LADZDAZL

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2015, 06:45:23 pm »
If the person you're conversing with is generally unfamiliar with the work, is it fair to attribute to him an interpretation of his argument so well-reconstructed by charity that even he can't understand it in its retooled, more potent form?

Well wouldn't that be impressive to transform the conversation from a debate to a situation in which all parties agree you've become the teacher? "But do this with gentleness and respect" (I Peter 3:15)

So suppose someone gives a confused version of this objection, and doesn't manage to distinguish between objecting to the TRUTH of religious belief versus objecting to the JUSTIFICATION of religious belief. I suppose I'd reply roughly like this:

----------------------
<confused objection, vague gestures toward the problem, what Martin Bashir and Richard Dawkins said>

There are two things you might mean here. You might be trying to show that religious beliefs are FALSE. Or you might be trying to show that, whether or not they're true, it's not RATIONAL to hold these religious beliefs. The first option would commit the genetic fallacy: even if a belief has a shady origin, it still might be true. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, after all, and you might manage to look at just the right time, thereby getting a true belief from an unreliable source!

So the second option is more interesting: you might be challenging the rationality of religious belief. But here too there are some problems. For one, the mere fact that a belief of mine would have been different if I had been born and raised elsewhere doesn't show that it's irrational. I believe I was born in California, after all, and that's completely rational. But if I had been born elsewhere, I wouldn't have believed I was born in California. Secondly, this is a problem for everyone, and so for no one in particular. After all, your beliefs on religious topics easily might have been different had you been born and raised elsewhere, especially if you're an atheist. Thirdly, the argument is self-defeating. Suppose you believe it's a good argument. Well, had you been born and raised elsewhere, you easily might not have believed it. So, the argument says, of itself, that you shouldn't believe it's a good argument. That is not a virtue of arguments, that they recommend against themselves in this way."

I bet you could say all that in a minute or so. :-)

Yes. Thanks Tamb.  Nice to have posts from a professional!

Perhaps you could help me with the question I raised with Language Gamer.  As far as I can tell (from admittedly a skim read) the gist of what your paper aims to show could be exemplified by the section on the Safety Argument.  In this you show that contingency doesn't imply that a belief is necessarily held unsafely.  You give some examples to show this.

But I would say there are actually 3 possible things that contingency arguments may be taken to mean.

1.  That contingency-dependent religious beliefs are false. 
2.  That contingency-dependent religious beliefs can be proven to always be held irrationally.
3.  That religious beliefs the believer acknowledges are contingency-dependent have no reason to be deemed rational. 

The way I interpret the problem of contingency relates to the third version.  That if a believer acknowledges that their belief would have been different elsewhere and else when, then it follows that this person doesn't have a good reason for that belief. 

To apply this to your bridge example... Suppose I know that kids have been attempting to weaken the bridge with explosives (even if I don't know whether they succeeded or not).  My recognition of this means that I have to accept that seeing the Bridge looking OK is no longer a safe reason to believe the bridge is structurally sound.  (I presume in your example the structurally unsound bridge still looks the same).  Hence the current appearance of the bridge doesn't help me.  And it's unchanged appearance is no longer a good reason to assume it's structural integrity. 

I think that this situation, when I know that the bridge could have been damaged, is more relevant to the religious situation because this similarly involves a person who knows and accepts that his belief is contingent on random events.  The driver who didn't know about the teenagers would be like a Christian who had grown up in a Christian culture and wasn't even aware that other theistic traditions existed.
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ParaclitosLogos

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #31 on: May 27, 2015, 08:03:37 pm »
Perhaps:
Quote
P1. " if a believer acknowledges that their belief would have been different elsewhere and else when, then it follows that this person doesn't have a good reason for that belief.  "

P2. For all x, if x believes  B,   based on knowing some P, Be it that x knows P through experience, deduction, induction, or it is a properly basic belief , in such a way that knowing P justifies believing B,  then, if X had not come to know P, then , x might not have come to believe B justifiably, or not at all.

