Michael Horton's apologetical views?

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by jwright82, Oct 9, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I have read a few apologetically minded things by Micheal Horton and I couldn't quite nail down his apologetical views, he seems Van Tillian but I am not sure. He is a proffessor of Apologetics so what school does he fit into?
  2. CIT

    CIT Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I had always assumed Van Til even though I have not really read anything on apologetics by him. I am interested to see if he does fall elsewhere.
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Me too, I am curious to see what he actually thinks.
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    WSCAL is most likely Vantillian. Not much rendered from Clark there if anything at all.
  5. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    We are Van Tillians at WSC. Mike has, however, written a lot over the last 20+ years and his views have developed. In the years following his doctoral work he studied CVT and adopted his approach though he has emphasized the utility of evidences.
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I guess I will reveal my ignorance now about this issue. I have found more problems with the debating of this issue than I have found with baptism. Both seem to be just as heated. I have a problem with Van Til on the issue of paradox and a problem with Clark's view that all truth is propositional. Hopefully Dr. Horton can reconcile the issues. At least both sides are presuppositionalist.
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Yeah I figured as much but I have never read him utilizing certian aspects of CVT, like the transcendental argument (that doesn't mean that he doesn't just that I have have never read it, which is not saying much). I was curious about that. He definantly utilizes CVT critiques of aoutonomous thought. What is his, yall's, opinion of Dooyeweerd? I know what Frame wrote but what about the rest of ya'll?

    ---------- Post added at 09:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:09 PM ----------

    Yeah Clark's view of knowledge is that all knowledge, or truthful knowledge, is propositional in nature. I have a problem with this because it would count out very normal instances in which someone could very easily have geniune knowledge that may not be the most able to conceptualize into a propositional format, like a women's intuition. She may be consistantly right about people's charectors but never able to give a detailed description in propositional form of why she beleives as she does. He is right that beleifs of anykind are either true or false.

    As far as paradox goes in CVT he meant only that in our finite creaturly form there will be things that escape our abilities to conceptualize or completly make sense out of. The Trinity is one such idea. This relates to his wonderful discusion of the concept of mystery in a worldview. Instead of trying to make sesnse out of everything in the christian worldview he just pointed out that the unbeleiver's worldview has just as much mystery in it as well. In fact mystery will be a central concept in any worldview. He is weak in not providing a logic so to speak to rationaly deciding what counts legitmatly as mystery and what counts as a contradiction. Or to put it another way what stops us from just saying its a mystery when in fact it is a bonafied contradiction? So us Van Tillians need to work this problem out, I think he is essentially right just incomplete.
  8. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    "I believe in Jesus." This statement is one of belief, but can neither be true nor false: it may be warranted or non-warranted, but it cannot be true or false, at least not in any factual sense.
  9. Staphlobob

    Staphlobob Puritan Board Sophomore

    Now that confuses me. The statement has to do with the person making the statement, not in Jesus Himself. So is it not true that the person believes in Jesus? Is it not a fact that they do?
  10. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Anyone can be warranted in that rather abstract beleif like I just moved into a new neighberhood and I believe that there is a tree in my yard. Now lets say that I have not checked but in Florida everyone has a tree in their yard and laws demand that there are trees in yards but I have not checked. In this case I have warrent for my beleif but it still remains that there is either a tree in my yard or not. That is all I meant. So the person who says that they believe in Jesus needs to define what sort of Jesus they believe in. Is he the eternal Son of God and second person of the Trinity or a guy who decided to where pokadot paints everyday. Both descriptions of the name Jesus sastify the statement "I believe in Jesus" but one is more warrented than the other and they are either true or false.

    ---------- Post added at 07:03 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:49 AM ----------

    Your absolutly right and you hit on another problem with Clark's view. His rigidity doesn't allow him to make sense out of normal statements and beleifs like that one. If it is propositional than what is it proposing? It is as you say proposing something about the person not actual states of affairs. But Philip is correct in his assessment of warrant which is, if I understand him correctly, a different beast altogether. Warrant is wether or not I have good reasons for my beleifs or not. My tree example is a good one because I have good reasons for my beleifs but I still don't hypothetically know if there is a hypothetical tree or absence of tree until I check for myself. There is a tree in my yard and my cat loves to climb it by the way. But excellant question Kevin! I do not know how a Clarkian would answer these charges because I am not one but anyone who is please feel free to jump in here because I do not like beating up on a guy, logically speaking, who can't defend himself or be defended by someone.
  11. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Apparently, I worded this badly: how can we say that a belief in Jesus is either true or false.

