The Sentence “God exists” Part 2

This is the Logical Positivist skeptical argument, as understood by Richard Swinburne:

(1) If the sentence “God exists” expresses a coherent statement, then the sentence “God exists” expresses either an analytic proposition or else it expresses a synthetic proposition.
(2) The sentence “God exists” does not express an analytic proposition.
(3) The sentence “God exists” does not express a synthetic proposition.
Therefore,
(4) It is not the case that “God exists” expresses a coherent statement.

The key question about this argument is this: Is premise (3) true or well supported?

First, we need to understand what is meant by a “synthetic proposition”. For Swinburne, a “proposition” is a coherent statement, and a “synthetic proposition” is a coherent statement whose negation is also a coherent statement. Some examples will help to clarify this concept.

(5) All triangles have three sides.

(6) Water boils at 212 degrees fahrenheit.
(7) The moon is made of cheese.

All three sentences above express coherent statements. A coherent statement is

…one which it makes sense to suppose is true; one such that we can conceive of or suppose it and any other statement entailed by it being true; one such that we can understand what it would be like for it and any statement entailed by it to be true. (COT, p.12-13)

It makes sense to suppose the (5) is true. It makes sense to suppose that (6) is true. It makes sense to suppose that (7) is true. Of each statement we can conceive of that statement as being true and any other statement entailed by it being true.

However, (5) is not a synthetic proposition, because although we can conceive of (5) being true, we cannot conceive of the negation of (5) being true:

(8) It is not the case that all triangles have three sides.

Since (8) is the negation of (5), and since it makes no sense to suppose (8) to be true, that is to say, we cannot conceive of (8) being true, (5) is not a synthetic proposition, but rather is an analytic proposition. We can conceive of it being the case that (5) is true, but we cannot conceive of it being the case that (5) is false. There is a logical contradiction involved in supposing (5) to be false or in supposing the negation of (5) to be true.

Both (6) and (7) are synthetic propositions because (a) they are coherent statements and (b) the negations of these propositions are also coherent statements:

(9) It is not the case that water boils at 212 degrees fahrenheit.
(10) It is not the case that the moon is made of cheese.

(6) is true and its negation (9) is false, but both sentences express coherent statements. (7) is false and (10) is true, but both sentences express coherent statements. There is no logical contradiction involved in any of these statements nor in their negations.

The Logical Positivist claim in premise (3) of the skeptical argument above is based on a criterion for determining whether a sentence expresses a factual claim (i.e. a synthetic proposition). Swinburne uses couterexamples to refute three Logical Positivist candidates for such a criterion: the Strong Verificationist Principle (SVP), the Strong Falsificationist Principle (SFP), and the Strong Verification-or-Falsification Principe (SVFP).

Next Swinburne considers the Weak Verification-or-Falsification Principle (WVFP):

q is a factual statement if and only if:
(a) q is a statement, and
(b) either q is an observation statement or there are observation statements which, if true, would confirm or disconfirm q.

This is the principle advocated by Ayer, according to Swinburne. No counterexample is put forward to refute WVFP. Instead, Swinburne argues
for the weaker objection that there is no good reason to accept this principle. Since premise (3) of the Logical Positivist skeptical argument is based on WVFP, we have no good reason, according to Swinburne, to accept premise (3).

Swinburne examines two arguments for WVFP, and argues that both arguments are unsuccessful.

About Bradley Bowen
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02494141255401096538 uzza

    Swinburne seems to equate “god” with “christian god”, which makes his question both easily disproved and basically uninteresting, IMO.

    Here, his analysis seems to make sense as long as you use the term “god”, but when you apply his specific definition you've got “an omnipresent, existing, bla bla bla” exists.
    You asked if it's possible for all things to be under the direct control of an entity that directly knows goings on everywhere? Maybe, but not unless such an entity exists. He's presupposing existence as part of his definition, and then asking if it exists.
    Instead of admitting how silly that is, he goes off into neverland over the meaning of “exist”, arguing similarly to what GD said in the last post. It's just changing the subject.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    uzza,

    You write: "[...] he goes off into neverland over the meaning of “exist”[...]"

    So, what is it that you mean when you say "exist"?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Uzza said…

    Swinburne seems to equate “god” with “christian god”, which makes his question both easily disproved and basically uninteresting, IMO.
    ==========
    Response:

    No. Swinburne provides an analysis of "God exists" that fits with the big three western religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).
    ===============

    Uzza said…

    Here, his analysis seems to make sense as long as you use the term “god”, but when you apply his specific definition you've got “an omnipresent, existing, bla bla bla” exists.
    =============
    Response:

    You seem to be suggesting that the definition begs the question by building "existence" into the definition.

    I don't see where he does that, and that is contrary to his intention, which is, at least in Part II of COT, to define a "Contingent" God, i.e. a God whose existence is not logically necessary.

    Swinburne does not want to build existence into his definition of "God", and I don't see any place that he does this.

    Please provide more details, like the specific words or phrases of Swinburne that suggest to you that he is building "existence" into his definition.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02494141255401096538 uzza

    Response:
    No. …

    Yes. For one thing I said In My Opinion, so you can hardly tell me it isn't, lol. Aside from that, those statements aren't incompatible.

    Please provide more details, like the specific words or phrases of Swinburne that suggest to you that he is building "existence" into his definition.
    I did. He says “god” is omnipresent. {Omnipresent and existent} is a tautology, and {present but not existing} is a contradiction. He's asking if a god who is present exists.

    what is it that you mean when you say "exist"?
    Doesn't matter what I mean; we're talking about what Swinburne means. He apparently addresses this, but Aquinas's “in presence, power and spirit” is word salad. Incidently, Neverland is not always a bad place; my objection to your approach, and I suspect Swinburne's is that it merely recasts the question: existence or reality, has characteristic X, about which we then argue whether to apply the name 'god'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11389651479904502758 DM

    this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES…

    blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE

    you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

    GOD 1 – atheists 0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQcNiD0Z3MU

    Atheists,

    you are ENEMIES OF GOD AND ARE GOING TO BE ANNIHILATED…

    Repent and turn to God or be destroyed…

    YOU HAVE NO CHOICE…

    my interpretation of the STATUE FIRE… it symbolizes the SPIRITUAL DEATH of atheism…

    http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/topofthetimes/national/la-naw-0616-jesus-statue-lightning-20100616,0,4295974.story

