Archive for the ‘Metaphysics’ Category

Universals and Particulars (2): Universals and Infinite Regresses

October 15, 2011


In this post, I argue that infinite regresses are not successful philosophical explanations. An infinite regress of concepts cannot ground understanding; nor can an infinite regress of beings ground the existence of another being. Thus, postulating an infinite regress of universals such as “having a universal” cannot ultimately answer the question “what is the thing that has a universal?”

In the first post in this series, I explained the distinction between universals and particulars. The existence of universals is supported by the argument from exact resemblance. But the same reasoning that leads us to postulate universals in the first place seems to suggest that “having a universal” is a universal. And that leads to an infinite regress of universals. But then why bother saying particulars are an underlying reality that possess universals? Why not just say that particulars are infinite chains of universals, each with one (or more) different properties to individuate them? This post intends to answer that question. (more…)

ADS Thesis V: ADS, Eternal Rewards, and the Mercenary Objection (Conclusion)

December 31, 2009

So I’m gonna preface this last part of the paper by that it is extremely tentative, not reviewed or challenged by many peers, nor is it necessarily all coherent. In my defense I wrote most of it during an all-nighter the night before the paper colloquiem. However, instead of trying to read and/or fix it ahead of time, I’m gonna boldly put it out there for the three or four people who will read it. Feel free to tear it to shreds. 🙂

Now I will leave Dr. Hughes and explore a very tentative and modest argument of my own. This argument will deal with the objection raised by nonbelievers that the Christian faith is “mercenary” due to the emphasis placed on loving God for the reward of eternal life. That Christ and the apostles do motivate love for God and neighbor by appealing to the reward of eternal life is something I regard as fairly uncontroversial. So how is the Christian to respond? I will outline a brief reply that I take to be satisfying and claim that the reply is not open to the proponent of ADS. This does not constitute a “knock-down, drag-out” argument, but I will suggest that the line of reply I provide is workable, and it is not clear that an equally workable option is open to the proponent of ADS. (more…)

My Senior Thesis: Part 1 (for the 2 or 3 people interested: it's about ADS and Thomism)

December 14, 2009

A Simple Defense of the Complexity of God:
Examining Three Arguments Against Absolute Divine Simplicity and Suggesting a New One

This paper will deal with the Latin Christian doctrine of divine simplicity which I will hereafter refer to as Absolute Divine Simplicity, or ADS.  I will attempt to get clear on exactly what this oft-misunderstood doctrine actually is, as well as why one might be motivated to believe it.  After this, the majority of the paper will be devoted to examining a few of the arguments against ADS provided by Christopher Hughes in his book On a Complex Theory of a Simple God.  I will examine three arguments: one having to do with God’s omniscience and possible worlds, one having to do with the compatibility of ADS and the doctrine of the Trinity, and one having to do with the compatibility of ADS with the doctrine of the incarnation.  I will explore possible lines of reply for the proponent of ADS and then take up the task of defending Hughes against them.  Finally, I will attempt to give a “bare-bones” sketch of how an argument might go to try to show ethical tension between ADS and the fact that Christians are motivated to love God on the basis of rewards.  This argument will not be entirely complete and will certainly not be a “knock-down, drag-out” argument, but it will hopefully provoke some thoughtful discussion. In the conclusion I will make a few recommendations to the Christian philosophical and theological communities regarding how to go about articulating a coherent picture of the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation.  Before we move on, though, let it be stated that the thesis of this paper is that ADS is not compatible with various tenants of orthodox Christian theism. (more…)

Aquinas on the one and the many

March 10, 2009

“Those things that have opposing concepts are themselves opposed.  But the very concept of one consists in undividedness, while the concpet of multiplicity includes division.  Therefore one is opposed to many.”

–Summa Theologica, Question 11, Article 2. (Reply)

Should We Change Belief-Systems? Part 2

August 8, 2008

Assumptions and the Search for Truth

The X-Files was right: “The Truth is out there”.  But does that mean we can ever get it?  When people are seeking for the most accurate view of reality, a lot of the time they assume certain things as they search.  They adopt a method, but don’t realize that there are other ways to look for the truth.  In this post, I will argue that the method most people adopt for finding the truest worldview might presuppose that naturalism is false and that some kind of theism is true. I apologize in advance to readers who don’t like philosophical writing; I hope to do the rest of this series of posts in the more casual style that I did my first post in.  But the complexity of the subject matter required a more technical style.