    When one is believing in Jesus, one is not believing in a set of propositions, necessarily. How would we say that this belief is true or false regardless of its content? Statements of trust like this may or may not be warranted (slightly different sense here) but to call them "true" or "false" in a propositional sense is a category mistake. Can we meaningfully say that Jesus is true? No, he's a person not a proposition. It's meaningful to say that He is truth, but that's a whole different bird.
  12. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Either he existed or he didn't or he either wore pokadot pants or he didn't, either he died for my sins or he didn't.

    Yeah that is why I pointed out that your statment is too abstract to really mean anything at all. You saying you believe in Jesus tells me nothing about Jesus unless you define what you mean by the name. But beleifs about him like everything else will be either true or false. Now there are beleifs that are say less propositional than others but no one is ultimatly warrented to believe something entierly false. They may have initial warrant but if we determine that their beleif is false than they no longer have any logical warrant for beleiving it anymore. I don't think you are suggesting that there are beliefs that can be as false as the day is long and someone still has enough warrant to believe it despite that.

    ---------- Post added at 09:59 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:57 AM ----------

    I'm not saying that faith is a purely cognitive thing, it involves the totality of us but it is still true that the gospel is cognitive enough to be factual and propositional in nature.
  13. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    None of those constitute belief in Jesus. When I say "I believe in Jesus" I do not simply mean "I believe that there was a historical figure named "Jesus" who was God incarnate and died for sins." Even Satan believes that. When I profess belief in Jesus, I am professing far more than simple assent to a set of propositions. I am professing belief in a person, which may lead to propositions about that person, but nonetheless, the propositions can be true if and only if they accurately describe that person.

    Not necessarily---that's assuming that "we" convince them a) that "our" model of rationality ought to be accepted b) that on our model of rationality, the belief in question is not warranted. However, my determination of what is and is not true has no effect on someone else's warrant unless I can make a de facto case that they accept.

    Sure they can. People were warranted for centuries in believing in abiogenesis, despite the fact that it has since been proven false.
  14. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Which is why I pointed out that faith involves all of us not just our cognitive abilities.

    No thats assuming an objective reality that all of our beleifs must submit to. This clashing of "models" seems to be like the presupossitional argument put foward by Van Til but you reject that so in what ways is it different? You simply assume that your theory of rational models is true but you offer no proof of it that I can see, you only confirm Van Til's thoughts by doing so. Why must all beleifs be disproven on a de facto basis, does logical facts matter here? For instance if someone's beleif contradicts itself than their warrant disapears, so I don't have to go to immediate beleifs as facts to disprove it, it disproves itself.

    Your view of warrant seems far to subjective to me, it seems to break down all comunication between differing models. It seems that, and I could be misunderstanding you here, my holding a beleif constitutes the warrant I need to believe it. If I am warranted to believe anything I like without exception than rationality breaks down. In my opinion there is an objective standered outside all models that determines whether or not a person is warranted to hold a beleif at all, this application changes from beleif to beleif but it is still there.
  15. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    So would you advocate a subjective reality instead?

    The difference here is that these models will share much. An atheistic common-sense model will share much in common with my own Christian model. I may be able to show that its methods are less consistent than mine, but this would not disprove the model, merely show that it needed tweaking.

    To think of this in political terms: it would be like arguing for a law change based on an inconsistency in current policy. All that would be required by the critique would be an adjustment, not a new constitution or the scrapping of English Common Law.

    That would be a de facto claim.

    It accounts for the way in which we form and hold our beliefs far more simply than Van Til's account. Van Til's account would work only if everyone were a philosopher with a well-thought-out system of beliefs. However, this just isn't the case. We're dealing with the beliefs of philosophers, theologians, scientists, autistic individuals, 5-year-olds, down syndrome individuals, and the like.

    On the contrary, I'm simply pointing out that warrant is dependent on the resources that one has. Aristotle was warranted, based on the evidence he was working with, in believing in geocentrism and abiogenesis. I happen to think that both of these facts are false, and probably Aristotle would were he alive today, but he was still warranted then.

    The fact is that you can't do this. If you believe something, then most likely you have some warrant for believing it. All that warrant does is to give one grounds for rationally holding a belief.