    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/6/16/1276680110544/The-King-of-Kings-statue–005.jpg

    http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2010-06/54332292.jpg

    http://friendlyatheist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/butterjesus-1.jpg

    PRINCESS DI IS WEARING A NEW DRESS!

    http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speechesandarticles/a_speech_by_hrh_the_prince_of_wales_titled_islam_and_the_env_252516346.html

    ______________________________

    http://skepticblog.org/2010/04/06/would-i-ever-pray-for-a-miracle/

    Shermer, I WANT TO SEE YOU BEG FOR A MIRACLE…
    ___________________

    we do like your music Lady Gaga, but…

    The B**BQUAKE – 911

    Let me show you the FATE OF TRAITORS…

    http://www.loiterink.com/photos/products/182_3424_500x500.jpg

    they are incapable of telling the difference between SCIENTIFIC *FACT* AND RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL *TRUTH*… FATAL ERROR!

    they also preach a *VALUE FREE SCIENCE* called *POSITIVISM* that ignores the inequalities of wealth and power in capitalist civilization…

    for a sample taste of PZ Myers' GARBAGE…

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/sunday_sacrilege_imagine_no_he.php

    HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

    http://hawaiiwebgroup.com/maui-design/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/website-hijacking.jpg

    HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

    how can these HEADLESS IDIOTS BET AGAINST GOD!!!
    ________________________________________

    what happens when you LOSE Pascal's Wager…

    http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/pascals-wager.htm

    _____________

    you FIGHT PAPER MONSTERS…

    the blood and bodies of the atheist movement…

    you mofos killed MICKEY MOUSE!!!!

    this has more TRUTH then what Dawkins, Randi, Harris, Myers, and Shermer
    combined have said in their entire lives…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=5R2wE8Sduhs&playnext;_from=TL&videos;=hht1U_19anc&feature;=rec-LGOUT-exp_fresh%2Bdiv-1r-3-HM

    they tried to BULLDOZE the entire METAPHYSICAL DIMENSION…

    they LOST THE WAR……

    you have FORFEIT YOUR SOUL, shermer… you have become an object in the
    material world, as you WISHED…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/7/11792994_ffaaee87fa.jpg

    we're gonna smash that TV…

    They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD…
    you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

    degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) – ATHEISTS!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRRg2tWGDSY

    do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?

    how about I tell you, Mr. Shermer, EVERYTHING YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD is

    *WRONG*

    THE BOOBQUAKE – 911!

    http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx7XNb3Q9Ek

    RUN, ATHEISTS, RUN!!!

    ——————-

    http://www.4degreez.com/misc/dante-inferno-information.html

    the 9th and FINAL RING of Dante's Inferno is designed for little blaspheming traitors like you…

    "This is the deepest level of hell, where the fallen angel Satan himself resides. His wings flap eternally, producing chilling cold winds that freeze the thick ice found in Cocytus…"

    but at least FREE AIR CONDITIONING is included!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Bradley said:

    Please provide more details, like the specific words or phrases of Swinburne that suggest to you that he is building "existence" into his definition.

    uzza replied:

    I did. He says “god” is omnipresent. {Omnipresent and existent} is a tautology, and {present but not existing} is a contradiction. He's asking if a god who is present exists.
    =======

    Response:
    You are correct that only an existing being can be omnipresent, but the same is true of just about any other characteristic: green, lumpy, made-of-copper, bigger-than-a-breadbox, etc. Something is green only if it exists. Something is made of copper only if it exists. Something is bigger than a bread box only if it exists.

    So, the only point Swinburne is making is that IF something is "God", then that something is omnipresent. This claim does not assume that such a being exists.

    A. Superman is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    We can interpret (A) to be a partial definition of the word "Superman". It provides an identifying and essential characteristic of "Superman". If someone is Superman, then that person is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If some person claims to be Superman, but is unable to leap any tall building in a single bound, then that person has made a false claim.

    Taken as a partial definition of "Superman", (A) does NOT imply that such a person exists.

    Similarly, if Swinburne says anywhere in COT that "God is omnimpresent" what he means is: "Something is God only if it is omnipresent." He is not claiming (in COT) that there is any such being.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02494141255401096538 uzza

    (1a) a green thing is green (and is green only if it exists)
    1b a green Leprechaun is green
    1c a thing that is x is x

    (2a) an able-to-leap-bldgs Superman is able to leap bldgs (does not imply Supe exists)
    2b an omni-present being is omni-present
    2c an everywhere-existing being is existing
    2d an x-thing is x

    You're giving two different meanings to the words “exist” or “present”.
    In (1) we assume existential import: at least one example of the category has to be observable in the real world. This assumption makes impossible any statement about imaginary referents. So Leprechauns, green things, or gods have to exist in order for us to say anything about them. Here, the term “exist” means “is detectably present in the observable universe.”
    In (2) we don't make that assumption, so we can talk about imaginary referents. Here, “exist” means “as a mental construct” leaving open the possibility that it exists in the real universe.

    If Swinburne is using (1) when he says god is present, or exists, everywhere, then there is no question whether it exists (in the real world) or not, since he's already presupposed that it does.
    If he's using (2), ok. although coupled with a logical positivist position that q can't be True unless confirmed via observation, it seems to imply that he's already presupposed that it doesn't exist in the real world(?).

    Either way you get to Neverland by way of what “exists”(or “present”) means, but “An [everywhere-present X] is [present]” i.e. “a god exists” is a tautology, trying to state the proposition that “X is [everywhere-present]” i.e. “god is present (everywhere)”. I happen to think the definition of X should come first.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to uzza…

    I'm having difficulty following your objection, but the final words of your recent comment seem to help me understand:

    "…trying to state the proposition that “X is [everywhere-present]” i.e. “god is present (everywhere)”. I happen to think the definition of X should come first."

    Let me see if I undestand the point here. One can answer the question "Is X omnipresent?" only after becoming clear about what "X" is.

    But if "X" is DEFINED as something that is omnipresent, then one can identify X only after determining some candidate for X to be omnipresent. Thus in identifying X one has to already determine it to be omnipresent.

    Am I getting your point?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to uzza…

    Let's focus on "Superman" for a bit, and then get back to "God".

