basis for any of your beliefs. Denying the PSR undermines this.

          • Richard Morley

            I gave the basis. This is what I mean by you just not reading what I wrote.

            I'm trying not to let this behaviour colour my perception of your other posts, but you are not making it easy.

          • Phil

            I gave the basis. This is what I mean by you just not reading what I wrote.

            And I just wrote that its undermines your ontological basis for all your beliefs, including your justification and basis for the PSR. And also including the explanation and justification of that explanation...etc. It is an infinite regress.

            That is why denying the PSR is so rationally and intellectually corrosive. It takes away one's basis for truth itself.

          • Richard Morley

            And I just wrote that its undermines your ontological basis for all your beliefs

            So you keep claiming.

            One example of a statement that is universally accepted is true but cannot be proven from more basic axioms disproves (sadly) the strictest possible form of the PSR. This is not dependant on [the strictest possible form of] the PSR being true.

            Having one sufficient reason for X proves that X does not lack a sufficient reason. This is not dependant on [the strictest possible form of] the PSR being true.

            So [the strictest possible form of] the PSR being false does not undermine it. Ssimples.

          • Phil

            One example of a statement that is universally accepted is true but cannot be proven from more basic axioms disproves (sadly) the strictest possible form of the PSR

            That's the epistemological problem you are talking about. But remember, we are talking about the ontological problem.

            Let's assume we can't prove a statement with more basic axioms, that doesn't then mean that it doesn't have reasons for its existence (ontological), it just means it may not be possible for us to know them (epistemological).

            My point is that the ontological basis for any of your beliefs is destroyed once you deny the PSR at true.

          • Richard Morley

            That's the epistemological problem you are talking about.

            No, it is not. It is ontological.

            One example of a statement that is universally accepted is true but logically cannot be proven from more basic axioms disproves (sadly) the strictest possible form of the PSR. It is not just that we do not know what the logical proof is, we can prove that there is none, it is logically impossible to prove the basic axioms of logic with logic.

            My point is that the ontological basis for any of your beliefs is destroyed once you deny the PSR at true.

            And you are back to asserting that without support, despite my pointing out that the relevant statements do not rely on the PSR for their proof. Relying on the PSR to prove the PSR is wrong would be a show stopping trick.

          • Phil

            It is not just that we do not know what the logical proof is, we can prove that there is none, it is logically impossible to prove the basic axioms of logic with logic.

            But this is quite different from saying that there is no reason or cause for the existence of the basic axioms of logic.

            Proofs for the axioms is the epistemological question. The reason and cause of their existence is the ontological question.

            And you are back to asserting that without support, despite my pointing out that the relevant statements do not rely on the PSR for their proof. Relying on the PSR to prove the PSR is wrong would be a show stopping trick.

            Yes, which is what you are doing and that is why what you are saying is irrational.
            When you say "The PSR is false", you are actually assuming that the PSR is true for your belief to be rational and intelligible. That is a contradiction, which is why claiming that the PSR is false is ultimately self-contradictory.

          • carmel Ka

            Hi Phil.

            Please not that the woman from the train is moving relative to the lights also even if she is still relative to the train.
            Press upon this: 2 relative frames moving relative to each other the woman toghether with the train and the lights. He does not want to account you for these 2 relatives frames of reference since it doesn't provide him equal distances then but different. Tell him that relativity of simultaneity takes into account all the references frames in question:
            Each light has its own reference frame , the train , the woman and the person from the station.
            Only in the reference frame of the woman relative to the train the distances are equal, for the others need to account for the relativity of motion with Lorentz tranformation to calculate the distances.

          • Richard Morley

            But this is quite different from saying that there is no reason or cause for the existence of the basic axioms of logic.

            The strictest form of the PSR would entail that for every true statement Q there being a separate statement P that logically proves that Q is true. P→Q.

            This is not possible for the axioms of logic themselves, as you cannot use logic to prove logic. You cannot formally show P→Q without appealing to the axioms of logic. You can say that there is some 'reason or cause' other than a formal logical one (e.g. 'it is self evident'), but that is still stepping away from the strictest form of the PSR.

            When you say "The PSR is false"

            I keep pointing out that that is not an accurate representation of my position.

            you are actually assuming that the PSR is true for your belief to be rational and intelligible

            So you keep asserting, but cannot apparently prove. Or at least cannot state that proof coherently, beyond a blunt assertion that it is the case. What in the assertion "one example of rule X not applying proves rule X to be false" assumes or relies on the PSR?

          • Phil

            The strictest form of the PSR would entail that for every true statement Q there being a separate statement P that logically proves that Q is true. P→Q.

            The version of the PSR I am working from is that everything that exists has a reason or cause for its existence. So I don't know if that is the version of the PSR you are working from.

          • Richard Morley

            Allegedly (I think) some 'proofs' of God show that a contradiction arises if God does not exist, i.e. God cannot logically exist otherwise or not at all without paradox, and crucially that this paradox arises without reference to anything external to him. So saying that there is a contradiction between a contingent universe existing and God not existing would not count, it would make the universe being contingent empirical evidence of God's existence, but would not demonstrate that he is a logically necessary being in his own right

            Which is the closest I can see to making God's existence necessary, reliant on nothing but his own definition and the laws of logic, but
            a) that arguably makes the law of contradiction 'the cause' of (or at least more fundamental than) God's existence.
            b) I don't see how a non existent thing, however defined, leads to contradiction. An "invisible pink unicorn" is arguably a contradiction, but only leads to paradox if it exists. Defining an "existent dragon" does not lead to paradox if it doesn't exist, the definition is just wrong.

            The closest I can think of is something like saying that there is a contradiction in asserting that the lowest number in a finite non-empty group of integers does not exist. But on closer examination that is asserting that a finite non-empty group of integers without a lowest number does exist. So the existence of the lowest member is contingent on the existence of the group and its being finite and not empty.

            Again, proof that there must be a necessary God is not quite the same as explaining in what sense he is necessary, what paradox would arise if he did not exist (and nor did anything else). Like the difference between proving that there is a green fire breathing welsh speaking dragon in my wine cellar, and explaining its presence. I'm greedy, I want the full monty.

          • Phil

            Put another way, if the metaphysical principle of the PSR is false, then your belief that the PSR is false may have no rational reasons for its existence. (Who really knows why you believe anything you actually do. I wouldn't have any reason to believe it without the PSR.)

            Your belief that the PSR is false itself is undermined because you may think that your reason for believing it is false are reasonable and sufficient, but they may not be, for which you could never know because intelligibility is destroyed with a false PSR.

            It is a self-undermining position or what is known as "proof by contradiction".

          • Correct. If the PSR is false then at least one phenomena would just exist with no reasons. But my beliefs and thoughts seem to and we can identify them with some significant confidence.

            To be clear, I have never said I believe it isn’t false, I said I don’t believe it’s is true. But that doesn’t matter.

            There is no logical contradiction in the PSR being false or any belief it is false. If there is say what it is. Undermining is not the same as contradiction, but I see neither her here.

            I have beliefs. I have beliefs for reasons. I accept that almost all of my beliefs may be false. But I believe them for the reasons I would reference. Where is the contradiction?

          • Phil

            I have beliefs. I have beliefs for reasons. I accept that almost all of my beliefs may be false. But I believe them for the reasons I would reference. Where is the contradiction?

            When it comes down to it, the PSR in "simple" terms says that you can't give what you don't have. So if paper doesn't have the power for fire built into its nature, then its moving from " not on fire" to "on fire" must have a reasonable and sufficient reason outside itself coming from something that does have that power.

            In short, the PSR being false means that something can give what it doesn't have. Therefore, there is no reason to say that you drinking a beer can't be the cause of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

            -------
            Put another way:
            The PSR is simply stating that all things are intelligible. But if one denies it, the intelligibility of even the claim that the PSR is false become unintelligible. (Because to hold the PSR says that everything is intelligible).

            So again, it is a moment of truth by contradiction. If to hold a statement as true means that you can't hold that very statement, then that is a contradiction.

          • “the PSR in "simple" terms says that you can't give what you don't have.“

            This is NOT what the PSR says, it says everything has a reason for its existence.

            If the PSR is false it means some things can exist or occur for no reason. Whether drinking a beer is the cause of a black hole is a different question.

            I can grant that the effect of the PSR if true is that all things are intelligible in some way.

            But no if the PSR is false this does NOT mean nothing is intelligible. It means at least one fact has no reason for its existence or occurrence. Virtually everything can have reasons and be intelligible but one thing is not.

            Where is the contradiction in everything being intelligible and having a reason except for one electron ceasing to exist for no reason?

          • Phil

            But no if the PSR is false this does NOT mean nothing is intelligible. It means at least one fact has no reason for its existence or occurrence. Virtually everything can have reasons and be intelligible but one thing is not.

            Yes, and the reason why I don't think that is coherent:

            That the world is only partially intelligible in itself and only partially intelligible to us would seem to the closest one could come plausibly to claiming that reality is unintelligible. But I think that this is not really coherent. Suppose I told you that the fact that a certain book has not fallen to the ground is explained by the fact that it is resting on a certain shelf, but that the fact that the shelf itself has not fallen to the ground has no explanation at all but is an unintelligible brute fact. Have I really explained the position of the book? It is hard to see how. For the shelf has in itself no tendency to stay aloft – it is, by hypothesis, just a brute fact that it does so. But if it has no such tendency, it cannot impart such a tendency to the book. The “explanation” the shelf provides in such a case would be completely illusory. (Nor would it help to impute to the book some such tendency after all, if the having of the tendency is itself just an unintelligible brute fact. The illusion will just have been relocated, not eliminated.)

            You cannot give what one doesn't have.

          • The example in the quotation you provided does not suggest any incoherence. And we should be clear that by incoherence I mean a logical contradiction. I.e. a violation of the law of identity. For example: a book is on the shelf is also not a book, would be a contradiction.

            What your example has shown in a situation where the book's status is not completely explained. Which would indeed be the case of brute facts. But this is no demonstration of incoherence of brute facts but a statement describing brute facts. Brute facts would be incoherent if they had no reason to exist but were also created by God, for example.

            The statement "You cannot give what one doesn't have." Expresses a different principle than the PSR.

            If the shelf were a brute fact it would indeed have the ability to explain in part the book not falling. It would "have" this. There just wouldn't be any reason for it to exist .

          • Phil

            Put another way, do you really believe that something can exist for which there are not sufficient reasons for its own existence?

            What you are saying is: Something exists for which the sufficient reasons for its existence have not been met.

            That seems incoherent.

          • Again as I say in virtually every post I am not saying that there are brute facts! I do not believe things exist for not reason nor do I believe all things have a reason nor that there is an infinite regress. I believe it has to be one of the three. I believe we are in no position to tell which one.

          • Phil

            Again as I say in virtually every post I am not saying that there are brute facts! I do not believe things exist for not reason nor do I believe all things have a reason nor that there is an infinite regress. I believe it has to be one of the three. I believe we are in no position to tell which one.

            Then we actually agree. Because as you said above, the PSR is a metaphysical principle, not an epistemological one.

            So brute facts cannot metaphysically exist because every single thing that exists has sufficient reasons for its existence (or it wouldn't exist). Whether or not it is possible for us to find those reasons is a different (that is, epistemological) question.

          • "So brute facts cannot metaphysically exist because every single thing that exists has sufficient reasons for its existence (or it wouldn't exist). "

            This is a good statement of the PSR but no reason to believe it is true. I do not accept that statement as true. You do, but I don't hear your justification for it.

            You've asked me to consider that when we do science we do this because we accept even believe that things have reasons. Science indeed has traced these reasons to a singularity in which the values for time and space become infinite and scientists can no longer make any inferences. All our models and intuitions break down.

            We are left with the trilema. Either some brute fact state of affairs gave rise to this singularity, possibly the quantum vacuum and laws of nature. Or some non brute fact gave rise to it, such as a deity or other natural cause that includes it's own reason for it's existence and properties, or there is some infinite regress, be it temporal and spatial or by way of some other unfathomable dimensions.

            All of these options seem counterintuitive to me which makes sense. My intuitions are based on four dimensional space time with operating forces we are famiar with. I can't guess what "happens" or is likely in some completely inconceivable non material non temporal state of affairs or in 11 dimensional reality.

            To you the PSR may be intuitive. Or you just may be implicitly biased towards it. After all your faith, your church, your morality, your sense of purpose are deeply dependent on the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Maybe not.

            But unless you can justify the statement above, I don't see any way to begin to place probabilities on this question.

          • Phil

            This is a good statement of the PSR but no reason to believe it is true. I do not accept that statement as true. You do, but I don't hear your justification for it.

            Do you believe that something can exist whose necessary and sufficient reasons for existing have not been met?

          • "...WHOSE NECESSARY..." so you are asking when things need reasons to exist do I believe they need those reasons to exist?

            Of course not, just like if something were a brute fact it would need no reasons to exist.

          • Phil

            Of course not, just like if something were a brute fact it would need no reasons to exist.

            I think you'd have to persuade me that this is coherent.

            For example, it is clear that there are contingent and non-contingent beings. Contingent beings rely upon reasons outside themselves for existence and non-contingent beings rely on nothing outside themselves for existence. But both of these have reasons that are met for existence.

            But to say that something exists that has no reason for existing would seem to be incoherent. It seems that underneath this phrase one is saying, "Something exists which ought not exist." This seems pretty absurd. But maybe you can persuade me to its coherency?

          • Both your and my statements are coherent. A brute fact is a fact that has no reasons for it's existence. So it is perfectly coherent to say if something is a brute fact it has no reasons for it's existence.

            No one said something exists with no reason for it's existence, I said if something did, it would be a brute fact.

            Please don't read in things you think are underneath my statements. You would be arguing with yourself. I'm not saying things ought or ought not exist.

            Determining coherence is not an inductive exercise. It's not about what it seems. It's logic. It is independent of whether something is plausible or likely. Something that is incoherent is internally contradictory. I'm not sure you grasp this and what you really mean is not that there is a contradiction but that brute facts offend your intuition. They offend mine too! but so do the other horns if the trilema.

          • Phil

            So it is perfectly coherent to say if something is a brute fact it has no reasons for it's existence.

            How can something exist that has no reason for actually existing? Again, it sounds like you are saying that something exists which ought not exist.

          • I don't know. How can something be it's own reason for existence?

          • Phil

            I don't know. How can something be it's own reason for existence?

            Really, there is only one thing that could be...that which contains no potentiality within itself, actuality itself, the very act of existence itself. That which perfectly self-explained Which is one reason why what A-T call "God" must be unique.

            So it is perfectly coherent to say if something is a brute fact it has no reasons for it's existence.

            So again, a non-contingent being is explained and a contingent being can be explained. But a being that is neither contingent nor non-contingent seems to be absurd and incoherent.

            It is saying that something exists which ought not exist.

          • But that doesn't explain why this entity does not contain any potentiality within itself, is actuality itself, or perfectly explains itself. It is just saying this entity simply is that way and therefore explains itself. You've provided no explanation. Rather you are saying that existence itself is a brute fact.

          • Phil

            Rather you are saying that existence itself is a brute fact.

            Not quite, a brute fact has no explanation whatsoever, inside or outside of itself.

            A non-contingent being has an explanation within its very being/nature/essence.

          • I know. But when you try to explain how something can be it's own explanation the explaniton sounds like your saying it just exist.

            Anyway you haven't shown why there can't be brute facts.

          • Phil

            know. But when you try to explain how something can be it's own explanation the explaniton sounds like your saying it just exist.

            There is a big difference between something having no explanation and one that is explained from within. One thing has an explanation the other does not.

            Anyway you haven't shown why there can't be brute facts.

            Brute facts (i.e., something that ontologically has no explanation) because for something to exist it must have all its conditions necessary for it to exist as it it does met (if it doesn't then it wouldn't exist).

            So if something exists, then it has at least one condition that needs to be met for it to exist, or it can't exist. If that condition does not come from within (as in the case of a non-conditional reality) then it must come from without.

            Therefore, the PSR is true, and to deny the PSR is to violate the PNC because one is saying that something exists which cannot exist.

          • Sure but other that just saying the explanation is within itself you seem to have no mire idea of how this could be that I do of how something can be a brute fact.

            No, nothing in the definition of a brute fact says it cannot exist. The definition is just that they would exist for no reason.

          • Phil

            Sure but other that just saying the explanation is within itself you seem to have no mire idea of how this could be that I do of how something can be a brute fact.

            Again, a brute fact has no explanation, something that is non-contingent (explains itself from within) has an explanation.

            The former is incoherent, the latter is not.

            I mean, you can claim that what you are calling a "brute fact" is really a non-contingent entity (i.e., needing nothing outside itself to explain its existence), but then one needs to give evidence that this is the case.

          • Ok. If you are just going to repeat that brute facts are incoherent without explaining what you think the contradiction is I think we have nothing more to say.

            Of course a brute fact would be non contingent. But since no one has identified any of course I can't give you evidence.

            By the same token no one has identified any self-explaining entity either. Now you can say that God is one but you can't show evidence of that either.

          • Phil

            Of course a brute fact would be non contingent. But since no one has identified any of course I can't give you evidence.

            Again, a brute face has no explanation, but a non-contingent entity does have an explanation (i.e., itself). A brute fact can't explain itself, a non-contingent entity can.

            Are you saying that things can exist which can't explain themselves and don't have a cause outside themselves? Or are you saying that something that can explain itself (a non-contingent entity) can exist?

          • A brute fact is a non-contingent fact that has no explanation for it's existence. This is distinguished from non-contingent facts that are there own explanation. But both would be non-contingent. The other kind of fact is one with an explanation outside of itself. (Aggripean Trilema)

            If you accept the PSR you are just saying the only non-contingent facts possible are ones that contain their own explanation.

            I'm not saying any of these are the case, I'm saying none have been shown impossible. All three horns of the trilema and non-intuitive to me. But one of the horns of the Trilema, it would seem to me, must be the case.

          • Phil

            If you accept the PSR you are just saying the only non-contingent facts possible are ones that contain their own explanation.

            I'm not saying any of these are the case, I'm saying none have been shown impossible. All three horns of the trilema and non-intuitive to me. But one of the horns of the Trilema, it would seem to me, must be the case.

            I'll agree with that, and simply say that I would hold that brute facts are impossible. So contingent and non-continent entities are all that are possible.

          • Why? Why cannot some thing just exist with no explanation? Do you just find the PSR more intuitive? Why need we take positions on this in the first place?

          • Phil

            Why? Why cannot some thing just exist with no explanation? Do you just find the PSR more intuitive? Why need we take positions on this in the first place?

            I simply don't think it is coherent to say that things can pop into existence with no cause and no reason whatsoever.

            Would you say that something can pop into existence with no cause and no reason whatsoever?

          • Well you are wrong. There is nothing incoherent about brute facts.

            I would say that that all three horns of the Trilema are coherent. I would say something coming to exist from nothing is counter-intuitive to me. I would say some theistic self-explaining ultimate reality is more intuitive, but naturalistic state of ultimate reality such as an atemporal, quantum vacuum is least counter-intuitive.

            But my intuitions are poor guides to reality in this temporal spatial context, they are useless absent time and basically a Newtonian universe. So I can't take a position on this.

          • Phil

            Well you are wrong. There is nothing incoherent about brute facts.

            This means your belief that brute facts are coherent may be a brute fact that just popped into existence in your mind without any good reason and without any cause.

            With this being the case, it wouldn't give me any reason to believe that what you are saying it actually true. I lean towards believing things that have reason and evidence for their truth. Which your belief being a brute fact would not give me any of that.

            (In point of fact, there is no way to tell the difference between something that just popped into existence and something that was brought into existence by something if brute facts are possible.)

          • I don't have a belief in brute facts, as I've said many, many times. There is just no contradiction in the concept. But yes if brute facts exist they would exist without any reason. They need not pop into existence, they might always exist.

            I have given you reason to accept that brute facts are coherent, and none to believe any exist. This is why I too don't believe they exist. Of course something being coherent had no bearing on whether it exists.

            I also try only to believe things for which there are reasons to accept the claim. For this reason I have not accepted that the PSR, or brute facts are true. I accept both are coherent, if mutually exclusive. I just don't have enough to convince me one way or the other.

            But you have taken a position, that the PSR is true, because it seems true to you. Okay, it doesn't seem true to me and you've given me insufficient reason to accept it.

          • I don't have a belief in brute facts, as I've said many, many times. There is just no contradiction in the concept. But yes if brute facts exist they would exist without any reason. They need not pop into existence, they might always exist.

            I have given you reason to accept that brute facts are coherent, and none to believe any exist. This is why I too don't believe they exist. Of course something being coherent had no bearing on whether it exists.

            I also try only to believe things for which there are reasons to accept the claim. For this reason I have not accepted that the PSR, or brute facts are true. I accept both are coherent, if mutually exclusive. I just don't have enough to convince me one way or the other.

            But you have taken a position, that the PSR is true, because it seems true to you. Okay, it doesn't seem true to me and you've given me insufficient reason to accept it.

          • Phil

            The fact that your belief that brute facts are coherent may be a brute fact that just popped into existence in your mind without any good reason and without any cause is self-undermining, which is why it is not coherent to believe in them.

          • Actually my belief that brute facts would be coherent if they exist, is clearly not a brute fact because I have an explanation for this belief.

            But say it did just arise with no explanation, that would not be incoherent either because there would be no contradiction.

          • Phil

            Actually my belief that brute facts would be coherent if they exist, is clearly not a brute fact because I have an explanation for this belief.

            Why is that explanation not a brute fact? And the explanation of the explanation? Etc...

            Ultimately, this turns into an infinite regress.

            But say it did just arise with no explanation, that would not be incoherent either because there would be no contradiction.

            Well, if it popped into existence with no reasonable explanation or cause, you or I have no reason to believe it arose because it is actually true. If a belief just popped into existence, it isn't directly connected to truth in any way.

          • I believe that explanation is not a brute fact because I have an explanation for it. It may run into an infinite regress, or not the other candidates are a brute fact, or a self-explaining fact, these are the three horns of the Trilema.

            "Well, if it popped into existence with no reasonable explanation or cause, you or I have no reason to believe it arose because it is actually true"

            But we weren't talking epistemologically, we were talking coherence. I take it you agree there is nothing incoherent about brute facts then? You are just maybe agreeing that we don't know and may never know if any exist?

          • Phil

            But we weren't talking epistemologically, we were talking coherence. I take it you agree there is nothing incoherent about brute facts then? You are just maybe agreeing that we don't know and may never know if any exist?

            No, I would actually say that brute facts are incoherent both ontologically and epistemologically.

            Ontologically because that means that something can pop into existence uncaused.

            Epistemologically, because your beliefs can pop into existence uncaused which destroys your ability to know truth of how things actually exist.

          • carmel Ka

            Hello Phil. Take The Ath. from a previous post when he admited that one inertial/referential frame is nod valid into another inertial frame. As David Deutsche mention on an interview on "Closer to the truth" time is just a number in this SR Geometrical space-time/Minkowski and according to Lorentz transformation space(x, y,z and t) each has its own tranformed values x' y' z' and t' into another referential frame. To say that events continue to exist means what ontoligycaly ? since in each referential frame events have a definitive path and geometrical limits in each inertial frame with no continuitu, only translation values. Cheers

          • carmel Ka

            Hello Phil. PLease have a close look to this line of arguments and confilcting conclusion with SR and Minkowski space and the existing and distinct worldtubes that The Ath conflicts below:
            Premises:
            |A.Since it is not the case that only one reference frame is true, that
            means |eternalism is true, because one's past and future must exist at the same time to someone else
            |Also he stated that :
            |B.If one reference frame's set of simultaneous ontological events are
            |real, and another reference frame's set of simultaneous ontological
            |events are real, both reference frame's set of simultaneous ontological
            |events must be real
            So what does he agrees so far and SR entails if we take space and time toghether in a wordtube for any individual who is in relative motion to each other(like M and W in train scenario):
            1. That each worldtube (space and time is real with distinct values and spacial location and time BUT all linked togthether intrinsecly - which means clear geometrical description and distinct numbers )
            2. The translation of x,y,z,t is completely performed by Lorenz transformation x',y',z'and t' and distinct from each refential/inertial frame
            To affirm that "one's past and future must exist at the same time to someone else" as a logical and physical premise is to affirm a new time dimention("at the same time")hence a new worldtube since as he agreed time and space are by definition interlinked(can not be decoupled) - which is his own ventage point.However this has its own coordinates x'',y'',z''and t''which is also subject to Lorenzt transformation relative to alleged ""M" and "W" worldtube which must be different(since is relative to each of that ones: "M" and "W", the "train" and the "light bolts" ) and contradicts his premis("at the same time") because its new time - t'' t ,t'against each other refential frame (he is in motion against) .
            Or his "because-premise" will assume that his preffered time("at the same time") is ontological objective against each of wortdtube where events have different sequences.
            That premise ("because one's past and future must exist at the same time to someone else"-) will deny also causality which says that cause must preceed effects(whcih he contradicts with someone else past and future is other one present ). This at the same time does not have any
            reference whatsoever , whatever reference frame he wants to introduce will be subject to the same SR rules: new wordtube with its own "ontology".
            What I want to say is there is no physical refentila frame where someone can inffer "at the same time"since that will conflict SR like above.

            Is the above explanation clear? you can email me and discuss, and pls make this point in the debate.

          • carmel Ka

            Hi.
            To shorten my argument that do attack his reasoning that
            |""since it is not the case that only one reference frame is true, one past |and future must exist at the same time to someone else".
            Events have temporal special dimenssion so "the someone else"is just another (x,y,z and t )
            Since all the reference frames are valid(with clear events definitions: x,y,z,t ) and in relative motion to each other(so t't for each comparing reference frame) there is no reference frame that contains "at the same time" events A and B . A new wordtube will suffer the same consequence of SR simultaneity and will provide according to Lorentz transformation a different coordinate time(t'') relative to the relative moving ones...nothing else.

          • There is nothing incoherent about something popping into existence uncaused. Where is the contradiction?

          • Phil

            There is nothing incoherent about something popping into existence uncaused

            I guess simply I don't think it makes any sense to say that something comes into existence with no cause. So really what one is saying is that something exists which ought not exist. (Which is what one is ultimately saying when holding that something can come into existence with no cause for its existence.)

            Ultimately, it destroys the ontological intelligibility of an entity. And once that is gone, epistemological intelligibility goes away too. It is just another instance of sawing off the branch that one is sitting on.

          • "I guess simply I don't think it makes any sense to say that something comes into existence with no cause"

            Then say so and stop claiming it is incoherent. But brute facts need not "come into existence" they could be eternal or infinite.

            No one is saying anything about what "ought to exist" if anything "ought" to exist.

            All that is being said is that it is not justifiable to conclude everything has an explanation for it's existence, ie that there are no brute facts and no infinite regressions.

            I'd tend to agree that a brute fact is counter intuitive, as is an entity explaining it's own existence and an infinite regress. I wouldn't say it destroys the intelligibility if the concepts. Each concept is fraught with mind bending problems. But so is quantum physics and it is still intelligible to a degree.

            What does make sense is that the ultimate origin and nature of reality be difficult if not impossible to conceptualize. Theists often take this issue, label it god and pretend they have some answers. Saying god is being and his own cause and explanation explains nothing.

          • Phil

            Then say so and stop claiming it is incoherent. But brute facts need not "come into existence" they could be eternal or infinite.

            That is still an issue because we would be still saying that "something exists which has no cause for existing right now".

            It is still a problem because if that entity does not contain within itself the cause of its own existence, we still need to ask, why does this continue to exist right now at this very moment? If there is nothing intrinsic to its very nature causing it to exist, it doesn't matter if that entity is "infinite" or "eternal". The question is still just as valid and the entity is not intelligible unless there is an answer to that question (whether we could know it or not).

            (This is a major reason why Aquinas' 5 proofs are just as valid even if the material cosmos is infinite/eternal. That is what makes the 5 ways so much more powerful than a Kalam type argument that relies on something coming into being.)

          • Yes, if brute facts exist they would not have explanations, so stop suggesting they should, ie "no cause for existing right now"

            Sure we can ask why it continues to exist, but if it's a brute fact, there will be no answer.

            Sure, a brute fact by definition could be infinite or not. I just said it could be infinite because you seemed to presume any brute facts would pop into existence. You were wrongfully narrowing the definition.

            Sure it's fine to ask these questions. I don't disagree with that. Its the unjustified answering them that I am criticizing.

            Sure Aquinas' proofs are valid, they just aren't convincing because they have unsound premises. They fail to justify belief in a god.

          • Phil

            I think a brute fact is incoherent because it is ultimately saying that something exists which ought not exist.

            For example, we can ask, why does the glass in front of you not pop out of existence? If one says, there is no reason, it is a brute fact that it doesn't pop out of existence. Well, one is saying that there is nothing stopping it from popping out of existence yet it still doesn't pop out of existence. Therefore, something exists which ought not exist, which I would hold is incoherent.

            (Again, the further issue is that of your belief in the possibility of a brute fact itself being a brute fact that has no reason for existing and would destroys your ability for truth.)

          • We've established that you do not think brute facts are incoherent, rather that you believe it is unlikely they exist.

            "If one says, there is no reason, it is a brute fact that it doesn't pop out of existence."

            Sort of but this is badly phrased you need to say either 'If one says, there is no reason, one is saying it is a brute fact that it doesn't pop out of existence.' Or 'If there is no reason, it is a brute fact that it doesn't pop out of existence." Do you appreciate the difference? Let's stick with the former, speaking epistemologically.

            "Well, one is saying that there is nothing stopping it from popping out of existence..."

            Incorrect, this is a different claim. This sentence states that there is indeed a reason the glass persists and that it is a lack of cause for it to cease to exist. The person is claiming the persistence of the glass is both a brute fact and not a brute fact, which is an incoherent argument, but does not mean brute facts are conceptually incoherent.

            There is no issue of "ought" in this at all.