    Again, abiogenesis was a rational belief to hold before it was disproven. We cannot fault the medievals as being irrational or lacking warrant in holding this belief.

    This would itself constitute a model of rationality, though. It would be the true model.

    Maybe what you are trying to get at would be that certain beliefs could never be warranted. Am I correct?
  16. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    Would someone please describe what a person is without using propositions or describe an individual they know without using propositions.
  17. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Sure, I can show you a picture.
  18. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

  19. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    No I advocate an onjective reality. Your description of how the models relate is very Van Tillian in nature. The difference is that your agreement with him seems to be merely consequential. You believe that an atheistic model can be successful in aquireing truth, but how can a model that starts from bad assumptions be successful in the end? It is only if they betray these initial assumptions in their application and use of their model that they can arrive at truth. That is the basis for agreement in beleifs.

    Ok than we agree that logical facts can be used to prove something false on a de facto basis. I can't disagree there and neither would Van Til.

    Actually I think I pointed this out before that Van Til never really, that I can see, tried to explain how people aquired beleifs only that they do have beleifs and seek, not always with success, to have as coherent as possible a set of beleifs. So Clark did seek to explain how beleifs are formed and not formed, he used the term knowledge but it pretty much means the same thing.

    Also why we can critique the set of beleifs, or worldview, on logical and philosophical grounds is because we all inhabit the same creation with all of its aspects. We are all made in the image of God and therefore must use the tool of reason or logic in our formation and relation of beleifs. Logical fallacies are universal for this reason. So in a sense Van Til is disproving their beleif's logical foundations which is as you said is a legitemate de facto form of argument.

    Sure this is basically one kind of error. Another more serious kind of error is when someone who delibretly suppresses the truth is lead based on that fact to an incorrect beleif. If that is all you mean by warrant than we agree. But in our other discussions you seem to say that an unbeleiver has warrant for being an unbeleiver. That is a bit of a jump in my opinion. Being in error about a scientific fact because of his time gets Aristotle off the hook for his scientific beleifs but being in error about the basis for morality on a logical level can not be so eaisly dismissed as him having warrant for those beleifs.

    Sure but I think you can't make this a blanket policy accross the board for all beleifs. To say that the utilitarianist is warranted for holding his or her beleif about morality works until they come across a logical criticism of their beleif and then either they deepen their warrant by successfully refuting said criticism or they refuse to answer it in which case they now have a shallower warrant if that makes sense, is shallower even a word? So I have far more warrant for beleiving in christian morality than they do.

    Sure that would be correct but I also was focusing more on the ultimate point of view so to speak. The atheist loses warrant for his ethical beleifs when an argument against his theory of ethics or why certian things are right or wrong (which could be no more complex than that it seems right to them) and he or she offers no response or logically dodges the question. An excellant example would be Adam from Mythbusters adress to an atheistic society of some kind in which he refuses to defend his ethical claims on the grounds that he didn't see why he should and that it would be defensible to do so, if I remeber his adress right. This may constitute his reason or warrant for his beleif.

    I mean they certianly make sense liguistically speaking so on one level they are rational, they make sense. One can see why he beleives as he does or even relate to his beleifs. He is also aperantly not very schooled in the methods of philosophy so he gets off the hook so to speak on that ground as well. But the second that he and I have a debate, hypothetically speaking, and I demonstrate to him that he simply has missed the logical point that he has not shown why what he views as right or wrong is actually right or wrong, on as deep a logical depth as can be taken. I am simply asking for him to produce a deeper level of logical warrant for his beleifs. He and I may agree on many moral principles but my warrant for these beleifs is much deeper or stronger, I am searching for the right word to convey myself, than his are. Does that make sense?
    So when Van Til or I critique the unbeleiver's worldview at its most fundemental level than that is all we are doing looking for the deepest or strongest warrant that the person posses and subject it to logical analysis. You are right that most people don't care about logical precision but without such precision they lose warrant for their beleifs. This is the objective standered that I meant. We also recognize that our most cherished and deepest beleifs do affect our model of rationality. The atheist finds the miracles of the bible redicules to believe in and on his own presupossitions he is very warranted in that beleif but once his most basic beleifs are subjected to logical criticism and found irrational than his initial warrant goes away. If you would define that as a de facto argument than we agree, and I will keep that in mind.