    Do you have any objection to the following claim?

    SM: A person P is Superman only if P is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    This claim lays down a necessary condition for the proper application of the name "Superman". An essential characteristic that a person must possess in order to be qualified as a candidate for being Superman.

    If somebody, let's call him John, claims to be Superman, and I am skeptical of this claim, then it seems to me quite reasonable to assert (SM) and then ask, "So,John, are you able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?"

    If John then starts mumbling excuses or makes a running charge at a tall building and only manages to jump a couple of feet into the air, then I would feel justified in concluding that John is full of shit (or is mentally ill or high on something).

    Do you have any problem with (SM)? If so, what is your objection to (SM)?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02494141255401096538 uzza

    My (1) and (2) examples were pretty lousy, I'll try to clarify: You said “something is green only if it exists”
    To which I said “uhhh, leprechauns.” (They're green and they don't exist. This is not a conflict, it's just that you assumed existential import, and I didn't.)

    then you said "superman is a tall-bldg-leaper”. Following your logic above, somebody is a tall-bldg-leaper only if they exist; But you turned around and said this does NOT imply that such a person exists. You've changed from assuming E.I., as you did in your green copper breadbox leprechaun paragraph, to not assuming it. We have to, to discuss imaginary critters, so let's stay with that.

    Ok then, you said
    'the only point Swinburne is making is that IF something is "God" then that something is omnipresent.'
    And what is this “god”? He says: “an omnipresent being”,
    so his point is that IF something is "an omnipresent being" then that something is omnipresent.
    –or–
    'Something is "an omnipresent being" only if it is omnipresent.' Duhh.

    To be present is to exist, the words are synonyms. So “an omni-present being” is a being that exists everywhere. We can ignore the 'omni-/everywhere' qualifier, so this god of his is a “being that exists”. His question is, 'does a “being that exists” exist'?

    With your Superman analogy, the question would be “Is a tall-bldg-leaper able to leap tall bldgs?”, not whether the label “superman' should apply to 'john'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    uzza said…

    Ok then, you said
    'the only point Swinburne is making is that IF something is "God" then that something is omnipresent.'
    And what is this “god”? He says: “an omnipresent being”,
    so his point is that IF something is "an omnipresent being" then that something is omnipresent.
    ==========
    Response:

    Let's put this in terms of "Superman".

    A. IF some person is "Superman" then that person is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    And what is "Superman"? A person who is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    From (A) we can infer the following:

    B. If some person is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, then that person is able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    Duh!

    But wait a minute. (A) gives us information about the meaning of the word "Superman", while (B) states an uninformative tautology.

    If somebody has not previously heard the word "Superman", then asserting (A) would help that person to learn at least part of the meaning of that word. But (B) would be completely unhelpful to such a person.

    The same sort of thing is true of the word "God".

    If someone was not familiar with the word "God", asserting the following claim would be helpful to that person:

    C. IF some person is "God" then that person is omnipresent.

    From (C) one can infer the following claim:

    D. IF some person is omnipresent then that person is omnipresent.

    Duh!

    But (C) is an informative statement about the meaning of the word "God", while (D) is an uninformative tautology.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    uzza said:

    To be present is to exist, the words are synonyms. So “an omni-present being” is a being that exists everywhere. We can ignore the 'omni-/everywhere' qualifier, so this god of his is a “being that exists”. His question is, 'does a “being that exists” exist'?
    ===========
    Response:

    First, you are inserting your own analysis of "omnipresent" into the discussion rather than discussing Swinburne's analysis, so your point might be irrelevant to what Swinburne is saying.

    Swinburne's understanding of "omnipresence" basically makes this into a set of powers or abilities. The power or ability to know about things at a great remove of time and/or space, without requiring sensory perception via sense organs, and the power to effect changes in things at great distances, without requiring intermediate physical objects (like hands and arms).

    Since Swinburne understands "omnipresence" to be a set of powers or abilities, it is very much analogous to Superman's ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    Second, setting aside Swinburne's understanding of "omnipresence", I think there is some confusion in what you are saying about how this concept works. It is late, so I'm going to develop this second point in another comment, sometime tomorrow.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    uzza said: “To be present is to exist, the words are synonyms. So “an omni-present being” is a being that exists everywhere.

    Yes, that’s exactly right.

    As I was trying to explain, theism’s claim is not that beside the existence of “X”, “Y”, and “Z”, one more element, “God”, exists. Rather theism is a metaphysical theory about reality, i.e. a thesis about what “existence” actually is. According to theism all existence ultimately rests on the presence and will of a personal being. (Alternatively, on naturalistic metaphysics all existence ultimately rests on the presence of mindless, and hence will-less, matter.) So, trivially, God is everywhere where anything exists, and thus is “omnipresent”. The claim “God exists” entails omnipresence, so it’s not like it makes sense to say “God exists, and, further, God is omnipresent”.

    Bradley said: “ Swinburne's understanding of "omnipresence" basically makes this into a set of powers or abilities. The power or ability to know about things at a great remove of time and/or space, without requiring sensory perception via sense organs, and the power to effect changes in things at great distances, without requiring intermediate physical objects (like hands and arms).

    The two properties of God you describe above are related to omniscience and omnipotence, and not to omnipresence. Perhaps Swinburne was trying to point out the coherence of the former two properties given the last one. After all, if theism is true and all existence does rest on the presence and will of God, then the claim that God knows everything there is to know about all that exists, and the claim that God has unlimited power to affect at will all that exists – become trivially true. One way or the other I can assure you that Swinburne who is one of the greatest theistic philosophers around does understand theism well enough to know that the God hypothesis is a hypothesis about the nature of existence.

    Incidentally, Bradley, you did not respond to my question about what you mean when you say “exists”, and I am frankly curious to know this. It’s this kind of deep questions that help dispel confusion. And it is clear that it is not obvious what “exists” means, as evidenced by the fact that naturalists disagree among themselves about whether abstract objects exist or not. They are not disagreeing about the meaning of “abstract object” but about the meaning of “exists”.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Response to uzza, continued…

    I think your reasoning goes like this:

    1. X is omnipresent.

    2. X is present everywhere.

    3. X exists everywhere.

    4. X exists somewhere.

    5. X exists.

    You would say that (1) implies (2), and (2) implies (3), and (3) implies (4), and (4) implies (5).