            I do not hold a belief that brute facts are possible. But if I did, and I had good reasons underlying that belief there would be no problem epistemologically. If I asserted that a belief in brute facts was itself a brute fact I should accept the criticism that the belief was unjustified. That is good epistemology which is not the context of an ontological discussion of brute facts.

          • Phil

            We've established that you do not think brute facts are incoherent, rather that you believe it is unlikely they exist.

            I do still hold that brute facts are not rationally coherent.

            This is because as I said above, to hold a brute fact is true is holding that "something exists which ought not exist". Which that belief is incoherent.

            This can be shown through either things popping into existence or things not popping out of existence.

          • "something exists which ought not exist"

            That doesn't sound right.. As a practical example, lets take the speed of light, 186,000 mi/s. A candidate brute fact might be that this is the speed of light, and not 186,001 mi/s. There was never a time when the speed of light was not the former, but in this example there is no underlying principle that determines the speed of light, it just simply is 186,000 mi/s. (I'm not claiming this is the case, just providing an example)

          • Phil

            That doesn't sound right.. As a practical example, lets take the speed of light, 186,000 mi/s. A candidate brute fact might be that this is the speed of light, and not 186,001 mi/s. There was never a time when the speed of light was not the former, but in this example there is no underlying principle that determines the speed of light, it just simply is 186,000 mi/s. (I'm not claiming this is the case, just providing an example)

            So the entity we are dealing with is that light exists as it does (which includes its nature, and its nature includes the speed that it travels at).

            If someone agrees that being cannot come from non-being, then there must necessarily be a reason why light exists with the nature that it does. It could very well be that it could exist with another nature, but there is a cause for why it exists as it actually does.

            If an entity does not contain within itself the reason for its existence as it does, and we conclude that it is brute fact, then the entity is revealing that it both exists, but that it shouldn't exist. That would seem to be incoherent, and destroys intelligibility of the entity.

            The only way to hold that something is actually intelligible is to say that there is a cause and reason for why it exists as it does.

          • "I do still hold that brute facts are not rationally coherent."

            You are wrong, or equivocating again on "coherent" and every time I show you why you are wrong, you agree with me.

            "to hold a brute fact is true is holding that "something exists which ought not exist""

            That's not what a brute fact is, and it isn't incoherent either, depending on what you mean by "ought".

            The popping into or out of existence is not the question. The PSR is fine with things popping into existence as long as there is a reason.

          • Phil

            The popping into or out of existence is not the question. The PSR is fine with things popping into existence as long as there is a reason.

            If something has a cause and reason that brought it into existence it didn't "pop" into existence. To say that something "popped into existence" is to say that something came into existence without a reason or cause.

            That's not what a brute fact is, and it isn't incoherent either, depending on what you mean by "ought"

            Can you then explain exactly when you mean when you say "brute fact"?

          • By "brute fact" I mean a fact that has no explanation and cannot be explained. One certainly could be something beginning to exist temporally and materially, or it could be something that exists atemporally ("outside of time"), or it could be some abstract fact, or anything as long as there is no explanation for it.

          • Phil

            By "brute fact" I mean a fact that has no explanation and cannot be explained. One certainly could be something beginning to exist temporally and materially, or it could be something that exists atemporally ("outside of time"), or it could be some abstract fact, or anything as long as there is no explanation for it.

            Okay good, just wanted to make sure we were defining brute fact in the same way.

            Yes, so that's why I argue that a brute fact is incoherent. If you get down to the most basic level, if something exists and it has no reason or cause for it existing right now, then there is no reason why it continues to exist instead of popping out of existence.

            It is revealing to you (the one observing) that it exists but it shouldn't continue to exist, which doesn't make any sense. Unless you have an argument why something should exist which is revealing that it shouldn't exist?

            ----
            And again the larger issue is still that your belief that 'the PSR is false is not incoherent' is itself a brute fact with no connection to the truth of reality.

          • Jim the Scott
          • "If you get down to the most basic level, if something exists and it has no reason or cause for it existing right now, then there is no reason why it continues to exist instead of popping out of existence"

            True, but this doesn't result in a contradiction, it's perfectly coherent. You are assuming a premise that 'things without a cause or reason for existence cannot exist', which it the PSR. you need to demonstrate this not just assume it.

            No, if something can exist with no reason or cause, then it makes perfect sense to me that it exists and persists. It basically a tautology.

            "Unless you have an argument why something should exist which is revealing that it shouldn't exist?"

            Sorry I don't understand this question, what do you mean by "revealing that it shouldn't exist"

            No, as I've explained to you, my belief that brute facts are coherent is not a brute fact because there is a reason for this belief.

          • Phil

            No, if something can exist with no reason or cause, then it makes perfect sense to me that it exists and persists. It basically a tautology.

            I'm simply say that if when we investigate an entity and it reveals that it has no reason for existing yet it still exists, that there is something irrational about its existence that the very entity is revealing.

          • If you investigate something and find that it has no reason for it's existence then that would be a fact. This would mean the PSR is false. But there would be nothing irrational or contradictory in its existence or persistence.

            In such a circumstance it's only incoherent if you discover a brute fact AND the PSR is true. I'd agree then there would be a contradiction because it would be the case that everything needs a reason for it's existence and not everything needs a reason for it's existence. Such a state of affairs would be impossible.

          • Phil

            If you investigate something and find that it has no reason for it's existence then that would be a fact.

            We can agree to disagree with whether is makes sense to say that something exists which ought not exist.

            But the further issue is that the PSR being false is epistemologically incoherent. This means your beliefs in general can themselves be a brute fact with no rational basis. This undermines your ability for rational discovering of truth in general and ultimately reduces one to incoherency.

          • A belief being a brute fact is coherent ontologically. Eg. Brian believes mars is made of gold and there is absolutely no explanation for him holding that belief.

            Epistemologically if that belief were a brute fact, is it reasonable to hold it? No it is not. He doesn't hold it because it has passed an epistemological process. In fact the belief is clearly wrong to others who have a rational reason to belief otherwise. Brian is completely unable to justify this belief to himself or others based on it being a brute fact, sure. He may come up with other justifications but these would not be the explanation for the belief.

            So it is not incoherent for him to hold it. But yes brute facts do not justify beliefs epistemologically even if they exist.

            An epistemology of believing things only if one believes them as brute facts would be really no epistemology at all.

            But do you now agree that the existence of brute facts cannot be dismissed as impossible?

          • Phil

            Brian believes mars is made of gold and there is absolutely no explanation for him holding that belief.

            Epistemologically if that belief were a brute fact, is it reasonable to hold it?

            You would agree then that you believe things that don't have reasonable evidence for them actually being true rather than simply a delusion?

          • I'm not sure what you're asking here, can you rephrase?

            I when I believe things I try to do it based on evidence and reason. I don't think any of my belief are delusions, but if they were I wouldn't be able to tell.

            I have some intuitions, instincts, preferences, which I think have an explanation, but may be unreasonable. Eg a favorite colour, unreasonable fear for the safety of my daughter.

          • Phil

            I'm not sure what you're asking here, can you rephrase?

            You said:

            Brian believes mars is made of gold and there is absolutely no explanation for him holding that belief.

            So there is no reason, evidence, or justification for you believing that Mars is made of gold. (Which is what a brute fact is.)

            And I was just confirming that you are willing to hold beliefs without reason, evidence, or justification?

          • Phil

            I'm not sure what you're asking here, can you rephrase?

            You had said that "Brian believes mars is made of gold and there is absolutely no explanation for him holding that belief."

            Since there is no explanation, evidence, or reason for you believing that mars is made of gold, I asked if you believe things without evidence, reason, or explanation?

          • I don't that I'm aware of.

          • Phil

            But do you now agree that the existence of brute facts cannot be dismissed as impossible?

            I wouldn't because if it didn't have a reason for existing, it couldn't exist. This is simply from the fact that from non-existence comes only non-existence.

            So if something exists, it cannot get its continued existence from non-existence. That which it gets its continued existence from would be the reason it exists.

          • Why?

          • Phil

            Why?

            Existence cannot come from non-existence. (Being cannot come from non-being.)

          • You said that, I'm asking how you know that's true? Or is this just something you accept does not need an explanation?

          • Phil

            It is a self-evident first principle, being cannot come from non-being. From nothing, only nothing comes.

          • No it is not self-evident or a first principle. How do you know this belief is not a brute fact?

          • Phil

            To those using good reason it is self-evident ;)
            I'm just having some fun!

            How do you know this belief is not a brute fact?

            In all seriousness, you've realized the problem here!
            This is why belief in the falsity of the PSR is self-contradictory and self-undermining. Belief that the PSR is false undermines one's ability to even say it is false. Self-undermining (also known as self-contradictory beliefs) are incoherent.

            So unless one believes one ought to hold incoherent beliefs, then the belief that "the PSR is false" ought to be rejected as incoherent.

          • Im just having fun too .no a belief that not everything has a reason is not a belief that nothing has a reason. And so there is no contradiction if to say the following: A is a brute fact, B is my belief that A is a brute fact, and B is not a brute fact. C is the reason to hokd belief B. No contradiction. Nothing incohetein .

            Do I think beliefs like B exist or are justified no, nor do I think they are likely to become so. But this is not my burden as lacking a belief in the PSR .Rather it is your burden to show that A is impossible or unlikely. You've already agree that A is coherent.

          • Silviu Chiric

            Also, the train Einstein scenario is explained by Minkowski space diagram:
            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/Einstein_train_relativity_of_simultaneity.png
            HAve a good reading!

          • Phil

            Thank you so much Silviu! This is great to see it spelled out like this!

          • There's still no hope that you will understand this if the past is any indication of the future.

          • Phil

            There's still no hope that you will understand this if the past is any indication of the future.

            The key point where you go wrong in the argument you present is that you are ultimately concluding that 2 different ontological realities for the existence of the lightning are true. (1 for the Train Woman and 1 for the Platform Man.) But this cannot true because of what the ontological existence of something means.

            Ontological existence speaks to how something exists in and of itself. This means that there can only be 1 ontological existence for each of the lighting strikes. They each strike only once and when viewed from different reference frames they can appear slightly differently, but this doesn't mean that the ontological existence of the lighting strikes has changed simply because you are viewing them in a different reference frames.

            Each lightning strike has it own ontological existence outside of how the Train Woman or Platform Man experiences it.

            To deny this would be like concluding that because you are in the USA that China exists next to Canada instead of next to Mongolia. But when you go to China it exists next to Mongolia and not next to Canada. China either exists ontologically next to Mongolia or it doesn't. Both can't be ontologically true.

          • The key point where you go wrong in the argument you present is that you are ultimately concluding that 2 different ontological realities for the existence of the lightning are true. (1 for the Train Woman and 1 for the Platform Man.) But this cannot true because of what ontological existence of something is.

            I'm not concluding 2 different ontological realities, there is one ontological reality called spacetime. But different reference frames will have a different set of events they are simultaneous with. If you weren't intellectually lazy and actually learned SR you'd understand this but instead you prefer to be ignorant.

            Ontological existence speaks to how something exists in and of itself. This means that there can only be 1 ontological existence for the lighting strikes. They each strike only once and when viewed from different reference frames they can appear slightly differently, but this doesn't mean that the ontological existence of the lighting strikes has changed simply because you are viewing them in a different reference frames.

            The simultaneity can change, and there is no objective simultaneity. That is pretty much the whole point. Each lightening strike only ever happens once, and nothing I said implies the same strike happens twice. If you weren't intellectually lazy and actually learned SR you'd understand this but instead you prefer to be ignorant and so you keep making these ridiculous absurd claims.

            The each lightning strike has it own ontological existence outside of how the Train Woman or Platform Man experiences it.

            Agreed.

            This would be like concluding that because you are in the USA that China exists next to Canada instead of next to Mongolia. But when you go to China it exists next to Mongolia and not next to Canada. China either exists ontologically next to Mongolia or it doesn't.

            Of course, and nothing I've said indicates otherwise. Again, if you weren't intellectually lazy and actually learned SR you'd understand this but instead you prefer to be ignorant and so you keep making these ridiculous absurd claims. I've given you spacetime diagrams, gifs, videos, and a hundred different descriptions of what I'm talking about, and yet still you prove yourself to be completely ignorant over and over again. So I have to ask, do you have a learning disorder?

          • Phil

            But different reference frames will have a different set of events they are simultaneous with.

            This would be correct and all of this is perfectly explained simply with the fact that the speed of light is invariant and finite. It is not because the past, present and future events all have equal ontological existence at all times.

          • This would be correct and all of this is perfectly explained simply with the fact that the speed of light is invariant and finite. It is not because the past, present and future events all have equal ontological existence at all times.

            The speed of light being invariant and finite entails that an ontological relativity of simultaneity necessary. In order for you to deny eternalism, you have to either:

            (1) Deny that the speed of light travels at constant speed regardless of the speed of the light source.
            (2) Deny that we can accurately measure two non-parallel distances as being of equal length with any physical instrument, such as a ruler or tape measurer, or even sense in any way that they are equal or unequal.

            So the burden is on you to "perfectly explain" this in a way compatible with SR.

          • Phil

            The speed of light being invariant and finite entails that an ontological relativity of simultaneity necessary

            It definitely entails that relativity of simultaneity is true. But my point has always been that relativity of simultaneity does not equal eternalism.

            This is because the 2 light particles from the front and back of the train cannot be emitted both simultaneously and not-simultaneously as that is a contradiction. Either the light particles are emitted simultaneously or they are emitted non-simultaneously.

            And just because they are emitted "simultaneously" or "non-simultaneously" does not mean that they reach different observers simultaneously or non-simultaneously. That is one of the effects of the speed of light being invariant and finite.

            (And emitted simultaneously or non-simultaneously from what reference frame? The timing of the lights coming on will be slightly different for each different reference frame. And not because reality is changing, but because they have a different viewpoint of the same events.)

            In other words, this is what your argument shows, but it doesn't show that eternalism is true.

          • Jim the Scott

            >In other words, I don't know what exactly your argument shows, but it doesn't show that eternalism is true.

            Amen! At this point Thoughtless will fillip the argument and now challenge you to show how it proves Presentism as a way of dodging.

            He is such an artful dodger which is why I blocked him. Sophists are just plain uninteresting.

          • Phil

            Ha, I agree. I've really started to wind down this discussion. It has been interesting, but we really stopped trying to search for truth together a long time ago...

          • Jim the Scott

            He is dodging you.

            You summed it up quite neatly but he dare not answer you. He will instead keep pretending he did by repeating his red herring argument.

            If God does not exist this I am certain of we can't get to that knowledge following Thoughtless' non-arguments.

          • Premature calculation.

          • No, we are trying to search for truth.....at least I am. It seems that you have given up even trying to make coherent arguments that attempt to abide by the facts of special relativity.

            You want to affirm the relativity of simultaneity and deny eternalism, when the relativity of simultaneity actually entails eternalism. Sorry but you haven't even bothered to learn the subject matter.

          • >In other words, I don't know what exactly your argument shows, but it doesn't show that eternalism is true.

            Amen! At this point Thoughtless will fillip the argument and now challenge you to show how it proves Presentism as a way of dodging.

            Asserting my argument doesn't show eternalism is true, doesn't show my argument doesn't show eternalism is true. It's just a baseless claim.

          • Jim the Scott

            I predict Thoughtless is going to run from this post.

          • It definitely entails that relativity of simultaneity is true. But my point has always been that relativity of simultaneity does not equal eternalism.

            How the heck can there be a relativity of simultaneity and no eternalism?

            This is because the 2 light particles from the front and back of the train cannot be emitted both simultaneously and not-simultaneously as that is a contradiction. Either the light particles are emitted simultaneously or they are emitted non-simultaneously.

            This completely ignores the fact that due to the relativity of simultaneity different people consider different events simultaneous. It is only is you deny a relativity of simultaneity that you get a contradiction.

            Hint:

            1. a relativity of simultaneity = simultaneity is not absolute.
            2. simultaneity is not absolute = there is no objective present
            3. Objective present = presentism
            4. Hence presentism (as well as possiblism) is false
            5. Hence eternalism must be true.

            And just because they are emitted "simultaneously" or "non-simultaneously" does not mean that they reach different observers simultaneously or non-simultaneously. That is one of the effects of the speed of light being invariant and finite.

            Nope. If they are emitted the same exact distance away and arrive at the same time, that necessitates they were simultaneous to that observer. You agreed with this 100%.

            (And emitted simultaneously or non-simultaneously from what reference frame? The timing of the lights coming on will be slightly different for each different reference frame. And not because reality is changing, but because they have a different viewpoint of the same events.)

            Whether they were emitted simultaneously or non-simultaneously
            depends on the frame - that's the whole point of the relativity of simultaneity!!!

            There is no contradiction from an objective relativity of simultaneity precisely because past, present, and future exist.

            In other words, this is what your argument shows, but it doesn't show that eternalism is true.

            It does. You have no rebuttal as your assertions aren't even coherent.

          • Phil

            How the heck can there be a relativity of simultaneity and no eternalism?

            That's what you need to prove and not simply assume. You need to show that what I am saying below is false.

            1. a relativity of simultaneity = simultaneity is not absolute.

            Relativity of simultaneity speaks of the event of the light reaching the observer, not necessarily the event of the light itself being emitted. We can ultimately know the argument you present is false because a light particle cannot both exist and not exist, as that is a contradiction.

            As I have put before, from your argument a more coherent conclusion is that from the reference frame of the Train Woman it appears that the light particles are emitted non-simultaneously and from the reference frame of the Platform Man it appears that they were emitted simultaneously. But ontologically and in reality, they cannot both have been emitted simultaneously and non-simultaneously as this is a contradiction.

            2. simultaneity is not absolute = there is no objective present

            This needs to be qualified. There is an objective present for each individual reference frame. But there is no universal objective present for all reference frames.

          • Phil

            When it comes down to it, the greatest argument against eternalism is before one even gets to science and is from reason alone:

            'X'='X'
            'Not X' = 'Y'

            1. Something cannot at the same time both exist and not exist.
            2. I exist as 'X' right now, and therefore I cannot also exist as 'Y' right now.
            3. Therefore, 'X' exists right now and 'Y' does not exist right now.
            4. Therefore, 'Y' does not exist in the same way as 'X' right now.
            5. Therefore, the existence of 'X' and 'Y' is not the same.
            6. Conclusion: If the existence of 'X' and 'Y' is not equal, then eternalism is false.

            ------
            If eternalism can be shown to be false simply using reason, then one can know with certainty that an interpretation of a scientific theory that says that eternalism is true is a bad and incorrect interpretation.

          • Your argument totally fails because you still are completely ignorant about what special relativity says. In other words, your starting point is an ignorant misunderstanding of special relativity, you then "deduce" a conclusion from a false starting point, which is false, and then you pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

            I've told you about 50 times that your refusal to learn SR will guarantee that you will always get your conclusions wrong. So let me explain again, for the 20th, 30th, time now. I lose track because you keep saying the same stupid ignorant things over and over.

            'X'='X'
            'Not X' = 'Y'

            Agreed. The law of identity. Eternalism doesn't violate that.

            1. Something cannot at the same time both exist and not exist.
            2. I exist as 'X' right now, and therefore I cannot also exist as 'Y' right now.

            "Right now" according to what reference frame? See, you've just assumed your conclusion in your premise. If you mean right now according to your own reference frame, agreed. You are X right now according to your reference frame. But also all others will agree that the spacetime event of you being X at that point will be true. Eternalism doesn't deny this. You're too stupid to realize this because you refuse to actually learn the theory.

            3. Therefore, 'X' exists right now and 'Y' does not exist right now.
            4. Therefore, 'Y' does not exist in the same way as 'X' right now.

            Your argument totally sucks and it is obvious you never bothered to learn SR. Nothing in SR nor eternalism (which are the same thing) says X will exist at a certain point in spacetime, and Y will. Every single individual event will be agreed on in all observers at that point in spacetime. The thing is when you have different events in spacetime that are spacelike separated, the order in which they happened will not be agreed upon because of the relativity of simultaneity.

            5. Therefore, the existence of 'X' and 'Y' is not the same.
            6. Conclusion: If the existence of 'X' and 'Y' is not equal, then eternalism is false.

            Non-sequitor! Eternalism doesn't say X will be both X and Y at the same moment of spacetime. X will always be X and Y will always be Y at that particular moment in spacetime as in:

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/251c80a5e4bccadb3380d6280787da90c7d5b2353f29fa01b82139666b32d4f1.png

            If eternalism can be shown to be false simply using reason, then one can know with certainty that an interpretation of a scientific theory that says that eternalism is true is a bad and incorrect interpretation.

            But you didn't show with reason. Your premises are false because you're an ignoramus on SR and you aren't even willing to learn it, despite the fact that I offered you a free simplified course on it online. You obviously didn't take it because you prefer ignorance over knowledge.

          • Phil

            Eternalism doesn't say X will be both X and Y at the same moment of spacetime. X will always be X and Y will always be Y at that particular moment in spacetime as in:

            And if I don't exist as 'not-X' right now, then me existing as 'not-X' is not equally as real as me existing as 'X' right now.

            Therefore, both 'X' and 'not-X' cannot be equally real. And if two states cannot be equally real, then eternalism is false.

          • And if I don't exist as 'not-X' right now, then me existing as 'not-X' is not equally as real as me existing as 'X' right now.

            What? "Now" according to whose reference frame?

            Therefore, both 'X' and 'not-X' cannot be equally real. And if two states cannot be equally real, then eternalism is false.

            Total non-sequitor. You start with incoherent nonsense, incompatible with SR, and you end with a non-sequitor. X and not-X can indeed be equally real, and that is because different reference frames will consider it to exist at different times. You will never be X and no- X and in the same place in spacetime.

            Since you're completely and utterly ignorant on the subject matter, and apparently incapable of understanding this, I've gone ahead and done the effort to show you what this looks like in a diagram to prove there is no contradiction.

            If your worldline is the line where it says 'XXXXXYYYYY' it shows the moments you are X in spacetime, and the moments you are not-X, represented by Y, which is of course not-X. I've also color coded them to make it even easier. There are two different reference frames here, t and t', and we're looking from the reference frame of t, which of course is not objective. We could look from any reference frame and the identical following truth will entail. At time t=0, which is the center of the graph, which both t and t' will agree as "now," for t you are X at that time since for t the d axis is what he considers simultaneous. For t' however, at time t=0, you are Y at that time since for t' the d' axis is what she considers simultaneous. That is how at the same moment you can be X and not-X without contradiction. And that's because what "now" is is totally subjective. There is no objective "now," it all depends on the reference frame. And your worldtube will never be X and not-X in the same spacetime location. It will always be either X or not-X.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5ac69918a6e76d7f91f2d715fae931ebeabb2d93e7b7dfa3e2e8c0b90381c3e8.png

            If you can't understand this by now you are indeed stupid.

          • Phil

            X and not-X can indeed be equally real, and that is because different reference frames will consider it to exist at different times.

            From which reference frame will both 'X' and 'not-X' be true at the some moment?

            My contention is that there is no reference frame from which both 'X' and 'not-X' are both true at the moment.

            And whatever is false is less real than that which is true. Therefore, eternalism is false where all states are equally real.

          • From which reference frame will both 'X' and 'not-X' be true at the some moment?

            None! It's obvious you haven't even bothered to learn SR at all because if you did you wouldn't ask such a stupid question. This is why so many Thomists will always be wrong. They refuse to learn the very science that disproves their metaphysics, despite the severity here. Learn SR and stop being willfully ignorant.

            My contention is that there is no reference frame from which both 'X' and 'not-X' are both true at the same time.

            Correct! And that was never once claimed by me. The same single reference frame will never have X and not-X exist at the same time. Different reference frames will because they disagree on simultaneity. You're just so utterly ignorant on the subject matter that you make every naive mistake possible in understanding this scenario and you can't be bothered with actually learning SR, just like Dennis Bonnette.

          • Phil

            Correct! And that was never once claimed by me. The same single reference frame will never have X and not-X exist at the same time.

            Correct, and as I said above:

            P1. Whatever is false is less real than that which is true.
            P2. If 'X' is true, then 'not-X' is false.
            P3. Therefore, 'not-X' is less real than 'X'.
            P4. Therefore, 'X' and 'not-X' are not equally real.
            Conclusion: Therefore, eternalism is false because 'X' and 'not-X' are not equally real.

          • Correct, and as I said above:

            P1. Whatever is false is less real than that which is true.
            P2. If 'X' is true, then 'not-X' is false.
            P3. Therefore, 'not-X' is less real than 'X'.
            P4. Therefore, 'X' and 'not-X' are not equally real.
            Conclusion: Therefore, eternalism is false because 'X' and 'not-X' are not equally real.

            LOL! You're still assuming a single reference frame's simultaneous ontology. From any one single reference frame X will never be simultaneously X and not-X, and I've never said that it would. The comparison is between different reference frame's simultaneous ontology. Damn you are an idiot.

          • Phil

            LOL! You're still assuming a single reference frame's simultaneous ontology. From any one single reference frame X will never be simultaneously X and not-X, and I've never said that it would. The comparison is between different reference frame's simultaneous ontology.

            No, this applies even considering all reference frames.

            Even if one could say that there is a universal "now" moment to compare between reference frames (which we both agree that there is not), we could still not say that 'X' and 'not-X' both exists at the same time. Because if we did, that would be an incoherent contradiction.

          • No, this applies even considering all reference frames.

            Even if one could say that there is a universal "now" moment to compare between reference frames (which we both agree that there is not), we could still not say that 'X' and 'not-X' both exists at the same time. Because if we did, that would be an incoherent contradiction.

            No it does not apply considering different reference frames, because the relativity of simultaneity resolves any apparent contradictions. You'd know this if you actually learned SR and stopped being lazy.

          • Phil

            No it does not apply considering different reference frames, because the relativity of simultaneity resolves any apparent contradictions. You'd know this if you actually learned SR and stopped being lazy.

            And I agree 100% that once you account for relativity of simultaneity, you know that the light particle can only be emitting simultaneously or non-simultaneously with the other light particle, never both. Which would then contradict your C2 where you say that 2 ontologies exist. Only one ontology exists for the emitting of the light particle, lest one does bad metaphysics:

            C2. Since the perspectives of M and W are all legitimate given SR1, SR2, and P4 above, their ontologies must both physically exist.

            So only one ontology for the emitting of the light particles exists, which contradicts C2 here.

          • And I agree 100% that once you account for relativity of simultaneity, you know that the light particle can only be emitting simultaneously or non-simultaneously with the other light particle, never both.

            No!!!! Once you account for the relativity of simultaneity the light particle can be emitted simultaneously andnon-simultaneously because the contradiction arises only once you assume simultaneity is objective - which is what you keep doing without realizing it. This is why your scientific ignorance leads you to bad philosophy.

            Which would then contradict your C2 where you say that 2 ontologies exist. Only one ontology exists for the emitting of the light particle, lest one does bad metaphysics:

            There is no bad metaphysics here. An "ontology" means the events that exist along the simultaneity plane of an observer, and the relativity of simultaneity and the fact that different observers will have different events along heir simultaneity plane will necessarily result in events A and B being simultaneous for some and not for others.

            Your ignorance on science keeps leading you to bad philosophy.

            So only one ontology for the emitting of the light particles exists, which contradicts C2 here.

            Ontology from whose reference frame? Do you even know what "ontology" means here? You are clueless!

          • Phil

            An "ontology" means the events that exist along the simultaneity plane of an observer, and the relativity of simultaneity and the fact that different observers will have different events along heir simultaneity plane will necessarily result in events A and B being simultaneous for some and not for others.

            That is not quite what ontology means in philosophy/metaphysics. Ontology is how something exists in and of itself, regardless of how we subjectively experience it.

            Ontology from whose reference frame?

            There is not more than one ontology. Ontology is how something exists apart from subjective reference frames. So to ask this question makes no philosophical sense.

            For example, we each subjectively experience the light arriving from 2 events simultaneously and non-simultaneously. But the bad metaphysical conclusion is to say that the events ontologically happened both simultaneously and non-simultaneously.

          • That is not quite what ontology means in philosophy/metaphysics. Ontology is how something exists in and of itself, regardless of how we subjectively experience it.

            I know, I'm talking about what it means in this context.

            There is not more than one ontology. Ontology is how something exists apart from subjective reference frames. So to ask this question makes no philosophical sense.

            Ontology in this context means what exists now according to an inertial observer.

            For example, we each subjectively experience the light arriving from 2 events simultaneously and non-simultaneously. But the bad metaphysical conclusion is to say that the events ontologically happened both simultaneously and non-simultaneously.

            Only if you are ignorant about SR. Once someone understands SR, it is not bad metaphysics to conclude both observers are right. Your continued ignorance on SR leads you to think this.

          • Phil

            Only if you are ignorant about SR. Once someone understands SR, it is not bad metaphysics to conclude both observers are right. Your continued ignorance on SR leads you to think this.

            This is ultimately irrelevant to doing bad metaphysics, which proposing two different ontologies is bad metaphysics.

          • It is supremely relevant, because once you understand SR you will realize there are two different ontologies - using the definition of "ontologies" I've given you for this context. You still don't understand SR, and that's why it is you who are doing bad metaphysics.

          • Phil

            The problem is we don't agree on what "ontology" means, we would need to establish that before moving on.

            Ontology is the study of how something exists objectively in and of itself, apart from subjective observations. If we disagree about this, then we could never move forward with our discussion.

          • I've already given you a definition of what I'm referring to ontology in this context. Meaning, I'm not asking you to fundamentally change your definition of ontology. I'm just asking you to understand that ontology in this context means what physically exists along the simultaneity plane of an observer's reference frame. That's what "ontologies" means in this context.

            In other words, at time t=0, the green events are simultaneous for M, whereas the red events are simultaneous for W. The green events are the simultaneous ontologies for M and red events are the simultaneous ontologies for W.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0253e81ba0920fbf6aa0d9706c73e6107858e94fd6a3470c686c5a1fd5af8f35.png

          • Phil

            Yes, this shows when the light particles (the events) interact with each of the observers.

            Again, if that is what you are trying to say by eternalism, that is not interesting.

