Author Topic: KCA - fallacies of equivocation and composition.  (Read 1044 times)

Lespaul_Lover

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Re: KCA - fallacies of equivocation and composition.
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2017, 02:39:33 PM »
Interestingly enough, I was looking through some old podcasts and I found a section where Craig actually addresses this objection. Here is a copy of part of his response and the entire podcast transcript can be found here:

The fallacy of composition, as he says, is reasoning that because all of the parts of something have a certain property therefore the whole has that property. For example, if every little piece of an elephant is light in weight, then the whole elephant is light in weight. That would be committing the fallacy of composition. It is not true that because every part has a property that the whole thing composed of those parts has the property. I think, Kevin, the allegation here is supposed to be against the premise that says every thing that begins to exist has a cause. The reader apparently is under the impression that one justifies seeking a cause of the universe by arguing compositionally – that because everything in the universe has a cause, therefore the universe as a whole has a cause. That is just manifestly incorrect. That is the fallacy of composition. But if you read my work I think you will find nowhere in anything that I've ever written or published or said have I defended the causal principle or there being a cause of the universe by composition. That would be obviously fallacious. Rather what I argue is that the principle “everything that begins to exist, everything that comes into being at some point, must have a cause which brings it into existence.” This is rooted in the metaphysical truth that something can't come out of nothing. Moreover, I think that this principle is constantly confirmed in our experience. So I would not think to try to justify the kalam cosmological argument's conclusion by arguing from composition. That would just be wrong, but he is setting up a straw man here which no one has defended.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/more-objections-to-kalam#ixzz4cV1hPL1D

I think this applies well to the argument at hand but I should note that this is a podcast transcript and not a published article and so will not go into as much detail as we might like.

I'm not sure that Dr. Craig is correct that a compositional fallacies requires an argument made by compositional logic. I could be wrong, but i think all that is required is the assumption that a whole does not have any properties that it's parts do not have. In this case the inductive inference that everything that begins to exist must have a cause is based on our experience of proper parts of the universe, and then assumption is being made that the universe as a whole does not have a property, i.e., being uncaused that it's parts do not have. That seems close enough to being a compositional fallacy. But anyway, i don't think it matters too much because there are other problems with the argument that make this pretty much of a moot point.

So, if indeed it is questionable that there is a fallacy of composition at play, it can be stated as an equivocation, that is the beginning of the universe is not the same sort of beginning that informs the causal principle. That is the beginning of the universe is a beginning simultaneous with the beginning of time and it is the the beginning of the universe as a whole and not the rearrangement of preexisting matter, whereas the beginning of everything else is a beginning of a proper part of the universe, the rearrangement of preexisting matter, and cotemporaneous with the beginning of time itself.

bruce,
I am confused by your statement, "I'm not sure that Dr. Craig is correct that a compositional fallacies requires an argument made by compositional logic." What exactly do you mean by compositional logic? Could you elaborate on that? I think my core disagreement with your argument above is the section, "In this case the inductive inference that everything that begins to exist must have a cause is based on our experience of proper parts of the universe, and then assumption is being made that the universe as a whole does not have a property, i.e., being uncaused that it's parts do not have. That seems close enough to being a compositional fallacy."
I think that in regards to assumption that everything which begins must have a cause" is not rooted in the intuition or our perception of things coming into being but is rooted in the Causal Principle (or as he states in the transcript, "This is rooted in the metaphysical truth that something can't come out of nothing." So it seems, that Craig's point is that something cannot come out of nothing whatsoever, but, he explains that our intuitions and perception of universe around us do affirm this idea "Moreover, I think that this principle is constantly confirmed in our experience." The key phrase being "Moreover." I think in order to dismantle the argument like you seem to be doing, you need to have justification for denying the truth of premise 1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause and not just show the seeming invalidity of showing that some parts of the universe do not entirely conclude to the whole. Furthermore,I do believe that you actually betray your position with the last statement, " whereas the beginning of everything else is a beginning of a proper part of the universe, the rearrangement of preexisting matter, and cotemporaneous with the beginning of time itself." In saying that everything else in the universe is a rearrangement of preexisting matter, you are affirming the truth that something cannot come from nothing. Hence the verb rearrangement. I think this is a dangerous inconsistency. Moreover, I would also possibly see this as committing the taxicab fallacy as you can affirm the Casual Principle in regards to all of the parts of the universe but not to the universe as a whole itself. I hope that I did do justice to your post and if I have not, please let me know. I do appreciate your response.