P3. LADZDAZL (or OM) believe atheism (or theism),  by way of knowing some P1 (or P2), such that P1 (or P2) justifies the belief ,  then if LADZDAZL (or OM) had not come to know P1 (or P2) , then , LADZDAZL (or OM) might not have come to believe atheism (or theism) justifiably, or not at all.

C: If LADZDAZL  (or OM) acknowledges P2,P3 acknowledges have no good reason in believing atheism (or theism)


P1:Taken from LADZDAZL post

P2: Seems reasonable to think that one might fail to come to be expose, grasp, believe know, what ever is that currently supports one beliefs in some counterfactual situation.

P3. it is just a plausible Universal and Existential Instatiation of P2, of any person, and some believes such person might hold, respectively

« Last Edit: May 28, 2015, 02:21:47 am by ontologicalme »

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tamb

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #32 on: May 27, 2015, 08:10:10 pm »
But I would say there are actually 3 possible things that contingency arguments may be taken to mean.

1.  That contingency-dependent religious beliefs are false. 
2.  That contingency-dependent religious beliefs can be proven to always be held irrationally.
3.  That religious beliefs the believer acknowledges are contingency-dependent have no reason to be deemed rational. 

The way I interpret the problem of contingency relates to the third version.  That if a believer acknowledges that their belief would have been different elsewhere and else when, then it follows that this person doesn't have a good reason for that belief.

Well, I don't think this is the best way to put your worry:

(LADZDAZL's Principle) If a believer acknowledges that her belief would have been different had she been born and raised elsewhere and else when, then it follows that she doesn't have a good reason for that belief.

That way of putting it inherits all the problems I mentioned in my last post.

#1. There are counterexamples to LADZDAZL's Principle. I believe I was born in California, with good reason (parental testimony, birth certificate, etc.). But I acknowledge that my belief would have been different if I had been born elsewhere, elsewhen. LADZDAZL's Principle says that, therefore, I have no good reason to believe I was born in California. But that doesn't follow--I have excellent reason (parental testimony, birth certificates, etc.)! So we have here a counterexample to LADZDAZL's Principle.

#2. LADZDAZL's Principle 'proves too much'. It would show that all of us, atheist and theist alike, have no good reasons for our beliefs on religious topics. That's because all of our beliefs on religious topics easily might have been different had we been born elsewhere, elsewhen. This is especially true for atheists, given the relative rarity of atheism over time and across different cultures. So it's imprudent for an atheist to wield this argument, since it makes more trouble for the atheist than for the theist.

#3. LADZDAZL's Principle is self defeating. You believe LADZDAZL's Principle. But had you been born elsewhere, elsewhen, you easily might not have believed it. So the principle says, of itself, that you have no good reason to accept it. That's sort of sad, for a principle to have such low self-esteem.

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Philip Rand

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2015, 11:06:11 pm »
Or one could simply respond to LAZDAZL's principle with:

One can mistrust one's own senses, but not one's own belief.
If there were a verb meaning "to believe falsely," it would not have any significant first person, present indicative.
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Crash Test

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #34 on: May 28, 2015, 03:23:33 am »

But, having said all that, I think that in certain contexts (like when you have exactly one minute to respond to this sort of objection) it might be excusable to just mention the genetic fallacy, show that these "elsewhere, elsewhen" considerations don't disprove religious belief, and leave it up to your interlocutor to do a better job formulating his or her objection. That's not your job, after all! If time is short, let the objector make the objections. So, I get it: Craig is giving rapid fire responses to objections, so he reaches for the genetic fallacy. No great fault, if you ask me.

I think this is a big problem with the debate-focussed atmosphere.  Yes, as a debater, Craig is justified in throwing out "genetic fallacy" and putting the audience's perception of where the burden of proof lies on his opponent.  However, as a role model and a representative of philosophy, he isn't.  Craig isn't just there to "win", he's there as a teacher.  By using fallacy terms in this way, he sets a bad example, with evident consequences as seen on his forum.