            Now, if you are trying to say that me as dead is equally existent as me as alive, that is something totally different. To which the answer is 'no'. Me as dead is not equally real as me as alive.

          • Yes, this shows when the light particles (the events) interact with each of the observers.

            Again, if that is what you are trying to say by eternalism, that is not interesting.

            Now, if you are trying to say that me as dead is equally existent as me as alive, that is something totally different. To which the answer is 'no'. Me as dead is not equally real as me as alive.

            That assumes time is universal, which you've continually denied in every other comment for the last week. If time us universal, only then would you only either be dead or alive objectively.

            Again, for the 1000000th time now, your continued ignorance on SR will prevent you from seeing the wrongness of your ways. There is no avoiding eternalism given SR. You have to literally make up nonsense that would violate physical laws and insist that it just somehow doesn't.

          • Phil

            If time us universal, only then would you only either be dead or alive objectively.

            It has nothing to do with time being universal or not. It gets at our difference in understanding past, present, and future.

            My view is that past, present, and future literally are the events that compose them.

            An event does not exist before it exists. Therefore, before it exists it is less real then as it exists. Therefore, all events (i.e., times) are not equally real. Hence eternalism is false.

          • My view is that past, present, and future literally are the events that compose them.

            An event does not exist before it exists. Therefore, before it exists it is less real then as it exists. Therefore, all events (i.e., times) are not equally real. Hence eternalism is false.

            This is again assuming time is universal. If time is not universal an event can exist for someone, be past for another, and be a future event for another. So you're denying time is universal, then assuming it's universal to make your view, and now you will deny it is universal again in your response. Hence your conclusion is a total non-sequitor.

            I've debated eternalism with many people for literally years just as intense as we are. I've seen the kind of ignorance you have on it before. SR is something that is really difficult for many people to get because it is so counter intuitive, which is why you keep thinking there are contradictions entailed from it. You are still stuck in a Newtonian understand of time and space.

          • Phil

            If time is not universal an event can exist for someone, be past for another, and be a future event for another.

            Remember what I just said, time is simply events. So to say "events are universal makes no sense". So I can't be saying that time is universal.

            If you accept than an event does not exist before it exists (because an effect cannot precede its cause), then it is less real before it exists. Therefore, all events are not equally real for all people. Hence eternalism is false.

          • If you accept than an event does not exist before it exists (because an effect cannot precede its cause), then it is less real before it exists. Therefore, all events are not equally real for all people. Hence eternalism is false.

            This is a total non-sequitor. If time is not universal, an event can exist for me and not for another relative observer, even at a moment when we share the same present, like in my examples, t=0. Your last sentence and conclusion therefore do not make any sense in light of this.

            You're doing a great job continuing on with your ignorance on SR!!!

          • Phil

            even at a moment when we share the same present, like in my examples, t=0.

            You and I agreed that we can't share the same present in different reference frames because time isn't universal, correct? Why are you saying here that we can share the same present?

          • You can't share the same simultaneity plane if we're moving relative to one another but each of our simultaneity planes will intersect at a point and that is where we will share the same present. If I'm passing by you in a ship right when I pass by you we share the same present but we do not share the same distant events as simultaneous. If you learned SR instead of being lazy you'd know this.

          • Phil

            If I'm passing by you in a ship right when I pass by you we share the same present but we do not share the same distant events as simultaneous.

            What do you mean when you say "present", as in the above quote?

          • "Now".

          • Phil

            "Now".

            And what do you mean when you say "now"?

          • And whatever is false is less real than that which is true. Therefore, eternalism is false where all states are equally real.

            Total non-sequitor based on your continued ignorance of SR and refuted in other comments multiple times over. Man you are incapable of understanding this. I've noticed that with many Thomists. They really suck at understanding science, and that's why they will remain ignorant on relevant subject matter.

          • Phil

            Total non-sequitor based on your continued ignorance of SR and refuted in other comments multiple times over. Man you are incapable of understanding this. I've noticed that with many Thomists. They really suck at understanding science, and that's why they will remain ignorant on relevant subject matter.

            The problem has been that you are doing bad philosophy and metaphysics. I think you have an above average understanding of the physics, but are not the best philosopher and metaphysician. This is not meant to be a put down, but constructive criticism.

          • The problem is that you don't understand SR and because of that you're making many naive mistakes in your understanding of it and incorrectly concluding from that that I'm doing bad philosophy, when in fact I'm not. You're convinced my view leads to a contradiction, when in no way does it, because you still do not understand SR properly.

          • Phil

            I do think that the first order of business is to show that a 4D space-time block universe is actually true. Something can be mathematically true without being physically true.

            For example, like there mathematically being an infinite about of points between 2 sides of a road, but there not physically being an infinite amount of points between the 2 sides of a road.

            What would be your evidence that a 4D space-time is more than a mathematical description of reality?

            ----

            This is important because if there is no evidence that 4D space-time is more than a mathematical description, then proposing that time is "like a road" to make sense of eternalism itself makes no sense.

          • I do think that the first order of business is to show that a 4D space-time block universe is actually true. Something can be mathematically true without being physically true.

            Agreed. But you'd need a good reason why that was the case in any particular instance. My argument doesn't rely on any math other than distances being equal. So I don't know why you keep bringing it up.

            What would be your evidence that a 4D space-time is more than a mathematical description of reality?

            Um, my argument, which you have in no way refuted, or even read, or even understood, and because you're still utterly ignorant on SR.

            This is important because if there is no evidence that 4D space-time is more than a mathematical description, then proposing that time is "like a road" to make sense of eternalism itself makes no sense.

            No, that is just an analogy to get you to understand spacetime because you continue to be utterly incapable of understanding it.

          • Jim the Scott

            I called it! He dodged!

            He wrote:
            >How the heck can there be a relativity of simultaneity and no eternalism?

            What did I say? "At this point Thoughtless will fillip the argument".

            So he doesn't want to actually explain how "relativity of simultaneity" proves eternalism? He just wants to assume it without argument & turn it back on you?

            WOW! I mean wow!

          • Jim the Scott

            I note Thoughtless now ignores your profession that "simultaneity is not absolute," & "The relativity of simultaneity is true." & keeps arguing as if you denied this. Typical!

            I also note he ignores your assertion that you "disagree with [his] argument that if relativity of simultaneity is true, then eternalism is necessarily true." But if he didn't do this then how can he avoid answering you to prop up his strawman?

            Your "actual view is that the fact that the speed of light is invariant and finite makes perfect sense of the fact that there is a relativity of simultaneity. One doesn't need to then make the jump to concluding future or past events existing in the same way as present events.."

            I know Thoughtless will pour a TON of verbiage all over the place to avoid this problem and recast your argument as a denial of relativity of simultaneity and simply ad hoc assert eternalism must necessarily be true if ROS is true.

            He is predictable at this point.

          • I responded to your incorrections of the train scenario that you gave to Phil on my site:

            http://www.atheismandthecity.com/2017/10/quote-of-day-why-denying-eternalism.html#comment-3681043397

          • Always an interesting topic. Just an observation: The end of the road for Brute Fact is not a charitable version of Opaque Skepticism, which sums to "We know A and B and C but nothing past those....in the syntax of empiricism & positivism & solipsism...".

            That's all fine. "Not Knowing The Whole" is not the "pivot-point".

            Rather, with respect to that same A and B and C just mentioned there, it ends in the unintelligible A and the unintelligible B and the unintelligible C, and the rest is just the same. In short, it is not a posture of, "Waiting For More To See" but rather it is a motion of, "Denial of What We Now See". Hence if you push long enough you can force the denial of "I exist" such that the Self sums, at some ontological seam somewhere, to non-being. That pesky "at some ontological seam somewhere" is of course the point.

            That is the fallacy of the proverbial "God Of The Gaps" complaint. It claims that God is used to fill in gaps, whereas, it isn't. Rather, it is at this or that proverbial "Y" in the road where the force of logic compels us into this or that X which is soaked through with those pesky "even in principle" compulsions forcing one of two options from "A" to "Z", as alluded to in the comment at http://disq.us/p/1o5v88h and its content.

            Etc.

          • Overlapping "Y"'s as it were: http://disq.us/p/1ociarg

          • Ray

            Indeed. Science routinely looks for things that may not exist, e.g. violations of Lorentz symmetry, large extra dimensions, electroweak scale superpartners, nearby extraterrestrial life etc. Science positively lives by the maxim that sometimes the only way to know whether something’s there is to look for it.

          • For all we know, the methodological denial of the PSR would hamstring if not destroy science.

            The denial of the PSR, methological or philosphical, does not affirm that there is any brute fact. Scientific inquiry into any particular phenomenon X would be hamstrung if it were assumed (or inferred for any reason) that X was a brute fact. Until that assumption or inference is made, the science of X can continue without impediment.

          • What's the difference between a methodological and a philosophical denial? I know what I had in mind, but I'm curious how you construe the difference.

          • David Nickol

            Does the official acceptance of medical miracles by the Catholic Church result in believing Catholic medical researchers and doctors being less capable of potential discoveries and breakthroughs?

          • Not that I know of.

          • What's the difference between a methodological and a philosophical denial?

            In terms of practical consequence, not much. I think a useful comparison would be with the distinction, much more frequently discussed, between philosophical and methodological naturalism. Nearly all scientists, qua scientists, are probably methodological naturalists, including scientists who happen to believe in God. Some are also philosophical naturalists, especially if they are atheists. But the scientific work of the methodological naturalists is indistinguishable from that of the philosophical naturalists. A Christian scientist might believe in the resurrection and other miracles, but most would deny that their occurrence could ever be established by scientific inquiry, while a philosophical naturalist would likely deny even the possibility of any miracle's occurrence. The latter would say that their occurrence cannot be scientifically demonstrated because they don't happen. The former would say that their occurrence cannot be scientifically demonstrated even though they happen.

          • In my mind, the methodological PSR means that you don't allow things to be brute facts in your scientific research; it just isn't an option. To actually violate the methodological PSR, you have to seriously consider that something might be a brute fact. Which would then threaten to hamstring science according to you:

            DS: Scientific inquiry into any particular phenomenon X would be hamstrung if it were assumed (or inferred for any reason) that X was a brute fact.

            What I've said is not as strong a statement as what you denied in your previous sentence:

            DS: The denial of the PSR, methological or philosphical, does not affirm that there is any brute fact.

            Flirting with a thing is not the same as doing the thing, but it also isn't the same as not considering the thing. There is also an opportunity cost to the flirting.

          • To actually violate the methodological PSR, you have to seriously consider that something might be a brute fact. Which would then threaten to hamstring science according to you:

            DS: Scientific inquiry into any particular phenomenon X would be hamstrung if it were assumed (or inferred for any reason) that X was a brute fact.

            I cannot agree that affirming "X might be a brute fact" is the same as affirming "X is a brute fact."

            There is also an opportunity cost to the flirting.

            Everything has a cost. There is no free lunch: Not in economics, not in science, not anywhere. The search for something nonexistent can be at least as costly, in terms of missed opportunities, as abandoning the search for an existent thing.

          • I cannot agree that affirming "X might be a brute fact" is the same as affirming "X is a brute fact."

            Which is why I said "threaten to hamstring science" instead of "hamstring science".

            The search for something nonexistent can be at least as costly, in terms of missed opportunities, as abandoning the search for an existent thing.

            Yup.

          • Which is why I said "threaten to hamstring science" instead of "hamstring science".

            The threat doesn't look credible to me, and I've explained why.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      That’s why it’s called physics not metaphysics.

      Physics deals with the abstracted metrical properties of physical bodies, while Metaphysics deals with being. (Mathematics, the third realm, deals with the abstracted properties of ideal bodies.) As such, metaphysics is prior to and underlies the physics. So you are correct, you cannot draw a metaphysical conclusion from the physics.

      Science is a method, not
      a metaphysical position. It works if the PSR is true or not

      Not quite. If the PSR is not true, then the physics does not work. One is either deluded into supposing one has found a cause when one has not, or has been sucked into a fruitless search for a cause that does not exist. What you mean to say is that someone otherwise incurious may putter along happily oblivious to the question as a sort of glorified technician, much as an auto mechanic can get along quite well without knowing any deeper reason for why this or that method works, only that it does work.

      • If PSR is false it doesn’t mean nothing can have a reason. It just means at least one thing doesn’t.

        • And that's the one thing that Thomists like Dr Bonnette will never understand. False dichotomy.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          But which thing(s), and how will you know? IOW, when is a difficult problem inherently unsolvable -- as in mathematics -- and when is it merely intractable?

          That's the one thing that skeptics never seem to take into account. If at least one thing has no reason for being... well, how many others as well?

          • That's the one thing that skeptics never seem to take into account. If at least one thing has no reason for being... well, how many others as well?

            Oh c'mon that's easy: enough things have no reason for being such that God doesn't have to exist. :-)

          • I don’t know I don’t know if ultimately all things need sufficient reason, none do, or some do and done are brute facts. I can’t even imagine how one could start to figure this out.

            But this is not the issue. This is not a post by an atheist scientist claiming there are brute facts.

            This is a post by a catholic philosopher claiming there are no brute facts. And that is the position that needs defending.

            A resolution to the question of PSR is not required for science. It IS required for Thomism which is its relevance to the question of theism. So the Thomists need to justify this premise.

          • Ben Champagne

            Resolution is absolutely required (though never absolute) for science. Show me a single theory or law that doesn't demonstrate this. Or conversely, show me a single 'brute fact' in science.

            If your argument is that PSR has the potential for being false in a universal gnostic sense, then you may be able to form an argument. In the confines of science however, it is wholly required by the mere acts of participation.

            You seem to want this to be a conversation that the author was not having. The piece never speaks about science directly, but only of metaphysical hierarchies required for it's existence. Pragmatically, science assumes 'brute facts' all the time (temporarily at least about observations of unexplained phenomena), to make testable hypothesis, and then eventually discards them once sufficient reason has taken hold, the very act, being sufficient and intrinsic to itself.

          • Sure. Law of Gravity, the atomic theory. Every scientific theory that I know of is silent on whether all phenomena have a reason.

            As I’ve said several times now. Science does not identify brute facts. Or at least has not to my knowledge. I do not think it ever will or can.

            No my argument is not that the PSR is potentially false, but that whether it is true is unknown.

            No sciene never assumes a brute fact. The issue is irrelevant to science. (Unless brute facts could be demonstrated in which case it would affect scienceto some extent.) it assumes or concludes facts, but has no need to make statements about whether or not these facts are brute facts.

          • Ben Champagne

            Every scientific theory is precisely clear on all phenomena having a reason within the context of the theory. Way to play word games though.

            The point about science temporarily assuming brute facts was one of discovery and the perception of time. Taken at a snapshot of time, any phenomena without proposed, tested, and to the extent possible, validated causal reason, is in fact, viewed as a 'brute fact' at point of said snapshot (hence the use of 'temporarily'). The use of the term above was somewhat whimsical, but the point is again, one of perspective, of which we have a limited capacity for understanding.

            "No my argument is not that the PSR is potentially false, but that whether it is true is unknown." I can understand the feeling here, but I don't agree with it. The same can be said of reality itself, by twisting oneself with enough wordsmithing to deny the self-evidency of all axioms, in my opinion.

          • Every scientific theory is precisely clear on all phenomena having a reason within the context of the theory.

            It is precisely clear on all phenomena that a given theory purports to explain having a reason. Until some scientist claims to have found the Theory of Everything, the PSR will be irrelevant.

          • Ben, I agree with your first paragraph that when a scientific hypothesis has been confirmed to the standards of science that from a scientific perspective those theories are accepted as reasons for the phenomena. I think it should be obvious by now that I am not saying there are no causes or that science never finds reasons. What I’m saying is that this does not amount to an assumption or axiom in science that all phenomena have reasons.

            I don’t follow your second paragraph.

            Ok if you believe PSR is true, why?

          • BCE

            I think if someone is committed to an idea it's difficult to entertain another position.
            I'm not saying this of you, but if someone is suspicious they are being
            asked a god question, it's easier to refute with...there is no reason.

            Hawking said because there is a law, such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself.
            Philosophically I could conclude the universe is contingent on "a law"
            and all phenomena is contingent on the universe. But "the law" is not contingent on either the universe or its phenomena.

            This doesn't really pose a theological problem. Though he concludes
            god not needed.

          • Ok, I would tend to agree that all committed positions make it harder for us to change our minds. We tend to double down on our positions when challenged. Theists and atheists do this.

            If the universe depends on this law for its existence (as well as the existence of a quantum vacuum) then it is contingent on those things. Whether gravity is contingent on something else, contains its own reason for existence, or is a brute fact is unknown in this example. Hawking here is advancing a way you can get the unverse from Gravity, not on whether all things have a reason.

            There is no defense of the PSR here.

          • BCE

            Are you sure?
            Name me something, that has a *reason for being* that is not sufficiently dependent on the universe.

            We agree sufficient reason is not an emotive...reason
            as in....my thirteen year old saying....why do I have to be home by 9pm
            and I respond....because

            We are not speaking of required to be.
            So grass, never had to be. But grass is, and it came to be "for sufficient reasons" (mutation, evolution, climate etc.)

            Of course Hawking is advancing "a way" or "a reason" the Universe
            came to be.
            He provides us with Gravity as the "sufficient reason" for the Universe.
            And you can't name anything extraneous to that, can you?

          • In the context of this reference to what Hawking was saying, gravity could not be dependent on the universe. But this is all in the hypothetical you presented of “if you have gravity”. Outside of this hypothetical I am not aware of anything existing other than this universe.

            I don’t follow you with “emotive reason” your example was not helpful.

            Hawking was speculating that if you had a quantum vacuum and the force of gravity this would in theory be sufficient to bring about the singularity that expanded into this universe.

            I can name many things extraneous to Hawking’s speculation.

            But if you are moving on from avoiding providing a basis to accept the PSR is true to whether I have some theory as to the ultimate origins of the universe, that is a big unknown to me.

          • BCE

            Gravity could not be dependent on the universe, I
            didn't say it could.
            but that the universe could come to be because "there is a law, such as gravity...."
            Yes, thank you, I know about singularity and inflation.
            And yes from that I can speculate he suggests ...the existence of myself
            the galaxy, universe, all lead back to "there is a law..." and that
            "a law" is a PSR proposition, even though he didn't say it as part of a debate on PSR.
            I'm not avoiding a basis
            I'm not asking for agreement, or being evasive, or avoiding anything.
            My comment is " there is a law" is .. so much the same as ..there is a reason(PSR)
            and that is as good as any basis to consider

          • Hawking’s comment that you put to me assumes there is gravity and that this causes the universe. If you aren’t talking in that context fine. But the comment you were responding to was in that context.

            If you are just asking me in general what phenomena in the universe is not in some way dependent on the universe, none that I know of. If you are asking what phenomena is the universe dependent on? None that I’m aware of, including laws or anything.

            The PSR doesn’t say “there is a reason” that is causation. The PSR is about all phenomena. It says that all phenomena have reasons. I’m fine accepting some phenomena have reasons. I just don’t see the justification for expanding this to all.

          • Ben Champagne

            For clarity, I never said I believe PSR is true, I am only presently objecting to your disagreements with it.

            My second paragraph was explaining my use of 'brute fact' in reference to a static period of time and what is known at said point when a reason has not yet been obtained at said static point. It was tangential to the conversation at that point anyway (however clever I thought I was being, the point didn't land from your perspective, and is thus irrelevant).

            "What I’m saying is that this does not amount to an assumption or axiom in science that all phenomena have reasons."

            What I was saying is that the assumption that there are reasons, specifically causal reasons for all phenomena precludes the very act of 'doing science', and that that idea is sufficient in itself to commit the act. (whether or not those reasons are discernible as yet or ever, or if there are in fact 'brute facts' is irrelevant, as well as any particulars of science, but instead speaking of the reason for science itself.) This does not make PSR axiomatic, but it does provide sufficient reason for science, which was my initial contention of your statement about the requisite nature of PSR for science, in comparison to Thomism.

          • I don’t see how disputing my position that PSR is an unjustified principle can mean anything other than you accept it.

            Now you seem to be now saying that accepting the PSR precludes doing science? I don’t see that either, but I think you may have made an error in writing.

            Because then you say the PSR is a reason to do science. I don’t see the PSR as required to found science, all we need for that is to be open that at least some phenomena do.

          • Ben Champagne

            First, apologies, I did make an error in writing. That's what I get when I don't proofread and try to respond in haste (the wife certainly did not find me sitting on a forum sufficient!). I meant to say "is a prerequisite to the very act of 'doing science'". To elaborate slightly more, It does not imply expectation that reasons will be found, but science itself finds an assumption that they will (which would conclude science as sufficiently reasoned) or else the pursuant act (the 'doing') is nonsensical.

            The reason that I wanted to be clear about my position was that I took issue with your reasoning, not that that means I necessarily agree with Dr. Bonnette or PSR. I am honestly undecided on the topic. I see no fault in it personally, but I can't help but have a nagging sensation that there might be. (I also have not personally committed a proper amount of time on the topic directly to assume I could speak on it with expertise to fully argue in favor)

            I am not sure what you mean by 'found science'. If you mean past discovery, I would agree, but that is no longer science, and certainly not the act of 'doing science'.

          • Well this is the whole point. There being reasons for all phenomena is no more of a prerequisite for doing science than there being a cure for every disease is a prerequisite for trying to cure diseases. All you need is a reasonable belief that you can reach scientific conclusions. Why would one need more than that?

            I meant “found science” as a basis for science.

          • Ben Champagne

            I think there is a fundamental difference of worldview often inherent in these conversations. I would argue that sufficient reason is required for the existence of all things (both physical and metaphysical) because of the nature of particulars and systems (in both areas again). I think 'the nature' I refer to is where people disagree, and even though I am in the infant stages of thought of the particular topic, I can't help but have it in the back of my mind during any of these exchanges. Not terribly relevant to the topic at hand, but just a consistent observation when I reach disagreement with someone and the depth of the conversation appears to reach a glass floor. (Again to be wholly transparent, 'I would argue' does not imply that I ascribe belief, just that I presently would rather argue in favor)

            In every particular case describable for trying to cure disease, I think it is an assumed prerequisite that a cure could be found, again, assumption, not expectation. Otherwise, it calls the entire enterprise into question, much the same as is done in the science example I provided, and I am failing to find personally, any example that concludes otherwise.

            Again, for clarity, the assumption is that a cure is possible, which is sufficient reason for trying. Necessary reason would imply that there is in fact a cure, sufficient reason does not extend causally to the cure end of the dynamic in such cases of sufficiency, which is where I believe you to be in error.

          • Ok. Well I don’t see thwhat s nature you are talking about that implies all things have reasons for existence.

            I totally disagree. I think it is obviously unknown if will be able to cure all diseases. And if researchers knew with certainty that only 80% of diseases could possibly be cured, no one wound stop trying. Consider mathematics. They know some conjectures cannot be proven they have proven some and many are unsolved. It’s teasonab to accept that many of those being worked on are unsolvable and that we will never know which ones. But we still try because we believe sons can be solved.

            You don’t need to assume any particular cure is possible, just that at least some will be. Only if you had good reason to believe no more cured were possible would it be much of a disincentive to stop trying.

            No. If you are trying to cure ALS there is no necessary reason that there must be a cure. There is just a psychological requirement that you believe your task is not impossible.

          • Ben Champagne

            I don't think you are understanding what I am saying. You are correct in your assessment of necessary reason for the resolution of the act, which I am not contesting.

            "No. If you are trying to cure ALS there is no necessary reason that there must be a cure. "

            This is correct. There is absolutely no necessary reason that there must be a cure. That has not been what I have been implying. What I am implying, is that for one to want to try, they have the prerequisite of belief that a cure is possible. (whether or not it is is irrelevant). That prerequisite is sufficient to the act of trying. We are speaking of different particulars, the one I am speaking of (the reason for the act) is a prereq to the one you are speaking of (the act of trying), which would be another prereq to actually finding a cure or not (and thus proving necessary instead of sufficient reason in the case that a cure is found).

            As an aside, I wasn't speaking on the topic when talking about 'the nature'. I was more referring to an idea that has been percolating in my mind about the outcomes of debate reaching what I would consider an early and unsatisfactory conclusion when 'something' creates a glass floor the hinders a satisfactory conclusion. The 'something' being the nature of the two individuals, though I am hesitant to qualify it ideologically.

          • But a prerequisite belief in a reason/cause/cure is NOT what the PSR is saying.

            You are making s psychological case for needing to believe that finding a cause is possible. To which I agree. But what Bonette is saying is that the fact of science implies a necessary fact of the cosmos that all questions have answers and there are no brute facts. So in our analogy it would mean that the fact that we look for cures means all disease must have cures.

            That’s it. If you accept what you said above we have no disagreement on the PSR.

          • Ben Champagne

            At no point did I make a psychological case. The prerequisite, and associated but separate psychological belief, is of discovery. The former being a definable characteristic of science itself (applicable to science, curing disease, or any other item in which discovery applies). To be clear, I initially responded when you said this: "A resolution to the question of PSR is not required for science." Setting up a particular (science itself) from a generality (PSR). My point is that in any particular case, the PSR has been shown to be true, both metaphysically (like I am arguing here) and in all cases so far 'concluded' naturally (which is inherent in them reaching any sort of validity to enter into the scientific body of knowledge in the first place). In this particular case, being that discovery is inherent in science, it can not be separated as a particular metaphysical entity from its sufficient characterization of discovery, which satisfies the PSR in the specific regard. This is wholly an abstract distinction, still justifiying the position of the PSR in all abstract cases which are wholly abstract, or abstract from natural inference.

            To this point you made: "But what Bonette [sic] is saying is that the fact of science implies a necessary fact of the cosmos that all questions have answers and there are no brute facts." I think you are misinterpreting PSR and Dr. Bonnette here. A sufficient fact is separate from a necessary fact. One being internal while the latter being either causal, contingent or otherwise requiring exterior participation in it's realization.
            I would ask you if you believe in sufficient reason at all, that is, that something has the ability to justify itself internally, being it's own cause, or if you feel logic itself is simply a brute fact?

            I do find it interesting that you take a god of the gaps argument for brute facts, but I would wonder what your position would be if someone was to use such a justification for God.

          • You can’t talk about a particular case in the context of the PSR because the principle applies only to all cases. Particular cases have causes (principle of causation), tells us nothing about whether all things have reasons (PSR). To do science you need only accept that at least some things have reasons, you don’t need to be convinced that all things do.

            No I don’t accept that something can be its own cause or that there can be an infinite regress of causes or that there are brute facts. I have no evidence of any, and all three offend my intuition. But one of these must be the case. But unlike those who accept the PSR I am not able to chose which. Nor is s there any need to chose. This is the Aggrippan Trilemma.

            I make no god of the gaps argument for brute facts. I have never said I believe there are brute facts. I have no idea. I dispute the claim there are no brute facts.

          • Ben Champagne

            A principle can not 'only apply' to all cases and not particulars. A demonstration against sufficient reason would only need to be shown in the particular to refute it entirely, and such a refutation is logically possible.

            As far as doing science, It seems we have very different definitions, fundamentally, as to what 'doing science' is. You seem to be able to only use it in the context of particulars to satisfy your conclusion.

            Well I am glad at least two of them offend your intuition. One being logically impossible, and the other would certainly leave you wanting.

            To be clear, I did not mean to imply that you are in fact arguing for brute facts (though I see that it reads that way now), but more that the justification for one to entertain the idea is wholly the same and can only be satisfied by such an argument.

            I would note that all 3 arguments, whichever way you boil it down, would still satisfy a God argument, though none of them are quite so satisfying without Him.

          • "A principle can not 'only apply' to all cases and not particulars."

            I didn't say that. You said "My point is that in any particular case, the PSR has been shown to be true..."

            You can't infer from the particular to the universal. What you are saying that because I have found a green apple the principle that "all apples are green" has been shown to be true. That is poor reasoning.

            Correct, one brute fact would show the PSR is false, I am not saying it is false, I am disputing the assertion that it is demonstrably true. Do you see the difference?

            Which horn of the Aggrippan Trilema are you asserting is logically impossible? None of them are logically impossible.

            "To be clear, I did not mean to imply that you are in fact arguing for
            brute facts (though I see that it reads that way now), but more that the
            justification for one to entertain the idea is wholly the same and can
            only be satisfied by such an argument."

            I don't understand this sentence, so please try harder to "be clear". ;)

            "I would note that all 3 arguments, whichever way you boil it down, would
            still satisfy a God argument, though none of them are quite so
            satisfying without Him."

            The Aggrippan Trilema does not present arguments it presents principles. But sure, if one or the other is true you could still advance god-concepts.

            This is why, more than once with Dr Bonette's pieces, I have pointed out that the atheist rejection of Thomas Aquinas' five ways is not dependent on rejecting any of the "metaphysical principles" he asserts are under siege by some interpreters of science.

          • Ben Champagne

            I didn't say that. You said "My point is that in any particular case, the PSR has been shown to be true..." Meaning that in all cases currently shown, the PSR is demonstrably true, not meaning in all possible cases.

            "You can't infer from the particular to the universal." I wasn't, I was inferring from a universal to the particular of 'doing science'. As I said previous to that, all demonstrable cases currently in evidence affirm the PSR, both metaphysically and naturally.

            Infinite regression has forms in which it is clearly logically impossible (time stretches back infinitely i.e. steady state theory). All naturalistic versions of the principle would defy logic (though a potential satisfactory regression could be asserted by other means)

            "I don't understand this sentence, so please try harder to "be clear"." The only potential method to argue brute facts is from the gaps, as having no validation to assert it is required.

            "This is why, more than once with Dr Bonette's pieces, I have pointed out that the atheist rejection of Thomas Aquinas' five ways is not dependent on rejecting any of the "metaphysical principles" he asserts are under siege by some interpreters of science." Could you elaborate what you mean here? I get the feeling you could be talking about different 'atheists', but wish for you to clarify.

          • Okay if you are inferring from the universal to the particular you must have first established the universal. And since the PSR is a universal claim there is no need to talk about the particular. What is your basis for the universal conclusion?