    ---------- Post added at 03:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:22 PM ----------

    Thanks, I want to say that I entered into a discussion on these issues in a thread but I don't remember where. I explained what analogical knowledge actually was and I tried to show how essential it was to any personal relationship of anykind. As far as the propositional part of this discussion goes I am Van Tillian all the way and not Clarkian in my views. I suppose that the word beleif in Jesus must mean something greater than just propositions about him but if nevr existed than any beleif about him or in him would lack the neccessary warrant to be rational. So there is an actual liguistic difference in saying that one "beleives in Jesus.." and that one has "beleifs about Jesus." The words are used with two different meanings so the disagreement there is resolved by invoking Wittgenstien's later views of language. There is some very helpful posts in that thread so thank you for sharing it! I love your "norseman modertor" name too, that is very cool!
  20. nwink

    nwink Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks all -- good discussion!
  21. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Except that you have it backwards. A model starts with the facts and proceeds to extrapolate, but where they take it is due to their ground motives and personal commitments. Thus, an atheist may start with truths, but he will take even those truths and reason autonomously from them.

    It's like the story of "The Absence of Mr Glass" by Chesterton, where both Father Brown and the psychologist have the same facts. The difference is that the psychologist's commitments lead him to conclude that there is a blackmailing, while Father Brown concludes (rightly) that there has been no crime committed.

    This is where you are mistaken. You take it that most beliefs have these "logical foundations", whereas I do not. My belief in the tree outside is dependent on no other belief, neither is my belief in God. What you would refer to as the "logical foundation" of that belief, I simply take to be the metaphysical story behind why that belief is, in fact, true. Now, if you prove this story to contradict the initial belief, then all I am compelled to do is to find a new story that adequately explains the phenomenon or else just remain agnostic.

    But here's another problem, because worldviews comprise so much more than simple propositional beliefs, but include attitudes, predispositions, and sensibilities we cannot critique them on a purely propositional level. How do I critique, for example, what I consider to be bad taste?

    Given his assumptions, I think he does have warrant. Now, he's suppressing everything that would lead to God, but that's not to say that his unbelief is irrational, given that his Sensus Divinitatus is not functioning properly. He may well have a kind of coherence to his worldview.

    Sometime, I do need to post my full thoughts on G. E. Moore's common-sense atheism.

    Why not? Warrant has to do with how you came to hold a belief.

    But before this criticism works, you have to show him in some compelling way the necessity of providing this. Why can't his ethical beliefs be basic (produced by moral sense) with his metaphysical story being second-order?

    Again, warrant has nothing to do with the metaphysical story you tell about the content of the belief and more about how you came to hold the belief. I would have the same warrant for believing that the tree is there regardless of whether I was a Christian or an atheist or a Muslim.

    Here's the example: let's say that we are walking in the desert and I say "Look, there's a lake." and you say "No, that's a mirage." Now you can try to prove that my vision is not working quite properly in this context, or you can just walk me over and show me the facts.
  22. Theogenes

    Theogenes Puritan Board Junior

    WHat if I'm blind?

  23. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    I can read you a poem or play you a musical piece. Even propositional communication would be indirect with regard to knowledge of persons (as opposed to knowledge about persons).
  24. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I don't disagree with that.

    Well here is where I fail to follow you. It seems at times that we are so close to being in agreement but we part ways at some point. Your beleif in the tree outside may have warrant initially but if a successful logical argument is produced to demonstrate that your beleif is not so warranted after all you seem to say so what I'm still warranted after all. This is my point that your beleifs cannot be right or warranted in spite of logical criticism. I'm not suggesting that if I say you don't really know if you can trust your senses you now have a serious problem logically speaking. Again think outside the commen-sense realist/pure skepticism dichotomy you place every point of view, or as Van Til pointed out in autonomous thought the rationalist/irrationalist distinction.

    But that is not to say that the atheist is warranted to make ethical judgements about the christian in spite of the logical requirments of a philosophy of ethics. That is special pleading on the parts of well everyone. Everyone seems immune to the demands of reason because they can just claim that they view this beleif as basic or whatever and for whatever reason that makes it so they don't have to answer the question because in just asking the question I am advocating pure skepticism.

    Also I do not take it that that most beleifs have logical foundations so to speak but they require a certian level of rationality to be warranted in any sense. Warrant goes away when the reasonablness of a beleif is seriously criticized beyond the ability of the beleif holder to defend.