    You would conclude that (1) implies (5).

    Now inserting "God" into the placeholders for (1) and (5):

    1a. God is omnipresent.

    5a. God exists.

    You would say that (1a) implies (5a).

    You would say that (1a) does not merely provide evidence or support for (5a), but rather entails (5a), meaning that (1a) already contains or presupposes (5a), thus the assertion of (1a) would beg the question as to whether (5a) was true.

    Do I understand your thinking on this point?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02494141255401096538 uzza

    DG: yeah

    BB:Nope. I would say 1,2, and 3 all state the same proposition, and that proposition entails both 4 and 5. Asserting 1 doesn't beg the question as to whether 5 is true, it answers it.

    To nitpick BTW, (C) is not an informative statement about God; it's a statement about some person, from which we may infer something about god.

    Substitute gods and superman and leapers as you will, but you've set up a classic argument:
    “If a Tove is Brillig, than that Tove is Slithy.” or in formal language,
    TS
    TB
    therefore BS.

    It's a lot simpler to just say BS in the first place. Brillig is Slithy, and that's all we know about it. To ask if it's Slithy is just dumb.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    response to uzza…

    I thought I understood your point, but it appears that is not the case. If you are willing to hang in here, I would like to understand your point.

    Can we backup a bit?

    First: What are you objecting to? Are you objecting to a claim made by Swinburne? an inference made by Swinburne? a definition proposed by Swinburne? or to some comment that I made in my discussion about Swinburne's views?

    Second, what do you think is objectionable about that claim, inference, or definition? Is the claim false? or ambiguous? or incoherent? If you are objecting to an inference, do you think the inference is invalid?

    Third, given a specific target (a claim, inference, or definition), and given a specific criticism (false, ambiguous, incoherent, etc), what reason can you give in support of that criticism? Why do you think the claim is false (or ambiguous, or incoherent)? or Why do you think the inference is invalid?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Dianelos said…

    The two properties of God you describe above are related to omniscience and omnipotence, and not to omnipresence.

    ===============

    Response:

    Yes, these properties are obviously related to omnipotence and omniscience, since one property has to do with power to effect things (relates to omnipotence) and the other property has to do with the ability to know about things (relates to omniscience), but it does not follow that these properties are UNrelated to omnipresence.

    Also, I don't see that you have given any reason to support the claim that these properties are unrelated to omnipresence.

    What does it mean for me to present here in my study? In part, it means that my body is located in my study. But God, according to traditional theism, does not have a body. So, the presence of God in a specific location cannot mean that God's body is present in that location.

    Part of what it means for me to be present in my study is that I am able to effect changes to objects and events in my study and to know about objects and events in my study in a way that I cannot (at least not so easily) effect changes to objects and events in, for example, the oval office of the White House, which is located thousands of miles away from where my study is located.

    Although God does not have a body, God, according to traditional theism, can effect changes in objects and events in any location. God could make Marx's Communist Manifesto fly off of my bookshelf, or God could make Obama's chair in the Oval office spin in circles, or God could make a star that is a billion light years away from the Earth go supernova, right now.

    So, this power to affect objects at any location is analogous to my power to affect objects here in my study, especially to make my hands and arms and legs move when I wish to do so.

    God not only could make The Communist Manifesto fly off of my bookshelf, he could also tell you the titles and authors of every book in my study, but he is not limited to knowing the contents of my bookshelves. God could also tell you the titles and authors of each book in the Oval office, as well as the Library of Congress, and in the small public library in Bologna Italy.

    Just as my presence in my study means that I am able to know the contents of my study more easily than I know the contents of other locations, so God's "omnipresence" means that God is able to know the contents of any room or place whatsoever.

    So, Swinburne's understanding of "omnipresence" in terms of the power to effect objects and events at all locations, and in terms of the ability to know about objects and events in all locations seems to me to be grounded in our ordinary understanding of what it means for a person to be present in a specific location, given the qualification that we cannot use the location of God's body as part of the meaning of this concept, since God has no body, according to traditional theism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Dianelos said:

    Incidentally, Bradley, you did not respond to my question about what you mean when you say “exists”, and I am frankly curious to know this. It’s this kind of deep questions that help dispel confusion. And it is clear that it is not obvious what “exists” means, as evidenced by the fact that naturalists disagree among themselves about whether abstract objects exist or not. They are not disagreeing about the meaning of “abstract object” but about the meaning of “exists”.
    ============

    Response:

    I doubt that a discussion about the meaning of "exists" is going to be very helpful or enlightening, but since you are so willing to join in discussions of my posts, I will attempt to respond to your request for my view of what this word means, in the next day or two.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    “God exists”.

    What does this mean? Swinburne goes to a great deal of trouble to clarify and define what this sentence means, and his focus is primarily on the word “God” not the word “exists”, which is as it should be, in my view.

    However, I have been asked by Dianelos to say a bit more about this sentence, with a focus on the second word, “exists”.

    Because “God” is a proper noun, the logic of this sentence is a bit tricky, but I believe that the proper noun “God” can be clarified or analyzed in terms of a general category of beings that I will call “divine persons”. So, at a high-level, the sentence “God exists” can be analyzed into a conjunction of two component claims:

    1. There is a least one being that is a divine person.
    2. There are less than two beings that are divine persons.

    One can state both claims in a single sentence:

    3. There is one and only one being that is a divine person.

    “Theism” is generally understood by philosophers to refer to monotheism, although it is sometimes used more broadly to refer to any belief in any sort of personal deity or deities (e.g. polytheism).

    Claim (2) is logically compatible with there being no divine persons at all, and thus there being no such being as “God”.

    Claim (1) carries the existential implication: “There is at least one being…”

    Since we know that some persons exist, and we have some idea what a person is, and since being a person is a necessary condition of being a divine person, the investigation of the truth of claim (1) can be reduced to the investigation of the truth of the following claim:

    1a. There is at least one person who is a divine person.

    So we have a bucket or general category that contains a number of actual instances: “persons”. And if God exists, then at least one of those persons has certain characteristics that qualify that person as a “divine person”.

    Thus, to claim that “God exists” is to claim that among the non-empty set of beings known as “persons” there is at least one being that has the characteristics required to qualify as a “divine person” (and also to claim that not more than one person qualifies as a “divine person”).