A worldview is a system of related beliefs.  The content of these beliefs answers questions like “Why is there something rather than nothing?” “What can we know?” “What is good?” “What kinds of things exist?”.  I take naturalism to be the belief that nature is all that exists; it is a denial of the existence of a God or gods.  Theism on the other hand is the view that there is an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God who made the world.  I will examine how theism and naturalism fit with several assumptions that some of us make when we seek the truth: that we should be motivated to seek it; that virtue helps us seek truth; and that the truth we will find is good and likable. (more…)

Should We Change Belief-Systems? Part 1

July 25, 2008

When is it correct to change one’s religious, philosophical, or political affiliations?  Is it always wrong to do so?  Should we alter our belief-system often so that we get a chance to try out everything?  Or should we take up a different worldview to rationalize a lifestyle that we find appealing?

This question can only be answered with a goal in mind.  Do we want safe lives that don’t require us to think hard?  Do we want to stay where we are at for comfort?  Or perhaps do we want to just feel like what we are doing is right–even if it isn’t? (more…)

A Lewisian Argument for Conceptualism

July 10, 2008

Below is a revision of a paper I wrote for a class on David Lewis’ On the Plurality of Worlds in which I argue for conceptualism about abstract objects. I tried to make it understandable for general readers, but I apologize for readers who are interested but not very well-versed in philosophical style writings. Hopefully this piece will be self-explanatory enough. Originally the instructions for the paper were to try to mimic Lewis’ style, summarizing some argument or idea he has, criticizing it, and then offering a possible defense. The defense of Lewis that I wrote at the end doesn’t seem very substantial to me, so I will attempt to refute it and thus vindicate my argument for conceptualism. Before actually making the argument, I will give a brief introduction to modal logic for those who are new to the subject. (more…)

Pick Your Poison–Reason or Desire?

June 17, 2008

“Just because you want something to be a certain way doesn’t make it so”. Frequently naturalists accuse theists of “wishful thinking”, or even delusion, because they believe that there is a God, want for God to exist, and want to have union with God. It is true that there is no necessary causal connection between our desires for objects and the actual existence of those objects; the existence, strength, or frequency of the desire does not cause the object of that desire to exist. But this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any connection at all. Below I will argue that a dilemma emerges for naturalists who believe in darwinian evolution: either one should admit that the desire for God and immortality corresponds to something real, or one should relinquish the claim to believe in naturalistic evolution rationally. (more…)

Libertarianism, Introspection, Skepticism, and Freud

April 12, 2008

Over at the Secular Web, the Great Debate about theism and naturalism has been updated recently. Instead of posting something about the exchange between Collins and Smith on science and the cosmos, or between Schellenberg and Jordan on faith and doubt, I want to reflect on the discussion about consciousness and free will that was between Melnyk and Goetz and Taliaffero. I will do this with the intent of answering a Freudian objection to their argument for libertarian freewill. (more…)

The Argument from Rationality for Absolute Personal Identity

March 1, 2008

I have seen this argument used before elsewhere, but I thought I would post it here when I was reminded of it while reading Andrea Christofidou’s paper “God, Physicalism, and the Totality of Facts” (Philosophy, vol. 82, October 2007, pp 515-542). I think its fairly well-known, but I want to expose people who haven’t heard of it before. It attempts to show that a view of personal identity as an absolute and irreducible non-physical quality that defines us (as opposed to something like memory grounding personal identity) is a precondition for us to be rational.

The Argument from Rationality:

1. In order for me to be rational in forming my beliefs, I must be able to consider all the premises of an argument and its conclusion.

2. In order to be able to consider all of the premises of an argument and its conclusion, I must exist from the moment I consider the first premise to the moment I assent to or reject the conclusion.

3. If I exist from the moment I consider the first premise to the moment I assent to or reject the conclusion, then I am absolutely the same particular individual across a stretch of time.

C. Therefore, in order for me to be rational in forming my beliefs, I must be absolutely the same particular individual across a stretch of time.

Insofar as the defender of memory views of personal identity and other views aren’t willing to give up their claim to rationality (lest we dismiss them and ignore them) it seems they must agree that we are absolutely the same particular individual across a stretch of time. I think the absolutist view of personal identity causes problems for physicalism as I have argued elsewhere. I wonder how a defender of a non-absolute view of personal identity would defend against this?