            No, actually there is no logical contradiction in an infinite regress. We don't have issues with infinite regression in purely logical situations such as the set of integers. It's not logic that has a problem with time being infinite in the past but it is counter intuitive. But it is not a temporal infinite regression that is advanced by this horn of the trilema but an infinite regression of causes.

            Again, i have never argued for brute facts.

            Sure I can elaborate, the criticism of the five ways is that they unjustified determine that they know what the reason for (chsnge/the cosmos etc.) Is. They conclude that it is an immaterial non-natural cause that is it's own reason.

            In fairness this comment was more directed at the principles of causation and non contradiction. Which one can accept while disputing the five ways.

            A more obvious problem is the unjustified choosing of the PSR horn of the trilema.

            On this consider the counter intuitive problems with the PSR. That something can be it's own reason for existence. What other than the claimed God has this? How is this even plausible? What distinguishes an uncaused cause that is it's own reason from a brute fact?

        • Which "one thing"? It's really easy to be vague and float the mere possibility that something out there has no reason. I suspect that every single time you get concrete, the theist will be able to show serious potential problems.

          • Any case confirmed brute fact would do wouldn’t it? I am not asserting there are brute facts. I am assaling the position that it is confirmed there are none, the PSR.

          • Any case confirmed brute fact would do wouldn’t it?

            Assuming that such a thing is logically possible. Right now, "confirmed brute fact" seems rather like a square circle to me. For the clever people, taxicab geometry is prohibited.

          • Well I don’t see a contradiction.

          • And I'm not 100% sure that something recognizable as a square circle is impossible. Maybe some future mathematics will show how it really is reasonable to describe a thing as both a square and a circle. Until then, I will be skeptical of anyone who says there are square circles. And anyone who says that a brute fact could be justifiably confirmed.

    • Ben Champagne

      I Agree. Science doesn't need to take a position on 'this'. But that is not what this article is about. It is about scientists, people, who take positions on 'this' and present those metaphysical positions as science. The latter 'science' presented isn't science, as you so clearly demonstrate by saying "The scientific practice looks for a reasons" which in itself is a refutation of 'brute facts' by omission. Actual science has zero brute facts in evidence.

  • Ben

    Some sceptics I’ve dialoged with will not speak of “brute facts” to explain the origin of the universe; they’ll just say, we don’t know or don’t know yet. I find the point of contention to be about “intelligence.”
    No matter how complex, harmonized and fine-tuned things are, like the universe, our planet, our minds, and our bodies their origins must be “dumb.” No matter how much evidence of design there is it can only come from “mindlessness”.

    • No matter how complex, harmonized and fine-tuned things are, like the universe, our planet, our minds, and our bodies their origins must be “dumb.” No matter how much evidence of design there is it can only come from “mindlessness”.

      I think it's up to Christians to show that a different explanation is not merely more satisfactory to people of certain psychological make-ups, but actually helps one understand more reality more deeply and allows one to act better within it. A common retort is that the West actually presupposes many Christian values already and that is why it is successful; even if this is true, those who are resisting the degradation of those values ought to be measurably superior. Jesus said to judge trees by their fruit. Or consider Paul:

      But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Cor 4:19–20)

      Where is that power visible? Where are Christians, for example, doing a better job with the homeless and others who are vulnerable and oppressed? Where are Christians more effective at making the scientific and technological breakthroughs to fight pollution—which disproportionately screws over the poor?

      • Ben

        "Where is that power visible?"
        A lot to consider. I'd suggest a book call "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" for starters. 2nd book "The Savior of Science"

        https://www.amazon.com/Catholic-Church-Built-Western-Civilization/dp/1596983280

        https://www.amazon.com/Savior-Science-Stanley-L-Jaki/dp/0802847722/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509050670&sr=8-1&keywords=the+savior+of+science

        • You answered a different question: "Where is was that power visible?"

      • Ben Champagne

        You are making a metaphysical distinction that is apart from Christian theology. Your wanton expectation on the word 'better' presupposes we are in agreement on how to 'measure' it and what constitutes a 'better' act.

        • Actually, I'm happy for you to pick a definition of 'better', knowing that 1 Cor 1:18–31 applies. After you've picked the definition, I'm interested in how Christians (or some set of "true Christians"—not necessarily No True Scotsman) demonstrate increased aptitude as measured by that definition. It could be increased aptitude on an absolute scale, or relative to the own person's past.

          What I assume is that "the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power" means something, and it means something nowadays and not just back in the glory days. If no compelling evidence can be given of said power (which may be arbitrarily different from how "the world" views power), then it seems one is warranted, by the Bible itself, to suspect that the kingdom of God is not present.

          • Ben Champagne

            Well, if that's the case and you are going to cede the statement above. I contend that better means a wholly personal pursuit of being closer to God in as many contexts as humanly and individually possible.

            The rest should be easy enough for you to apply to your statement.

            Are we done here then?

          • I contend that better means a wholly personal pursuit of being closer to God in as many contexts as humanly and individually possible.

            In that case, why did you suggest two books which are about things in addition to that which is "wholly personal"? You seem to have changed the goalposts—unless you think that 1 Cor 4:19–20 has nothing to do with 'better'?

          • Ben Champagne

            That post was made by someone else named Ben.

            I have yet to elaborate about personal belief and christian doctrine in any sense on posts such as this, as I find it trivial to do either. In the first sense, it needs to be externally validated anyway, so what's the point, in the latter, the assumed premise of the doctrine is often not accepted (agreed to by both/all parties) to successfully argue as such with a non-believer of assumed premise/s. The result is often a quick reduction into the existence of God outright.

            That said, now I think I understand why you were trying to insert a Biblical quote into the conversation, and you can disregard my slight condescension above, as I think we can agree the attribution was in error, and not trying to put words in my mouth.

          • Ah, Ben ≠ Ben Champagne. My apologies.

            If you're going to construe 'better' in a 100% subjective manner ("wholly personal pursuit"), I'm not sure there's anything more to say intersubjectively. I have no idea how you get your notion of 'better' from the Bible, but this is probably not the place to explore that.

          • Ben Champagne

            To be fair, my subjective response was deceptively relativistic on purpose to end a discussion when I assumed someone was trying to tell me what my beliefs were. Mistakes were made by both of us. My reaction could have had less snark, though I tend to respond that way whenever someone tries to inject the intent of another instead of asking for clarification (which I now understand was not your purpose). Probably best to leave it be until we meet again.

    • I think you misunderstand our position. It's not that their origins must be "dumb", and I doubt that many actually believe it is necessarily a non-intelligent cause. Rather, our position is that appealing to complexity and stating that complexity must come from some "intelligence" is a non-sequitur.

      If you want us to accept your proposition that the origin of the universe (or whatever) is intelligent, you need to do the hard work of actually establishing the truth of this claim through reliable methods of investigation. Just outright asserting your position doesn't make the position true.

      From my perspective, most arguments from complexity are simply god-of-the-gaps arguments, or otherwise arguments from ignorance and incredulity.

      • Dennis Bonnette

        I had no intent of making any comments here for at least a while, but I can see an evident misunderstanding caused by my wording about a "deaf, dumb, and blind cosmic burp."

        Back up two sentences and you will see that I am merely concerned about any suggestion that the existential foundation of the cosmos would be "essentially unintelligible and meaningless."

        I guess I could not resist the poetic imagery of my expression two sentences later, but my real meaning is the same as in the prior sentence cited.

        The last thing I want to advocate is one of those wretched "God of the gaps" types of arguments! I am insisting on a cosmic ground that is "intelligible," meaning "understandable by an intellect" (even if it might not be understandable by man himself). I am NOT insisting that the cosmic ground should be assumed to be "intelligent," meaning "having the ability to understand."

        What the exact nature of an intelligible ground for the cosmos might be is an entirely other question requiring further rational investigation.

        • I am insisting on a cosmic ground that is "intelligible," meaning "understandable by an intellect" (even if it might not be understandable by man himself).

          Then it isn't understandable by the intellect, and thus you've just refuted yourself. Do you not see the immense irony in claiming god is an intelligible explanation that just so happens to be unintelligible by the very creatures god supposedly created to know him?

          • Ben Champagne

            Guessing you have never tried to know God. Might be a reason that you feel that way.

            Also, reread what he wrote, your irony requires Dr. Bonnette to say things that he did not.

          • I have tried to know god, and everyone I ask gives me a different description.

          • Ben Champagne

            That's just because he is really big, and our perception really small ;)

          • God is not physical, so he can't be big or small.

          • Ben Champagne

            Well that's a BIG idea you have there about the limits of language.

        • (even if it might not be understandable by man himself)

          Do you mean fully understandable, or understandable at all?

          • Kyle Coffey

            he has said elsewhere that man can come to true knowledge of God, just not full knowledge. The finite, while grasping some truths, cannot completely grasp the infinite.

      • Ben

        "Just outright asserting your position doesn't make the position true."
        Agreed, so we can move towards what is more reasonable and away from what is less reasonable based on the evidence. A "mind" or "mindlessness". Have you heard of the "nothing of the gaps"?
        https://2catholicmen.blogspot.com/p/the-nothing-of-gaps.html

        • so we can move towards what is more reasonable and away from what is
          less reasonable based on the evidence. A "mind" or "mindlessness".

          Minds, as far as we know, are what brains do. Every time we find a "mind" we've found a physical brain for it. If you're talking about a mind that doesn't have a physical brain, then you need to demonstrate that such a thing is even possible. As far as I'm concerned, I don't even know such a thing is possible, as so I would start with the assumption that the universe started "mindlessly."

          Have you heard of the "nothing of the gaps"?

          I read this. Too many presuppositions that I don't agree with, nor care to try and correct.

          • Ben

            Just asserting that a mind must have a brain doesn't make it true. Just asserting an intelligible universe comes for something intelligent doesn't make it true. That right?

          • Every single time we've ever found a mind, we've always found a physical brain behind it. That doesn't prove that minds need physical brains, but without a counter-example our basic induction is that this is likely to be true. It's quite reasonable to assume that minds need brains.

            On the other hand we have only one universe, and we don't really know much about the origins of it. We do also have counter-examples of complexity not requiring a mind: As far as we can tell, life evolved on this planet going from relatively simple single celled creatures to complex, multi-cellular organisms, without needing a mind. It would certainly appear that the hypothesis that all complexity requires a mind is not true.

          • Ben

            It's amazing how people get wrapped around the metaphysical axle with this stuff. If there is light we presuppose a light source. If there is electricity we presuppose some sort of generator. If there is intelligibility (especially complex intelligibility) we presuppose intelligence. Is this absolute proof? No. What is absolute proof? Is it a reasonable step in the right direction? Yes.

          • Richard Morley

            If there is light we presuppose a light source. If there is electricity we presuppose some sort of generator. If there is intelligibility (especially complex intelligibility) we presuppose intelligence.

            'Light source' is a general term for any source of light. Likewise "some sort of generator" is presumably a general term for any source of electricity, including weather systems or chemical reactions.

            But 'intelligence' is a very specific source of intelligibility. It is more akin to saying that 'if there is light we presuppose a little man with a torch' - which I hope we do not. Intelligibility might well come from something other than reality being caused by an 'intelligent' being - such as our intelligence having evolved to make sense of reality. It is hubris to assume that the way our monkey brains work is more fundamental than the way reality itself works.

          • Sample1

            It is hubris to assume that the way our monkey brains work is more fundamental than the way reality itself works.

            Thanks for raising this point. It’s something that lurks underneath all of our discussions about reality but is seldom brought up.

            Mike

          • Ben Champagne

            What do you mean by 'intelligence'? I see no distinction for the declaration that follows. All 'light sources' are particulars (any particular that has the capacity to emit light), the general term is the generality. just as 'intelligence' would be a generality referring to any particular that has the capacity to be intelligent. I fail to see your distinction here, as you seem to be mixing kinds to draw a conclusion not available from the example given. Your example should have been 'if there is light we presuppose the ability to interact with it'. The little man with the torch is in the other metaphysical direction.

          • Richard Morley

            One of us isn't following the other. The little man with a torch is a specific case of a light source, as intelligence is a specific 'source of intelligibility'.

            I was responding to "If there is intelligibility (...) we presuppose intelligence" in the same way that if there is light we presuppose a source of that light.

          • Ben Champagne

            But you just literally said 2 different things. In the first case, you draw attention to a particular, i.e. the man, in the latter case you draw attention to a generality, i.e. intelligence. The distinction is made that while in one case you are going from particular to generality, in the other you are going from abstraction to generality. They are not the same thing, which is why I find your example about a man to be moving in said wrong direction. Again, you are using a change of kind, if you have a point to make, find a better analogy to make it. Everything you have written so far assumes the 'very specific' which is blatantly false, and tries to imply a particular out of a generality and abstraction.

            The only time you don't do this is when you refer to the particular of 'our intelligence' in another sentence that has no bearing on your contention before it. If you are going to try to make a specific point, be specific about it, a systems error is hardly becoming of parsing out logical inferences.

          • George

            What I'm wary of in these discussions is the possibility that "intelligibility" or "order" are used in ways where they mean only what is convenient for the person using them. If I'm talking to a theistic apologist, I just want to skip to the end, and know how wide they're setting their brackets. Are we talking about the whole set, or are we looking at a smaller set of brackets within a larger set? So I'm compelled to ask "Is Yahweh intelligible"?

          • Ben Champagne

            You are assuming a Brute fact not in evidence here. If we ever create artificial intelligence, a mind outside of the 'brain' in question will have created it. If we house that mind inside a simulation, it will never 'know' that it was created by outside forces shaping it, and it will also evolve from inception.

            It would certainly appear that the hypothesis that all complexity requires a mind is not in evidence. That is why it is a hypothesis.

          • You are assuming a Brute fact not in evidence here.

            Don't think that I am. I'm making an inductive conclusion based on the evidence.

            If we ever create artificial intelligence, a mind outside of the 'brain' in question will have created it.

            We would still have something physical, namely a computer, generating the mind. Brains don't have to be the "squishy" stuff we find inside our heads. Silicon based A.I.I is still a physical brain generating that mind.

            If we house that mind inside a simulation

            Even a simulated mind would still have, at the bottom, something physical to create it. All you've done is pushed the level of where the physical stuff is required down a level.

            It would certainly appear that the hypothesis that all complexity
            requires a mind is not in evidence. That is why it is a hypothesis.

            And it's a failed hypothesis! The complexity of life we see today developed from much less complex life, and natural forces. No intelligence needed.

          • Ben Champagne

            You should rethink your rebuttal, the AI analogy was analogous to God creating us, even from the point of initial life all the way to present. Said AI would be completely unaware of it's own physicality outside of the simulation. Hence the argument I was actually making. You are trying to rebut an argument I am not making. Feel free to try again.

            The Brute fact not in evidence is that a mind MUST have a physical brain. Your induction is wanting if you are trying to consider it an absolute, which no discipline would do based on your evidence, but you seem to be want to.

          • You should rethink your rebuttal, the AI analogy was analogous to God creating us

            Which is largely irrelevant, unless you can demonstrate that God created us. Hypothetical answers aren't useful until you can demonstrate the truth of them. We could also be inside the matrix, or the product of the dream of some god, or any other number of hypotheses that we cannot falsify. Provide something useful and I'm willing to listen.

            Said AI would be completely unaware of it's own physicality outside of the simulation.

            And your point is what exactly? You haven't falsified the null hypothesis that minds come from physical brains.

            The Brute fact not in evidence is that a mind MUST have a physical brain. Your induction is wanting if you are trying to consider it an absolute

            I have never once claimed that this is in fact a "brute fact", nor do I hold to that as some kind of absolute. You're the one claiming that I believe this, when that's a complete misrepresentation of my position. As far as we know, minds are what brains do. This is where ALL the current evidence leads us. If you have real, objective, evidence to the contrary, let's hear it!

            Proposing that we could be part of a simulation, or that God created our minds of something "spiritual" goes WAY beyond what evidence we actually have. We may not entirely understand how the brain works, but we can alter the "mind" by altering the brain, and killing the brain seems to kill the "mind".

          • Ben Champagne

            The point about AI, that you are either ignoring or can't seem to grasp is one of perspective. The AI in the simulation would have no capacity to witness the actual source of it's mind, and likely would never be able to draw definitive conclusions about said source, Even though an exterior 'mind' did exist in it's creation, it would be forever unaware. Nowhere did I suggest some simplified simulation theory, or that God did in fact create us (which is separate from proposing the possibility), or the matrix or anything else, simply that by example, one can not rule out the potential for a source as yet unknown.

            Statements like this:

            "As far as we can tell, life evolved on this planet going from relatively simple single celled creatures to complex, multi-cellular organisms, without needing a mind. It would certainly appear that the hypothesis that all complexity requires a mind is not true."

            are putting the cart before the horse. You are making the assumption that a mind was not indeed at work in creating evolution. There is no evidence you have to definitively or even remotely suggest this.

            Everything else you wrote in reply is nonsense, especially misrepresenting what I said about Brute facts being attributable to you. I never suggested you claimed they were. Reading comprehension, instead of assuming it is some form of attack, maybe try to think through what is actually written. Here's a hint: I said "...if you are trying..." Now, think about what that actually means. Then we can actually return to the conversation at hand.

            The null hypothesis is that minds exist, not that minds ONLY exist in conjunction with physical brains. Having a singular universe from which to draw reference forces us to consider the issue apart from something that is falsifiable in nature. If only one human mind existed, we would never be able to falsify that existence because of the unique nature of the characteristic in question. That is the point I feel you are missing. Like many people in conversations such as this, you work from the assumption that change of kind is irrelevant (even though it can be often), which is not the case.

          • The point about AI, that you are either ignoring or can't seem to grasp is one of perspective.

            And what you can't seem to grasp is that I don't care about what is "possible". Literally everything that can be expressed, and is coherent, is possible. I care about what is actual.

            one can not rule out the potential for a source as yet unknown.

            Potential itself is irrelevant until you can demonstrate that such potential is actual. Just because your have some idea doesn't mean I have to put any weight behind the idea.

            The fact remains that we have plenty of evidence showing that the "mind" is the result of brain activity, and exactly no evidence that our mind comes from anything else. If you'd like to dispute this present evidence, or I'm done!

            are putting the cart before the horse. You are making the assumption that a mind was not indeed at work in creating evolution

            Why would you assume that a mind is needed? I'm simply making use of Occam's razor, and eliminating the unneeded assumption that a mind is needed evolution. Evolution appears to be the work of the otherwise blind forces of random mutation and natural selection.

            This kind of reminds me of the story of Laplace, and an exchange with Napoleon. Napoleon is said to have asked: 'M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.'
            Laplace's reply: "I had no need of that hypothesis"

            We don't need God, or any mind, to explain evolution. I know that many believers of theistic evolution believe that we do, but it's an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

            Everything else you wrote in reply is nonsense, especially misrepresenting what I said about Brute facts being attributable to you. I never suggested you claimed they were.

            Well now I think you're just being dishonest about what you wrote! You stated: The Brute fact not in evidence is that a mind MUST have a physical brain. Your induction is wanting if you are trying to consider it an absolute

            Nobody who uses induction should EVER consider their position absolute. All inductive conclusions are tentative, and subjective to revision with further evidence.

            The null hypothesis is that minds exist, not that minds ONLY exist in conjunction with physical brains

            You're talking about two different concepts. I would object to the wording of the second half of your sentence. "Mind are the products of brains" is our basic understanding of how reality behaves. What exactly constitutes a brain may be debatable, but I would certainly say that a computer simulated brain isn't significantly different from the meat brain we're familiar with.

            If only one human mind existed, we would never be able to falsify that existence because of the unique nature of the characteristic in uestion

            And what's your point exactly? In a hypothetical world with just one human there's lots of things about humans, in general, that we wouldn't be able to know. It's only because we have lots of humans, and lots of minds, that we know more about them in general.

          • George

            "The point about AI, that you are either ignoring or can't seem to grasp is one of perspective. The AI in the simulation would have no capacity to witness the actual source of it's mind, and likely would never be able to draw definitive conclusions about said source, Even though an exterior 'mind' did exist in it's creation, it would be forever unaware. Nowhere did I suggest some simplified simulation theory, or that God did in fact create us (which is separate from proposing the possibility), or the matrix or anything else, simply that by example, one can not rule out the potential for a source as yet unknown."

            Would you agree it would not be reasonable for the AI to establish an "AI Catholic Church" inside the simulation, making dogmatic claims about the source of reality outside that reality, if there were no evidence present in the simulation?

            If one AI entity wants other AI entities to believe that the simulation-Creator came into the simulation by loading an avatar of itself into their instance and walking around and healing AIs of sickness and doing resurrections and all those other things, what kind of evidence should the AI church-founder present to the other AI residents?

          • Ben Champagne

            What if the creator of the AI decided to input to only one entity in the AI an awareness of the 'higher' reality and supply proof to the one entity, but could not be established empirically to others. Would the lack of other observable evidence beyond the witness account of the one entity suffice for it to be actual, and just implausible in that case?

            In case you're not getting me, you missed the point. It isn't about AI, or actualities in that sense. It was about the limits of knowledge in the assumption about complexity and intelligence, and a subtext of the nonviable essence of materialism as a full worldview. The example was simply a rebuttal to a poor generality, by providing counter context.

          • George

            Our minds if not 'brains' would be part of the brain of God. Seems simple enough, if we're just software running on God's hardware or separate hardware that it created.

          • George

            And without evidence, it seems to me the subject in the simulation is justified in a provisional conclusion that it was not made by an intelligence. Go off what one has, and wait in case of future discoveries.

          • Ben Champagne

            In 'our simulation' what one has, is evidence in conflict, not the materialistic assumption you seem to subscribe to.

  • David Nickol

    May I ask a dumb question? For theists who insist on the principle of sufficient reason, are there "facts" that are true only because "God decided X," or "God did Y"? It would seem like, for "PSR theists," the physical universe exists only "because God decided to create it" and "because God did create it." Ultimately, forces like gravity exist, and have the properties they do, because God God invented them. Doesn't this, then, render scientific investigation ultimately the quest to discover what God did, and in order for science to move beyond a certain point, wouldn't it be necessary to know why God chose to create this particular physical world rather than another? What were his reasons?

    • "What were his reasons?"

      Whatever they are, they must be internal to Him. Could they have been different? I don't see how, it's claimed God is necessary, and identical to his will. That would make this particular universe necessary. This was gone over at length in the comments of Dr Bonnette's first 2 articles.

      • Rob Abney

        That's what was claimed by skeptics but obviously not accepted by all.

    • Ben Champagne

      You are presupposing the necessity of science to move beyond a certain point. Something I think most theists would find contention with when presented against their views about purpose in this life.

  • Steven Dillon

    If unity precedes being, then being itself does not contain within itself the sufficient reason for its unity, and Thomism ends up entailing brute facts.

  • The metaphysical principle that every thing must have a sufficient reason for its being or coming-to-be is challenged by those who claim that some “brute facts” exist, that is, things for which there are simply no reasons at all.

    Those who affirm the existence of brute facts aren’t the only ones challenging the PSR. Some of us affirm only that, for all we know, at least one brute fact is possible. We think there is an important difference between our not knowing the reason for a thing’s existence and there being no reason for its existence.

    The opponents of sufficient reason’s universality claim that science works quite well by finding reasons for many things, even though we allow that one thing or some things might turn out just to be “brute facts,” that is, things without a reason. But that is to ignore valid logic.

    Even a single exception to a rule refutes the rule, since it is now always possible that the next thing encountered will be another “exception.”

    That depends on the precise formulation of the rule. If even one X is not Y, the only rule refuted by that observation is “All X is Y.” If the rule is “Most X is Y,” it cannot be refuted by one X that is not Y. That can be refuted only by a demonstration that, as a matter of fact (not mere possibility), at least half of all X’s are not Y. The notion that all swans were white was not falsified until the first black swan was actually observed, notwithstanding that responsible scientists would have conceded the possibility that non-white swans could exist.

    Does anyone seriously suggest that the driving force behind modern science is not the effort to “unlock the secrets of the universe?”

    Obviously not.

    Why not say that the whole of physical reality is just a bunch of “brute facts,” and then forget it all?

    Because that is manifestly not the case. We have been finding explanations for as long as we have been looking, and at this moment of human history, there is no end of explanations in sight. It does not follow that there can be no end, but it does follow that if there is an end, we’re not there yet and probably are not even close.

    Rather, they are frustrated at their inability to find answers beyond the latest frontiers of knowledge, while relevantly, they still cannot resist asking, “Why?”

    Right. We cannot resisting asking, but that doesn’t constitute a guarantee that there are answers. The universe is not obligated to satisfy any cravings we have, including our craving for answers.

    Certain atheists, though, seem obsessed with vacating the scientific quest for reasons when it comes to why the universe as a whole exists – yet, they arbitrarily and illogically seek to protect the demand for reasons as they are needed for the rest of science. This is totally illogical and a case of special pleading, since they refuse to see that they have allegedly already ruined the intellectual foundations for their beloved science.

    I have no idea which atheists you’re referring to. It doesn’t sound like any that I’m familiar with.

    Premises stand as causes to their conclusions.

    To an Aristotelian, maybe. It’s not how I learned logic.

    Still, as Aristotle points out in his Posterior Analytics, logic is ultimately grounded in premises that have no prior premises.

    Aristotle began the formal study of logic. He didn’t end it. We’ve learned a thing or two more about it since his time.

    Some statements are self-evident because their denial would be self-contradictory.

    If you’re going to claim that a proposition P is self-evident because not-P is self-contradictory, the contradiction has to be demonstrated, not merely asserted.

    But this presupposes the metaphysical principle of non-contradiction.

    You may classify any principle you wish as a metaphysical principle, but without non-contradiction, neither metaphysics nor any other kind of philosophy could get off the ground. Without non-contradiction, we could not even begin to think about anything, because nothing we could say would mean anything. Metaphysics cannot defend logic, because logic is prior to all thinking.

    Is it just an irrational “brute fact” that has no reason to be true?

    It is a fact that we can’t think without it. That seems to me to be a sufficient reason to accept it.

    We are being asked to believe that the cosmos, with all its near-infinitely structured splendor, is, in the last analysis, just the product of some sort of deaf, dumb and blind cosmic “burp.”

    That would be an obvious problem for certain teachings of certain religions. I don’t see any logical problems with it.

    the same ability that enables it to see the universal certitude of the principle of non-contradiction, which latter principle even scientistic atheists affirm -- although they cannot explain the basis for its certitude through natural science alone.

    Defending logic is the job of philosophers, not scientists. Historically speaking, science was a product of philosophy, not vice versa.

    The “rules of logic” do not dictate the rules of thought

    Not often enough, for most people. But then, most people ignore a great many rules that they should be following. Hasn’t Christianity been trying to tell us that for quite some time now?

  • Ray

    Why do skeptics demand that philosophical claims be intelligible and logically defensible – and that there be no “holes” in that logic? If they are correct about the existence of “brute facts,” then perhaps claims are simply true without reason and should be accepted on face value.

    The fact that those who deny the universality of the principle of sufficient reason universally and absolutely and insistently demand even a single prior premise for claims bespeaks the urgency of the mind’s demand for reasons for all things. It is the same intellectual impulse that makes the mind challenge every philosophical or scientific claim with a firm, “Why?” or, “How do you know this?”

    The proposition that beliefs about the world ought to be justified is different from the proposition that everything in the world has a reason for its existence. This should be clear not least from the fact that the reason for something’s existence typically refers to its cause, while our reason for knowing about the thing typically refers to its effects. Assuming these two propositions are the same goes a lot of the way towards begging the question of whether the universe is the work of an ideal reasoner.

    • Pretty much every time I've seen Thomism explained, it has included as a critical aspect, "reasoning from effect to cause". Until you do this, all you have are appearances—which are satisfactory neither to God nor to science. So the question-begging you detect is only a live option for those who judge by appearances and stop there.

      • Ray

        I am trouble parsing this as anything other than a misunderstanding of my point. I am accusing the quoted passage of question-begging by assuming that the way the universe does work is the way a mind ought to work. (Impressively enough, the passage also contains an is-ought fallacy, albeit reversed from its usual order, and lots of map-territory confusion.) The “reasoning from effect to cause” concept cannot possibly be an objection. It is precisely my point that in the order of justification (belief in) cause typically follows (belief in) effect, while in the order of causality effect follows cause. It is precisely from this, I conclude that demanding justification in the map is not the same as demanding cause in the territory.

        • I don't see why the flipped order matters. Do you disagree with any of the following:

               (1) no reason ⇔ no cause
               (2) brute fact ⇔ no reason
               (3) brute fact ⇔ no cause

          ?

          • Ray

            It seems to me that the Theist must deny 3, and therefore either 1 or 2 in order to affirm that God is an uncaused cause while denying that He is a brute fact.

            Likewise, if reason is meant as “justification” as it clearly is in the passage I quoted in my first post, then the believer in the PSR must deny that fallacious reasoning is even possible if he accepts 2, since an unjustified belief would be a brute fact.

            In any event, if we fix the map-territory and is-ought confusion inherent in these equivocations, what we get by assuming

            1) belief in causes is only justified by belief in effects
            2) we ought to justify our beliefs

            is not a prohibition on believing in effects without causes (i.e. brute facts) but a prohibition on believing in causes without effects ( i.e. epiphenomena). I am somewhat sympathetic to weakening premise 1, by replacing “only” with “typically,” but I don’t see how weakening a premise is of any help in reaching the PSR.

          • It seems to me that the Theist must deny 3

            Yes, I'm temporarily skipping over the whole "reason within itself" business. If you think we cannot skip that to address the precise point you brought up—that flipped order—please let me know.

            Likewise, if reason is meant as “justification” as it clearly is in the passage I quoted in my first post, then the believer in the PSR must deny that fallacious reasoning is even possible if he accepts 2, since an unjustified belief would be a brute fact.

            It''s not clear that this is more than semantics. I am reminded of "justified true belief" and the Gettier problem. But perhaps you are saying that on the OP's position as you understand it, defective reasoning cannot be a step toward less-defective reasoning? That is, any error whatsoever is immediately fatal. I don't see how this would follow, but if you do, perhaps you could explain.