    Lets take your example of a tree outside. The unbeleiver points to it and says there he sees a tree. I ask for him his metaphysical story, it is pure materialism. I demonstrate for the sake of argument that this story cannot explain the fact that he beleives there is a tree outside. He then moves to some other story and again I demonstrate that he is mistaken in that one. So he then moves to agnosticism as if that now halts my criticism, as if now the reaches of logic have exausted their power and he can sit with full warrant in his beleif while beleiving ultimatly that no beleifs actually have warrant in any absolute sense, or else he wouldn't be agnostic. Since agnosticism means in one sense that a question is beyond answering or explaining than that question is not warranted for anyone's answer or beleif about the answer. So what has he gained? nothing he only once again invalidated his beleif, once again Van Til is correct that although he has the beleif in question he cannot explain why he is warranted in that beleif. So I don't know how you can still after this hypothetical discussion say that he has warrant for his beleif? That is where I am confused.

    So than it could be false that you believe a certian joke is in "bad taste" and yet believe it is in bad taste? There is a propositional element to every beleif even if it is simply the proposition that I believe such and such. But how would I press the apologetical task there, well I woudn't but if I had too than I would argue over value judgements in general.

    Of course he is warranted in his assumptions to hold that beleif but if his assumptions cannot logically produce the foundation neccessary to prove if you will these beleifs than his warrant goes away or at least becomes more shallow. Also if I start from false assumptions I can only arrive at false conclusions, I mean that as a general rule and not s trict logical principle (reducto ad absurdiam arguments start from what they conclude are false premises and demonstrate truthfully that their conclusions are false). But how can he assume the world to be what it is not and arrive at warranted beleifs based on those false premises? He can't, he can never be justified in his beleifs that based on false assumptions and be completly truthful as well.

    I don't think this is entirerly correct. You come to hold a truthful beleif on false premises and you are are justified to hold that beleif? Sure his reasons may make sense, if someone started babbling incoherently when you asked them why the believe something that babling couldn't justify their warrant for beleiving something. So they must make sense. That far we both agree, I think where we break down is when we move from here. I don't know where you move from here but I would start analysing their warrant to see if it could hold up under logical analysis. It seems you are saying, and correct me if I'm wrong, that that is wrong and that the person has warrant for beleif even if I logically criticize it. They can hide in the fact they just assert, without any proof, that their beleif is basic and that invalidates my logical criticism? I fail to see how that is even possible. They state "I believe such and such..." and they are not required to give any justification for that statment? I say all that not to say that you believe these things only that once they gave reasons why they beleived such and such they are now have taken the discussion to a new level. Their warrant is now up for grabs because their reasons can be analyzed to see how much warrant they actually have. You seem to suggest that they have warrant regardless. Do you mean that their beleif is formed on the basis of their senses so that is all the warrant they need to believe that they see a tree outside? Well sure that is fine but it gets us nowhere because it says nothing about actual states of affairs. So I see no value in parking every discussion of beleifs in a spot that is at the end of the day pure subjectivity.

    If a person is hallucinating that they see a tree outside and there is none than sure they have warrant for beleiving in a tree but where does pointing that out get us apologetically speaking? I don't know how you develop an apologetical method on these assumptions. You say that you challenge them on a de facto basis but when I agree and assert that the facts with which I am dealing with are logical than I am wrong for saying that? If someone uses nothing but logical fallecies to back up their beleif how can those facts not be relevant to whether or not their beleif is warranted in a larger sense than just how they came about their beleif? This is where I am confused about our philosophical differences.

    The question itself provides the neccessaty of the question. Someone who violates the laws of logic by commiting a logical fallacy has every logical reason to answer that criticism. If you are saying that practically speaking in order for the discussion to move foward I must explain why this is bad or whatever than fine that is true on a practical level. But you seem to be suggesting more than that by saying that in theory it is not enough for me to point out his use of a fallacy but that I am compelled to show why he must care about this in order for my criticism to be valid or else I have not succeded in removing his warrant or justification for holding said beleif. Which one do you mean? If someone denies the laws of logic just to hold to not justifying their warrant for holding a beleif is not being rational and the discussion is practically over. I wouldn't even waste my time discussing anything with this kind of person. So it is not even that I am in the hot spot by having to justify my criticism to him or else I have not succeded in criticising their warrant, it is them who must justify their reasons for holding the beleif beyond the simple aquisition of the beleif.
  25. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    Because he sees the tree. Your metaphysical story isn't your warrant. You can have warrant without a metaphysical story---a five-year-old or down syndrome patient can know that there is a tree.

