• Quote of the Day – Robert Bumbalough

    I posted one of my SIN posts over at Debunking Christianity recently, and this comment was posted which I found pretty insightful:

    “And, of course, such suffering, in light of an all-loving God, must be seen as necessary for some greater good.”

    Theists often claim their gods have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evils that often reference a greater good. But it makes no sense to allege a perfectly good being uses evils to bring about its desired ends when it’s also claimed such a being is the source and standard of morality.

    Dawson Bethrick of the Incinerating Presuppositionalism blog nailed it. >>>

    “According to Bahnsen and many other Christians, the Christian god is characterized as actually using evil to achieve its goals. And yet we are told that this being which uses evil to achieve its goals is the origin of morality, the “standard” of the good, an “all-good” being which does no evil and is not contaminated by any guilt, etc.

    No one has been able to explain to me how a being which chooses to employ evil means to achieve its ends can be rightly and coherently considered “good.” (In fact, I don’t think any Christian has really tried to explain this to me, once I put the matter in these terms.) How is it “good” to use evil means to achieve one’s ends? (Of course, this doesn’t even begin to raise the question of whether it’s coherent to suppose that an immortal, indestructible and perfect being could have any goals or ends in the first place!)”

     – http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/proof-that-christian-god-does-not-exist.html

    Here we have a clear criticism of consequentialist ethics in the manner of Kant, such that using people as means to an end, and more exactly, using evils as a way of getting good, is problematic.

    Category: MoralityPhilosophy of ReligionProblem of Evil

    Tags:

    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • kraut2

      “How is it “good” to use evil means to achieve one’s ends?”

      Ya know…the end justifies the means, the running excuse of every totalitarian arsehole who does not want to have his actions questioned.

      • Gus

        You. Do. Not. know. God.

        • If you are not going to add anything to conversations, and if you keep bloating my inbox with this bilge, then I will ban you.

          • Tim Tian

            Months ago, he actually used proper sentences!

    • Luke Breuer

      Not all Christians believe that God is the one who committed the evil. Many Calvinists would claim that God created agents with CFW natures who then do what he wanted, thinking that this abdicates God of responsibility. Arminians, on the other hand, think that humans have true freedom of the will. Despite the inability to offer a logical construction of LFW (this is different from it being inherently contradictory; I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬CFW), it seems the only reasonable answer other than “randomness conditioned by impersonal laws”.

      P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the state of causality and whether forces are ontic. I was made aware of philosophical problems in causality by both Evan Fales in Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles and Sean Carroll in the 2014 Veritas Forum with Hans Halvorson. Without a solid enough conception of causality, the idea that ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW is the empty set doesn’t seem at all obvious to me.

      • I think almost everyone has incorrect ideas of cause and effect. They often think of two events.

        I don;t think there is any one given event which is separable from another, such that causality, and thus events and effects, are all one big matrix. The problem is when you see things in terms of relations, you are already separating things which I think are in some ways inseparable (other than conceptually in our minds, for pragmatic reasons).

        • Luke Breuer

          Define “in some ways”. It seems like unity is eating up diversity, despite your comments on the Trinity of there being no possible unity between diversity.

          • Void Walker

            Emailed you

      • Andy_Schueler

        Despite the inability to offer a logical construction of LFW (this is different from it being inherently contradictory; I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬CFW)

        Srsly? Ok, let me try that stunt:
        “I am unable to offer a logical explanation for how the earth could be a twelve-sided round triangle, but that is different from this idea being inherently contradictory, because I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬(oblate spheroid shape of the earth).” – do you think that what I just wrote here is a logically valid claim?

        Without a solid enough conception of causality…

        The logically self-refuting nature of LFW does not depend on any particular notion of causality, it doesn´t matter how exactly causes and effects are related – LFW proposes that there are certain causes which are both first causes but simultaneously also something that an agent voluntary controls, and this is self-refuting for any model of how exactly causes and effects are related.

        • Luke Breuer

          1. You missed my “this is different from”.

          2. In other words, nobody knows how to logically construct it.

          3. Do you think “¬CFW ∧ ¬DW is the empty set”?

          • Andy_Schueler

            1. No, I didn´t miss it. You say that LFW is not inherently contradictory because you see nothing inherently contradictory about ¬CFW. So again, do you or do you not believe that this is a logically valid claim:
            “I am unable to offer a logical explanation for how the earth could be a twelve-sided round triangle, but that is different from this idea being inherently contradictory, because I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬(oblate spheroid shape of the earth).”
            ?
            2. If I say that no one has figured out how to “logically construct” a model for how the earth could be a 12-sided round triangle, I would be deceptive, because I am implying that there is no reason to believe that this couldn´t be done in principle – which is simply false, it is in principle impossible to logically construct a model for how the earth could be a 12-sided round triangle.
            3. No.

            • Luke Breuer

              Your twisting of my words in 1. means this tangent is done. Have the last word.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Here is your quote verbatim:

              Despite the inability to offer a logical construction of LFW (this is different from it being inherently contradictory; I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬CFW)

              Here is what I said about it:

              No, I didn´t miss it. You say that LFW is not inherently contradictory because you see nothing inherently contradictory about ¬CFW.

              How was this twisting your words?