            1) belief in causes is only justified by belief in effects

            I'm not sure that any Thomist would agree to this. It seems rather Humean, as if we encounter an uninterpreted swirl of "sense impressions" which we then assemble into a reliable (⇏ perfect) representation of objective reality. Kant argued against it in the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason and it's also in conflict with basic child psychology where models of causation play a crucial role in perception.

            If instead what you observe is impacted by how you think causation works, then your belief in what you observed is not based just on "effects". Critically, there is no clean separation between "sense impressions" which are out there in objective reality, and "models of causation" within your head. The nature of the instrument used to measure reality crucially shapes what is measured. And so maybe it's worth checking the instrument now and then.

          • Ray

            The most charitable reading I can come up with for my quoted passage is that he’s looking for something to combine with my premise 2:

            We ought to justify our beliefs.

            to get the conclusion:

            “we ought never to believe in an effect without a cause.” (although as noted he would have to carve out an exception for “that which contains/is its own reason for existing.”) As noted before, my previous premise 1 doesn’t do the trick, nor can any weakened form of it. What a PSR believer would need in order to get the desired conclusion is something like

            1a) belief in effects is only justified by belief in causes.

            Such a premise would preclude that we could ever validly and non circularly reason from effects to causes. More importantly, since Dr. Bonnette is trying to imply that there’s some contradiction between believing in brute facts and believing that we ought to believe only with sufficient justification, there is no reason to believe that anything like premise 1a is part of his intellectual opponents’ theory of justification.

            ETA:
            I’m a bit worried you are going to continue to miss the point I’m trying to make so here’s a few additional points directed towards what I perceive as your unique style of reasoning.

            1) You seem to do better with pattern matching to things some dead philosopher said, than to arguing from first principles. If it helps, please note that the distinction I believe Dr. Bonnette is equivocating was highlighted by Schoepenhauer in his “fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason.” Do you think Schopenhauer was wrong to separate the “PSR of becoming” from the “PSR of knowing”? Schopenhauer clearly believed both, but the fact that he separates them implies he does not think one follows from the other.

            2) I take it to be fairly obvious that “there are no brute facts” does not follow from “We should only believe propositions that we are justified in believing.” Most of the complications arise from my trying to be charitable and fill in the gap of what Dr. Bonnette could possibly be thinking. If you think there’s a more plausible line of reasoning than the ones I’ve already shown don’t work please give it. (Premises and conclusions, not vague impressionistic prose, please.)

          • What a PSR believer would need in order to get the desired conclusion is something like

            1a) belief in effects is only justified by belief in causes.

            Such a premise would preclude that we could ever validly and non circularly reason from effects to causes.

            I don't see how that follows. Do I need to break down the concept of "judgment by appearances" into terminology and formalisms which aren't describable by "vague impressionistic prose"? If so, it would help if you responded to the middle quote-response of my previous comment; the idea that reasoning can be faulty but still be truth-conducive is rather crucial.

            1) … If it helps, please note that the distinction I believe Dr. Bonnette is equivocating was highlighted by Schoepenhauer in his “fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason.”

            Sorry, I haven't read any Schopenhauer. If I'm going to dive in, I'll need enough background and motivation or I'll probably just be lost.

            2) I take it to be fairly obvious that “there are no brute facts” does not follow from “We should only believe propositions that we are justified in believing.”

            Maybe it doesn't; I'm reminded of Plantinga's treatment of the logical problem of evil in The Nature of Necessity: he points out that the standard premises do not yield a formal contradiction, but suggests that the atheologian may merely intend that the conjunction of the premises is false in every possible world. One of the arguments deployed here against brute facts seems rather similar: in no possible world (i.e. concrete scenario) does belief in brute facts seem justified.

            I'm skeptical that one can construct the formal argument you desire and I certainly couldn't do it without seeing some compelling attempts to provide instances where one is justified in believing in brute facts and believing that they are brute facts.

          • Ray

            Perhaps I should simply be satisfied with the following two concessions:

            2) I take it to be fairly obvious that “there are no brute facts” does not follow from “We should only believe propositions that we are justified in believing”

            Maybe it doesn’t

            And

            I’m skeptical that one can construct the formal argument you desire.

            I find it interesting that Dr. Bonette’s argument seems to presuppose something very much like theism, when construed as an argument from analogy (it seems to assume an analogy between normative statements about the mind and descriptive statements about the world.) The causal ordering stuff was meant to head off an alternate construal that tried to bridge the is-ought gap by taking a correspondence theory of truth as normative — such a construal fails because answers to requests for justification more typically correspond to effects as opposed to causes of the thing believed; “how do you know x?” and “what caused x?” rarely have the same answer. In any event, you don’t seem to be defending such a construal, or any specific construal, so perhaps I should just leave it be.

            As for Plantinga. I must say, I pretty much never find his arguments plausible. He does a fine job of finding premises that formally lead to the conclusions he wants, but he has no sense whatsoever of what constitutes a plausible premise. In this case, he shows, maybe, that the uncontroversial premises about goodness do not lead to a contradiction between a good God and the existence of evil. But, the uncontroversial premises about goodness vastly underspecify goodness and are insufficient to provide answers to many moral questions that are almost universally agreed by moral realists to have answers. Thus he has not demonstrated the logical compatibility of God with the existence of evil, assuming any definition of goodness that could plausibly do the work moral realists ask of it.

            As for Schopenhauer. I think he’s mainly useful in pointing out mistakes made by previous systems based on the principle of sufficient reason. I think the real solution to these problems is to simply give up on the PSR — the useful applications can be reconstructed from Occam’s razor, and while the razor is also somewhat underdefined, the conclusions you draw from it are less sensitive to the precise choice of definition, than are those for the PSR. With PSR, one always finds proponents carving out dubious criteria for what can be its own sufficient reason (e.g. the axioms of Euclidean geometry, a uniform unchanging cause mediated by uniform circular motion, anything that doesn’t begin to exist etc.) and these can radically change one’s world view. Nonetheless, if you insist on the PSR, Schopenhauer’s system is probably more plausible than most.

          • Perhaps I should simply be satisfied with the following two concessions: …

            I'm skeptical that one can construct the formal argument you desire and I certainly couldn't do it without seeing some compelling attempts to provide instances where one is justified in believing in brute facts and believing that they are brute facts.

            You excluded the underlined and yet I think it's rather important. (I'd also very much prefer you not shorten my sentences like that—you put a period where it does not belong.)

            The causal ordering stuff was meant to head off an alternate construal that tried to bridge the is-ought gap by taking a correspondence theory of truth as normative …

            Ok; I doubt that Dr. Bonnette would hold to the correspondence theory of truth.

            As for Plantinga. I must say, I pretty much never find his arguments plausible.

            I don't see why that is relevant to my particular use of Plantinga. You wanted me to avoid "vague impressionistic prose", and so I picked a rigorous characterization and made an analogy to this topic.

            I think the real solution to these problems is to simply give up on the PSR — the useful applications can be reconstructed from Occam’s razor …

            Your use of "useful" hints at a pragmatics which is happy to ignore certain problems in our understanding of reality. Occam's razor itself depends on a "necessary" which is open to wide interpretation. Perhaps you've dissolved problems, not solved them. One can, for example, dissolve moral problems by adopting nihilism. But many would say that the problems were real. Or perhaps these days, only some.

            But thanks for the pointer to Schopenhauer; if I find more points of contact between my explorations and the PSR, I'll check his work out.

          • Ray

            "I'm skeptical that one can construct the formal argument you desire and I certainly couldn't do it without seeing some compelling attempts to provide instances where one is justified in believing in brute facts and believing that they are brute facts."

            You excluded the underlined and yet I think it's rather important.

            Fair enough. Sorry for the sentence shortening. I'm not sure how it would help for finding a correct formalization of Dr. Bonette's reasoning, but here are a few examples of what you're asking for:

            In general, the approach I favor would allow one to claim a brute fact whenever one could show, either through rigorous proof or heuristic argument, that all theoretical models which attempt to explain the purported brute fact in terms of something else, are more complicated than the best theoretical model where the fact remains brute, and that no alternative model provides enough additional predictive specificity to compensate for the added complexity. This may be impossible in some cases, for example due to halting problem issues if we're using Kolmogorov complexity. But those issues may not be applicable to the specific situation we find ourselves in.
            More concretely, an example of a feature of our current understanding of the universe which seems likely not to be explained in terms of anything deeper, is the fact that our universe obeys quantum mechanics as described by the standard axioms of quantum mechanics (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac%E2%80%93von_Neumann_axioms .) I should also note that there is some ambiguity about which specific propositions here should be taken to be the brute fact(s) in question, the standard axioms, or the axioms of some other logically equivalent axiomatization. I submit that the decision says no more about our universe than whether it is described in English or French, and it's this sort of thing that makes me skeptical that any statement which relies on a clear distinction between brute facts and explained facts (including the PSR) says anything deep about reality.

            Ok; I doubt that Dr. Bonnette would hold to the correspondence theory of truth.

            Really? Stanford Encyclopedia seems to indicate that the correspondence theory is very much part of the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition, and in my experience, Thomists seem to like it.

            You wanted me to avoid "vague impressionistic prose", and so I picked a rigorous characterization and made an analogy to this topic.

            Here's a tip. If your thought begins "I am reminded of..." you are probably writing vague impressionistic prose. While we're at it, argument from analogy is rarely strictly deductively valid.

          • In general, the approach I favor would allow one to claim a brute fact whenever one could show, either through rigorous proof or heuristic argument, that all theoretical models which attempt to explain the purported brute fact in terms of something else, are more complicated than the best theoretical model where the fact remains brute, and that no alternative model provides enough additional predictive specificity to compensate for the added complexity.

            Would we act the same way if the problem were a contradiction between two scientific theories, instead of the existence of a brute fact? Or do we believe more strongly in reality not being contradictory, than the PSR? If so, why the asymmetry?

            More concretely, an example of a feature of our current understanding of the universe which seems likely not to be explained in terms of anything deeper, is the fact that our universe obeys quantum mechanics as described by the standard axioms of quantum mechanics (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... .)

            So a theory of quantum gravity would in no way relativize QM? Or are you running with something like Sean Carroll's Seriously, The Laws Underlying The Physics of Everyday Life Really Are Completely Understood (update with nice visualization), emphasis on "everyday life"?

            Really? Stanford Encyclopedia seems to indicate that the correspondence theory is very much part of the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition, and in my experience, Thomists seem to like it.

            There is a world of difference between 'correspondence' as Descartes, Locke, and Hume construe it and 'correspondence' as Aquinas construes it. The former see it as epistemological while the latter sees it as ontological. The term 'correspondence theory of truth' is so strongly connected to the epistemological version these days that I treated it as excluding the ontological version.

            I would guess that one way to describe the difference between those to notions of 'correspondence' is whether one understands perception as merely taking in a swirl of uninterpreted sense-data which the mind then assembles into a representation with causal aspects, or whether causation "out there" can impact perception more deeply. Is the being of the thing involved in my perception of it or is it merely the appearance of the thing involved? Aquinas would pick the former.

            Here's a tip. If your thought begins "I am reminded of..." you are probably writing vague impressionistic prose. While we're at it, argument from analogy is rarely strictly deductively valid.

            I'm not particularly concerned with probability or averages; I'm concerned with the specific things that I wrote. If you're saying I so strongly matched establish social protocols that you weren't able to see through them to what I wrote, I can try to adapt. There are two cases where I said "I am reminded of":

            1) criticism of justified true belief via the Gettier problem

            2) similarity between a deductive argument that X and suspicion that X holds in every possible world

            You're a smart guy and able to handle it when your interlocutor doesn't provide a perfect deductive argument from premises to conclusion. I'm thereby surprised at how the above could possibly be considered 'vague' or 'impressionistic'. However, I can try to up the level of rigor if you are unable or unwilling to see how those statements are neither 'vague' nor 'impressionistic'.

          • Ray

            So a theory of quantum gravity would in no way relativize QM?

            I'm not sure what "relativize QM" is supposed to mean. In any event, I deem it fairly likely that the axioms I linked will survive pretty much as is in the correct theory of quantum gravity, if such a theory is found. Both mainstream candidates (string theory and LQC) fit within that framework as far as I can tell, as do more general speculations like (ER=EPR). Certainly QFT, which already incorporates gauge symmetries and special relativity fits. I don't think this is an uncommon view among physicists. You'll find Feynman saying pretty much the same in his seventh messenger lecture, for example. Nothing I know of that's happened in physics in the intervening 50 years has made the assumption that the general framework of quantum mechanics doesn't need to change seem less plausible.

            Would we act the same way if the problem were a contradiction between two scientific theories, instead of the existence of a brute fact? Or do we believe more strongly in reality not being contradictory, than the PSR? If so, why the asymmetry?

            The principle of noncontradiction strikes me as more of a statement about the language we use to describe nature (specifically the words "and" and "not"), rather than a statement about nature itself. I suppose I am open in principle to a theory of nature that was more efficiently/naturally couched in a paraconsistent logic than the standard logic.

            That said, it seems an unlikely way to resolve the formal contradictions between (classical) general relativity and quantum mechanics, say. The problem is both theories are couched in terms of standard explosive logic, which is highly useful for drawing inferences within the domain of applicability of each. Thus if we naively declare both true everywhere, we can use (p ^ ~p) -> q to get any and all possible predictions. Since most predictions you could come up with are wrong, the predictive accuracy of the resulting theory would greatly suffer. To avoid this, we would need some framework for limiting the deductions we could draw when combining the theories, while retaining the deductions within the domain of applicability of each individual theory. This seems like it would add a lot of complexity.

            We actually have lots of candidates for a consistent theory of quantum gravity. The real problem is that boring dimensional analysis concerns make it very difficult to place experimental constraints on the space of possible theories.

            There is a world of difference between 'correspondence' as Descartes, Locke, and Hume construe it and 'correspondence' as Aquinas construes it.

            That's all well and good. But what does it have to do with the point I was making. Whatever the metaphysical nature of "correspondence," it should be pretty clear that justifications for a belief rarely correspond to causes of the thing believed. (Aquinas may believe God's essence to encompass His reason for being while denying any cause for God, but he justifies his belief in God by appealing to something entirely different -- e.g. motion.)

          • I'm not sure what "relativize QM" is supposed to mean.

            See SEP's Ceteris Paribus Laws. The idea is that every scientific law has a "domain of validity". Before one discovers the domain of validity, it can be easy to suppose that the domain is "everywhere". To relativize a law is to find its domain of validity—to find those conditions under which the law holds.

            Nothing I know of that's happened in physics in the intervening 50 years has made the assumption that the general framework of quantum mechanics doesn't need to change seem less plausible.

            How many years are enough, or how much effort expended is enough, to reach the level of confidence you're espousing? After all, classical mechanics reigned for a lot longer than 117 years (I'm being generous by starting with Planck's quantization).

            The principle of noncontradiction strikes me as more of a statement about the language we use to describe nature (specifically the words "and" and "not"), rather than a statement about nature itself. I suppose I am open in principle to a theory of nature that was more efficiently/​naturally couched in a paraconsistent logic than the standard logic.

            I originally wrote "principle of non-contradiction", but then rephrased to avoid it being a statement about our models. I was of course alluding to the contradiction between GR and QFT near black hole event horizons (for example). It seems that scientists still refuse to believe that nature is actually contradictory; are you suggesting that if they fail to resolve the contradiction after so many more years or so much effort, we should be increasingly confident that nature is just contradictory in that way? (Alternatively: that our brains are permanently limited and we have reached that limit.)

            Whatever the metaphysical nature of "correspondence," it should be pretty clear that justifications for a belief rarely correspond to causes of the thing believed.

            Twice you didn't follow up on my bit about judging by appearances; my point was going to be that if you refuse to consider causal history in your judgment, you're likely to be wrong. And so justification depends on causation. The only way I can reconstruct your argument is to assume that we perceive a la Hume and the swirls of uninterpreted data, and yet I see that as a very bad model of perception. You seem to be assuming that causation is plastered on after-the-fact; I'm saying that this is implausible. But the contemporary correspondence theory of truth makes it seem plausible.

          • Ray

            On your judging by appearances point, I think it shows a lack of imagination and most likely a misreading of Hume. Can you really not imagine that the concept of causation has a domain of applicability somewhere between absolutely nothing and what your favorite version of the PSR demands? In any event, even if it were a good argument, I have no idea how you could possibly think the argument you are making has anything to do with the argument Dr. Bonnette was trying to make in the quoted passage.

            On whether the axioms of quantum mechanics will need to be modified in order to deal with gravity. I never said it was impossible, but I’d probably give better than even odds against. No one has come up with a plausible alternative, and people have certainly tried harder to do so than anyone did for Newtonian mechanics in the years between Newton and the generation of Lorentz and Planck. Quantum mechanics has also been applied to a much wider variety of phenomena than Newtonian physics, some of which were quite unlike anything previously described but were vindicated by later observations e.g. antiparticles, the Higgs boson, the third generation of Fermions, the Chandrasekhar limit, quark-gluon plasma etc. Is this enough reassurance that quantum gravity will fit the same framework as previous quantum theories? I don’t know, but I think it’s enough to make the truth of quantum mechanics our best candidate at present for a brute fact.

            On GR, QFT, and the principle of non-contradiction: I think you are vastly understating the work required to get a contradictory combination of GR and QFT to be a viable candidate for the theory of everything. As I said before, just combining them will yield a completely useless theory for making predictions, since they both contain standard propositional logic in their formulation, including (p^~p)->q. So, we need to do major surgery on the theories before combining them in order to preserve their explanatory power. Even completely ad hoc rules for joining the theories in a non contradictory way seem simpler than giving a useful formulation of the theories in paraconsistent logic. Likewise, our current problem is that the choice of a relatively parsimonious and noncontradictory theory joining QFT to GR is underconstrained by experimental data and calculation tools, not overconstrained.

          • On your judging by appearances point, I think it shows a lack of imagination and most likely a misreading of Hume. Can you really not imagine that the concept of causation has a domain of applicability somewhere between absolutely nothing and what your favorite version of the PSR demands? In any event, even if it were a good argument, I have no idea how you could possibly think the argument you are making has anything to do with the argument Dr. Bonnette was trying to make in the quoted passage.

            Feel free to explain how I'm misreading Hume. I'm confused by the lack of imagination bit; my point was that we do not merely observe effects and then, completely apart from observation, derive causation. Once you break this scheme, it no longer makes complete sense to be justified in believing in pure effects. That in turn damages one of your attempts to make Dr. Bonnette's argument valid. I was responding to your attempt, not what I see Dr. Bonnette saying.

            On whether the axioms of quantum mechanics will need to be modified in order to deal with gravity. I never said it was impossible, but I’d probably give better than even odds against. No one has come up with a plausible alternative, and people have certainly tried harder to do so than anyone did for Newtonian mechanics in the years between Newton and the generation of Lorentz and Planck.

            Better than even odds against is not very much confidence, but perhaps that was understatement. Do you think there should be less funding for those who want to question the axioms of QM than those who want to do research in accordance with them? I'm trying to see where the rubber hits the road on this matter.

            On GR, QFT, and the principle of non-contradiction: I think you are vastly understating the work required to get a contradictory combination of GR and QFT to be a viable candidate for the theory of everything.

            There is no need to combine them. We might just decide that they're the best we'll ever do. Then, it will be quite tempting to think that reality just is contradictory that way. So, perhaps we should be as unconfident about reality being non-contradictory as we are about everything having a reason/​cause.

          • Ray

            I'm confused by the lack of imagination bit

            Really? I went to every effort to spell it out explicitly:

            Can you really not imagine that the concept of causation has a domain of applicability somewhere between absolutely nothing and what your favorite version of the PSR demands?

            Note, if you want to follow up on this topic: That ends with a question mark.

            Do you think there should be less funding for those who want to question the axioms of QM than those who want to do research in accordance with them?

            Do you think there currently is less funding? I think the scientific community is doing a fairly good job of allocating limited funding at present. Do you disagree? If so, what specific projects do you think should be getting more funding?

            There is no need to combine them.

            I have no idea what believing "that reality just is contradictory that way" is supposed to mean other than believing the theory you get when you combine all the rules of inference from the two theories, including those that contradict one another. As I said previously, such a theory is useless for making predictions.

          • LB: I'm confused by the lack of imagination bit …

            R: Really? I went to every effort to spell it out explicitly:

            Yeah, I don't see what got you thinking that I can't image something between those two extremes. I was objecting to the idea that causation comes after perception. That idea seems required for one of your attempted reconstructions of Dr. Bonnette's thinking.

            Do you think there currently is less funding? I think the scientific community is doing a fairly good job of allocating limited funding at present. Do you disagree? If so, what specific projects do you think should be getting more funding?

            I don't have any opinions in this matter. I was just challenging you to put your money where your mouth is: the higher the confidence that the axioms of QM are brute facts, the less money should go to those attempting to overturn this consensus. If you wouldn't endorse such a rule, I'd be curious as to why. After all, that funding is limited.

            I have no idea what believing "that reality just is contradictory that way" is supposed to mean other than believing the theory you get when you combine all the rules of inference from the two theories, including those that contradict one another.

            The only combining that needs to happen is for them to provide contradictory predictions. Which they do, near black hole event horizons. (Who knows where else.)

            Strictly speaking, the conflict between GR and QFT is claimed to be only in our models: reality itself is supposed to be consistent. But this reasoning holds only because we're more confident in the consistency of reality than our scientific models. Were we to become more confident in the latter than the former, we would think very differently.

          • Ray

            I was objecting to the idea that causation comes after perception. That idea seems required for one of your attempted reconstructions of Dr. Bonnette's thinking

            Not sure why you think that (or which reconstruction you mean), but in any event, it seems like a tangent, since you haven't provided any obvious valid reading of Dr. Bonnette's argument that I might be missing.

            I was just challenging you to put your money where your mouth is: the higher the confidence that the axioms of QM are brute facts, the less money should go to those attempting to overturn this consensus.

            My problem with this line of questioning is that I don't know what research aimed at overturning QM is supposed to look like in the absence of a concrete model of what's supposed to replace it, so even if I had no confidence in the truth of QM, I wouldn't know what to fund. (Note that neither QM nor relativity was motivated primarily by a desire to overturn classical mechanics.) I would say that research funding is currently primarily allocated to the areas which would be likely to produce interesting results, even if QM is completely correct -- the phenomena being studied tend to involve high energy scales, weak couplings to ordinary matter, states of matter with a sufficiently complex structure that they are too computationally difficult to model in detail, or very precise measurement.

            The only combining that needs to happen is for them to provide contradictory predictions

            This does not work. Many of the predictive successes of QFT and GR rely on combining the two theories in nontrivial ways. For example if you want to model a Neutron star, you need to use QFT to derive the relation between pressure and energy density of neutronium in the classical limit, and then plug the classical approximation into Einstein's field equation.

  • The metaphysical principle that every thing must have a sufficient reason for its being or coming-to-be is challenged by those who claim that some “brute facts” exist, that is, things for which there are simply no reasons at all.

    Yes, and you all but admitted that when I cornered you on why god eternally chose to create our particular universe and not any other, when the creation of any other universe was metaphysically impossible. You're best retort was "God is his own sufficient reason," which of course explains nothing. Since god's reason would either have to be contingent or necessary (which is the dichotomy the PSR forces you into) and it isn't necessary that god will our particular universe and not any other into existence, that means your only two choices are either (a) an infinite chain of contingent explanations, or (b) a brute fact. Since the infinite chain in (a) would itself demand a sufficient explanation for which there can be none given, this forces you into the (b) the brute fact option. You've never refuted this coherently. You've just made false assertions.

    But that is to ignore valid logic.

    On the contrary. Valid logic necessitates the PSR be false. The Münchhausen trilemma which states there are only three options when providing an explanation or proof of a given situation:

    The circular argument, in which theory and proof support each other
    The regressive argument, in which each proof requires a further proof, ad infinitum
    The axiomatic argument, which rests on accepted precepts

    necessitates that brute facts are unavoidable because your only other options are infinite regress and circularity.

    Even a single exception to a rule refutes the rule, since it is now always possible that the next thing encountered will be another “exception.” Moreover, it simply isn’t how science or the human mind actually works.

    This is coming from a philosopher who admits he doesn't know much about science, particularly relativity (which you do not understand). And exception to the PSR does show the PSR is false of course. But you Dr Bonnette have an exception to the PSR, and that is when you're asked why god eternally chose to create our particular universe and not any other. You say god's free will explains this, or that god is his own sufficient reason, but none of this gets at the heart of the problem, which again, is that god's reason would either have to be contingent or necessary (which is the dichotomy the PSR forces you into) and it isn't necessary that god will our particular universe and not any other into existence, that means your only two choices are either (a) an infinite chain of contingent explanations, or (b) a brute fact.

    And you can't say that god's decision is ontologically necessary using after the fact post hoc justification. It has to be logically necessary, in the same manner you claim god is logically necessary (cannot fail to exist).

    Does anyone seriously suggest that the driving force behind modern science is not the effort to “unlock the secrets of the universe?” Why not say that the whole of physical reality is just a bunch of “brute facts,” and then forget it all?

    This is very easy to answer. We have a scientific framework that says everything in the universe has an explanation (or at least we have very good reason to think it does) but the universe itself is fundamentally not like anything in the universe. Furthermore, science via relativity gets you eternalism, and on eternalism you will necessarily hit a brute fact, since the eternal spacetime manifold is not necessary and yet it eternally exists (and no god can fix this because you'd hit the dilemma above), and to deny eternalism gets you presentism (or possibilism) which has its own requirement of brute facts.

    The incontestable history of science has been to probe ever deeper understanding of cosmic mysteries – from the “aether puzzle” of the Michelson-Morley experiments

    Which showed there is no aether, which presentism is based on.

    Since when have scientists been heard to say, “We give up! Maybe it is just a bunch of brute facts,” and then end their enquiries? Rather, they are frustrated at their inability to find answers beyond the latest frontiers of knowledge, while relevantly, they still cannot resist asking, “Why?”

    Because that's human nature, and that's why we have the tendency to make up explanations that are clearly false (think: all religions that aren't yours). But the drive to demand a "Why?" explanation doesn't prove there is always a "Why?" answer.

    If scientists did not hold the universal conviction that phenomena reveal the underlying reasons that manifest themselves through those phenomena, they would not even bother making observations at all.

    You propose a false dichotomy: either everything has an explanation, or nothing does.

    Thomism, common sense, and natural science concur in seeking reasons for all things.

    But you don't need to believe literally everything has a reason in order to seek reasons for things. This is your fatal flaw.

    Certain atheists, though, seem obsessed with vacating the scientific quest for reasons when it comes to why the universe as a whole exists – yet, they arbitrarily and illogically seek to protect the demand for reasons as they are needed for the rest of science. This is totally illogical and a case of special pleading, since they refuse to see that they have allegedly already ruined the intellectual foundations for their beloved science.

    Actually there's nothing arbitrary or illogical about it. Logic demands that not everything have a sufficient reason, due to the Münchhausen trilemma stated above. And the PSR entails necessitarianism, which is clearly false. Therefore the PSR must be false. And again, scientists have a framework for why things in the universe have reasons but that doesn't apply to the universe as a whole. There's nothing arbitrary about this.

    Why should it bother anyone if claims are not fully intelligible and logically coherent? Atheists steeped in scientism are very much into logical demonstrations. But, that is to demand true premises and valid inferences. Premises stand as causes to their conclusions. So skeptics universally demand logical proof for all philosophical claims – except, of course, for their claim that something “just is” without a reason.

    The problem with this claim is that all logical arguments have to start from axioms that cannot be further justified without assuming the axioms themselves, which of course is viciously circular. And we have we have valid logical proofs that the PSR is false - we don't need to just assert it. I've proved this numerous times on this site and no one has ever shown my arguments to be wrong.

    That's it for now. Happy Halloween!

    • Dennis Bonnette

      I will respond for now only to the first two arguments given above. I am sure many more are to be forthcoming anyway – but I would point out that a careful reading of my entire paper above should answer most of them.

      The claim that everything must be either necessary or contingent respecting God has been refuted by me several times before and with sufficient distinctions needed to clarify the matter.

      God is the Necessary Being, but that means solely that his existence is necessary. It does not mean that everything he does he must do of necessity. Yes, his essence is identical with his act of existence which is
      why he must exist. And yes, he necessarily must will his own infinite goodness. But, with respect to lesser goods, such as the creation of a finite universe, he is perfectly free, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, since none of these lesser goods add to or detract from his infinite perfection and goodness. And it is the finite creation that is contingent with respect to its existence, not God.

      While there are other aspects which I have explained at length previously, the only thing one needs to know here is that the distinction between what he wills necessarily and what he wills eternally and freely lies in that these acts of divine will are specified as to different objects. As long as God does not will necessarily the same objects as he wills contingently, there is no contradiction involved. So what on earth is the problem?

      The real problem appears to be that some simply cannot admit the clear distinction made above and therefore reject the Christian God because he does not fit perfectly into a preconceived logical trap designed to preclude his existence.

      The claim that the only two possible choices are either an infinite regress of contingent explanations or a brute fact is simply a false dilemma. There is a third choice, namely, a being who is his own reason for being and is therefore (1) not contingent, but necessary, and (2) not a brute fact either, since a brute fact has no reason at all.

      Again, this is simply a matter of trying to force a false logic on the Christian God who is his own reason for being. For some reason, the logic being used appears blind to the possibility of a thing or being being its own reason for being (and for choosing freely) – otherwise why isn’t this logical possibility
      included in the choices? After all, “sufficient reasons” are logically divided
      into intrinsic or extrinsic. As I said in the OP, if a being’s reason is extrinsic, the extrinsic reason is called a cause.

      The Uncaused First Cause is not his own cause, but rather is his own reason for being.

      I do not intend to comment on every misconception of my positions, but may do so if I find some point of sufficient interest.

      • The Uncaused First Cause is not his own cause, but rather is his own reason for being.