    The proposition is the expression of an attitude. It is not itself an attitude. I can't do a logical critique of said joke to show that it's in bad taste.

    Not necessarily:

    All bearded things exist.
    God has a beard.
    Therefore God exists.

    First, justified to whom? Whose standard of rationality are we talking?

    Second, you're turning things on their heads. Most of our beliefs are not formed on the basis of other beliefs, but are themselves basic. Some atheists reached the conclusion that God doesn't exist as precisely that: a conclusion (Bertrand Russell comes to mind).

    Again, justified before whom?

    On the contrary, the fact that we ask assumes that generally we do have warrant (again, I don't like the justification language).

    Sure. If a down syndrome patient is rationally warranted, then so am I.

    Again, give me a good reason to think that there is not, in fact, a tree outside or take me out to where I thoughts I saw the lake and you can prove objectively that my senses were not functioning properly.

    I'll address the final criticism after class.
  26. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Well your definition of warrant seems to give it way more credit than it deserves. The justification language that I use means this. I would agree that a person who says that they see a tree outside doesn't really need any othe reason for beleiving that other than seeing it, so that beleif is formed by sensation. But that beleif is itself so trivial and meaningless in the grand scheme of things that it plays no part on something as complicated as ethics. So in that sense yes he or she is very warranted to believe that and their metaphysical story will have little or no affect on that beleif. Justification for me is something that is a much deeper level of proof that goes beyond these immediate beleifs (I see a tree outside, I am going to welding school tommorow, My daughter is eight, I am carrying on a conversation with you right now) to beleifs that are not so immediate therefore there warrant operates on different level than those immediate beleifs.

    Examples of this would be political opinions, do they not require more reasons for warrant and convincing people than just pointing outside to a tree to prove that you see a tree. You must have a different kind of warrant to be viewed as rational here about your opinions. That is the next level of beleifs, now lets look at another example beliefs or theories like global warming. There are people who believe that we are causing global warming. You could now criticize this view along with the political views along two lines either on a factual basis combating their evidence with your own evidence, or along a logical one. For instance they claim that global tempetures have risen along side the rise in industrial production of carbon-dioxcide or whatever.

    Well that is a logical fallacy, the after this therefore because of this fallacy. They have never proven a direct concrete link between our production of carbon-dioxcide and the suppossed rise in tempeture, that is a logical problem with their argument. So lets say that I offer this logical argument to them now they must make a choice there warrant for beleiving that we are responsible for the rise in tempeture, despite any evidence they have, has been dealt a serious blow. In order to maintain their warrant they must logically justify their beleif now, they must prove my logical argument wrong or prove the link between carbon-dioxcide or whatever. The point is that their beleif now requires an objective justification to maintain any claim of warrant, which seems a bit more subjective in nature. They can't call it a basic beleif like pointing out a tree and go on from there, the type of beleif demands a greater level of objectivity in its proof to maintain warrant.

    Lets look at yet even deeper beleifs, like ethics. When it comes to ethics there are immediate beleifs, second level beleifs, and deep assumptions about the nature of ethics. The immediate beleifs are things like there is such a thing as right and wrong, murder is bad, etc. Than there are second level beliefs like abortion and euthenasia are murder. Well there is debate over that beleif on scientific and logical grounds so both sides must come up with logical and scientific reasons as to why they are right and the other person is wrong. Now the deeper level. Some one attempts to come up a theory of ethics and they agree on virtually every immediate beleif I have and most of the second level ones regarding ethics. But they choose Kant's theories of ethics as the best theory of ethics. Well I rightly criticize Kant on purely logical grounds, I point out that logically speaking he cannot demonstrate that reason can arive at absolute moral oughtness or whatever. Notice that now with level of beleifs being wrong now affects the legitmacy of the second level beleifs as well as the immediate beleifs. So it is not that beleifs are stacked on top of eachother. It may well seem obvious that murder is wrong and abortion is murder but the warrant of those beleifs is now affected indirectly by his lack logical justification for Kant's theory of ethics. Now he has a very serious problem on his hands because his lack of justification affects all of his moral beleifs.

    Now I think I understand what has been bothering me about your aproech, I layed out different categories of beleifs and you seem to be taking what is true of one type of beleifs, basic or immediate, and making that true for all types of beleifs, which is a category mistake if my scheme is correct. This scheme is raw and unfinished but I thought it would be helpful to lay out. It marks my own sort of contibution, or lack ther of, to Van Till's theories because this is one area where he was undeveloped.