            • Luke Breuer

              “because” ≠ “this is different from”

            • Andy_Schueler

              I honestly didn´t twist your words intentionally, I understood this:

              Despite the inability to offer a logical construction of LFW (this is different from it being inherently contradictory; I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬CFW)

              to mean that you believe:
              1. LFW is not inherently contradictory, it rather is the case that no one so far came up with an idea to construct a logically coherent version of LFW, which is “different from” something being inherently contradictory.
              2. The reason for why you do believe that LFW is not inherently contradictory is that you do not see anything logically contradictory in ¬CFW (because you wrote ” I see nothing inherently contradictory in ¬CFW” directly following the “different from” part in the same sentence).

              But that is apparently not what you mean. So my apologies for twisting your words.
              Then I have absolutely no idea what you meant to convey with your comment though – so what did you mean?

            • Luke Breuer

              This is a long comment, but I see no alternative if we’re going to get past our current impasse on the FW issue. I don’t mind if you decline to give it another go—I’d prefer no engagement to a vitriol-filled, evil/stupid-motive-imputing engagement.

              I see a very big difference between:

                   (A) inability to logically construct X
                   (B) an inherent contradiction in X

              Contra your claims (and I’d love to discuss this more), I think these are both deep truths of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. The first indicates a truth which cannot be derived from current axioms, while the latter becomes interesting if there is an accompanying claim that the way of looking at the world which leads to the (B) contradiction “explains everything”. X can be contradictory merely due to bad axioms.

              There is a big difference between bivalent Aristotelian logic and intuitionist logic, also called “constructive logic”. The former tends to result in (B), while the latter tends to result in (A). Critical to intuitionist logic is that it does not contain (i) the law of the excluded middle; (ii) double negation elimination. Being a fan of Feynman’s “What I cannot create, I cannot understand.”, I like to think of whether I can build a concept from some set of starting blocks—usually the ones I generally accept, the ones I simulate others generally accepting, or some linear combination and/or perturbation thereof.

              When you assert (B), I believe you project more confidence in your own axioms (or premises and presuppositions) then when you assert (A). Under (A), I can respond to an argument with which I disagree by saying, “I don’t know how to construct that argument.”, instead of “You’re wrong.” I’m not convinced that the difference is merely window dressing. I’m admitting that while I have one way to construct reality from a small set of building blocks, there may be other ways to construct it which both predict/explain what I currently understand, but predict/explain new things as well. Friedman in Dynamics of Reason talks about mathematical subsumption of earlier theory by later theory.

              What draws me to LFW is that as an idea that I try to make meaningful in my mind, it seems to lead to different “societal conclusions” than CFW or DW. This leads me to believe that there is something valid in LFW, which I may be modeling solely as the set ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW. But what is that “something”? I’m not sure. SELO is my best guess. The theological gloss would have SELO = poiēma (What would be a good translation of ‘poiēma’?), such that every human (actually, not just humans) can choose to be a beautiful instrument, part of a massive symphony, all playing a glorious, non-repeating song forever. See my Silmarillion quotations.

              Perhaps something which has frustrated you in seeing my SELO is that I’ve probably been thinking of additional properties all along. What is required to value each person as a unique SELO being, such that society must be careful to enhance that person’s SELO abilities, on pain of permanently losing a unique instrument of the universe’s symphony? One consequence of this is that humans are not malleable in the way BF Skinner wanted: God has created each with a poiēma, and that ‘individuality’ must not be ‘conditioned’ or ‘educated’ out of existence, in order to make that person a cog in the machine of society. Instead, society must expand its horizons with each new person who enters it. Each new person brings something unique which makes the world a bigger place.

              I fully realize that the (a) uniqueness of and (b) value of each human being are non-naturalistic claims. I’m claiming that every single human being has infinite potential which can be enhanced or squashed. I’m rebelling against moralities like the one I understand Sam Harris to expound in The Moral Landscape (I have not read it, only seen it discussed), whereby ‘morality’ is defined negatively, as ¬pain ∧ ¬suffering. I think human thriving is fantastically more than this: it is the perpetual striving toward higher and higher levels of perfection, which is one way to understand 2 Cor 3:17-18.

              Does this give you any more insight into what I’m really pushing for when I am advocating for LFW, or alternatively, ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW? There seems to be something to the construction of LFW (which obviously isn’t logically valid), in my brain, which leads to different results than the logical construction of CFW or DW, in my brain. It is this difference which I am attempting to tease out. Teasing this difference out is actually amazingly hard; Arminianism and Calvinism do seem to predict many of the same things.

              P.S. Thanks for making this clarification easier. In the future, I would prefer to say, “I think you have misunderstood what I meant to convey.” I would also prefer you to say the same thing. I would like us both to realize how radically differently we sometimes interpret the same facts, and thus how difficult it is for both of us to simulate the other’s point of view. Those difficulties are often evidenced by the appearance of twisting of words. Effective communication between very different people truly is this hard, if not generally harder. We lasted for quite a while before the first blow-up.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I see a very big difference between:

              (A) inability to logically construct X
              (B) an inherent contradiction in X

              Of course there is a difference, who would disagree with that? So, does the claim “the earth could be a 12-sided round triangle” fall into category A or B for you?

              X can be contradictory merely due to bad axioms.

              Again, no disagreement. However, there are axioms which cannot be rejected without rejecting the very idea of logical reasoning as a whole. And the law of non-contradiction is just such an axiom. You cannot reject it without rejecting the very idea of logical reasoning and argumentation.