        So, when we use the word "cause," we do not, or do not always, mean "reason for being"?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          When we use the word, "cause," we always refer to a "reason for being," but in that case we are referring to an "extrinsic" reason for being exclusively. This allows still for the possibility of a different kind of "reason for being," namely, one which might be intrinsic to the being in question. This was spelled out in an earlier OP.

          • This was spelled out in an earlier OP.

            Sorry for not remembering.

            If some of us define the cause of any thing or state of affairs as any sufficient condition for the existence of that thing or state of affairs, what mistake do you think we're making, other than disagreeing with Aristotle?

      • Richard Morley

        The claim that everything must be either necessary or contingent respecting God has been refuted by me several times before and with sufficient distinctions needed to clarify the matter.

        Believe me, from our point of view it really has not. I am sure you are sincere in thinking that you have, but, as here, you tend to respond with assertions like God being free to choose between lesser goods, or those things he wills freely being distinct from those he wills necessarily. That answers objections that, as far as I can see, no one has made, and just serves to muddy the waters, not address the objection.

        We are not asserting that God must create this universe because creating any other universe (or none) would detract from his 'infinite goodness'. Nor are we arguing that his contingent choices are the same as his necessary choices or attributes.

        Rather the question is how one can reconcile a necessary first cause having any contingent choices or attributes in the first place without invoking a brute fact.

        Arguendo, let us admit that we have a necessary God, and he is faced with some kind of choice. Possibly, but not necessarily, whether to create a universe and if so what kind of universe. Possibly his necessary nature restricts his choice to some extent, for example not creating any universe may contradict him being 'infinitely good', but it is asserted that more than one 'option' remains that he could 'choose'. As ever, to avoid temporal language, the above might be best phrased as there being aspects to God that are not fully determined by necessity, such as whether or not he timelessly creates this particular universe, but that is linguistically cumbersome.

        So what reason explains why one option is timelessly actual and not the others? To avoid the outcome being brute fact, that reason cannot equally explain why any of the options may be actual, it has to explain why one particular option actually is actual. So "that was God's free will" doesn't answer it, as it does not differentiate between options, it could apply equally to any of them.

        If there is no such reason, then the outcome of one particular option being actual is a brute fact.

        If there is such a reason, either that reason is necessary, so the choice is illusory and the outcome is necessary, or it is contingent in which case the question is asked again, why that reason and not another which would have explained the actuality of a different option. For that matter, if you start with God, who is necessary, as the cause of all else, there is nowhere for a contingent reason to come from other than asserting a contingent brute fact - at some stage a necessary causal precursor could lead to many different outcomes, but 'just does' lead to only one of them.

        You have either an infinite regress of contingent reasons, or a brute fact, or everything being necessary.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          By and large, you have spelled out this question with many fair and proper qualifications, for example, with respect to the eternal nature of God’s free choice.

          With respect to “lesser goods,” we have to consider that there are a range of options available to God. God is already infinitely good and perfect. Any choice of “lesser goods” does not make God more perfect or detract from his perfection.

          Let me allow you to state what I think is the essence of your objection:

          “So what reason explains why one option is timelessly actual and not the others? To avoid the outcome being brute fact, that reason cannot equally explain why any of the options may be actual, it has to explain why one particular option
          actually is actual. So "that was God's free will" doesn't answer it, as it does not differentiate between options, it could apply equally to any of them.”

          I think we have to get a better grasp of how free will operates, especially in reference to God.

          Unless you want to say that God must create every possible creature (which he need not do, since he is already perfect and creation in no way changes his perfection), God must choose between alternate creations, or not to create at all.

          Creations are finite realities containing, if we consider diverse worlds, myriads of finite beings. Just like flowers in a garden, not all creatures will manifest the same glories of God. Is a lily more or less perfect than a rose? One might prefer one to the other, but if your choice is to make one or the other, good reasons can be advanced for both of them – although, being finite, neither of them forces the choice as to which one “better” expresses the divine perfections.

          Simply put, like all rational agents choosing between finite alternatives, God is free to choose between alternatives that may be mutually exclusive in their reflection of the divine perfections.

          So, this is not a matter of God acting without good reasons for his free choice.

          But, if you ask what is the necessitating reason as to why he chooses to create this world rather than that one, you misunderstand the whole nature of free choice.

          Free choice is a power to select one of the alternative possible goods, based on good reasons for both or all alternatives. It is not a choice without reasons.

          But to ask why was this chosen rather than that is to demand that the choice be necessitated, rather than free. The power of freedom is its own sufficient reason for initiating this act of creation rather than that one – given that alternative good “choices” are available and that good, but perhaps mutually exclusive, reasons obtain for both or all alternatives.

          Thus, to say that God’s free choice is its own sufficient reason is not to appeal to a “brute fact,” since there are reasons for his choice – but, they are NOT necessitating
          reasons – otherwise the choice would not be free.

          Rather, God’s eternal choice has a COMPLEX “sufficient reason.” The reasons for it being THIS choice lies in the honest finite goods represented by the object actually
          chosen to be created. But the ultimate reason why this particular option was chosen rather than that one lies in the freedom of God in choosing between these good, but finite, alternatives. Thus, there are reasons abounding here, but to demand a necessitating reason for a free will is to demand a
          contradiction in terms.

          Between God’s free will, which is its own reason for acting freely, and the intelligible goodness of the finite creation actually chosen by God, the totality of a sufficient reason for the choice is obtained – without recourse to a “brute fact.”

          Remember that God himself is not a “brute fact,” since he is his own sufficient reason for being (and for having a free will that operates as explained above).

          • Richard Morley

            Thus, to say that God’s free choice is its own sufficient reason is not to appeal to a “brute fact,” since there are reasons for his choice – but, they are NOT necessitating reasons – otherwise the choice would not be free.

            Then they are not 'sufficient', in the sense I would use, that of 'necessary and sufficient'. If P is necessary for Q then ¬P→¬Q. If P is sufficient for Q then P→Q.

            So if your definition of free choice implies that there is no 'sufficient' reason in that sense for which one of many possible outcomes is actual, then that outcome is indeed a brute fact as I would see it. Which is fine, but should be called what it is.

            Which brings us to another apparent point of disagreement - why would one brute fact, in that sense, cause rationality to crumble? It would mean that determinism was at least not absolute, but it doesn't prevent logic from functioning.

            I get the impression that you have a different meaning of 'sufficient' and 'brute fact', but I am not sure what they might be.

          • Richard Morley

            To get back to why I find something being its own reason to be unsatisfactory:

            Normally I would say that for P to be sufficient reason for Q means that if P is true then Q is true: P→Q

            But for any statement Q, Q is true if Q is true, Q→Q. So to say that something is its own sufficient reason makes a nonsense of the concept.

            Likewise, for something to be the cause of its own existence does not mean that that thing is necessary, there is no paradox if it does not exist. In the same way that a statement asserting its own truth can still be false. (P and ¬Q) is paradoxical if P→Q, but asserting that (Q and ¬Q) is paradoxical anyway so adding (Q→Q) to the mix changes nothing and certainly does not prove that Q must be true. This is possibly easier to explain in a less trivial loop where statement A implies B is true, B implies C, and C implies A. If any one of (A, B, C) is true, then all three are true, but all can be false. You still need proof of one being true to prove all three, otherwise it is like Baron von Munchausen pulling himself out of a bog by his own hair.

            But if you have a separate argument that the existence of the thing in question (or truth of a statement in question) is necessary anyway, then that argument is the sufficient cause and the intrinsic assertion of the things own existence (or statement's own truth) is irrelevant.

            So the whole 'God is his own reason' argument seems to be a no-starter to me. The argument that he somehow must necessarily exist is more promising, but I have yet to see a clear explanation of how exactly God is logically necessary, probably meaning what paradox will ensue if he does not exist. I can see how a definition can cause a paradox if the thing defined is actual, existent. But if a definition is paradoxical, but the thing defined does not exist, I cannot see a problem.

            I can also see something that logically must exist not needing a cause, or one might consider the laws of logic themselves to be 'the cause' of things that must logically exist. The laws of logic themselves would also seem to me to either be brute facts or to be their own circular reasons, as how else can you prove the laws of logic? While not entirely intuitively satisfactory, this is one resolution of the conflict between wanting the PSR and no infinite regress or causal loops.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The brief reply. I agree with you that for a statement to be the reason for its own truth is absurd.

            This is one reason I eschew tagging "sufficient reason" with the approach taken by Leibniz, who was a mathematician and logician.

            Statements cannot be their own validation, which I why I am talking about a metaphysical understanding of the "being" of God. God is not a statement. God can be his own reason for existing under the certain condition mentioned briefly above, along with the reasons not to entertain that discussion here -- at least not now or possibly for some time to come, if ever!

            One further point. It is crucial to see that the "rules of logic" do not exist independent of metaphysical truths. They did not descend upon us (Aristotle) from "logic heaven." They are the product of Aristotle (or someone) first understanding that the mind can know truth and noting how it successfully does that act. From that, one can write down the "rules" by which this is rightly done. Ergo, logic.

            I would wish some would spend more time on the intriguing question as to exactly how it is that we all know the principle of non-contradiction is true and universally so. Even modern modal logic presupposes its truth in its expressions of probability.

            Hint: You don't get it from the kind of induction through which the "laws of physics" are derived.

          • Richard Morley

            I would wish some would spend more time on the intriguing question as to exactly how it is that we all know the principle of non-contradiction is true and universally so. Even modern modal logic presupposes its truth in its expressions of probability.

            Hint: You don't get it from the kind of induction through which the "laws of physics" are derived.

            OK, challenge accepted.

            Basic principles of logic such as the [law/principle] of [non] contradiction are fascinating for many reasons, one being that they form a unique class that is a reasonable candidate for being an exception to the PSR, for the reasons I gave earlier that they are how we prove things, so what can we use to prove them?

            So my answer would be that we get them from introspection: we cannot prove the really fundamental ones inductively or deductively, they are just our best attempts to formally articulate how we think. So alongside our sense perceptions and our memories, we have to accept them as having some sort of validity if we want to get anything done, but that doesn't mean that we cannot bear in mind that we are doing so.

            Which harks back to other things I have said earlier. There are two things 'the fundamental laws of logic' could refer to:
            1) how reality fundamentally works
            2) how our minds fundamentally think about reality.
            While it would be nice to think that they are both the same, all we really have access to are our thought processes, senses and memories, all of which we know can be unreliable. These, in turn, have led us to conclude that our minds evolved to find food, avoid predators and have as much sex as possible, all in a very restricted range of sizes, relative velocity and environment. So while the most accurate model of reality should also be the best at fulfilling those goals, it is not a given that our minds model of reality is perfect especially when we wander too far from our natural environment, and we know of many examples where reality is very non-intuitive. Even low earth orbital mechanics can be very non intuitive, such as getting further from something by accelerating towards it and vice versa.

            On the pessimistic side there is the issue of whether our tendency/need to reduce arguments to bite-sized axioms and logical steps might cause us to miss things that can only be seen by grasping the whole argument as a single edifice. We have to take into account things like Gödel's incompleteness theorems and its cousins such as the Entscheidungsproblem (yes I had to look up the spelling).

            This is true for thinking about anything but when we are thinking about how we think we have the added problems of recursion and how that might introduce errors. We are trying to use an instrument to look at that instrument.

            On the upbeat side, there is the hope that we can make our natural thought processes better models of reality by formalising arguments, weeding out inconsistencies and hidden assumptions, identifying cognitive biases and tempting fallacies and so on. In the same way that sci-fi authors such as Larry Niven have found ways to make counter-intuitive things like orbital mechanics more intuitively comprehensible - we can train our minds to think better. (The gripping hand being that we can also train our minds to swallow inconsistencies and fallacies, as in cults or 1984 style societies.)

            None of the above mean that we give up on logic, I am a big fan of the PSR and would love it to be absolutely applicable in Leibniz' strictest sense without implying any causal loops or infinite regress, just as I would have loved Hilbert's programme (to unify all maths) to be possible to come to fruition with some shift in what sort of 'logic' we use. What it does mean is that when scientists see an apparent fundamental clash between observed reality and intuitive logic, we don't automatically assume that the fault must lie in the experiment. That is considered, witness all the attempts to close 'loopholes' in the Bell inequality experiments, but we also consider whether maybe the world doesn't quite work the way we think it does, and that fundamentally reality works in a weird manner that only reduces down to apparently self evident things like local realism in the kind of events that we evolved to observe and comprehend.

          • Rob Abney

            Nice response.

            maybe the world doesn't quite work the way we think it does, and that fundamentally reality works in a weird manner that only reduces down to apparently self evident things like local realism in the kind of events that we evolved to observe and comprehend.

            Now, do you anticipate us evolving to somehow be able to observe non-locally?

          • Richard Morley

            Now, do you anticipate us evolving to somehow be able to observe non-locally?

            I'm not sure what that means. For one thing, not all QM interpretations are non local, I personally wave the flag for many worlds, which is (arguably) both local and deterministic.

            If you mean will we 'evolve' to understand QM models intuitively, I think it will take more than natural evolution or well written popular science or science fiction to do that. Physical brain modification, maybe, especially with things like quantum gravity.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I confess Idid not expect to elicit such a long reply from you! Please forgive me for being a bit brief. I would say non-contradiction is not an exception to the PSR. It is immediately known as true from our first encounter with being, whereby we form the concept of being. You don’t prove it, and yet, it is not merely an assumption. You are right. You use it to prove everything else.

            I would suggest that this principle is absolutely certain to any mind and must be used in each and every act of thinking or judging. It is evidence of the possession of an intellect that is not merely an “evolved monkey brain,” since you don’t get this kind of certitude from mere induction from particulars to a universal.

            Yet it is known by induction. I don’t know if you embrace materialism fully, but my understanding is that our first knowledge of being is sensio-intellective, meaning that it is grasping the object known, both by sensation, but in the same act, intellectively. Thus, by sensation we grasp its particularity, but by intellect (which I hold to be a separate faculty) we judge its existence and abstract a primitive grasp of its nature and also for an initial concept of being. From the last, we form universal principles of being that are absolutely universal because they then apply to any possible future object of intellectual cognition. That is, if we can encounter something, it will have to also be a being and thus we already know its nature and the basic properties of being, namely and first, that it cannot ever be non-being.

            I am not trying to argue anything here, just explaining rather rapidly where the thought process goes in forming non-contradiction and why it is so universal and certain.

            I would also suggest that it is absolutely prior and regulative of any of the more complex thought processes , such as you so ably described above. I do not doubt that these more complex processes can give us insights and understanding that far exceed what we knew hundreds of thousands of years ago, but still any thought process that contradicts clearly a fundamental principle of being must be incorrect to that extent.

            Please understand that I am not arguing with you about anything at all here, just trying to share with you some of what I think to be true. You might enjoy taking a look at my article on recent ape language studies in which I make the case for human intellection being qualitatively superior to animal sense knowledge. See my web site at drbonnette.com (It is listed on the home page on the left.) I wrote this article as a part of what later became my book on human evolution, chapter five, which is a much shorter redaction of the article on my web site.

            Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. You make some very good points about the extent to which human cognition has expanded beyond its initial understanding of itself and the world.

            Since this is not intended as a debate, I hope you will not feel obliged to respond. I am pretty busy right now. Thanks.

          • Richard Morley

            Since this is not intended as a debate, I hope you will not feel obliged to respond. I am pretty busy right now. Thanks.

            Fair enough. Thank you for your time.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I see you follow this comment by another one that is quite complex and lengthy – much of which is in natural theology, for a God that we have not even proven to exist. Frankly, I think it more productive to sort out the details of a single issue first – and I am not sure I will even have the time to address your next comment with the rigor it deserves. This does not mean that I cannot do so. Alternatively, I may need to offer a very brief reply.

            But to address the present question, I can see how easy it is to stumble in communication with similar words and similar contexts.

            When I said that the reasons for God’s choice were not “necessitating,” this refers to the “reasons” inherent in the alternative choices. The lily does not force the choice against the rose, and vice versa. But there are still good reasons to choose either of them.

            Yet, these reasons do not necessitate God’s choice between the alternatives, since neither "lesser good" is required as an object of God's will anyway -- and choosing either might, hypothetically, exclude the other, as explained above.

            This does not make God’s choice to be a “brute fact,” since I understand that to mean that there is “no sufficient reason” for the choice being made.

            Between the inherent good reasons to choose one of the alternatives AND God’s freely choosing to elect THAT
            alternative, you DO have a “sufficient reason” for the choice that is made. While the object chosen is not “necessitating” in itself, between its own goodness and God’s free choice,
            there is a sufficient reason why this object is chosen rather than any possible alternative.

            Of course it is not a “necessitated” choice. That is the whole point. That is also why I think forcing the alternatives into the rather simplistic categories of “necessary” or “contingent”
            obscures the details of the complexity of how all this really works.

            God’s existence remains necessary, meaning that he must exist. You say below that you see no good reason for such
            a claim. That is why a lot of metaphysics must be worked through to make the claim intelligible. I can tell you that it is because his essence entails or is identical with his act of existence, but what does that mean to you if we have
            not gone through all the metaphysical steps to make these terms coherent and intelligible? That is the work of a full blown course in metaphysics, which I cannot possibly offer on an internet thread.

            I think I have said enough above to make clear how, between God’s free will and the inherent goodness of any creature, a sufficient reason for the actual choice is achieved – and since the total reasons are “sufficient” when interacting together, no brute fact is entailed.

          • That is also why I think forcing the alternatives into the rather simplistic categories of “necessary” or “contingent”
            obscures the details of the complexity of how all this really works.

            Then the PSR as it is commonly understood is false because the PSR says that everything needs a sufficient reason, and reasons can only be necessary or contingent. What you are trying to do is offer a modified PSR that includes a 3rd option. That 3rd option technically fails. The reason why is because it is a contingent reason, which is one of the 2 original options.

            Between the inherent good reasons to choose one of the alternatives AND God’s freely choosing to elect THAT alternative, you DO have a “sufficient reason” for the choice that is made.

            You don't because there are many possible universes that are equally good. A universe just like ours but that had 1 atom missing in the far reaches of space wouldn't be inherently more or less good. And a god who ontologically cannot have had a different choice isn't freely choosing. But that aside, even if we assume it is a free choice, it doesn't explain why god chose X rather than Y or Z, since X,Y and Z can be equally good. Whatever preference god has for X cannot be explained necessarily, and that only leaves an infinite regress of contingent explanations or a brute fact.

      • Richard Morley

        For some reason, the logic being used appears blind to the possibility of a thing or being being its own reason for being (and for choosing freely) – otherwise why isn’t this logical possibility included in the choices?

        An even more general phrasing would be that we either have:
        1) a reason that has no reason itself - a brute fact
        2) a causal loop, of which 'something being its own reason' is simply a limiting case. "Causal loop" used just because that is the familiar phrase.
        3) an infinite regress

        Further, there is a risk of conflating the question of whether everything has a cause or reason with that of how (if) one can get from a necessary starting cause to a contingent result without asserting a brute fact. To me, the above trilemma seems to only apply to the first, whereas I think the Thinker was referring to the second.

      • The ability to choose(free will) is not a sufficient explanation for why one choice was made over another.

        • Ben Champagne

          Elaborate on this. I see your statement as perfectly sound with the removal of 'not' from it, but being as it is, I don't see how you can validate it.

        • David Nickol

          Many people who believe in free will seem to believe (as far as I can determine) that in making any given choice, it really could go one way or the other. For example, at the crucial moment in which a would-be murderer is about to pull the trigger, they would maintain that he can choose either to go ahead and fire, or he can choose not to.

          Imagine that he chooses to pull the trigger. The question I have always wondered about is whether, if events could be "rewound" to a few moments before the fateful decision and allowed to replay (say hundreds of times) does the would-be murderer always make the same decision? If so, is he really acting freely, and if not, how is it possible to explain the reasons for the different decisions made by precisely the same person under precisely the same circumstances?

          • Rob Abney

            It's difficult to answer hypotheticals but it would be less hypothetical to consider how the murderer has chosen in many situations leading up to the murder, most likely he chose evil frequently.
            He has sufficient reason for his free will choices even if he chose poorly habitually.

          • David Nickol

            It's difficult to answer hypotheticals but it would be less hypothetical to consider how the murderer has chosen in many situations leading up to the murder, most likely he chose evil frequently.

            The question I posed is a philosophical one about free will. Abandoning the hypothetical of repeated choices under exactly the same choices to look at past choices is psychological, not philosophical. It tells us nothing about free will.

            As I understand the Catholic conception of free will, the hypothetical murderer, no matter how evil his past, is able to make a free choice in the hypothetical situation, not merely because of his own free will, but because of "grace" from God.

            So what would it mean if the hypothetical scenario is run and rerun a thousand times. It seems to me if the murderer makes the same choice a thousand times in a row, that is a strong indication that he could not do otherwise. On the other hand, if he sometimes pulls the trigger and sometimes doesn't, how can the different actions, performed by exactly the same person under exactly the same circumstances, be explained?

            I note from briefly googling the topic that the noted philosopher Peter van Inwagen argues that if you accept PSR, determinism logically follows.

          • Ben Champagne

            determinism, unless you have a unique definition, in no way precludes free will. This is accepted philosophical and scientifically, so I am not sure what point you are implying here.

          • David Nickol

            determinism, unless you have a unique definition, in no way precludes free will. This is accepted philosophical and scientifically, so I am not sure what point you are implying here.

            If I understand you correctly, you are asserting that free will and determinism have been shown to be compatible not only by philosophy, but by science. I would certainly be interested in seeing some kind of evidence for this claim.

            I am aware of the viewpoint known as compatibilism. However, I cannot accept that it has been proven either philosophically or scientifically. The debate over free will versus determinism is still an ongoing one, and I doubt seriously that it will ever be settled.

            I don't believe I have a unique definition of determinism, but if you wish me to be more precise, I will use the term hard determinism or metaphysical determinism.

          • Ben Champagne

            I misunderstood your use of determinism here then. Speaking of hypotheticals and experimentation, I assumed you were referring to the basic definition, applicable in science, that one could I suppose call, causal determinism.

            I never claimed 'proven', accepted is a different thing, and as far as both disciplines are concerned, accepted presently as being necessary in practice, to be more precise. (EDIT) This sentence sounds weird to me rereading it. Accepted as in determinism is used in practice, but no evidence exists that precludes free will, not that free will is necessary in practice. Hopefully that is more clear to the point.

            Hard determinism in the example above, is not the same as determinism. You are implying hard determinism in your hypothetical, which is why I inquired about your definition. Unique may have been a poor word choice.

            I find your hypothetical wanting, if only for the fact that it can never be properly achieved in any discernible sense, so no conclusions can even be implied by saying it.

          • Rob Abney

            In your hypothetical situations who would be the observer?

          • David Nickol

            Why would a hypothetical situation need an observer?

        • Kerk Lastnameless

          Sure it is. Watch me toss a coin and pick heads randomly. The explanation of me choosing heads is just that -- my exercise of free will. There does not need to be anything beyond that, and that's not a brute fact.

          • David Nickol

            The explanation of me choosing heads is just that -- my exercise of free will.

            Are you saying that when you choose heads, you do it for no reason?

          • Kerk Lastnameless

            No. Don't confuse "explanation" with "reason." Worse yet, don't confuse "explanation" with a "cause" like many others do. They are not necessarily the same.

      • The claim that everything must be either necessary or contingent respecting God has been refuted by me several times before and with sufficient distinctions needed to clarify the matter.

        No it hasn't at all.

        But, with respect to lesser goods, such as the creation of a finite universe, he is perfectly free, as St. Thomas Aquinas points out, since none of these lesser goods add to or detract from his infinite perfection and goodness. And it is the finite creation that is contingent with respect to its existence, not God.

        I will ignore for the sake of argument all of your false and unjustified claims regarding god's necessary existence and focus on this.

        Since god's will of lesser goods is not logically necessary, it must be contingent. That is the dichotomy the PSR forces you into. Reject this, and you reject the PSR. So since a necessary explanation is out of the picture of possibilities as a sufficient reason, your only two possible options are an infinite regress of contingent explanations, or a brute fact. That's it.

        In other words: once you have god eternally and timelessly willing things that are non-necessary you have a problem created by the PSR itself, and that is that the only sufficient explanation available to you will be contingent, and that gets you an infinite regress of contingent explanations, or a brute fact, which the PSR denies are possible. You cannot appeal to god's free will as a solution to the problem. First, a timeless being cannot by definition have free will (but that's a whole other debate). But second, god willing a non-necessary thing doesn't explain why god willed it. And any answer you give cannot be a necessary one since a necessary explanation is off the table as an option. That leaves you in the dilemma .

        This is basic logic anyone with a brain can see.

        As long as God does not will necessarily the same objects as he wills contingently, there is no contradiction involved. So what on earth is the problem?

        This shows how completely ignorant you are of the real problem above. It seems as if you learned nothing in the past 3 months.

        The real problem appears to be that some simply cannot admit the clear distinction made above and therefore reject the Christian God because he does not fit perfectly into a preconceived logical trap designed to preclude his existence.

        The distinction you made above does not in any way solve your dilemma. That you think it does I think admits of how intellectually lazy you are. The non-necessary things that god wills eternally and "freely" require a sufficient explanation. The PSR demands that such an explanation be either necessary or contingent. Since these are non-necessary categories and a necessary explanation is off the table, your explanatory chain can never refer back to a necessary reason that closes the explanatory chain. That means you will get an infinite regress of contingent explanations, or a brute fact. That's it. That's your dilemma.

        This is using your own PSR against you. If you want to deny the PSR, be my guest. But if you insist I must accept it, then I can use its own logic to show how your position can't even be justified with it.

        The claim that the only two possible choices are either an infinite regress of contingent explanations or a brute fact is simply a false dilemma. There is a third choice, namely, a being who is his own reason for being and is therefore (1) not contingent, but necessary, and (2) not a brute fact either, since a brute fact has no reason at all.

        This completely misunderstands the dilemma. I'm struggling to see how a philosopher of your apparent stature cannot see how inadequate this response is.

        The 3rd option is a necessary one. For any explanation it will either:

        (a) have a necessary explanation
        (b) have a contingent explanation
        (c) have no explanation

        Since god's will is his essence (as you've argued yourself) then a god with will A has the essence of will A. If will A is not necessary, then god A is not necessary. Therefore you cannot claim that god is not contingent. You would have to argue that god's will (which is his essence) is necessary in order for you to claim that god A is "a being who is his own reason for being and is therefore (1) not contingent, but necessary."

        Again, this is simply a matter of trying to force a false logic on the Christian God who is his own reason for being.

        God A doesn't have his own reason for being since his essence is not necessary but contingent.

        For some reason, the logic being used appears blind to the possibility of a thing or being being its own reason for being (and for choosing freely) – otherwise why isn’t this logical possibility included in the choices?

        Because god A can't be its own reason for being because the "A" part is not necessary. No argument can show it is and without that you cannot make the assertion. Furthermore, you can't define a thing into existence. You can't say god's essence is existence, therefore god exists. That is a word salad of nonsense if there ever was one. And you appear completely blind to the fact that a being who is, and whose thoughts are, timeless and eternal, and who ontologically had no possibility of being different can't have free will. It would be like saying a person who had no ontological possibility of not committing a murder had free will not to do so. This is laughably sophomoric.

        After all, “sufficient reasons” are logically divided
        into intrinsic or extrinsic. As I said in the OP, if a being’s reason is extrinsic, the extrinsic reason is called a cause.

        Then an extrinsic reason is akin to a contingent reason, and since god's non-necessary will must be contingent (a necessary reason is not an option), it therefore must also be extrinsic.

        The Uncaused First Cause is not his own cause, but rather is his own reason for being.

        Since god's essence is not-necessary, you cannot make the assertion that god is his own reason for being.

        This blind spot in your logic is why you can't see the flaws in your philosophy. It's as if you are unwilling to even consider Aquinas could ever be wrong about anything.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          If you would just examine my recent exchanges with Richard Morley, I believe you will find most of the points you raise already, and more civilly, discussed.

          • @dennisbonnette:disqus I appreciate your calm and charitable replies, and I appreciate @AtheismNTheCity:disqus 's commitment to discussing these topics in depth. I don't know how he finds the time!

            (From what I can see in the Admin board, he must average at least an hour or two per day on the site.)

            But it's clear to me, after following many of your exchanges during the past few months, that neither you seem to be making much headway with each other.

            Worse, The Thinker's increasingly long comments are loaded with insults, condescension, and exaggerated rhetoric ("This is basic logic anyone with a brain can see"; "...how intellectually lazy you are"; "...how completely ignorant you are..."; "you appear completely blind..."; etc., etc.,)

            To me, that's always a bad sign. When people start talking like that, for whatever reason (and I won't guess at The Thinker's motives), it means the dialogue isn't worth continuing. Even if he's right about his objections to Thomism or the philosophy of time (which, after reading both of your cases, I don't think he is) I personally don't think it's worth your time to engage him, not as long as he assumes such a haughty demeanor.

            I'll leave it up to you whether to keep replying, but from the outside, I would hate to see both of you keep spinning your wheels, only producing friction. It seems a waste of time for both of you.

          • Sample1

            If you are going to ban The Thinker, let me, in the spirit of Kolbe, take his/her place instead.

            Mike
            PS, you need a parenthesis after demeanor.

          • I didn't say I was going to ban anyone, though his increasingly caustic tone is at odds with the friendly spirit we try to cultivate here.

            I merely made a suggestion that, given The Thinker's preferred tone and style of dialoguing, I don't recommend Dr. Bonnette continue with him.

          • Sample1

            I find it difficult to understand you. I accept that this is my challenge not yours. On the other hand your reply, though appreciated, addresses something I never said (I didn’t say you would ban The Thinker, I said if you are going to ban him...) which circles back to my first point, in light of your reply, that I find it difficult to understand you. Surely you see a difference between the two.

            Secondly, “caustic” and “being at odds with the friendly,” your claims about The Thinker, would seem to reasonably suggest to me that my comment beginning with if was indeed justified.