    You might say that why does someone even need to come up with a theory of ethics, in fact most people don't? Well because of the nature of the very beleif in a standered of right and wrong logically entails certian requirments for warrant in that beleif. Any moral demand can be countered with why I ought to do that? How does one establish what we ought to do? This seems to entail 2 different questions, why something is right or wrong and a method for determining what concrete actions are right or wrong. Take Kant for example he maintained that reason would decide why something is right or wrong and his categorical imperative is his method. Ulititarianism has the beleif that something is right or wrong based on the greatest good or pleasure for the greatest number, that is the why, and the pleasure calcules or whatever it was for almost mathmaticaly determing whether a concrete action was good or not, the method.

    So Kant and Utilitarianism are wrong on logical as well as practical grounds. Why ought I love thy neighbor over hating them on purely rational grounds? Now to those epitomological loafers. You say rightly that most people do not have theories of ethics worked out, true but the way they argue for or against a second level moral beleif involves more than just second level concerns. They often introduce general moral principles that fall into the deppest level of beleifs making them imply a theory of ethics. Many people throw around the phrase anything you do is ok as long as you do not hurt anyone. Well the abstracness in that phrase implies that it is a deep moral theoy, in fact it is the why question I discussed. Why is violence wrong because it violates our moral principle of not hurting anyone.

    But why ought I not hurt anyone? That logical criticism must be answered before any said actions can be deamed to violate this deep moral beleif, regardless of how many immediate beleifs we share.
  27. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    True, these are value judgments. However, these are far fuzzier beliefs. How would I demonstrate to you, for instance, that freedom should be the highest priority of law? (by the way, I don't believe that it is). We have disagreements over this stuff within the Church, for crying out loud.

    Global warming is a scientific issue and therefore the principle of Occam's Razor is applicable here (the simplest theory that adequately explains all the data should be accepted). Now, in reality personal commitments will play a huge role, but that's not necessarily bad.

    Again, here what we have are conclusions that will be reached based on personal commitments and value judgments. Why do I accept a Christian view of ethics? Simply put, it's because I have a commitment to Christ. It's not because it's the only logically valid system out there. Frankly, I think that a non-Christian could possibly come up with an ethical system that could account for all of what you just said.
  28. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Yes but you now have crossed over into a theoretical analysis of law, so you only went into the thried level I mentioned (see how easy it is to cross bounds here).

    No assumptions are not neccassaraly bad but they can be logicaly analyzed for truthfullness and consistancy. Yes but the point is that in the course of the debate people are switching into differing levels of beleifs without much notice, all I did was critique those third level logical beleifs that are based on science but are more logical than anything.

    Your rigth we both have a christian ethics formost because of Christ but a christian ethic happens to be the only logicaly valid system out there as well. You will have to show me this non-christian ethic, and founding them on basic beleifs alone is little like the naturalistic fallacy moving from is to ought ("murder is wrong" is a basic beleif therefore we ought to believe it and follow it).
  29. Philip

    Philip Puritan Board Graduate

    But that's the point. In order to evaluate an ethical claim, you have to do ethics---in the evaluation, the possibility of ethics is a given.

    I said "personal commitments" not "assumptions."

    You can say that if and only if you can actually demonstrate it. The best you can do on that score would be an inductive argument.

    Wrongness is a basic category that implies a moral imperative.
  30. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    Sure it is possible but evaulating an ethical claim involves logical analysis, ethics is not given in a sense that we can all agree that certian things are right and wrong. I logically analyze whether or not the Kantian can give an adequite "ought" statement.

    Fair enough. I still don't think that assumptions are neccessaraly bad.

    You rule out the transcendental argument here and assume that direct arguments are the only kind of arguments. But Strawson has worked out the basic logic of TA and there is plently of historical precedent to entertain the possibility of its objective status.

    Sure, we have many language-games that value judgements such as these are idespensable to meaningful communication. But notice how abstract it is, anything can be inserted as x in this statment "X is wrong" and it makes sense, it may not be true but it rationally make sense. What is needed is a way to apply the abstract word wrong to particuler examples of human behaviour, or a theory of ethics.

    ---------- Post added at 02:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:28 PM ----------

    Just out of curiousity you didn't seem to comment much on my scheme of beleifs. What do you think? Any comments or criticisms would be nice.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page