              There is a big difference between bivalent Aristotelian logic and intuitionist logic

              Of course there is a difference, else they wouldn´t be different systems of logic. Both rely on the law of non-contradiction though, as does fuzzy logic, as does quantum logic, as does every other system of logic that we will ever develop – the very idea of logical reasoning doesn´t make sense if any syllogism could logically entail any combination of any conclusion simultaneously – but that is exactly what you get when you reject the law of non-contradiction.

              Under (A), I can respond to an argument with which I disagree by saying, “I don’t know how to construct that argument.”, instead of “You’re wrong.” I’m not convinced that the difference is merely window dressing.

              No, the difference wouldn´t be merely window dressing. If someone said for example “I believe that murder is morally evil but I also believe that Hitler was a moral paragon despite ordering mass-murder, I don´t know how to construct a logical argument for this position though.” – then you could not reply “indeed, you cannot construct a logical argument for your position because it is self-refuting”, all you could answer is “yes, I am also unable to construct a logical argument for your position”.

              I’m admitting that while I have one way to construct reality from a small set of building blocks, there may be other ways to construct it which both predict/explain what I currently understand

              I admit that as well and I don´t have to reject the law on non-contradiction to do it.

              What draws me to LFW is that as an idea that I try to make meaningful in my mind, it seems to lead to different “societal conclusions” than CFW or DW. This leads me to believe that there is something valid in LFW, which I maybe modeling solely as the set ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW. But what is that “something”? I’m not sure. SELO is my best guess.

              1. As I said countless times, what you call “SELO” seems to be utterly indistinguishable from indeterminism in every way.

              2. I´m positively certain that those societal conclusions you have in mind require nothing more than indeterminism to be true. You don´t know what LFW would actually mean – it thus cannot be the foundation for any meaningful societal conclusion you draw. What does seem to be this foundation is rather what you call “SELO”, and “SELO” seems to be a different name for indeterminism.

              What is required to value each person as a unique SELO being, such that society must be careful to enhance that person’s SELO abilities, on pain of permanently losing a unique instrument of the universe’s symphony?

              Substitute “SELO” by “indeterminism” in this comment and explain to me how the meaning would change? I don´t see any difference when you make this substitution.

              God has created each with apoiēma, and that ‘individuality’ must not be ‘conditioned’ or ‘educated’ out of existence, in order to make that person a cog in the machine of society. Instead, society must expand its horizons with each new person who enters it. Each new person brings something unique which makes the world a bigger place.

              Xenophobia – fearing that which is different from what you are used to, is an intuition that is unfortunately part of the human condition. In many schools and families, teachers and parents do their best to “condition / educate this out of existence”, to the degree that this is possible. Do you think that this is morally wrong? If you don´t, then I have absolutely no idea what this comment here is supposed to mean.
              Note that I am not disagreeing with the notion that it is a good thing to encourage people´s individuality, I´m just pointing out that we are born with some traits that are, at least IMO, worth “educating out of existence”,

              I fully realize that the (a) uniqueness of and (b) value of each human being are non-naturalistic claims.

              I don´t think so. What is supposed to be “non-naturalistic” about it?
              A human being is the outcome of a unique and irreproducible interplay of genetics, environmental factors and chance – everyone of us is thus objectively unique. And each human having value is the natural consequence of the combination of our instincts of self-preservation and our sense of empathy. I don´t see anything non-naturalistic about that.

              I’m claiming that every single human being has infinite potential which can be enhanced or squashed.

              I have some quibbles about the “infinite” here, but in principle I completely agree with this.

              I’m rebelling against moralities like the one I understand Sam Harris to expound in The Moral Landscape (I have not read it, only seen it discussed), whereby ‘morality’ is defined negatively, as ¬pain ∧ ¬suffering. I think human thriving is fantastically more than this

              I haven´t read Harris book either, but as I already told you before, your view of what morality is, is basically indistinguishable from what an atheist philosopher like Richard Carrier takes it to be. I don´t see any meaningful difference.

              Does this give you any more insight into what I’m really pushing for when I am advocating for LFW, or alternatively, ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW?

              If I am correct in interpreting what you call “SELO” as indeterminism, then yes, if I´m wrong about that, then no.

            • Luke Breuer

              Do you realize what the import is of intuitionist logic lacking the law of excluded middle? This means that you cannot say that a given event is:

                   (1) either chosen for reasons
                   (2) or a first-cause

              It could be some middle. It could somehow emerge from reality, in a way that looks very much like my good friend SELO. It may be impossible to ask whether it’s (1) or (2); it may be a proverbial chicken-or-egg. You cannot say it was quite determined, and nor can you say it was quite 100% random, and neither can you say that it was a simple, impersonal, linear combination of randomness conditioned by universal laws of nature. Under intuitionist logic, the middle is not excluded, and that middle is not just a linear combination of [global] determinism and randomness.

              You may quibble with my use of ‘impersonal’, above. The word is absolutely central. The difference between the impersonal and the personal is the difference between that which can be amorally controlled, and those who can only be immorally controlled. Now, I am reminded of our discussion about what the difference is between interactions which manipulate people and interactions which do not manipulate. I would be willing to delve into that discussion again if you’d be willing; I would even be happy to review our previous interchanges, first.

              As to your rant about all systems of logic relying on the law of non-contradiction, check out paraconsistent logic. Our brain likely utilizes something model-able via paraconsistent logic, else I wouldn’t even be able to reason from the concept of LFW to any interesting conclusions.