            Mike

          • "I find it difficult to understand you. I accept that this is my challenge not yours. On the other hand your reply, though appreciated, addresses something I never said (I didn’t say you would ban The Thinker, I said if you are going to ban him...) which circles back to my first point, in light of your reply, that I find it difficult to understand you. Surely you see a difference between the two."

            This is needlessly pedantic, Mike. Come on.

            You began a sentence by saying, "If you are going to ban The Thinker...". Any reasonable person reading that would conclude that you have some reason for thinking that was a possibility, or even a likely outcome, that I was considering whether to ban The Thinker.

            So I simply wanted to affirm that I had no reason, gave no reason, and still have no reason for banning him. I didn't imply or mention anything about banning.

            So why you felt it necessary to suggest an alternative to me banning him is something I didn't and don't understand.

          • Sample1

            ...and still have no reason for banning him.

            Excellent. I was mistaken.

            Mike

          • Brandon, I truly appreciate your hospitable tone. It's true that I do get frustrated with Dr Bonnette's comments. He also likes to say my views are absurd. I will try and keep things civil.

            As for who is correct on the philosophy of time, this is something I know an awfully lot about and I know for a fact that Dr Bonnette is incorrect. I am very confident I can show this. But I know from experience that these things take patience because the subject matter is complex.

            The thing about Dr Bonnette is that he prefers to make speeches instead of directly addressing what I say. He'll pick on one thing that may not be relevant and comment on that, and leave what is relevant untouched.

            When I engage on this site and others I always prefer intellectual debate/discussion over name calling. That's no fun. Dr Bonnette doesn't seem to want to get down to the nitty gritty of the details over our disagreement.

          • "He also likes to say my views are absurd."

            As I'm sure you know, this term is a specific term in logic with technical meaning, and I believe Dr. Bonnette used it properly. He wasn't trying to insult you or your conclusions.

            "The thing about Dr Bonnette is that he prefers to make speeches instead of directly addressing what I say. He'll pick on one thing that may not be relevant and comment on that, and leave what is relevant untouched."

            I understand this style of dialogue may be frustrating for you, but I'm afraid you made your own bed, to use the expression, and you have to sleep in it. When you reply to him in comment threads that are often as length as the original post, touching on several different sub-topics, it's understandable that Dr. Bonnette can't reply in turn to all of your points.

            I actually think he does right in picking out only one of your comments and replying specifically to that. Taking one topic at a time is usually the only--or at least the most effective--way to have fruitful dialogue.

            "When I engage on this site and others I always prefer intellectual debate/discussion over name calling. That's no fun."

            Of course. Everyone here would agree--that's why Strange Notions exists! And that's why I had to call attention to your increasingly hostile tone. We don't need that, and you're better than that, anyways. Let's stick to the arguments, without the condescension, in a spirit of friendly dialogue.

            "Dr Bonnette doesn't seem to want to get down to the nitty gritty of the details over our disagreement."

            Not sure I agree. Dr Bonnette has spent dozens of hours over several weeks dialoguing with you (and others) about the nitty gritty details on several philosophical topics, including this one.

            Now, you may wish he would respond at even greater length, and with greater frequency, to your many long comments, but to claim he's uninterested in getting down to the "nitty gritty details" is disingenuous.

        • Rob Abney

          This shows how completely ignorant you are of the real problem above. It seems as if you learned nothing in the past 3 months

          It would be extremely unexpected for Dr. Bonnette to learn something in a com box that he had not considered in his 50+ years as a professional philosopher. That's not an argument from authority but a practical way of considering who understands the subject more completely. You may have as much experience yourself but your webpage doesn't spell it out like his does.

          • Spell it out how? 50+ years studying a false philosophy like Thomism doesn't mean much. Heck, you can study it for 100 years for that matter, but if all you're doing is boxing yourself off in the walls of Thomism, you might not see the flaws of it. I suspect Dr Bonnette suffers a bit from the sunk cost fallacy. He's dedicated so much his adult life to Thomism that he just cannot allow himself to admit or see any problems with it as the cost now would be too high.

          • Rob Abney

            You assume a lot.

          • My assumptions are based in reason.

    • You propose a false dichotomy: either everything has an explanation, or nothing does.

      I hope the professor will offer his own response, but I think a charitable interpretation of his post would be that without assuming the PSR, we would have no reliable way to distinguish between brute facts and explainable facts. Of course I don’t regard that as a sensible position to take, but it is clearly not the same as claiming that with the PSR, nothing has an explanation.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      I just noticed your claims regarding "eternalism" appearing above.

      Accurately read, special relativity entails neither “presentism” nor “eternalism.”

      Because special relativity rules out a “present” univocally definable across all of spacetime, it is incompatible with presentism.

      Still, even if you cannot ever tell which event precedes another between spatially separated events, this does not rule out real past, present, future sequences of events in the same world line. Within that defined context the order of time is unambiguous -- meaning the past really does not exist anymore and the future does not yet exist.

      Eternalism is false, since it entails a denial of any such real distinction
      between past and future locally, that is, for events that admit of a real causal
      connection.

      Thus, while it may not be possible to establish simultaneity of spatially separated events, events connected by timelike intervals do have real past, present, and future sequencing, and therefore, any claim making past, present and future a matter of universal indifference is clearly totally false, as in the case of eternalism.

      Not only does eternalism follow from a false understanding of special relativity, but it also entails an impossible denial of the reality of change.

      Even if change is a purely subjective illusion, its reality as an illusion must be acknowledged, as I explained in the OP. The alleged “illusion” of change could not be experienced unless a knower is aware of, and therefore somehow continuously present to, the difference between the “before” and “after” of the alleged illusory experience. This constitutes being directly involved in, and intellectually aware of, the immediate reality of a “this” becoming “that,” which is the essence of real change – contrary to the impossible claim of eternalism.

      Eternalism is claimed by some to entail a block universe in which all parts “statically” exist, much like the sequential, but distinct, frames in a motion picture film. A series of momentarily frozen “parts” that are not really sequenced through the flow of time denies the reality of physical causes actually producing the next physical “part.” If the “parts” are truly “frozen moments” utterly separated in reality, then no physical causality can take place, since there is no real connection between the sequenced “parts.” In that case, eternalism essentially denies the reality of physical causality in the physical world.

      On the other hand, what theoretical physicists sometimes forget is that causal sequences are not merely a series of “events” that can be abstracted from the real world context in which they occur – and then treated as if they were all equally real.

      On the contrary, the real world causal “event” of an atomic explosion is a one-way reality from matter to energy with cataclysmic irreversible consequences. This is why “events” connected by timelike intervals have real time unidirectional past, present, and future sequences in which the past exists no more and the future does not yet exist – contrary to the false claim of “eternalism.”

      If there is a real causal connection between physical particles/fields acting on other particles/fields, then there is a continued union between the “before” and “after” “parts” of the physical world, just as Aristotle says. This would constitute the reality of “this” becoming “that,” which again contradicts the claim that change does not exist.

      And, if real change exists, then eternalism is again false.

      Thus, we have at least two separate proofs that eternalism is false.

      For a physics paper by a professor at the London School of Economics who offers proof that special relativity combined with modern physics practice “thwarts” eternalism, see this: http://www.soulphysics.org/2008/07/how-special-relativity thwarts/

      See also the scholarly article by Richard T.W. Arthur of McMaster University, entitled “Minkowski Spacetime and the Dimensions of the Present,” which concludes “that the block universe view founders on a kind of equivocation about the “reality” of events: although we represent events and their spatiotemporal relations as real, this does not license an inference to their “already” existing, or indeed to the existence of the spacetime manifold of events at any time.” See this: http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~rarthur/Phil771/minkpresfinal.pdf

      See also, “The Irrelevance of the Presentist/Eternalist Debate for the Ontology of Minkowski Spacetime,” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/articl /pii/S1871177406010059 [cut/paste entire address]

      The above arguments and documentation should make it clear why I reject the highly-speculative, purely-philosophical interpretation of special relativity, known as “eternalism.”

      • Accurately read, special relativity entails neither “presentism” nor “eternalism.”

        And this is coming from the guy who admitted he doesn't really understand the science all that much.

        I will leave it to the readers to judge for themselves whether or not SR entails eternalism. I've written about this extensively, perhaps more than any other blogger online, and I've written several lengthy arguments why it is nearly impossible to avoid eternalism from SR:

        Does Special Relativity Entail Eternalism? Part 3 - The Logical Argument

        And not only that I've also written about exactly what one has to believe in order to deny eternalism, and it isn't pretty:

        Here's What You Have To Believe In Order To Deny Eternalism

        Because special relativity rules out a “present” univocally definable across all of spacetime, it is incompatible with presentism.

        Correct, and that contradicts the previous line you just said above this, that "Accurately read, special relativity entails neither 'presentism' nor 'eternalism.'"

        The fact that you contradicted yourself in just the first few lines indicates to me that you have no idea what you're talking about.

        Still, even if you cannot ever tell which event precedes another between spatially separated events, this does not rule out real past, present, future sequences of events in the same world line.

        The argument has never been that there isn't a past, present, and future sequence of events on a worldline. All worldlines have past and future events from a subjective present moment.

        Within that defined context the order of time is unambiguous -- meaning the past really does not exist anymore and the future does not yet exist.

        This is a complete and total nonsequitor. Having the ability to tell a past and future event from a subjective present moment in no way whatsoever means that the past does not exist anymore or that the future does. If you actually understood special relativity you'd know this. But clearly you don't.

        Eternalism is false, since it entails a denial of any such real distinction between past and future locally, that is, for events that admit of a real causal connection.

        So wait, above you said SR "is incompatible with presentism", and now it rules out eternalism too? And before that you said SR entails neither “presentism” nor “eternalism.”

        WOW! You're contradicting yourself while you contradict yourself! This is one for the record.

        Eternalism does not deny that there's a real distinction between past and future locally - by which I assume you mean from a subjective "now" present moment. Eternalism just says that all moments exist. And causality is when information, or worldlines mix. So again, you have no idea what you're talking about.

        Thus, while it may not be possible to establish simultaneity of spatially separated events, events connected by timelike intervals do have real past, present, and future sequencing, and therefore, any claim making past, present and future a matter of universal indifference is clearly totally false, as in the case of eternalism.

        Having a real past present and future sequencing does absolutely nothing to dispel eternalism, since eternalism makes no claim that you cannot tell the past, present, or future from a subjective present moment.

        Not only does eternalism follow from a false understanding of special relativity, but it also entails an impossible denial of the reality of change.

        Again, this is coming from the guy who admittedly doesn't understand SR, and who make that abundantly evidence in the nonsensical argument above.

        Now on the "reality" of change, if you define change as something requiring presentism (which you admitted is incompatible with SR above) then change is false. Science just rules it out and you mangled understanding of SR just doesn't help you at all.

        The alleged “illusion” of change could not be experienced unless a knower is aware of, and therefore somehow continuously present to, the difference between the “before” and “after” of the alleged illusory experience. This constitutes being directly involved in, and intellectually aware of, the immediate reality of a “this” becoming “that,” which is the essence of real change – contrary to the impossible claim of eternalism.

        I'm beginning to suspect you don't understand the first thing about eternalism, even though I really want to give you the benefit of the doubt.

        On eternalism you would indeed experience exactly what we experience now - a conscious succession of events one after the other, and this is because any physical thing that has the characteristics of a memory will tend to align itself with the thermodynamic arrow of time, which in turn is defined by the behavior of extremely large numbers of particles.

        A series of momentarily frozen “parts” that are not really sequenced through the flow of time denies the reality of physical causes actually producing the next physical “part.”

        That is correct, and that is why your notion or Aristotelian causality is false, since it is falsified by eternalism, which is entailed by special relativity. Modern science proves you wrong.

        If the “parts” are truly “frozen moments” utterly separated in reality, then no physical causality can take place, since there is no real connection between the sequenced “parts.”

        The connection between the two are the worldlines. But there is no flow from one thing to another.

        In that case, eternalism essentially denies the reality of physical causality in the physical world.

        Eternalism doesn't do this, science does. Science denies the reality of physical causality in the physical world as you typically think of causality - which of course is your antiquated Aristotelian notion.

        On the contrary, the real world causal “event” of an atomic explosion is a one-way reality from matter to energy with cataclysmic irreversible consequences. This is why “events” connected by timelike intervals have real time unidirectional past, present, and future sequences in which the past exists no more and the future does not yet exist – contrary to the false claim of “eternalism.”

        On eteralism (which is the same as special relativity) timelike separated events will have a distinction between a past and future event that is recognized by all reference frames. For spacelike separated events that's another story. Different reference frames will disagree on past and future events. When dealing with a nuclear bomb all events are timelike. And nothing about timelike separated events having "real time unidirectional past, present, and future sequences" does anything to show eternalsm is false because eternalism doesn't deny that.

        If there is a real causal connection between physical particles/fields acting on other particles/fields, then there is a continued union between the “before” and “after” “parts” of the physical world, just as Aristotle says.

        What does a continued union mean? It sounds to me like saying there's a continued existence between the “before” and “after” “parts” of the physical world. You will never show eternalism is false with bad philosophical arguments that stem from ignorance about SR.

        And, if real change exists, then eternalism is again false.

        But you haven't demononstrated "real" change. All you've done is show that moment A is different from moment B, which eternalism doesn't deny is the case. On eternalism, when we say change is an illusion, we're not saying that all moments are ontologically the same. We're saying that the totality of moments (which are all different) exist and the spacetime block universe as a whole is a static entitiy.

        Thus, we have at least two separate proofs that eternalism is false.

        Um no. Your ignorance to SR is not an argument.

        For a physics paper by a professor at the London School of Economics who offers proof that special relativity combined with modern physics practice “thwarts” eternalism, see this: http://www.soulphysics.org/... thwarts/

        Proof? Hardly. I see no argument there that proves eternalism false and I doubt you even read or understood the post.

        The above arguments and documentation should make it clear why I reject the highly-speculative, purely-philosophical interpretation of special relativity, known as “eternalism.”

        You don't even understand SR nor do you even understand the linked arguments that you claim are the reasons for rejecting eternalism. Your entire comment here is loaded with inconsistencies and ignorance about eternalism and what it says. No wonder you reject it - you don't understand it or SR.

        Eternalism actually flows completely naturally from SR. It's SR without any philosophical baggage. To deny SR you even have to assume philosophical baggage, and - ironically - you have to accept brute facts!!!

        • BCE

          I'm asking you, because you will overlook my ignorance, and my not having been in a science class for +20 years, though I read some current pieces.
          But I was taught only the present exists, though electrons move (timeless)
          clumps, or while some atoms stable, you..or everything (in the moment) is not the same from a prior moment
          Sorry for my awkward expression, but I figure you might be able to
          (in a few words) recall any such type of theory

          • Is this a question or a comment? I don't understand it.

          • BCE

            Sorry, I was asking, don't electrons jump? That's what I recall
            So while they move between time(past and future)
            the state of matter is present, not in an eternal state, but only its
            present state.
            So is there any other state then present?

          • Sorry, I can't understand you. And I have no patience to.

          • @AtheismNTheCity:disqus : While we all appreciate your insights, several of your comments in this thread are pushing the boundaries of civil and friendly dialogue we've tried to establish here. Please cut out the exaggerated rhetoric and condescension.

          • This comment above is not rhetoric or condescension. It's just a simple admission that I can't understand some who's had several tries at formulating a coherent response and that I give up trying to understand them.

          • BCE

            I was wrong to consider using you as a resource to prod my failed memory.
            Please except my apology.
            I haven't been on SN for very long, I'm not that invested, and only coming to know those who are.
            As I admitted my memory was failing me, I thought with your expertise
            and my(feeble) attempt, you might know what theory I was seeking.

            I found it...Klein-Gordon

            No offense taken, you have no obligation

        • Rob Abney

          We're saying that the totality of moments (which are all different) exist and the spacetime block universe as a whole is a static entitiy.

          Is there a reason that everything exists at once? Will we ever be able to objectively experience the totality of everything? Why do we have only subjective local experience?

          • Basically, you're asking if there's a reason eternalism is true and not presentism. There are a priori arguments that reason logically that eternalism has to be true, but I have not fully examined them enough to commit to them. What do you mean by experience the totality of everything? It's definitely impossible since you'd first have to exist at every point in space and time, which can't be.

          • Rob Abney

            If every point in space and time exists at once why couldn't those points be objectively experienced?

          • Do you understand what "at once" really means in this context? I've dealt with so many people like you who completely fail to understand eternalism's ontology.

          • Rob Abney

            If it's not too much to ask, please give me your explanation of "at once".

          • So you don't know?

          • Rob Abney

            No, I don't know what your explanation is.

          • Try learning from this video: https://youtu.be/eR8DYZzmin0

            It might explain your confusion better than I can in words. If this doesn't help, let me know.

          • Rob Abney

            I'll try to ignore your condescension, you don't appear to be able to refrain from it.
            I watched the video, good illustration of how an alien would see past events due to his relative position, the greater distance away that he is the farther into the past he will see.
            I do not understand how he can see future events though, maybe you can explain that?
            After you explain that then explain what position in spacetime would allow him to see just a little into the past and just a little into the future.

          • The alien can't "see" past events, what's happening in his slice of "now" is his present and our past, or his present and our future depending on his relative trajectory.

          • Rob Abney

            I can see how the alien's "now" could theoretically coincide with our past but how does his "now" coincide with our future?
            This is based upon the light traveling relatively, but sound travels at a much slower speed than light, and the other sensory stimuli could never travel the distance required.

          • If he's travelling towards us; its simply the converse of his "now" being in our past. It has nothing to do with light.

          • Richard Morley

            This is based upon the light travelling relatively, but sound travels at a much slower speed than light...

            The relevant part is that light (in a vacuum) appears always to be travelling at the same speed relative to the observer.

            Sound does not, it acts more like intuitive Newtonian physics, if you can observe a sound wave and are travelling very fast relative to the medium in which the sound wave is propagating, its velocity relative to you is the sum of (its velocity relative to that medium) and (the velocity of that medium relative to you). So, as you would intuitively expect, if two (or more) people hear the sound of two (or more) events and work out when those events took place based on how long the sound took to reach them, those people will agree on when the events took place, and more concretely which events preceded which other events. All as long as relative velocities remain below levels at which relativistic effects become noticeable.

            With light (or other things travelling near light speed) relativity kicks in. Observers will always observe the light travelling at the speed of light, even if they are themselves travelling at near light speeds relative to each other. Cue lots of thought experiments (or pure maths) and we see that this implies that the observers will not agree on the order of events, or even whether certain events are simultaneous.

            So you, stuck on earth, may see me cruisin' in ma spaceship at high velocity having lunch, and another event elsewhere in space such as the Death Star exploding. Having waited for the light from my fabulous spaceship and the space explosion to reach you, of course. Calculating how long it took the light to reach you, you conclude that the explosion occurred later than lunch on my spaceship. I on the other hand, observing the same space explosion and working out how long it took the light to reach me, conclude that it occurred at the same time as lunch on my spaceship. So in my frame of reference, at lunchtime on my spaceship, the explosion was 'now' when to you it was 'in the future'.

            So depending on the observer, an event may be simultaneous with, in the past, or in the future compared to another spatially separated event. Which means that if events that occur 'now' to some observer are real, different frames of reference will show that some events in your future according to you are 'now' to some other observer and so real. And other events even further in the future will be 'simultaneous with' those previous future events (to some observer) and so equally real. And so on into the future.

          • Rob Abney

            Thanks Richard. I think the examples put forth support simultaneity of relativity but not the view that all points in time are equally real.

            different frames of reference will show that some events in your future according to you are 'now' to some other observer and so real

            Can you give an example of this?

          • Richard Morley

            Can you give an example of this?

            I thought I had.

            Assume Alice and Bob disagree on the timing of events X and Y. In Alice's frame of reference, X and Y are simultaneous, in Bob's Y occurs after X.

            So at the time that X occurs, Y is in Bob's future, but is in the present for Alice. So event Y must already be existent when X occurs, as it is in the present for Alice, despite being in the future for Bob.

          • Rob Abney

            What sort of event could exist in Bob's future but Alice's now?

          • Richard Morley

            Any event. Are you sure you get the relativity of simultaneity?

          • Rob Abney

            Could it be an event involving Bob?

          • Richard Morley

            That would seem to be an unnecessary complication where you seem to be struggling with the basic concept. I would suggest keeping it clean and simple: two observers observing two events, all separated.

            If whether or not Y is 'now' or 'in the future' when X happens depends on the observer, then surely a growing block model of time is out the window? Unless you claim that an event exists for one observer and not another? There is a different growing block universe for each observer? Or one privileged observer and the others are seeing things that are not real?

          • Rob Abney

            I introduce that complication because it seems to be a flaw in the way eternalism has been used here to support determinism. If Bob's future doesn't actually exist yet then he has the freedom to make it actual, but if it is already determined then it should already be visible to the other observer even if not visible to Bob.

          • Richard Morley

            I don't get this.

            If you have two individuals. They both observe one event occurring at a time I shall call 'now', and both observe a second event which is also 'now' for one of them (i.e. is simultaneous with the first event) but occurs later than the first event for the other.

            How does this not rule out a universal 'now' and so a growing block universe model of time? Saying that one of them was involved in one event will just confuse you. Sure, deliberately confusing the issue can obfuscate the argument but if that is the case why bother? Just ignore it. Likewise of course you can construct a scenario in which Alice and Bob agree on timing, but that tells you nothing. The scenario which tells us something is the one where a future event for one is in the present for the other.

          • I do not understand how he can see future events though, maybe you can explain that?

            The condescension is all in your mind. There was none there. By definition you can only see past events. No one sees future events since light takes time to travel from point to point.

            After you explain that then explain what position in spacetime would allow him to see just a little into the past and just a little into the future.

            The question makes no sense. So I can't answer it. My comment above might answer it.

            My question is do you now have an answer to your original question: "If every point in space and time exists at once why couldn't those points be objectively experienced?"

          • Rob Abney

            No one sees future events since light takes time to travel from point to point.

            What evidence are you relying on to say that future events exist already?

            My question is do you now have an answer to your original question: "If every point in space and time exists at once why couldn't those points be objectively experienced?"

            It can't be done because since the sensory stimuli travel at different speeds, and since the future events apparently cannot be experienced in either position.

          • What evidence are you relying on to say that future events exist already?

            It's in the blog post which you said you've read: http://www.atheismandthecity.com/2016/08/does-special-relativity-entail.html

            You keep acting as if I've made no argument and am just asserting things on faith.

            It can't be done because since the sensory stimuli travel at different speeds, and since the future events apparently cannot be experienced in either position.

            That answer makes no sense given the data in the video. You don't exist at every moment, so why should you expect to experience every moment. Also your existence is spread out in time across many slices of spacetime, therefore even for the part of you that does exist, you wouldn't expect to experience them all at once.

          • Rob Abney

            You keep acting as if I've made no argument and am just asserting things on faith.

            No, I'm asking you to clarify your reasoning.
            I've read your blog post and I can't find support for how future events are experienced.
            What does it mean to say that you don't exist at every moment if you are saying that eternalism is true?

          • I've read your blog post and I can't find support for how future events are experienced.

            Nothing in my argument, or any argument for eternalism is supposed to make the claim that you will experience the future at a present moment, because nothing in eternalism makes that claim. You're expecting something that is not even being claimed.

            What does it mean to say that you don't exist at every moment if you are saying that eternalism is true?

            Because to say you exist at every moment is to say to exist all throughout space and all throughout time - which would effectively make you the universe.

          • Rob Abney

            "There are a priori arguments that reason logically that eternalism has to be true, but I have not fully examined them enough to commit to them" How have you committed to eternalism if not using a priori reasoning?

          • Did you not read the links in my comment to Dr Bonnette above? I put them there for a reason.

            I have gone above and beyond any reasonable expectation of justification for eternalism that you'd expect for any point of view. Waaaay beyond. It's possible that I've made the case for eternalism more than any other blogger out there on the internet. I've never come across anyone who's written about it as much as I have.

          • Rob Abney

            I don't understand your complaint, you said that you haven't committed to an a priori reason, so I asked how you committed to it.
            I'm working on reading your blog on SR and Eternalism, I'll try to make sense of it, I've never been convinced on an argument from quantity though.

          • My complaint is easy to understand. I'm busy having a debate on eternalism where I've linked several arguments to it that I've made. You butt in and start asking questions where a priori reasoning comes up, which I said I don't rely on that. Then you ask me what do I rely on then, when it was clear that right at the top of my comments on the thread you butted in on I gave my justification for eternalism. That's how I committed to it: through logical arguments based on evidence.

            Please read my posts on SR and eternalism. You might actually learn something. There's no argument from quantity. The subject matter is complex, and usually requires more than 2 premises. If you want a really short argument, see here.

          • Rob Abney

            You have your own unique views on a lot of subjects, for instance, how someone can butt-in on a public discussion forum that is open to public comments and in no way interferes with your continued discussion with another commenter. Although in reality it seems like you simply have a tendency to be condescending and nasty, I don't understand why you skew the discussion that way.
            I've been reading your posts and your blog, its very difficult to learn from your writing style but I do appreciate being able to ask you questions, if you don't want to answer then you don't have to.

          • I'm fine with butting in, as I do it too. The problem is I've given the very thing you asked for in the thread you butted in right at the top of the most recent comment. That's my problem.

            You can ask me what you want, but only if you're going to show that you're a serious actor genuinely interested in learning and not a troll.

          • Rob Abney

            You can ask me what you want, but only if you're going to show that you're a serious actor genuinely interested in learning and not a troll.

            Again, its not up to you if I ask something, its only up to you to decide to answer or not.

          • "I have gone above and beyond any reasonable expectation of justification for eternalism that you'd expect for any point of view. Waaaay beyond. It's possible that I've made the case for eternalism more than any other blogger out there on the internet. I've never come across anyone who's written about it as much as I have."

            The Thinker, just a word of friendly advice. Per Rob's comment below, and Dr. Bonnette's comment elsewhere, the "argument by deluge" just won't convince many people.

            I know you think that's a strength of your position, but in this case as in many others, it's actually a weakness preventing people with limited time and energy from engaging your otherwise interesting work.

            Again, this isn't to say your points are wrong, only that when you leave such long comments, with so many points and on so many topics and sub-topics, and when you send people to blog series that are long enough to fill books, online commentators just aren't going to spend time reading them. So you're doing yourself a great disservice.

          • Perhaps. I'm just putting all the detail there so that it's on the record for anyone who has the time and interest to investigate and learn for themselves.

          • Maybe you're right. I'm going to try to shorten my comments with Dr Bonnette in the future.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          In light of Brandon Vogt’s correct assessment of the nature of our exchanges over the last several months, I will make this a final response to you regarding the false theory of “eternalism” – since it was already written before my seeing Brandon’s post this morning. My understanding is that “eternalism” is even less coherent in light of the theory of general relativity, but that is a moot point now.

          Cutting to the heart of the matter, you have said previously that if one does not accept presentism, he must accept eternalism. In fact, I recall you telling me exactly that in an earlier post. Since I rejected presentism, I must accept eternalism. Once absolute simultaneity is defeated by special relativity, you infer that eternalism must be true.

          You maintain, “Eternalism does not deny that there's a
          real distinction between past and future locally - by which I assume you mean from a subjective "now" present moment. Eternalism just says that all moments exist.” Moreover, you maintain that “the totality of moments (which are all different) exist and the spacetime block universe as a whole is a static
          entity.”

          While you accept that past and future exist locally, yet you
          deny real physical causality between unfolding events – transforming the conventional understanding of causality into “when information, or worldlines mix.”

          You appear to view reality as a series of sequential “events” spread through time, while denying any real causal effect of these “events” on the next ones. This denies the fact that the physical causality that science has traditionally affirmed actually describes the interaction of real things in the physical world.

          Your critique of my post, omitted the following from me:

          “On the other hand, what theoretical physicists sometimes
          forget is that causal sequences are not merely a series of “events” that can be abstracted from the real world context in which they occur – and then treated as if they were all equally real.”

          Yet, when I said that “eternalism essentially denies the
          reality of physical causality in the physical world,” you replied, “Eternalism doesn't do this, science does.” By this you mean that eternalism is simply what natural science, meaning special relativity, forces us to believe about physical causality.

          But what you claim eternalism demands one to believe is
          nothing like what causality really entails in the physical world. You claim, “Science denies the reality of physical causality in the physical world as you typically think of causality - which of course is your antiquated Aristotelian notion.”

          But, Aristotle teaches that natural agents directly produce there proper effects. The truth is that natural scientists believe the same as Aristotle, namely, that present physical agents are actually causing the coming to be of real physical effects, and that the nature of the cause determines the nature of its effect.

          Scientists believe what Aristotle says, not what you are
          saying. You say, “There is no flow from one thing to another.” But, they accept that water actually dissolves salt, that wood actually combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, that a flame actually heats the bottom of a kettle, and so forth. That is, natural agents are actually engaged in real agency directly and immediately effecting here and now the coming to be of a relatively predictable effect -- just like Aristotle says.

          Clearly, were it not for the “need” to conform timelike events to the false hypothesis of eternalism, the obvious reading of human experience and scientific observation in the same world line would be that real causality occurs as common sense affirms. Of course, if that is done, then eternalism as
          a whole fails, since all the “events” in the cosmos suddenly fall into a normal time sequence with the past no longer existing and the future not yet existing, even though absolute simultaneity is still denied and presentism is false.

          One item of my post that you failed to address bears
          repeating, since it is itself a refutation of your claims about eternalism:

          “See also the scholarly article by Richard T.W. Arthur of
          McMaster University, entitled “Minkowski Spacetime and the Dimensions of the Present,” which concludes “that the block universe view founders on a kind of equivocation about the “reality” of events: although we represent events and their spatiotemporal relations as real, this does not license an inference to their “already” existing, or indeed to the existence of the spacetime manifold of events at any time.”
          http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~rarthur/Phil771/minkpresfinal.pdf

          • I will make this a final response to you regarding the false theory of “eternalism” – since it was already written before my seeing Brandon’s post this morning.