Whether this is Craig's "fault" isn't really the issue.  As you say, it is a good move once the debate structure is there to be played.  But the fact that the debate structure almost demands such moves is a terrible thing for both philosophical rigour, and the encouragement of cooperation between those on opposing sides.
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grosso

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #35 on: May 28, 2015, 01:55:17 pm »

But, having said all that, I think that in certain contexts (like when you have exactly one minute to respond to this sort of objection) it might be excusable to just mention the genetic fallacy, show that these "elsewhere, elsewhen" considerations don't disprove religious belief, and leave it up to your interlocutor to do a better job formulating his or her objection. That's not your job, after all! If time is short, let the objector make the objections. So, I get it: Craig is giving rapid fire responses to objections, so he reaches for the genetic fallacy. No great fault, if you ask me.

I think this is a big problem with the debate-focussed atmosphere.  Yes, as a debater, Craig is justified in throwing out "genetic fallacy" and putting the audience's perception of where the burden of proof lies on his opponent.  However, as a role model and a representative of philosophy, he isn't.  Craig isn't just there to "win", he's there as a teacher.  By using fallacy terms in this way, he sets a bad example, with evident consequences as seen on his forum.

Whether this is Craig's "fault" isn't really the issue.  As you say, it is a good move once the debate structure is there to be played.  But the fact that the debate structure almost demands such moves is a terrible thing for both philosophical rigour, and the encouragement of cooperation between those on opposing sides.

Crash, you're strawmanning Craig really hard here.

Nobody expects Craig to be a "role model," a "representative of philosophy," and a "teacher" in these debates. That's not the job of a debater.

By setting up these lofty, unrealistic expectations, you get what you really want: a chance to bash Craig.

Seeing as how you've been doing this for years, it's become transparent and predictable. I just wish you would be fair with your criticisms.

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Bertuzzi

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #36 on: May 28, 2015, 02:14:08 pm »
So according to Crash a good teacher allows and encourages fallacious reasoning. Nice!
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Keith_

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #37 on: May 28, 2015, 02:40:15 pm »
Or one could simply respond to LAZDAZL's principle with:

One can mistrust one's own senses, but not one's own belief.
If there were a verb meaning "to believe falsely," it would not have any significant first person, present indicative.
What if you have no belief? What happens then?
-K
Eccl.1:9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

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holtzclawbrian

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2015, 03:01:40 pm »
Quote
What if you have no belief? What happens then?
-K

Do you believe you have no belief? :P
Truth that is not undergirded by love makes the truth obnoxious and the possessor of it repulsive.
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Crash Test

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #39 on: May 28, 2015, 05:32:18 pm »
So according to Crash a good teacher allows and encourages fallacious reasoning. Nice!


I'm going to have to assume that you know this isn't even close to what I said...
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HIJ

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #40 on: May 29, 2015, 12:31:18 am »
Is there a video of your discussion?

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Philip Rand

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #41 on: May 29, 2015, 03:01:35 am »
I can kill two birds with one stone here, i.e. LAZDAZL's bridge and PCH's picture meaning...

To do this I'll use the Wittgenstein sign/symbol model applied to a bridge.

Here the "sign" represents the axiomatic calculations used to design and construct the bridge.  (These can be likened to Craig's axiomatic approach to God)

The "symbol" is represented by the "bridge".

Now, the only way an inconsistency in the axiomatic bridge calculations can be found is IF the bridge collapses sometime during its life.

If the bridge collapses...you have an axiomatic inconsistency...otherwise, one has to assume no axiomatic inconsistency exists.

Now, if one wanted to apply a sign/symbol method to the God question one would first have to come up with an axiomatic system, i.e. the sign AND a symbol to represent God.

The question is:  What kind of symbol represents God?