              Note that even Aristotle noted that reasoning about the future is unlike reasoning about the past; see problem of future contingents. I would argue that the same applies to all unknowns, whether future or past. It is as if we ought to only use Aristotelian logic when we are sure enough of our premises; otherwise we should use a system of logic that can deal with falsely asserting sets of premises (which we don’t always recognize are sets) which could be partially true and partially false, such that A and ¬A can be true at the same time.

              We still don’t know whether a [quantum] superposition of states “was always” the state it collapsed to on measurement, or whether it could have turned out differently. A superposition could easily be A and ¬A, simultaneously, in potentia (Aristotle’s potential–actual distinction). You are stretching out your trust in the LNC well beyond where we have sufficient confidence in it. This is not so much because the LNC is necessarily false in some cases, but that it can only produce reasonable output with sufficiently good premises. You see this all the time in software: it cannot deal with input lower than a certain quality, even though humans often can. Humans tend to be better at distinguishing than computers.

              Now we return to SELO. What is the difference between SELO and indeterminism? I think SELO is a specific type of indeterminism which I have not seen distinguished as I am trying to distinguish it. I think we can distinguish between life-like indeterminism and machine-like indeterminism. I think this is an important distinction to make. We endeavor to make life sacred; machines are just machines. Many horrors in human history are due to arbitrarily declaring that some life is not sacred. I sometimes wonder if we’ve failed to properly declare non-human life as sacred; Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home comes to mind.

              What is it that makes the loss of any person a tragedy to society? One must add to the mere concept of SELO in order to get to that conclusion. One must accept that society has room for the uniqueness of every additional person, at least under conditions which may require alteration of the person, but not so much that uniqueness is destroyed or perhaps even approximately destroyed. A form of the latter would be a workplace where your ever action is determined by law, such that the only place of personal individual expression is in private.

              But are we given that all people can be part of one society, with uniqueness intact? I don’t think so! At least, not without something very close to positing an intelligent designer. Or so goes my current thinking—feel free to explode it to bits. :-)

            • Andy_Schueler

              This means that you cannot say that a given event is:

              (1) either chosen for reasons
              (2) or a first-cause

              That is a false dichotomy in any case. Also, you seem to believe that a first cause and randomness are the same thing – they are not.

              Under intuitionist logic, the middle is not excluded, and that middle is not just a linear combination of [global] determinism and randomness.

              First of all, I doubt that the words “just”, “linear” and “global” make any semantic sense here. Second, you are simply asserting that there is a middle although rejecting the law of the excluded middle only gets you to the point where there logically could be one.
              Third, you merely assert that the middle between reason and no reason is not a mixture of reason + no reason, but something else.
              Think about what you are doing here, you are rejecting a logical axiom that you accept in every other context (or would you consider having a reasoned debate with me about the proposition that I am neither Jesus nor am I not Jesus?) and then you merely assert that the “middle” which could exist if you reject this axiom actually does exist, but it´s not actually the “middle” (which would be a mixture of reason + no reason) but rather something different that you are unable to define.

              It is as if we ought to only use Aristotelian logic when we are sure enough of our premises; otherwise we should use a system of logic that can deal with falsely asserting sets of premises (which we don’t always recognize are sets) which could be partially true and partially false, such that A and ¬A can be true at the same time.

              Cool. By the way, did I already tell you that I am Jesus? I´m also not Jesus. And nothing in between. All simultaneously. And not simultaneously. Or both. And neither one.

              Our brain likely utilizes something model-able via paraconsistent logic

              I don´t doubt that people hold contradictory beliefs, there is nothing logical about this though.

              else I wouldn’t even be able to reason from the concept of LFW to any interesting conclusions.

              But you actually are unable to do that. You don´t know what LFW would actually mean and you do not derive any conclusions from it. Afaict, your conclusions are instead derived from a rejection of determinism and an acceptance of indeterminism (under the name of “SELO”).

              We still don’t know whether a [quantum] superposition of states “was always” the state it collapsed to on measurement, or whether it could have turned out differently. A superposition could easily be A and ¬A, simultaneously

              Afaict, Schrödinger´s Cat was devised by Schrödinger precisely to point out why a superposition cannot be A and ¬A simultaneously, if that would be the case, then it must also be the case that a cat can, in principle, also be simultaneously dead and ¬dead.

              Now we return to SELO. What is the difference between SELO and indeterminism? I think SELO is a specific type of indeterminism which I have not seen distinguished as I am trying to distinguish it. I think we can distinguish between life-like indeterminism and machine-like indeterminism. I think this is an important distinction to make. We endeavor to make life sacred; machines are just machines. Many horrors in human history are due to arbitrarily declaring that some life is not sacred.
              ….
              What is it that makes the loss of any person a tragedy to society? One must add to the mere concept of SELO in order to get to that conclusion.

              You start with the question how SELO is different from indeterminism, but then you immediatly give up and instead start talking about “life being sacred” and the loss of a person being a tragedy, as if one had anything to do with the other.
              I can only maintain that all the societal conclusions that you seem to be interested in seem to be based on rejecting determinism and proposing indeterminism instead, but under a different name – “SELO”, for reasons that I really cannot follow. You can substitute “indeterminism” for “SELO” in any sentence where you used that expression so far, and you would convey the exact same information that you are trying to convey now afaict, except that it would be clearer because you would use the accepted term instead of an idiosyncratic one.

            • Luke Breuer

              If all you’re going to do is tear apart whatever errors you can find instead of trying to make sense of my argument, I think I’m gonna end this tangent. I’m just not in the mood for more of… this. It was worth a try, on both our parts. Maybe next time.