    There is another smaller bucket that “God” fits into: “spirit”, understood to mean “a non-embodied person”. It is unclear whether there are any actual instances of non-embodied persons, and some skeptics would say that the very idea of a “non-embodied person” is incoherent, so it is logically impossible for there to be any such beings. So, an investigation of (1a) should, at least initially, focus on the following implication of it:

    4. There is at least one person who is a non-embodied person.

    If (4) is either false or incoherent, then (1a) can be rejected as being similarly false or incoherent, because being a “spirit” or “non-embodied person” is a necessary condition for being a “divine person”:

    “That God is a person, yet one without a body, seems the most elementary claim of theism.” (Swinburne, COT, rev. ed., p. 101).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    The view that “God” (or “a divine person” in my terminology) is a “spirit” or “non-embodied person” is a key idea in traditional theism. So, if we are evaluating the sentence “God exists” in order to evaluate traditional theism, then we should understand the expression “God” (or “a divine person”) to imply (among other characteristics) a “non-embodied person”.

    This, of course, makes it more difficult to evaluate the claim that “God exists”, because the persons we are familiar with all have bodies, and because a person who does not have a body cannot be seen, heard, or touched, at least not in any simple and straightforward way.

    Compare (4) with a more ordinary claim about the category of persons:

    5. There is at least one person who has two hands.

    We have no problem determining whether (5) is true. Most people have two hands, and it is usually fairly obvious and easy to tell that they have two hands (with the exception of times and places where there is a lot of snow and people generally wear gloves and mittens). A few people have only one hand, and it is usually fairly obvious when this is the case.

    Note that there is no issue with what “exists” or “existence” means when we make a determination of whether (5) is true.

    I suspect that the concern about the meaning of “exists” and “existence” comes into play because of the problematic nature of the idea of a “spirit” or “non-embodied person”.

    Consider the following claim:

    6. Ghosts exist.

    An important implication of (6), one that should be focused upon by anyone trying to determine whether (6) is true, is as follows:

    7. There is at least one non-embodied person.

    Because a ghost does not have a body, it is hard to see what would count as confirmation or evidence of the existence of a ghost. If I “see a ghost”, doesn’t that imply that there is some sort of physical object that is reflecting or emitting light that is being picked up by my eyes? If so, then how can one “see a ghost”? On the other hand, if it is logically impossible to see a ghost, then how can one be confident that one has experienced the presence of a ghost?

    Swinburne suggests an answer to these questions, but my point is not to argue for skepticism about ghosts, but rather to indicate the problematic nature of the concept of a “spirit” or “non-embodied person”, which seems to me to be the source of perplexity about the notion of “exists” or “existence” when it comes to the sentence “God exists”.

    This perplexity does not occur when claims are made about there being at least one embodied person with a certain observable characteristic or set of characteristics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Bradley,

    In the previous posts you are not really explaining what you mean when you say “exists”. You keep speaking about God, about disembodied minds, about ghosts, confusingly using “there is” instead of “exists”, and so on.

    My question was this: When confronted with a proposition of the form “X exists” does for you the meaning of “exists” depend on the meaning of “X”, or is the meaning of “exists” independent of the meaning of “X”? If the former, then what does “exists” mean when speaking about X=God? If the latter, then what does “exists” mean when speaking of any X (such as X=apples / the mount Everest / time / the number two / other minds / electrons / personal responsibility / objective moral values / physical laws / qualia / freedom of will / God / etc )?

    If, as it seems to be the case, you understand “exists” in a selective manner, then, given that “God exists” is a theistic thesis, if you want to judge whether it is true or not, then you must first find out what theists mean by “exists” in the context of this particular claim. In other words in order for one to think that theism is false, one must first understand what the claim of theism is. And the claim of theism is very clearly *not* that God exists in the same sense that individual existents (e.g. an apple, or a disembodied mind, or physical laws) exist. Rather theism’s claim is a claim about the very nature of existence, i.e. a claim about how “X exists” should be understood for any X. Theism, just like naturalism, is a *metaphysical* claim about the nature of reality.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Dianelos said…

    My question was this: When confronted with a proposition of the form “X exists” does for you the meaning of “exists” depend on the meaning of “X”, or is the meaning of “exists” independent of the meaning of “X”? If the former, then what does “exists” mean when speaking about X=God? If the latter, then what does “exists” mean when speaking of any X (such as X=apples / the mount Everest / time / the number two / other minds / electrons / personal responsibility / objective moral values / physical laws / qualia / freedom of will / God / etc )?
    =============

    Good questions. Nice selection of examples.

    I will attempt to answer your questions in next few days.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Dianelos said…

    And the claim of theism is very clearly *not* that God exists in the same sense that individual existents (e.g. an apple, or a disembodied mind, or physical laws) exist. Rather theism’s claim is a claim about the very nature of existence, i.e. a claim about how “X exists” should be understood for any X. Theism, just like naturalism, is a *metaphysical* claim about the nature of reality.

    ==========

    Response:

    You seem to be suggesting that IF "God exists" is a metaphysical claim about the nature of reality, THEN it cannot mean that God exists in the same sense that individual things exist. I don't see these ideas as mutually exclusive. Can you explain why you think they are?

    It is not clear to me that your description of theism here is accurate, so what evidence do you have that your view of theism is representative of the views of theists in general (as opposed to being a particular version of theism held by one particular school of thought among theists)?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Question:

    Does the word "exists" have different meanings in different contexts, especially when used of different types of things (rocks, trees, people, animals, numbers, concepts, colors, minds, words, logical relations, etc)?

    More importantly, are there different types of existence, especially when we are concerned with different types of things (see list above)?

    I don't have a ready answer to these questions, just some ideas about how to start working on the question. The first thing I would try to do is to get clear on what seems to be the simplest and most straightforward examples and then work on some of the trickier more perplexing examples.

    So, I will start with the existence of physical objects, like rocks:

    1. Some rocks exist.

    2. There is at least one rock.

    How are we to understand these statements? What does "exist" mean in (1)?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Bradley,

    You write: “You seem to be suggesting that IF "God exists" is a metaphysical claim about the nature of reality, THEN it cannot mean that God exists in the same sense that individual things exist. I don't see these ideas as mutually exclusive. Can you explain why you think they are?