Thank you. Very well put. What I am trying to get across in all of this is that the beginning of the universe is a unique sort of beginning unlike the beginning of everything else, which are all proper parts of the universe. I don't see this unique type of beginning as being something to which we can necessarily extend the inference of a need for a cause. Of course, that doesn't mean it doesn't have a cause, just that it is significantly enough different that I don't think we can say necessarily that it needs a cause.

You have to understand the point that when making an argument like the Kalam which is trying to prove that the universe is in need of a cause or in other words contingent, one cannot assume in arguing any of the premises that the universe does not exist as a matter of metaphysical necessity. To do so would be to beg the question, so it is necessary for the sake of the argument to assume that it is possible that it exists necessarily. As such, and since in arguing the Kalam Dr. Craig also argues that an infinite regress of is impossible, it follows logically that the universe necessarily has a beginning in time, and so given those assumptions it looks very much like the universe in it's initial condition could be the uncaused first cause of classical philosophy. Again, this is not a proof that that is the case just a plausibility argument for it being the case, but that is all that is needed to defeat the Kalam as a strict proof.

If it is possible that the universe is uncaused and has a metaphysically necessary beginning cotemporaneous with the beginning of time, then that beginning  cannot be considered proof that the universe is in need f cause for its existence.

bruce,
I am happy that we can have a good dialogue like this, I enjoy healthy discussion. So thanks for that :) First off, in regards to, "beginning of the universe is a unique sort of beginning unlike the beginning of everything else, which are all proper parts of the universe" can you provide some evidence to show that the beginning of the universe is unique unlike all of its parts which contribute to the whole? I don't mean to sound redundant but I still believe that the taxi cabbing fallacy applies here because you are applying the causal principle to every part of the universe but not to the whole of the universe. That seems like you are taxi cabbing. with your next sentence regarding the necessity of the universe not needing a cause, are you simply advocating that that premise 1 does not necessitate a cause of the universe? I would like to hear more about that.

I would completely agree with you that, "one cannot assume in arguing any of the premises that the universe does not exist as a matter of metaphysical necessity..." because that would be fallacious in begging the question as you have stated. Totally in conjunction with that. I am confused with the idea that Craig argues that an infinite regress is impossible, I have seen some of this idea in his scholarly articles but I haven't researched it. I know from his On Guard book he does ague that you cannot have an actual infinite, and that one cannot pass through an infinite amount of elements, so the idea that the universe exists eternally is thus defeated logically. I am not sure if necessity is equated with eternity, but I would think so. So as you rightly point out, Craig is not assuming that the universe is either necessary or contingent, but explores each side and from the philosophical and scientific evidence comes to see that the universe does exist contingently as it had a beginning. My biggest problem with your statement above is, "it looks very much like the universe in it's initial condition could be the uncaused first cause of classical philosophy." It seems as though your statement defeats itself because you say that the universe is the "uncaused first cause" which is a self defeater considering that the universe could not create itself if it is uncaused. Finally, you say that, "If it is possible that the universe is uncaused and has a metaphysically necessary beginning cotemporaneous with the beginning of time, then that beginning  cannot be considered proof that the universe is in need f cause for its existence." I see another self-defeating idea here in that you state that, "the universe is uncaused and has a metaphysically necessary beginning/b]" if something has a beginning it would have a cause as I argue for above. It seems as though you are possibly begging the question here by assuming that something can begin without a cause, with no evidence for that view, hence the assumption. As a side note, when I attack your arguments I am in no way attacking you, just ideas. If I seem too harsh or bashing in my critiques please tell me and I will adjust my wording.
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lucious

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Re: KCA - fallacies of equivocation and composition.
« Reply #31 on: April 10, 2017, 09:42:56 PM »
This is what I've been saying all along--the difference does not seem to make any difference, there needs to be some compelling argument for this legitimates acausal becoming.

 

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