            • Andy_Schueler

              You are assuming that it has to be the case that I am either trying making sense of your argument or I am not trying to make sense of your argument, but it is actually a middle ground. Also, you are right that I was pointing out what I perceived to be errors but I definitely was not pointing out what I perceived to be errors.
              How you expect to have a reasonable conversation, after napalm bombing the idea of logical reasoning and pissing on the ashes, is a mystery to me.

            • Luke Breuer

              I have such conversations with a Caltech professor and guy who designed multiple Caltech supercomputing clusters all the time. Some people can manage; if you can’t or won’t, that’s fine. We aren’t required to discuss LFW.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I repeat:
              “Imagine I would ask you to consider the argument that the Bible does neither provide an accurate model of human nature, nor does it provide an inaccurate one, nor does it provide a combination of accurate and inaccurate ideas about human nature, it rather provides something different that I cannot define. Imagine further that I cannot explain to you how accepting this “argument” leads me to any different conclusions about any particular part of the Bible, and for all you can tell, I arrive at the exact same conclusions that you do. Would you be interested in discussing such an argument?”

            • Luke Breuer

              Actually, when it comes to the Bible, one ought to understand what is called “evolution of consciousness”; I was introduced to it via Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry.

              When I was talking about violations of the LNC, what I was really getting at was bad categorization. Pick the wrong categories, and depending on how you look at things, A and ¬A can both be found to be true. I noted above that the real problem is failure to understand when individual premises/presuppositions are actually sets of premises/presuppositions.

              Quite a lot of science depends on finding the right perspective to look at the data—and even how to take the data in the first place. I’ve been helping my wife with smFRET analysis lately and the intense subjectivity of science (see Personal Knowledge) becomes utterly clear. Model reality badly and that could well prevent you from penetrating reality more deeply. Planck was 100% right: “Science proceeds one funeral at a time.”

            • Andy_Schueler

              What does this have to do with anything? (and why do you not answer my question?)

            • Luke Breuer

              Let’s terminate this tangent. I do not wish to attempt a different form of explanation; if you can’t make sense of what we said, let’s table the issue. I get the distinct feeling that you aren’t trying very hard to simulate my point of view, and that [perception] is very taxing. I get the distinct impression that you think I’m generally just an inconsistent evil idiot. You’ve said a lot to support this, and the recent conversation has only dented that impression somewhat.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I´ve read your comment twice, thought about it, and I have absolutely no idea how the hell you think it is in any way relevant for anything else that has been said so far. But this must obviously be my fault and not yours.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Also, what I absolutely do not understand about your position is this:
              You are not trying to come up with an argument for libertarianism within a framework of paraconsistent or intuitionist logic, you are instead merely rejecting axioms of logic that you do accept in every other context to avoid the conclusion that libertarianism is a logically impossible concept. And what you try do to based on that, is coming up with reasons for hoping that libertarianism is true, because only it being true would “make the loss of every person a tragedy” and so on and so forth. But you cannot explain how these reasons would not apply if libertarianism were false but indeterminism were true, and worse, you cannot even explain how your position is any different from indeterminism.
              I cannot make any sense of this – it seems to be very important for you that indeterminism is true, but it seems to be even more important that it must not be called “indeterminism” but rather “SELO”, although the two seem to be perfectly synonymous. I also find your position here incredibly inconsistent, because you simultaneously try to defend the position that it is important to “discover what is true” instead of “deciding what is true”, that truth is always better than falsehood and that it is incredibly important to accept true beliefs and reject false ones – when it comes to libertarianism however, your position rather seems to be that one ought to decide that it is true despite it being apparently a logically impossible concept, because it being true is desirable.

            • Luke Breuer

              You are not trying to come up with an argument for libertarianism within a framework of paraconsistent or intuitionist logic, you are instead merely rejecting axioms of logic that you do accept in every other context to avoid the conclusion that libertarianism is a logically impossible concept.

              This isn’t primarily what I’m trying to do. Let me repeat what I recently said:

              LB: Does this give you any more insight into what I’m really pushing for when I am advocating for LFW, or alternatively, ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW? There seems to be something to the construction of LFW (which obviously isn’t logically valid), in my brain, which leads to different results than the logical construction of CFW or DW, in my brain. It is this difference which I am attempting to tease out. Teasing this difference out is actually amazingly hard; Arminianism and Calvinism do seem to predict many of the same things.

              I’m fascinated in the consequences, both socially and psychologically, of believing in LFW, vs. CFW ∨ DW, noting that these probably don’t exhaust the possibilities (I’d be interesting in what precisely they don’t exhaust). You don’t seem to be so interested in this. I recall you saying that along some dimension, a switch from LFW → CFW/DW didn’t change much (maybe in your own way of thinking of things?); you do realize others experience nonzero changes; Void Walker experienced a big change.

              it seems to be very important for you that indeterminism is true, but it seems to be even more important that it must not be called “indeterminism” but rather “SELO”, although the two seem to be perfectly synonymous.

              First, SELO ⊊ indeterminism. I think it is important to distinguish SELO from the broad category of ‘indeterminism’. For example, SELO could involve laws that only hold locally; this would be very different from the general idea of universal laws. This might help us understand the very nature of subjective perceptions, which appear to need something akin to Lorentz transforms from person to person in order to achieve intersubjectivity.

              What you’re doing is refusing to distinguish where I think it’s important. That’s fine; we can just stop talking about issues where we disagree thusly.