    Actually I did not claim and I do not think that these ideas are mutually inclusive. In fact my own understanding of “exists” is such that it applies to all types of existents, be it stones or electrons or numbers or beauty, but in a way that God’s existence lies at the end of the line as it were. If you wish we can discuss my understanding of “exists”. In any case, my original point was that the meaning of “existence” is far from obvious or generally agreed upon. Therefore, before rejecting the claim “God exists” one must not only find out the meaning of “God” but also the meaning of “exists” – according to the strongest versions of theism.

    You write: “It is not clear to me that your description of theism here is accurate, so what evidence do you have that your view of theism is representative of the views of theists in general (as opposed to being a particular version of theism held by one particular school of thought among theists)?

    I don’t think there is such a thing as an “accurate” description of theism. Rather there can only be an accurate description of a particular theistic worldview. Personally, I am not concerned with the views of “theists in general”, but with the strongest theistic worldview I can conceptualize. I hope that thoughtful naturalists will do likewise, and not concern themselves with what “naturalists in general” believe, which, I am afraid, is characterized by ignorance of both modern science and philosophy. (Many naturalists believe that "quantum mystery" refers to the difficulty of conceptualizing quantum reality, and that neuroscience is making progress solving the hard problem of consciousness.)

    In the case of the issue at hand though, I do claim that the view that the physical universe continuously depends on God’s will, is not only the strongest but also the classical theistic understanding. There are few concepts more basic in theism than that of “divine providence”. Indeed this concept to a large degree describes the relationship between God and us. Now divine providence is divided in so-called “special providence” and “general providence”. (Miracles, if they exist, represent but a small part of special providence, but unfortunately tend to generate much heated discussion, which may give the impression to the theologically ignorant that miracles are supposed to be the only way for God to act in the universe.) In comparison, general providence is much less discussed, perhaps because it is taken as obvious or granted that God continuously upholds all physical creation and its order. General providence is the orthodox understanding of the Scholastics, goes back to the Greek Fathers, and, arguably, is even found in the Gospels, where we are reminded that by ourselves we can’t even turn a hair from black to white. I think it is clear that according to classical theism it’s not like God created the physical world capable of existing and working just by itself, and then sat back watching and only rarely interfered with the world’s mechanical order by performing some miracle here and there. Indeed such a view is closer to deism. Unfortunately it may also be how many people, theists and atheists alike, understand theism. Or rather misunderstand it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Bradley,

    You write: “You seem to be suggesting that IF "God exists" is a metaphysical claim about the nature of reality, THEN it cannot mean that God exists in the same sense that individual things exist. I don't see these ideas as mutually exclusive. Can you explain why you think they are?

    Actually I did not claim and I do not think that these ideas are mutually inclusive. In fact my own understanding of “exists” is such that it applies to all types of existents, be it stones or electrons or numbers or beauty, but in a way that God’s existence lies at the end of the line as it were. If you wish we can discuss my understanding of “exists”. In any case, my original point was that the meaning of “existence” is far from obvious or generally agreed upon. Therefore, before rejecting the claim “God exists” one must not only find out the meaning of “God” but also the meaning of “exists” – according to the strongest versions of theism.

    You write: “It is not clear to me that your description of theism here is accurate, so what evidence do you have that your view of theism is representative of the views of theists in general (as opposed to being a particular version of theism held by one particular school of thought among theists)?

    I don’t think there is such a thing as an “accurate” description of theism. Rather there can only be an accurate description of a particular theistic worldview. Personally, I am not concerned with the views of “theists in general”, but with the strongest theistic worldview I can conceptualize. I hope that thoughtful naturalists will do likewise, and not concern themselves with what “naturalists in general” believe, which, I am afraid, is characterized by ignorance of both modern science and philosophy. (Many naturalists believe that "quantum mystery" refers to the difficulty of conceptualizing quantum reality, and that neuroscience is making progress solving the hard problem of consciousness.)

    In the case of the issue at hand though, I do claim that the view that the physical universe continuously depends on God’s will, is not only the strongest but also the classical theistic understanding. There are few concepts more basic in theism than that of “divine providence”. Indeed this concept to a large degree describes the relationship between God and us. Now divine providence is divided in so-called “special providence” and “general providence”. (Miracles, if they exist, represent but a small part of special providence, but unfortunately tend to generate much heated discussion, which may give the impression to the theologically ignorant that miracles are supposed to be the only way for God to act in the universe.) In comparison, general providence is much less discussed, perhaps because it is taken as obvious or granted that God continuously upholds all physical creation and its order. General providence is the orthodox understanding of the Scholastics, goes back to the Greek Fathers, and, arguably, is even found in the Gospels, where we are reminded that by ourselves we can’t even turn a hair from black to white. I think it is clear that according to classical theism it’s not like God created the physical world capable of existing and working just by itself, and then sat back watching and only rarely interfered with the world’s mechanical order by performing some miracle here and there. Indeed such a view is closer to deism. Unfortunately it may also be how many people, theists and atheists alike, understand theism. Or rather misunderstand it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Sorry about the delay. My job and my personal life have both exploded with activity for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully, things will calm down for a while now.

    Back to the existence of rocks. First, the non-existence of rocks can be thought of as a generalization of the absence of rocks from a specific location at a specific time.

    Rocks, like other physical objects, can be quantified or numbered. There are currently zero rocks in my pants pockets. To say that "No rocks exist" is to say (at least) there are zero rocks in each and every location at this time.

    To say that "Rocks exist" or that "Some rocks exist" is to say that "There is at least one rock at some location at this time".

    The concept of zero comes from subtraction, which is the reversal of addition and counting. Physical objects can be counted: 1,2,3,4 …

    The operation of addition derives from counting, and the operation of subtraction from the reversal of addition. The operation of subtraction gives us the number zero, and negative integrers: "2 rocks minus 2 rocks = 0 rocks."

    We most naturally use the notion of zero with respect to objects in a specific location at a specific time: "There are zero rocks in my pants pockets at this time." Such localized nothingness can be generalized: "No rocks exist" and "There are no rocks" and "Zero rocks exist".