            False theory? Right. It is clear from anyone familiar with the subject matter that you are wrong here. I implore you to do honest research on the subject matter and to not give into your cognitive biases. Merely searching the internet for an argument against eternalism does nothing unless you can show you actually understand it. I could easily do the same with Thomism.

            Act in the way you would want a skeptic of Thomism to act. Putting "eternalism" is scare quotes - as if it's my theory makes no sense. Eternalism is the dominant view in physics and in the philosophy of physics. It's not some pet theory I invented.

            And if you were honest about a debate on this, you'd actually try and refute my linked arguments.

            My understanding is that “eternalism” is even less coherent in light of the theory of general relativity, but that is a moot point now.

            I've already shown how general relativity demands eternalism by falsifying presentism with the following argument that you have not touched at all:

            P1. There are gravitational waves.
            P2. Gravitational waves have non-zero Weyl curvature.
            P3. Non-zero Weyl curvature is only possible in 4 or more dimensions.
            P4. Presentism is incompatible with a 4 dimensional world.
            Then, presentism is false.

            Once absolute simultaneity is defeated by special relativity, you infer that eternalism must be true

            That is true. Once you admit simultaneity is not absolute and objective, you negate presentism. There is a third option by the way, possiblism, but it too requires an absolute reference frame.

            You appear to view reality as a series of sequential “events” spread through time, while denying any real causal effect of these “events” on the next ones

            Yes, because that's what science says is true. Eternalism is straightforward special relativity with no philosophical baggage attached. If you take SR as it is, you get eternalism. You have to assume there's an undetectable objective reference frame which you will never have evidence for in principle in order to deny eternalism, and that forces you to also have to accept many bizarre things.

            This denies the fact that the physical causality that science has traditionally affirmed actually describes the interaction of real things in the physical world.

            One of the major takeaways of Sean Carroll's book The Big Picture is that physics shows that causality as you understand it is false. When scientists say "cause" they are not referring to true ontological causality as you understand it. This is a semantic problem. The word "cause" is just very useful.

            This is a big problem with people and their ability to really understand science.

            Here's an educational video for you on relativity and causality:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YycAzdtUIko&t=199s

            But what you claim eternalism demands one to believe is nothing like what causality really entails in the physical world......But, Aristotle teaches that natural agents directly produce there proper effects. The truth is that natural scientists believe the same as Aristotle, namely, that present physical agents are actually causing the coming to be of real physical effects, and that the nature of the cause determines the nature of its effect.

            Aristotle is your reference? I don't care what Aristotle says, I care about what evidence he has. And Aristotle's views on causality are completely false in light of modern science. Science negates the coming to be of real things beginning to exist. Your ignorance on science is not an argument.

            Here's an educational video on cause and effect in modern physics:

            https://youtu.be/3AMCcYnAsdQ

            Scientists believe what Aristotle says, not what you are
            saying.

            Can you provide a shred of evidence backing this claim up? If you knew anything about the subject matter, you'd know eternalism is the dominant view in physics.

            But, they accept that water actually dissolves salt, that wood actually combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, that a flame actually heats the bottom of a kettle, and so forth. That is, natural agents are actually engaged in real agency directly and immediately effecting here and now the coming to be of a relatively predictable effect -- just like Aristotle says.

            Scientists who aren't familiar with special and general relativity will not know enough about causality in order be able to make the claim you're making about them. Most working chemists and biologists don't understand the physics of causality. They only have a colloquial understanding of it. You need to know physics in order understand this. This is not common knowledge, it's highly esoteric. And when you look at the experts who are familiar with this area of physics, you see that eternalism is the dominant view.

            Here's just a small sampling of videos demonstrating how the eternalist view is dominant in physics:

            https://youtu.be/lVuF5zrwMLY

            https://youtu.be/AORsw8NpN4E

            https://youtu.be/eR8DYZzmin0

            Clearly, were it not for the “need” to conform timelike events to the false hypothesis of eternalism, the obvious reading of human experience and scientific observation in the same world line would be that real causality occurs as common sense affirms. Of course, if that is done, then eternalism as a whole fails, since all the “events” in the cosmos suddenly fall into a normal time sequence with the past no longer existing and the future not yet existing, even though absolute simultaneity is still denied and presentism is false.

            How can presentism be false and the past and future do not exist? Presentism is the view that the past and future do not exist. It's because of statements like this that to me indicate you do not understand the subject matter. And that's putting it mildly.

            There are only 3 options on the table:

            http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/3metaphysics.jpg

            One item of my post that you failed to address bears
            repeating, since it is itself a refutation of your claims about eternalism:

            Your link is dead.

  • Craig Roberts

    Even a single exception to a rule refutes the rule, since it is now always possible that the next thing encountered will be another “exception.”

    Really? Isn't it a "rule" that all people have one human father and one human mother? Does the exception of Jesus Christ disprove that rule?

    In mathematics you can divide by any number even infinity. The exception is zero. But that does not "refute" the rule.

    • Richard Morley

      To be fair, it does mean the rule is not absolutely right and needs to be revised, but I don't see that it makes it utterly useless.

      We still use Newtonian mechanics in many situations.

      • Craig Roberts

        True, but do you agree with the author's assertion?

        I gave two examples of rules with "single exceptions" that we can (and do) accept despite the exception.

        It can be easily proven that all real numbers, positive or negative, without limit approaching infinity, and even including infinity, can be used as denominators. Nobody denies the proof because of the single exception.

        The rule is even used to formally define what we mean by 'rational numbers':

        Rational numbers can be formally defined as equivalence classes of pairs of integers (p, q) such that q ≠ 0, for the equivalence relation defined by (p1,q1) ~ (p2,q2) if, and only if, p1q2 = p2q1.

        If we don't allow for the "single exception" this would be nonsense but no mathematician would "refute" it on that basis.

        Finally, what kind of crazy Christian would go around saying, "Nobody really is required to have a human mother and a human father. Jesus proves it is unnecessary." Uh...der...I suppose that's true...if you're God.

        Thanks for the reply.

        • Richard Morley

          True, but do you agree with the author's assertion?

          Only in the trivial sense that one exception shows that a rule is not absolute. Include that exception in the rule, and you again have a rule that is potentially absolute.

          • Craig Roberts

            But then, "Even a single exception to a rule refutes the rule" is false.

          • Craig Roberts

            That's not trivial. In theory you could include an infinite series of exceptions if one is allowed.

          • Richard Morley

            That's not trivial.

            Acknowledging that the rule needs to be amended to account for a single exception is trivial compared to showing that the rule is utterly false and needs to be thrown out entirely.

            In theory you could include an infinite series of exceptions if one is allowed.

            Sure you can. The more exceptions, the less useful the rule, but that is a question of shades of grey. When does a false but useful rule become worth chucking out as you find more and more exceptions?

            A 'rule' for a hotel saying that "all rooms are available, except for the following list of rooms that are booked out to the people shown" is useful.

            "I before E except after C" is arguably useless.

            But then, "Even a single exception to a rule refutes the rule" is false.

            Umm.. a single exception shows that the 'rule' is false in at least one case, so is not an absolute rule, which is what most people mean by 'refuting' it. It doesn't show that the rule gives false results everywhere, or that it is completely useless, as some seem to believe.

            It is human nature to believe that there is then a more fundamental, universally true rule. Whether this is actually philosophically true or just a useful assumption is arguably what is up for debate here.

          • Craig Roberts

            Good answer. It's also human nature to deny or deflect the obvious if it means having to admit you are wrong. :)

            To be fair, Christians deny the obvious all the time when they talk about things like guardian angels. If everybody has a "guardian angel" why do we need hospitals? Either a lot of guardian angels are horrible at their jobs or they don't exist. It's obvious. Even if they do exist, what good are they?

            George Carlin used to say, "If God has this perfect plan for everybody, why pray that he changes something?" Good question. And when Christians try do defend the indefensible they loose their credibility.

            Atheists on the other hand take these "obvious" contradictions and conclude that Christians are out of their minds. Therefore there is no God. But just because Christians refuse to acknowledge the obvious contradictions of their own philosophies doesn't mean that God doesn't exist. It just means they are often bad philosophers and don't like to admit when they are wrong.

            What's obvious to Christians is that atheists have no answers for existential questions. Most atheists would rather deny or deflect the question, "Why are we here?" They answer, "No reason, random chance can account for life." And the Christian is left rolling his eyes and doing a facepalm. To the Christian it is obvious that this is not the answer of someone attuned to reality.

            I don't know which side of the fence you're on but thanks for the thoughtful replies and reading my rants and in the immortal words of Suicidal Tendencies, "I'm not crazy, you're the one that's crazy!"

          • Richard Morley

            "Everyone's mad but me and thee...
            ...and even thee is a little bit touched" ;p

    • In mathematics you can divide by any number even infinity

      Just for the sake of technical correctness, infinity isn't a number. It's a concept related to numbers but is not itself a number. Also, ∞ / ∞ is undefined.

      • Craig Roberts

        True. Perhaps I should have said "any number and even infinity." Thanks for the correction.

        But that just makes the zero exception more unique and mysterious. You can divide by all sorts of irrational numbers and even the non-number concept of infinity, but the seemingly innocuous zero utterly defies this simple operation.

    • Ben Champagne

      Neither of your 'refutations' are actual. For a variety of reasons. The easiest to point out is that if Jesus is in fact the Son of God, and you accept that premise, then is he really 'people'? Second, there is no 'rule' that I am aware of that stipulates the practice of procreation be limited to needing a father and a mother. Science suggests this is not the case as eventually we would be able to simulate sperm outright (if not the entire process) and presently gene altering exists (although in its infancy). Not to mention that there are many species that procreate without two parents. Glad you at least put it in quotes though.

      As for the math, I think you are trying to define math as something other than what it actually is, a sub discipline of logic systemically. Math is a set of individual rules that combine to form what we call 'math'. There is no logically valid distinction between the conflation of 2+2=4 being a 'rule' itself to 4/0=null being a 'rule' by itself. In all cases each side of the equation will always yield the same result to be valid. It is purely methodological and representative, there are no phenomenal 'rules' attached to the latter, you have made the same category mistake as if someone said 'because I can say squared circle, means there are exceptions to the rule that words always have valid meaning'. There is no rule that words always have valid meaning, but there is an observed 'rule' that you mean something particular when communicating the individual words circle and square. When you divide by zero, you are simply recognizing that there are no individually recognizable phenomena attached, and of the inherent flaw of our current methodological discernment of phenomena. You are trying to find an exception, and that is valid. You have not actually presented a valid one however.

      • Craig Roberts

        So you think "a single exception to a rule invalidates the rule" is true? In other words, a valid rule?

        "When you divide by zero, you are simply recognizing that there are no individually recognizable phenomena attached, and of the inherent flaw of our current methodological discernment of phenomena."

        There is actually a very "recognizable phenomena" that happens when you attempt to divide by zero that any mathematician will readily concede. It doesn't work! If you can't see that then your "current methodological discernment of phenomena" is failing to grasp even the basic facts of math.

        If you think it's only a matter of time before mankind figures out how to actually divide by zero and somehow make it work I suggest you consider that you are possibly grasping beyond your reach.

        Thanks for the interesting reply.

        • Ben Champagne

          Yes, it is a wholly consistence and valid rule, depending on one's definition of rule. As someone previously expressed, one needs to amend the rule to make it consistent. There supposition was that it was the same 'rule', and to that I would disagree. If such an expression doesn't have full consistency, it can hardly be called a rule about that expression, unless you have a unique interpretation of the word rule used in this context.

          The fact that you assume 'It doesn't work' puts you in fundamental agreement with the assessment of our current methodologies. Does it not work? Or do we just not know how to make it work, and what it actually means? However your example is still wanting that it doesn't address the core contention I had with your previous post in the first place. As far as we know, dividing by 0 is nonsense. It is not a phenomena of the physical world, and there is no attachment one could use 4/0=null to describe an actual physical phenomena (being fully transparent, with the addendum, 'yet')

          Feel free to show me the recognizable real world phenomena attached to a particular physical body being divisible by 0 and yielding a result, and I feel you still haven't addressed my main contention of the difference between a rule, and a body of rules.

          • Craig Roberts

            If you can't recognize the "real world phenomena" of failure (because we might succeed in the future) then I can't help you. Good luck with your search for the truth and thanks for the reply.

          • BCE

            Hello Craig
            I've read the exchange between you and Ben, and the interjections of Tommy.
            I understood your point, about rules and exceptions.
            I think just as the Bible and other works use metaphor and allegory I
            understood immediately your reference to a mother and father.
            Ben's comment seem to circumvent the point you were making in his requirement for exactness.
            It seemed to change the topic from rules and contradiction to one about reproductive tech and zero.
            It was as if I said " for dinner I'll have the mixed veggie salad"
            and got lectured about whether a tomato is actually a fruit.

            But I couldn't help but note, generally in Catholic teaching things are only the same when all things regarding it are the same, avoiding contradiction.
            So one could argue Jesus's paternity is not a true exception to human procreation, since he isn't part of the same class of being.

            However Ben's point was impertinent.
            The fact is the law(we live under) had always assumed human children had a mother and father. Prima Facie law.
            So in a way, there is no exception(or modification) to the rule(that rule stands ). If there are other circumstances such that...except for this...then there is a different rule.

            Then there is....zero. Again I understood your point.
            just a bit of levity.....
            Sam has never been married, he has zero spouses.
            Most certainly for Sam zero is a real phenomena.
            But for those familiar with Boole, in circuits, a 0 is relevant

            And then there's Tommy, what can I say?
            Enfleshment is a difficult concept.

          • Craig Roberts

            Thanks for the thoughtful response. "Avoiding contradiction" seems like a logical starting point for discerning what is really true, but unfortunately for Christians the Bible is chock full of them.

            Jesus himself contradicts the Bible and even his own words in places. When Christians deny these contradictions they are written off as...how shall we put it?...less than intelligent?...probably deluded. If you can't see a contradiction, people have a hard time taking you seriously.

            "...since he isn't part of the same class of being."

            Careful now. You can see it that way but according to the Church fathers you would be branded a heretic. One of the great controversies in all of Christendom was the argument over was Jesus fully God or fully Human. The winners in the debate chose the rather unruly (contradictory?) answer of...both. I'm not sure if you're Catholic or not but "fully God and fully human" is a part of the creed.

            Finally, Christian orthodoxy demands that we accept the awkward and obvious contradiction that one thing (God) is actually three things (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) but is still only one thing.

            Enfleshment is a super difficult concept. And it's not the only one we have to wrestle with if we want to call ourselves Christians.

            But would it be easier to be an atheist? The only thing I can think of more vexing and confusing than Christianity would be a philosophy that blithely declares, "There is no reason for being and we all will be just fine if we realize that the point of life is that...well there is no point." A "belief in unbelief" is a pretty obvious contradiction that seems sillier than any religion at all. To those that are called, unbelief is not an option.

            Thanks again for the reply.

          • BCE

            What I mean is, Catholic teaching is that Jesus is a divine person with two natures, human and divine.
            God created us, so he gives us our nature, not the other way around.
            So when others, like Tommy, try to manipulate a debate
            ( such as when you said Jesus being an exception to needing both a mother and father, he tried to force Jesus into his standard(or class)
            of what he considers a person. That was my point, and again, in charity, I assumed you knew that.

            If someone is not sufficiently taught, the trinity is difficult.
            But again "Personhood" isn't ours to define. We are given a share
            only, otherwise it's like a grain of sand complaining "I don't get this thing called a mountain"

          • Craig Roberts

            Interesting. I have to agree whole heartedly. There are many things that are elusive to our understanding because we think we can just make up our own definition if we get frustrated trying to figure them out. It's hard to realize that some things are not 'ours to define' even if we are having difficulty understanding them.

          • Craig Roberts

            Well said. "Personhood" is key. It's not really what you know in this life, it's who you know. Who is God? Who is Jesus? It's all bound up with who we are. We can deny it all we want but there is no escaping it.

  • Rob Abney

    Better understanding as philosophy and theology have progressed.

  • Rob Abney

    His attributes have been better understood progressively. Most of all He is now understood as an intellect that wills the good of all creation.

  • the same ability that enables it to see the universal certitude of the
    principle of non-contradiction, which latter principle even scientistic atheists affirm -- although they cannot explain the basis for its certitude through natural science alone.

    The principle of non-contradiction is an axiom of my epistemology. if a proposition leads to contradictions then I simply assume that such a proposition is not a valid description of reality, and I assume I can safely ignore it. It's entirely silly to try an explain this axiom through science, because science does not try to explain our axioms.

  • Sample1

    I want to particularly thank the faith-free folks on this thread for their rigorous critiques. I’ve learned quite a bit. 👍

    Mike

    • Rob Abney

      You're welcome Mike, speaking for myself, I have to be faith-free for such fundamental truths as PSR, causality, change, and non-contradiction.

  • Peter

    Either the universe is a brute fact, having always existed, or an eternal God who created it is. The standard model suggests the universe has a beginning but it could be an eternally oscillating or reemerging universe and still be a brute fact.

    Since we can see the universe and not God, the odds appear in favour of the former being the brute fact. Except for one thing: the universe is intelligible to us. It has the unavoidable appearance of being created by a mind vastly superior to but not altogether different from our own.

    Of course, our universe could have been artificially created by an advanced alien in another universe, in which case ours would not be a brute fact but one contingent on choice. The problem here is who created that advanced alien's universe? Was it a more advanced mind in a previous universe? If so, how far do you go back? Can you go back for ever?

    At some point there must be a mind that does not depend on others for its existence but exists of its own accord, and from which all other minds progress. Such a mind is a brute fact and is called God. If we surmise the existence of God on this basis, it is not unreasonable to take note of his revelation to humanity. In it he claims to have created our universe directly and not through the agency of some intermediate alien in another universe.

    • enchess

      There's a chicken and egg problem and you are asserting with full confidence that it must be chicken. Is the universe intelligible to us because it was created by a greater mind in some way similar to ours? Or is the universe intelligible to us because our minds evolved within this universe and thus developed to make sense of it for better survival? Unlike you, I think the second makes more sense, but I see no reason why it could only be that one.

  • Mike17

    How do you get something from nothing? Christians have an answer to that question. Atheists don’t. So the atheists come up with their own version of ‘the God of the gaps’: it’s called ‘brute facts’. If atheist philosophy comes unstuck because it can’t offer an explanation for something it just says: ‘brute facts’. In other words they know that that they have a problem but don’t want to admit it.

    • How do you get something from nothing?

      I dunno. You tell me.

      Christians have an answer to that question.

      So magic man, who is the grounding of being, can create stuff from nothing. Noted, but I see little reason to believe it.

      Atheists don’t

      Because the idea of something from nothing seems entirely incoherent. This is why many of us don't accept that there ever was "nothing" to begin with.

      In other words they know that that they have a problem but don’t want to admit it.

      In general, atheists aren't telling you that they have answers to why the universe exists, or why the big bang happened. This is a very difficult area where our intuitions are probably wrong, including things we take for granted like causation. To even be able to get a seat at the discussion table takes years of training in mathematics, and physics. Common sense experience is simply insufficient when we're talking about the earliest moments of the universe.

      Our problem is that we don't know enough, and cannot yet provide answers to these long standing questions. The problem with Christians is that they often wish to assert their particular set of religious beliefs, based on intuition, as if they are facts.

  • ;)

  • Ben Champagne

    I think you should spend a little more time with the 'fully man, fully God' concept before you try to use that as a rebuttal...

    Also, never human and only human are two different things.

  • Ben Champagne

    Again, you are attempting to play word games. My reply was to get Craig to actually try to understand the position taken by many denominations of Christianity, which is nuanced to say the least. Attempting a 'gotcha' in this case is a non-starter (as you seem persistent to impose). Not to mention the variety of other reasons such a qualification is potentially arbitrary and therefore pointless, some of which I presented, but the most glaring upon your persistence would be the classification of the soul as more distinctly human of us than any physical attribute, already having accepted for the sake of the argument the reality of God.

    To give you a terribly simplistic concept analogous to the Christian position of Jesus' humanity/divinity. If my mother was 100% french, and my father is 0% french, am I french?
    And remember, you are the one that seems to be placing the principle of exclusionary middle where it does not belong, which I would demand you maintain in your reply of my 'frenchness'. All or nothing, which is it?

  • Ben Champagne

    You should go reread the forum rules here. What you are attempting to do is neither in the spirit nor body of them from what I can see.

    As I find this type of game you are attempting quite boring and pointless, I will wish you well on your journey towards truth.

  • Richard Morley

    (It seems to me that:) The God of the philosophers is a fairly abstract timeless entity, one who arguably does not 'think' or 'act' or even 'exist' in quite the same sense we do.

    The Christian God could in some way not just think, act and change his mind, but even become a Jewish carpenter's son and do very physical things like washing feet, drinking wine or beating the snot out of moneylenders. How this is reconciled is a fascinating topic, but arguably too long for getting into here.

  • Ben Champagne

    Glad for you mate, bye.

  • Rob Abney

    Tommy, your longest post of this thread, yet it is just an assertion without any evidence. Maybe you could provide more details for us, what is the difference between the Jewish God, the God of the philosophers, and the Christian God?

  • Rob Abney

    Yes, they're the same. So what is the difference between the philosophers' God and the Jewish God?

  • Rob Abney

    Which one is Jewish?

  • Rob Abney

    What is the difference between the philosophers' God and the Jewish God who is worshiped by Jews and depicted in the Old Testament?

  • Rob Abney

    I'm responding to this assertion.

    Yet Christian apologists who debate nonbelievers always argue for the existence of this god concept thought up by ancient Greek men. Christian apologists seldom argue for the existence of the Jewish god Yahweh but instead argue for an intellectual concept thought up by pagan philosophers - in other words, the apologists are defending an idol.

    I would expect Christian apologists to argue for the intellectual concept of God as well as the God of the Old Testament (and the New Testament), but it is more appropriate to discuss the intellectual concept that can be rationally proven (such as Dr. Feser's new book) with non-believers because the non-believer usually rejects the Old Testament God because of misperceptions that are certain to exist if the intellectual God is not understood.

  • Completely unlike a “brute fact,” which has no reason at all for existing, God would be his own reason for existing – which is perfectly consistent with the principle that every being must have a reason for its being or coming-to-be.

    God can't be his own reason for existing because, at the very least, some of god's essence is not necessary, such as his eternal desire for creating universe X and not universe Y. And because the reason for this essence can't be necessary, there are only 2 possibilities of explanations: an infinite regress of contingent explanations, or a brute fact.

    That's what you're stuck with once you grant the PSR and claim god exists necessarily.

    • BCE

      Question.
      If God's desire is universe X, why does that make some of his essence unnecessary?
      How can you infer that?
      Won't the fact that he has other desires ( in addition to the universe) change your premise?

      • Not following. Desiring universe X is not necessary. And once you have that, you're only option for a sufficient reason as to why desire universe X according to the PSR is an infinite regress of contingent explanations. That's hopeless for the theist.

        • BCE

          Sorry I quoted you.

  • The principle of sufficient reason is so obvious as to go without saying. It is denied only because certain people find it inconvenient.

    • Richard Morley

      The principle of sufficient reason is so obvious as to go without saying.

      So... it is a brute fact?

      • Dennis Bonnette

        We all seem to be dancing around the concepts of “brute facts” and “sufficient reasons,” but I suspect some work needs to be done in terms of clarifying definitions and making distinctions. I think you asked for this a bit ago, as I recall, and I think you make a good point.

        My understanding is that a brute fact is something for which there is simply no reason at all. Is this correct?

        By a “reason,” I would mean ultimately some ontological foundation for a thing rendering the being in question intelligible, making
        sense, being explained in some fashion that is intellectually satisfying.

        By the way, I am not an official spokesman for all Thomism here, and my knowledge itself is limited to my own background, education, and experience – so it is entirely possible that I may fail to make the case for Thomism adequately. That said, here are a few thoughts…..

        I detect a slight difference between Thomism and Leibniz regarding the PSR (when you say “PSR” you automatically sound like Leibniz) in that Thomists are talking about “being,” whereas Leibniz is talking about “statements.” Thus to say a being has a reason is not the same as to say a statement has a reason, since the first is primarily ontological, whereas the second is primarily epistemological. It is different to say how we know a statement is true from saying how we know a being has a nature such that it is its own ontological reason for being or that it must depend on another for its existence.

        The principle of sufficient reason is not a brute fact if you view it as being self-evident, since being self-evident means that it is its own evidence or reason for being known at true. Note that this is all in the epistemological order: How do we KNOW it is true? Self-evident can mean that simple inspection of its terms shows its truth. Or, as I suggest in the OP, the fact that its denial entails absurdities could be such evidence. Or, the fact that the intellect sees its necessity in the very function of thinking could be such evidence. Those are possible reasons for saying something is self-evident. Lagrange spends many pages unpacking the meaning of “being” so as to make evident that same “self-evidence.”

        But, it is another question to ask, even if it is self-evident, WHY is such a truth true in the first place? Is it like some rule of logic? I would suggest that that would not help at all, since either rules of logic are themselves mere assumptions or simply reflections of metaphysical truths, such as non-contradiction. I am not deciding the explanation here.

        The ultimate ontological sufficient reason for the PSR is not to be confused with how we KNOW it is true (epistemological reason). I
        would suggest from a theistic perspective the ontological foundation for why "being" validates the PSR is because God is Ipsum Esse Subsistens, Subsistent Existence Itself. That is, God is Pure Being, and as such it is the nature of being that it must either be its own reason or in need of an extrinsic reason. In other words, God himself is the primary analogate of the analogical concept of being, whose terms of expression merely reflect the ontological nature of God himself, who, in turn, is self-existent because his nature is identical to his existence – which is the reason he could never be considered to be a brute fact.

        I don’t ask anyone to follow or accept all of the above, but if true, this would be why the PSR is not a brute fact, since its foundation and intelligibility has a reason that is deeper than itself, namely, God who is his own reason for being, and thus, not a brute fact. Nor do I intend to start a debate over whether this explanation is true. That is major metaphysics. I am simply pointing out possible directions and explanations as to how brute facts can and, perhaps, should be avoided -- even with regard to metaphysical first principles.

        What of all the brute facts that people keep claiming to discover? In many cases, they are simply epistemological "brute facts" in that we
        know they are true, but not why – and there IS a why. If I am correct in saying the PSR is true, then other claims of discovery of a brute fact merely should warn the claimant that his logic or premises are wrong and this claimed “brute fact” is simply either not real, or else, does in fact have a reason that he has missed.

        • Richard Morley

          Thank you for an interesting response. As such I will probably have to think about it for a while to do it full justice, but my initial reply:

          I would certainly agree that 'the PSR' is being used to refer to significantly different concepts, all reasonably summarised as "all things must have a sufficient reason" but differing on what 'things', 'reason' and 'sufficient' mean in that statement. These can cover issues as different as the causal connections of events or existent things, or the logical connections of abstract statements.

          I would use 'brute fact' to refer to a statement that is true but (at least in some sense) has no justification in another more fundamental statement, most likely meaning it just is self evident. Which might include 'being its own reason', at least in the epistemological sense of how we know it to be true, although we have been over my objections to that in the more general case. And it has to actually not have a supporting statement, not just not have one that we know of - that is just an apparent brute fact, not an actual one.

          An existent thing is not a fact, of course, the fact would be the statement "X exists", so I would tend to cast the PSR always in terms of statements, but not necessarily all statements. So the PSR as applied only to statements of "being" would be considering a subset of the full set of statements that could be applied to a thing. Not in any way to imply that such more focused analysis is 'lesser' than a broader view that tries to do all things at once.

          My understanding of Leibniz' strongest form of the PSR is that it referred to all statements and not just in the epistemological sense above but in a more general sense of what truth actually boils down to and how true statements are tied together into a coherent whole. So chasing the full chain of 'sufficient reasons' (and their sufficient reasons etc) of a statement such as "the square root of two is irrational" would eventually lead to a full understanding of what is meant by 'irrational', 'square root' and 'two' and what it means for the square root of two to be irrational. (All this, of course, before Godel dropped his incompleteness theorems, although I don't think they kill the concept entirely)

          Likewise a full breakdown of "there is an apple on the table in front of me" would eventually include the ontological reasons and explanations of where that apple (or apples in general) come from. Considering the statement "I know that there is an apple on the table in front of me" would cover the epistemological side.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I may be missing something, but that all sounds perfectly reasonable to me -- although it appears that you are more concerned about the "statement" department and I am more concerned about the "being" department. :-)

          • Jim the Scott

            This is three months late to this party I know but I believe Edward Feser argued you can have epistemological "brute facts" you just can't have metaphysical ones because they are incoherent. Also God would be His own Reason for existing (thought not His own cause as that would be incoherent) by virtue of the reason He is Pure Act and being Pure Act is it's own reason for His existence.

            Cheers,

  • Rob Abney

    Thanks for the response Tommy.

    at the end of their debate they say they believe that the Judaeo-Christian god exists because of "personal intuition" and that this god can't be proven by rational arguments but must be believed only on faith

    It's unfortunate if that is the response you get often but SN has a number of good articles that promote the historicity of Jesus, and the bible itself is easier to understand if you consider it in the light of the intellectual concept of God. As you know, the intellectual concept of God is hard to understand, so many believers accept that idea without fully understanding it, they accept it because of faith in great minds that have preceded us and have provided the teachings for us all to benefit from; that is one of the main reasons that the Catholic Church was created.

  • Rob Abney

    That reply is non-sensical.

  • Rob Abney

    Tommy, when there is more than one possibility that doesn't mean that all the possibilities are false. In this case one possibility has the fullness of the truth and other possibilities have some of the truth. When faced with many possibilities you have to decide based upon the quality of the explanations put forth, how you decide what constitutes quality is up to you.
    I've decided based upon the long tradition of the Catholic church with it's great thinkers and mystics who have taught me, but even moreso because I personally experience the power and love of Jesus Christ everyday.
    Keep an open mind, and an open heart.

  • Rob Abney

    You seem to be angry about something, maybe we'll have a fruitful dialogue another day.