              I also find your position here incredibly inconsistent, because you simultaneously try to defend the position that it is important to “discover what is true” instead of “deciding what is true”, that truth is always better than falsehood and that it is incredibly important to accept true beliefs and reject false ones – when it comes to libertarianism however, your position rather seems to be that one ought to decide that it is true despite it being apparently a logically impossible concept, because it being true is desirable.

              Yup, and you have to decide whether you want to value philosophic rigor over and above common sense, or whether increasing violations of common sense means that maybe your philosophy is screwed up. Not all common sense ought to be defended, but if you completely undermine it, you actually undermine your very philosophy. I’ve read bits here and there about “philosophy and common sense”; this may be an argument that goes back quite a while. @johnnyp76:disqus, care to comment?

            • Andy_Schueler

              First, SELO ⊊ indeterminism. I think it is important to distinguish SELO from the broad category of ‘indeterminism’. For example, SELO could involve laws that only hold locally

              That is impossible according to Noether´s theorem, but if we ignore Noether´s theorem, then the exact same (=laws that only hold locally) is true for indeterminism in general. You say that it is important to “distinguish”, so what distinguishes “SELO” – this certainly is not it.

              Yup, and you have to decide whether you want to value philosophic rigor over and above common sense

              You ask me to ignore the law of the excluded middle and the law of non-contradiction but you also think that you are on the side of common sense here? Sure, why not. I´d say that what you do is absolutely common sense but it sure as hell is not common sense. But only on mondays, the rest of the week it is both. And neither one.

            • Luke Breuer

              That is impossible according to Noether´s theorem

              Ehhh, only if there isn’t a mostly-continuous change from regime to regime. When I say “laws that only hold locally”, that’s an approximation for “laws which hold strongly in a local area and die off very quickly as one leaves that area”. Kind of like how wavefunctions actually exist over the entire universe, but we can do lots of local approximations.

              but if we ignore Noether´s theorem, then the exact same (=laws that only hold locally) is true for indeterminism in general.

              Please elaborate.

            • Andy_Schueler

              When I say “laws that only hold locally”, that’s an approximation for “laws which hold strongly in a local area and die off very quickly as one leaves that area”. Kind of like how wavefunctions actually exist over the entire universe, but we can do lots of local approximations.

              That has nothing to do with a law “holding locally”, the “law” is the same everywhere. You rather seem to mean something along the line that events that happen due to such a law can, at least approximatively, be local effects.

              Please elaborate.

              You said that one distinguishing feature of “SELO” in contrast to indeterminism is “laws that only hold locally” – and given your clarification about what you mean by “laws holding locally” here, this doesn´t distinguish “SELO” from indeterminism at all, it´s still the exact same concept.

            • Luke Breuer

              That has nothing to do with a law “holding locally”, the “law” is the same everywhere. You rather seem to mean something along the line that events that happen due to such a law can, at least approximatively, be local effects.

              Actually, the physical constants we know of might not be constant everywhere in the universe (example). Perhaps what you’re saying is that if this is the case, there is an underlying law which remains the same everywhere? I suggest perusing the philosophy on physical laws; it’s a surprisingly difficult topic (that is, there is significant lack of consensus). One starting article is The Computational Theory of the Laws of Nature.

            • Andy_Schueler

              “Perhaps what you’re saying is that if this is the case, there is an underlying law ”
              – Yeah, “perhaps”, the fact that we used the word “law” does provide some evidence to support that.

              ” I suggest perusing the philosophy on physical laws”
              – Yes, you should do that. I recommend to start with this:
              http://www.amazon.com/The-Character-Physical-Modern-Library/dp/0679601279/

            • Luke Breuer

              Neat book! While I’ve requested it from my interlibrary loan system, would you be willing to share a bit on how you think I’m getting ‘law’ wrong? In particular, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on why philosophers of science can’t seem to agree on a good formulation of physical law.

              As to your derogation of my “perhaps”, I prefer that to your constant arrogant certainty. You’ll just have to deal, just as I have to.

            • Andy_Schueler

              “As to your derogation of my “perhaps”, I prefer that to your constant arrogant certainty.”
              – You are making an error of judgment by assuming that your perceptions match reality.

            • Luke Breuer

              Oh, I’m very aware that my perceptions don’t always match reality. I regularly link to The Treachery of Images as well as The Unreliability of Naive Introspection. Just recently I came across a very interesting criticism of Galileo in Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry, which matches up with David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions—specifically, his quotations of Cardinal Bellarmine, who corresponding to Galileo. You see, Galileo said that his math perfectly described reality. From Barfield, 50:

              The real turning-point in the history of astronomy and of science in general was something else altogether. It took place when Copernicus (probably—it cannot be regarded as certain) began to think, and others, like Kepler and Galileo, began to affirm that the heliocentric hypothesis not only saved the appearances, but was physically true. It was this, this novel idea that the Copernican (and therefore any other) hypothesis might not be a hypothesis at all but the ultimate truth, that was almost enough in itself to constitute the ‘scientific revolution’, of which Professor Butterfield has written:

              it outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements, within the system of medieval Christendom.

              My best man, a professor at Caltech, has the following mantra:

              Whatever it is, it’s probably wrong somewhere.