    In contrast, to say that "Rocks exist" implies that "There is at least one rock", but this statement is as general as "Zero rocks exist" because its scope is all locations, although the scope of time is similarly confined to the present (unless otherwise specified): "There is at least one location such that there is at least one rock in that location at this time."

    What does it mean for there to be "At least one rock in such-and-such locaton at this time" as opposed to it being the case that "There are zero rocks in such-and-such location at this time"?

    To be continued…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

    We were discussing "omnipresence" previously, and my comments there apply here. What does it mean for me to be present in my study? It means that I can easily effect objects in my study. What does it mean for a rock to be present in my pocket? It means that rock-type effects occur in that location, especially rock-like effects to my senses if I too am present at that location. If there is a rock in my pocket, then (as a general rule) I will experience the feel of a rock when I put my hand in my pocket, and I will experience the look of a rock, when I pull out the rock-like object from my pocket and hold it up in front of my eyes. And if I throw the rock-like object at a window, the window will break or crack, assuming the rock is of modest size and weight and the window is made of standard window glass.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

    My comments in the previous discussion about "omnipresence" have application here. What does it mean for me to be present in my study? In part it means that I can easily effect other objects in my study. What does it mean for a rock to be present in my pocket? In part it means that there is an object that has rock-like effects in that location, especially effects to my senses, if I am at that location at that time. If there is a rock in my pocket, then (as a general rule) when I put my hand in my pocket, I will experience the feel of a rock-like object, and if I look into my pocket I will experience the look of a rock-like object. If I throw that object at a nearby window, then the window will break or crack (if I have thrown a rock of significant size and weight at a window mad of ordinary glass or ordinary thickness).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

    My comments in the previous discussion about "omnipresence" have application here. What does it mean for me to be present in my study? In part it means that I can easily effect other objects in my study. What does it mean for a rock to be present in my pocket? In part it means that there is an object that has rock-like effects in that location, especially effects to my senses, if I am at that location at that time. If there is a rock in my pocket, then (as a general rule) when I put my hand in my pocket, I will experience the feel of a rock-like object, and if I look into my pocket I will experience the look of a rock-like object. If I throw that object at a nearby window, then the window will break or crack (if I have thrown a rock of significant size and weight at a window mad of ordinary glass or ordinary thickness).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

    My comments in the previous discussion about "omnipresence" have application here. What does it mean for me to be present in my study? In part it means that I can easily effect other objects in my study. What does it mean for a rock to be present in my pocket? In part it means that there is an object that has rock-like effects in that location, especially effects to my senses, if I am at that location at that time. If there is a rock in my pocket, then (as a general rule) when I put my hand in my pocket, I will experience the feel of a rock-like object, and if I look into my pocket I will experience the look of a rock-like object. If I throw that object at a nearby window, then the window will break or crack (if I have thrown a rock of significant size and weight at a window mad of ordinary glass or ordinary thickness).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

    My comments in the previous discussion about "omnipresence" have application here. What does it mean for me to be present in my study? In part it means that I can easily effect other objects in my study. What does it mean for a rock to be present in my pocket? In part it means that there is an object that has rock-like effects in that location, especially effects to my senses, if I am at that location at that time. If there is a rock in my pocket, then (as a general rule) when I put my hand in my pocket, I will experience the feel of a rock-like object, and if I look into my pocket I will experience the look of a rock-like object. If I throw that object at a nearby window, then the window will break or crack (if I have thrown a rock of significant size and weight at a window mad of ordinary glass or ordinary thickness).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Rocks, like most common physical objects, can be observed or sensed. We can see rocks, feel the heft and surface of rocks, listen to sounds made when rocks hit or contact other objects, rocks have smells and tastes too.

    So, is there a rock in one of the pockets of my pants? I can reach in and feel for any rock-like object. If all I feel is the cloth of the lining of my pocket, then I can conclude that there is no rock in that pocket (at least, not a rock of any significant size – can a very tiny grain of sand be considered a "rock"?)

    If I do feel something that feels like a rock, I can pull it out of my pocket and take a look at the object in question. What is the color and shape of the object? Does it look like a rock? The visual appearance might provide sufficient confirmation of the hypothesis that the object is indeed a rock, or I might be left in doubt and need to perform further checks and tests to verify that it is a rock.

    Something could, however, look and feel like a rock, but not actually be a rock. The object I find in my pants pocket might be a fake rock, for example, it might be a piece of molded metal or plastic that was manufactured to look and feel like a rock. Carefull examination and testing can reveal the difference between a real rock and a fake rock.

    Another possibility is that I might feel and see a rock, when in fact there is no rock, because I am under the influence of some drug or brain malfunction that is causing me to halucinate the presence of a rock in my hand. In this case there would be no rock in my pocket, even though it seems to me as if there were a rock in my pocket.

    Conversely, there might be a rock in my pocket, but due to drugs or a brain malfunction, I fail to feel the rock there, and fail to see the rock, even if I look into my pocket. I could be hallucinating an empty pocket, when my pocket actually contains a rock.

    Some physical objects are not as observable as rocks. Black holes and electrons are physical objects that are not as observable as rocks. We could call these "theoretical" physical objects, since they are known by means of observation, but not by direct observation. Rather, these physical objects are hypothesized to provide scientific explanations for directly observable phenomena.

    My comments in the previous discussion about "omnipresence" have application here. What does it mean for me to be present in my study? In part it means that I can easily effect other objects in my study. What does it mean for a rock to be present in my pocket? In part it means that there is an object that has rock-like effects in that location, especially effects to my senses, if I am at that location at that time. If there is a rock in my pocket, then (as a general rule) when I put my hand in my pocket, I will experience the feel of a rock-like object, and if I look into my pocket I will experience the look of a rock-like object. If I throw that object at a nearby window, then the window will break or crack (if I have thrown a rock of significant size and weight at a window mad of ordinary glass or ordinary thickness).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Sorry, I kept getting an error message when hitting the "publish" button, and didn't realize that the comments were being published, despite the error.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    More thoughts on "Rocks exist".

    Rocks are a kind of thing. A particular rock is a substance or individual thing. Individual things have properties or characteristics. The properties or characteristics of a thing make it a thing of a certain kind or kinds.

