Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Look at the Modal Ontological Argument

I'll be brief with the summary of the argument, but I want to focus on premise (1), which is really the only controversial premise of the argument.

1. Possibly, a maximally great being exists. (Premise)

2. Necessarily, a maximally great being is maximally excellent in all possible worlds. (Premise)

3. Necessarily, a being is maximally excellent if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. (Premise)

4. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.  (From 1 - 3 and S5)

Here's an argument for premise (1):

5. Necessarily, an imperfection can only be known if what is perfect (maximally great) is intelligible. (Premise)

6. Imperfections are known. (Premise)

7. Necessarily, whatever is intelligible is possible. (Premise)

8. Therefore, a maximally great being possibly exists. (From 5 - 7)

Of course, this is just a summary of the argument.  Please take that into account.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Necessity of God in the Success of Science

Historically, the success of science has been predicated on the notion that God created the universe to behave in a law-like manner. Voltaire, a deist and vehement critic of religion, considered the universe's law-like behavior as the definitive proof of God's existence. After all, things do not occur over and over again by chance alone, but are designedly so. As Thomas Aquinas put it some eight-hundred years ago:

"Contrary and discordant things cannot, always or for the most part, be parts of one order except under someone’s government, which enables all and each to tend to a definite end. But in the world we find that things of diverse natures come together under one order, and this not rarely or by chance, but always or for the most part. There must therefore be some being by whose providence the world is governed. This we call God."

The idea that science and faith are at odds with each other is a myth began in the nineteenth-century with Andrew White Dickson's publication of "A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom." Before that, folks like Newton would have scoffed at such an idea.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Does Science Have to be Falsifiable?

It all depends on one's definition of "science," which has in large part been neglected by scientists and philosophers of science.  Science comes from the Latin term, scientia, which refers to knowledge.  On such a definition, not all science is falsifiable.  Take, for instance, the laws of logic or the existence of the thinking self.  Neither is falsifiable, but should they be included under the discipline of science?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Argument Against Karl Popper's Alternative to Induction

The great twentieth-century epistemologist, Karl Popper, did a lot to contribute to the philosophy of science.  There is a highly intuitive nature to what he suggests about the scientific method, or rather what the scientific method ought to be.  In short, he says that whenever one scientific theory t1 is able to explain a1 but not a2, then some new theory t2 must supersede t1.  Moreover, t2 must be able to explain a1 just as well as t1 did in addition to explaining a2.  For instance, Newtonian physics explains various motions and gravitational constants under a certain paradigm ("paradigm" is a phrase used by Thomas Kuhn).  However, it does not explain all of the data, and it ended up being superseded by Einsteinian physics.  This, in turn, may also be superseded by an additional theory t3, e.g. a theory of everything that attempts to unify Einsteinian physics with quantum mechanics.

So far so good.  However, it's peculiar that Popper rejects the principle of induction and suggests that what was explained above constitutes an alternative.  After all, if the principle of induction is dispensable, then we cannot assume the future is going to be like the past.  However, this means that there is no guarantee that any additional theory will be needed.  Science, with respect to the limitations of science, could for all we know end up being exhaustive.  Only by assuming the principle of induction is indispensable can we make the claim that future data will need additional explanation.  Therefore, it stands to reason that Popper's rejection of induction is self-defeating.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage Under the Paradigm of Deontology

First, let's distinguish between a moral value and a moral obligation.  Values, in this technical sense, need not be subject to Kant's categorical imperative.  Being a doctor has value, and so does being a librarian, or a teacher.  One is not violating the categorical imperative - in Biblical language, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" - by choosing one vocation as opposed to another.

Kant's technical philosophical definition of the categorical imperative is this: act only in ways that you would will to be universalized.

Now, the reader needs to keep in mind that the argument against same-sex marriage (SSM) is only applicable under the paradigm of Kantian deontology.  Nevertheless, the argument adds to an already growing list of reasons to oppose SSM.  It is also assumed that adultery is wrong, which is a metaphysically certain consequence of the categorical imperative.

1. One should only act in ways that one would will to be universalized. (Premise, categorical imperative)

2. The universalization of SSM would have disastrous effects. (Premise)

3. Disastrous effects are a violation of the categorical imperative. (Premise)

4. Therefore, SSM should be avoided. (From 1 - 3)

Lest anyone object that SSM is based on a value, and not an obligation, this is demonstrably false.  Sexual acts of whatever variety are a matter of moral obligation, and not merely on value-so-defined.  Surely the advocate of SSM does not view adultery or hebophilia (sexual attraction to pubescents, roughly from the ages of 11 to 14) as anything less than violations of moral obligations.  To make homosexual acts an exception without providing any sufficient reason is to engage in special pleading.

I conclude, then, that SSM is a violation of the categorical imperative.