              I agree wholeheartedly. This friend of mine may be on the way to winning a Nobel Prize because he is not as confident about the ‘science dogma’ as many scientists. We’re back to Planck’s “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

            • Andy_Schueler

              I repeat.
              “As to your derogation of my “perhaps”, I prefer that to your constant arrogant certainty.”
              – You are making an error of judgment by assuming that your perceptions match reality.

            • Luke Breuer

              It’s just hilarious how you’re saying, with such certainty, that your present perception matches reality. Irony abounds. I’m glad God designed reality this way.

            • Andy_Schueler

              “It’s just hilarious how you’re saying, with such certainty, that your present perception matches reality. ”
              – I was about to say that you are lying as usual since I never said or implied anything like this in any way, shape or form, but I´m sure you didn´t actually mean to say what you said here and I´m just perceiving it wrongly. Or both. Or something in the middle. And neither.

            • Luke Breuer

              Well, you’ve obliterated this thread. Or we have. Whatever.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Me of course. It simply cannot be you, Luke – it must be everyone else.

            • Luke Breuer

              When have I accused you of lying, or even supposed it?

            • Andy_Schueler

              Ah, accusing you of lying is the problem? Interesting, I would have put my finger on the fact that you never play by the rules that you expect others to obey.
              At the beginning of this thread for instance, you accused me of twisting your words, although at least one other person (Jonathan) understood your comment exactly as I did, and I doubt that you will find anyone who doesn´t. Still, it can´t possibly your fault for expressing yourself poorly or simply making a mistake – no, everyone else obviously made an error in “judging perception to well-match reality”. But when I feel that you misrepresent me, I am of course not allowed to claim that your perception didn´t match reality in this case – that would of course be equivalent to claiming that my perceptions ALWAYS match reality, because you say so (and you saying so is clearly neither twisting my words nor lying).
              You just cannot play by the rules but you expect others to do just that.

            • Luke Breuer

              Still, it can´t possibly your fault for expressing yourself poorly or simply making a mistake

              It’s as if you didn’t read this:

              LB: P.S. Thanks for making this clarification easier. In the future, I would prefer to say, “I think you have misunderstood what I meant to convey.” I would also prefer you to say the same thing. I would like us both to realize how radically differently we sometimes interpret the same facts, and thus how difficult it is for both of us to simulate the other’s point of view. Those difficulties are often evidenced by the appearance of twisting of words. Effective communication between very different people truly is this hard, if not generally harder. We lasted for quite a while before the first blow-up.

            • Andy_Schueler

              It´s almost as if you didn´t read this:

              But when I feel that you misrepresent me, I am of course not allowed to claim that your perception didn´t match reality in this case – that would of course be equivalent to claiming that my perceptions ALWAYS match reality, because you say so (and you saying so is clearly neither twisting my words nor lying).

              You just cannot play by the rules but you expect others to do just that.

            • Luke Breuer

              I’ve admitted that I’m not 100% consistent. There are two errors you can make with a sufficiently powerful formal system: have contradictions, or not be able to prove true statements. I’m not afraid of either error, for they both provide opportunities for further learning. I talk about this in my single blog post, Intersubjectivity is Key.

            • Andy_Schueler

              “opportunities for further learning”
              – Right. If “opportunities for further learning” means “stick with my preconceived ideas come hell or high water” then I guess that´s the case.

            • Luke Breuer

              How are you not displaying the same “stick with my preconceived ideas come hell or high water”?

            • Andy_Schueler

              Maybe by not casually ignoring the very foundations of logical reasoning when ideas that I am emotionally attached to are being refuted, while accepting these same foundations for every other context? Yeah… that´s probably it.
              Or by not arbitrarily changing my epistemological motivations from “I want to find out what is true” to “I stick with my precious ideas, even when they are false, as long as believing said false idea doesn´t make me a worse scientist / person / friend”.

            • Luke Breuer

              I pointed out that the LNC is useless if you feed garbage in; paraconsistent logic and Bayesian inference is better when you aren’t sure of the truth of the premises, or even whether a given premise is 100% true or 100% false, instead of a bundle of premises, some true and some false. I’m less confident in the relevant premises than you. This may be an impasse.

              Or by not arbitrarily changing my epistemological motivations from “I want to find out what is true” to “I stick with my precious ideas, even when they are false, as long as believing said false idea doesn´t make me a worse scientist / person / friend”.

              Read up on rationalism vs. empiricism, perhaps via William James’ Pragmatism. I believe that believing falsehoods leads to bad consequences. That’s actually the only true test of whether something is a falsehood. Can you think of a better one? Mere coherency is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. Because I believe in an ultimate rationality of nature and man, I have rationalist tendencies. Because I know perception does not perfectly match reality, I have empiricist tendencies. I attempt to merge them. It often isn’t pretty. If you don’t want to be a part of that process, just say so. You are not compelled to respond to any of my posts.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I pointed out that the LNC is useless if you feed garbage in; paraconsistent logic and Bayesian inference is better when you aren’t sure of the truth of the premises, or even whether a given premise is 100% true or 100% false, instead of a bundle of premises, some true and some false. I’m less confident in the relevant premises than you. This may be an impasse.