LAZDAZL's comments concerning children interfering with the bridge simply demonstrates the limitations and the eventual rejection by Wittgenstein of the picture model, i.e. it can be useful sometimes but it also can be deceptive...because what LAZDAZL is doing with his adjustment of the bridge model is to start conflating sign/symbol...in the hands of the inexperienced this is what happens...they believe they have come up with a new take on a representation but in reality they are simply confusing the issue.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2015, 03:12:22 am by Philip Rand »
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Crash Test

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #42 on: May 29, 2015, 03:30:56 am »

A debate is quite a different beast from seminars or professional conferences. I suppose there must be some benefits of the debate structure that explain why they've persisted (somebody finds them beneficial, otherwise they'd disappear!). But just what are those benefits? I'm really not 100% sure. Just thinking out loud now. I guess it's sort of entertaining to watch, while also being a bit informative. Is that it? A sort of "edutainment" value?

Last fall, I invited an atheist/agnostic philosopher to come disagree with me about whether God exists. I explicitly told him I wanted it to be a friendly, cooperative, professional discussion--but, of course, still full of persuasive arguments and objections!--like what would happen at a professional conference. And it was! I billed it as a debate and 300 students showed up. I heard some buzz afterwards that some students were disappointed we weren't more aggressive toward each other. We were missing some of that "edutainment" value that they expected in a debate, the cut-and-thrust. So I suppose we missed a chance to draw those students into philosophy; some may have left thinking philosophy is boring. A "real" debate wouldn't have been boring!

But of course there are cons to the debate structure as well, as you point out. It's really not a great way to carefully think through these difficult issues; careful thought takes time. So a lot of substance is sacrificed for the bloodsport aspect of the debate structure. Like when debaters are allowed to directly question each other: it seems more like a contest to see who can deliver the wittiest, most cutting put-downs in the shortest amount of time. There's a lot of posturing, interrupting, false confidence, etc. And many of the subtleties of the debate are plowed right over, e.g. this difference between questioning the truth of religious belief and the justification of religious belief.

So I suppose I'm ambivalent about the debate structure. I guess it's nice for drawing people into philosophy. But I think it would be better, once they're drawn in, to join a more professional conversation, where ideas can be carefully discussed without being uncivil. And I suspect that's typically what happens. People stop watching "edutaining" debates as they get deeper into philosophy.

"Edutainment value" is probably why people like Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson exist: they're not very accomplished scientists (especially Nye!), and they mangle a lot of the subtleties, but they manage to make it interesting and draw people into the field. So, before we criticize them too harshly, we should keep in mind what they're trying to accomplish. And I guess that's how I feel about all this easy "genetic fallacy" talk in the debate context.

When I teach logic, we don't cover any informal fallacies for just this reason. I think they're a crutch to replace really careful thinking, they're sort of a get-smart-quick scheme. And too often they lead people with good intentions to be very uncharitable in their interpretations of other people. And they might create or inflame smugness. :-/

I agree with you on every point, except that I don't share your optimism on the bolded sentences.  In my (limited) experience, I get the impression that generally the debates will lead to:

A large group who hear it, are entertained, wander off.
A medium group of culture warriors (on either side), with new tools in their arsenal.
A small group of interested people who don't have time to dig further, and see this as how philosophy works.
A couple of people who are interested, dig further, but don't quite shake the initial impression.
A couple of people who are interested, dig further, and actually move forward.

Obviously that's highly speculative, but I don't think unfair.  I guess there's a discussion to be had over the value of introducing people to philosophical discussions regardless of quality, but to me the negative effects seem to outweigh the positives.  There is a lot of hostility in the air, especially on this topic, and presenting the academic (professional, in both senses) end of the debate as a point-scoring and competitive affair seems to me particularly troubling.
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Keith_

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Re: An example of an incorrect usage of a fallacy objection.
« Reply #43 on: June 03, 2015, 10:13:21 pm »
Quote
What if you have no belief? What happens then?
-K

Do you believe you have no belief? :P
Nope, just askin' tongue in cheek. I'm a convert to Christianity and I'm very sure people are not born as atheists.
-K
Eccl.1:9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.