    Things can be categorized or conceptualized in at least two different ways: (1) by necessary and sufficient conditions (e.g. something is a triangle if and only if it is a three-sided plane figure), or (2) by criteria (e.g. something is a person depending on the extent to which is satisfies various criteria like (a) persons use language to communicate, (b) persons have second-order wants, i.e. they can want not to have certain desires or aversions, (c)persons can form and state theories about things beyond direct observation, (d) persons can form moral judgments, etc.).

    Both ways of categorizing things allow for the possibility of borderline cases of "being an x".
    Therefore, there is a sense in which "coming into existence" and "ceasing to exist" can be processes that occur over a period of time.

    In the case of categories that are defined by means of necessary and sufficient conditions, one of the conditions might apply partially to the thing in question. The thing being categorized might be a borderline case of possessing one of the properties that constitutes a condition for being a thing of that kind.

    This sort of partial or quasi "being a thing of kind x" can also occur when the category is defined by use of criteria. A particular thing might be a borderline case of satisfying one of the criteria related to being a thing of a certain kind.

    Also, in the case of criterial definition, a particular thing could be a borderline case of the category in question because although it clearly satisfies many of the criteria for the category, it also clearly fails to satisfy some of the other criteria for that category, thus making it's status unclear or borderline in relation to that category.

    So, something might be a “quasi rock” because either it is a thing that is a borderline case of some condition of being a “rock” or because it is a borderline case of satisfying some criteria of being a “rock” or because although it clearly satisfies most criteria for being a rock, it also clearly fails to satisfy some criteria for being a rock.

    If something can be a “quasi rock”, then we can imagine a state of affairs in which “Rocks exist” was partially true, but not fully and completely true: if the only thing in the universe that came close to being a rock was a particular object that was a “quasi rock”.

    It should be noted that the existence of such a quasi rock would not be quasi existence. The object would, or might well be, of unquestioned reality, it just might have a set of properties or characteristics such that it did not fit neatly into our current set of concepts and categories.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    A third way of defining a category or concept is by means of examples, especially paradigm cases. The category "red" can be defined in relation to examples of red objects, such as blood, ripe strawberries, and ripe tomatoes.

    Defining a concept by use of examples clearly leaves room for borderline cases, and in fact a full definition by examples should include borderline cases. So, categories defined by use of examples also have fuzzy boundaries which result in things like "quasi rocks" and the possibility of partially true existence claims.

    We can imagine a world in which there are only quasi rocks, and no clear cut instances of rocks, and in such a world "Rocks exist" would be partially true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    1. Space exists.

    2. Time exists.

    3. Numbers exist.

    Obviously, space is not a physical object, nor is time, nor are numbers. However, if we believe that physical objects, such as rocks, exist, then we already believe the above statements. To say that “Rocks exist” implies that at least one rock is located in a particular time and at a particular location. The use of the present tense “exist” implies that the particular time in question is concurrent with the utterance of the sentence “Rocks exist”, i.e. the time is now. The location remains unspecified, and assuming that there is more than one rock, there will be more than one location where a rock is present.

    All of these references to time and space and quantity are understood by anyone who understands what the sentence “Rocks exist” means. So, although space, time, and numbers are not physical objects, our concept of a physical object requires or assumes the use of the ideas of location, size, shape, simultaneity, and quantity. If some physical object exists, then something has a size, shape, location, quantity, and a temporal dimension (e.g. began to exist at some time, or always existed, currently exists, and will either cease to exist or will go on existing for eternity).

    Is there something in common between the existence of a rock, and the existence of time or the existence of space? Does the word “exists” have the same meaning in sentences (1), (2), and (3), as in the sentence “Rocks exist”?

  • Pingback: martini borse

  • Pingback: gucci homme avis

  • Pingback: mens prada shoes size 6

  • Pingback: spanportefeuilles prada

  • Pingback: longchamp surf valise a roulettes

  • Pingback: prada wallet bow

  • Pingback: world of warcraft gold

  • Pingback: mcm zebra

  • Pingback: chafrancesures christian audigier

  • Pingback: mcm luggage sale

  • Pingback: michael kors clearance handbags Cyber Monday 2014

  • Pingback: www.msdrugcourts.org/word/4051.html

  • Pingback: louboutin black pumps black friday 2014

  • Pingback: www.joecwilliams.com/ass/9851.html

  • Pingback: www.ppw.com.cn/images/20110808/5547.html

  • Pingback: www.pugongying.org.cn/link/7153.html

  • Pingback: www.fstseed.com/imgs/5096.html

  • Pingback: black friday vintage gucci bags

  • Pingback: crm.actworld.net/imgs/2685.html

  • Pingback: www.camaraourense.com/js/8126.html

  • Pingback: www.c-wse.com/js/7030.html

  • Pingback: black friday baby gucci

  • Pingback: www.xyfqseed.com/ko/6442.html

  • Pingback: www.pugongying.org.cn/link/2421.html

  • Pingback: www.zedot.com/pes/1944.html

  • Pingback: www.docsrvpark.com/rain/7839.html

  • Pingback: www.qdruntian.com.cn/less/9470.html

  • Pingback: gucci for kids black friday 2014

  • Pingback: michael kors ties black friday deals

  • Pingback: www.marshall-group.com/jss/1063.html

  • Pingback: www.snowyrangeresearch.com/img/3079.html

  • Pingback: michael kors clearance black friday deals

  • Pingback: www.tomatoseed.cn/ten/7850.html

  • Pingback: Cyber Monday gucci wallets

  • Pingback: commerce.actworld.net/js/6965.html

  • Pingback: gucci boots boxing day sale

  • Pingback: www.yunheseed.com/beak/7882.html

  • Pingback: Cyber Monday michael kors shop online

  • Pingback: mulberry bags uk christmas sale

  • Pingback: www.zjgengu.com/jss/9720.html

  • Pingback: zgcdzw.com.cn/upas/3884.html

  • Pingback: michael kors ballet flats Cyber Monday sale

  • Pingback: buy wow gold

  • Pingback: www.xjrmyy.com.cn/jss/8326.html

  • Pingback: air jordan concord 11 low

  • Pingback: mcm 2014 road closures

  • Pingback: gucci sunglasses new women

  • Pingback: yxgh.pumc.edu.cn/dwgk/picn/7432.html

  • Pingback: air jordan i 1 phat north carolina 554724 106

  • Pingback: xjzyy.cn/ios/7985.html


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X