              That is not an impasse. That is a cop out. You are not even trying to show how any premises in this context might actually be sets of premises, you are also not even trying to define libertarianism within any framework of paraconsistent logic. This is a cop out and nothing more. Lets see whether you´d like it if we turn this around, in a different thread, you quoted “The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach” to point out that there is evidence to support the notion that belief in an afterlife is correlated with desirable psychological effects. Now imagine that I´d say that the evidence that demonstrates desirable psychological consequences is actually proof of harmful psychological consequences and that this is not a contradiction because yadda yadda yadda paraconsistent logic yadda yadda yadda sets of presuppositions yadda yadda yadda GIGO yadda yadda yadda – all without even trying to show what is wrong with any relevant presupposition and without even trying to make an argument within a different logical framework etc.pp. You would consider that to be a ridiculous cop out at best and breathtakingly idiotic at worst (I´ve actually seen you quote the same stuff on Lothar´s blog and you did chide your interlocutor for not accepting your argument based on this evidence) – yet it would be in no way different from what you are doing here.
              You make it up as you go along.

              I believe that believing falsehoods leads to bad consequences. That’s actually the only true test of whether something is a falsehood.

              Cool. Then I guess you are fine with us casually ignoring every argument you make in support of your christian worldview as long as you cannot show how us not believing any of this stuff makes us a worse person / scientist / friend than you are. That would certainly save a lot of work – no more need for evidence or arguments, all that counts is whether someone is a nice guy™ or not.

            • Luke Breuer

              This is a cop out.

              Yep, because philosophers well-understand (a) causality; (b) natural laws. Oh wait, both are still not very well understood. Hmmm, maybe that’s slightly different from e.g. the results of “The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach”? Nah, what Andy Scheuler knows, he knows with certainty. Philosophers be damned.

              Then I guess you are fine with us casually ignoring every argument you make in support of your christian worldview as long as you cannot show how us not believing any of this stuff makes us a worse person / scientist / friend than you are.

              Than… I am? Why am I the standard? Why not each person’s past self? In general though, I’m quite happy to do do what you describe—I often argue that way. For example, see this comment on Tristan Vick’s blog. I think that sapientia and scientia need reconnecting; truth impacts how we live in all aspects. If it doesn’t, then either you’re a scholar or a sophist.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Yep, because philosophers well-understand (a) causality; (b) natural laws.

              You tried this cop out before. Several times actually. And I always pointed out to you that the logical inconsistency of libertarianism is completely independent of how exactly causes and effects are related. It also doesn´t depend on any conception of what a natural law actually is, the contradiction remains in any case.

              Oh wait, both are still not very well understood. Hmmm, maybe that’s slightly different from e.g. the results of “The Psychology of Religion, Fourth Edition: An Empirical Approach”?

              Because Luke Breuer decides that this is the case, got it.

              Why not each person’s past self?

              Cool. So the people who feel better and have better relationships with their friends after deconverting prove that atheism is true while those that feel better and have better relationships after converting to religion x prove that religion x is true. And they certainly can all be true simultaneously because…. erm… paraconsistent logic! GIGO!

            • Luke Breuer

              Do you do anything else than feed off of what you perceive as wrongness in other people?

            • Andy_Schueler

              Yes, because I argue that you are wrong about x certainly means that I do nothing but feeding off of what I perceive to be wrongness in other people´s ideas. Makes total sense! Hey, can you point me to the comment where you have tried to enhance Peter Boghossian´s ideas and make them better, instead of showing how they are ugly, false and terrible? No? Well, I guess that means that you are only feeding off the wrongness in others and that you are full of darkness and… [insert your other canned responses corresponding to this particular cop out here].
              Hint: if you go back to the beginning of the thread, you see that I actually agree with you on many things (which is not particularly surprising given that your SELO is nothing but a different name for indeterminism and I lean towards that position).

            • Luke Breuer

              I vaguely recall saying that Boghossian accurately describes how some Christians think; finding that would be onerous, given Disqus’ lack of comment search. If you want to see where I try to make others’ ideas better, see my conversations with Void. Recently, he was quite grateful for my comments on motion, an issue he has been thinking about for quite some time.

              Agreement is boring; building toward new things is much more interesting. You have shown very little interest of doing this with me, in any way I’ve perceived so far. I am still very thankful for our discussion of English-relationships vs. Christianese-relationships, although that turned antagonistic quite quickly.

              You really do seem to hate me, Andy. I’m not the only one who has noticed—at least one other atheist has. Why? Am I really such a terrible person?

            • Void Walker

              You’re not a bad person, Luke. You and Andy just think in dramatically different ways. Andy, in my experiences, is also far from being a bad guy. Perhaps he’s had more opportunities to convey himself than you have, more social experiences in younger years when neurological plasticity was most malleable…that’s key, you know.

              I relate to you, I get you, but that’s because we both had so many similar experiences growing up. I’m going to gather from this exchange between you and Andy that he has not experienced what we have, which is neither good nor bad.

              I know I said that I wouldn’t butt in, I just wanted to give you my perspective on the matter.

            • Luke Breuer

              Actually, this butting in was helpful. Every law has an exception. Still though, it really does seem like Andy despises me. If that’s not true, why does it seem that way to me? Any ideas?

            • Void Walker

              Andy takes an aggressive approach to rebutting ideas/views that he disagrees with. I can see how you would construe it as hatred, but I honestly do not think this is the case.

            • Luke Breuer

              Let me put it this way. He feels justified in calling me a liar. And yet when I say that he has twisted my words, he gets upset. Asymmetrical, much?

            • Void Walker

              I’m not trying to accuse you here, really, but do you consider yourself a liar? Do you feel you’ve lied to him, in this or any other exchange(s)?

            • Luke Breuer

              Going off of Harry Frankfurt’s definition of ‘lying’ in On Bullshit, no, I have not lied. I have not intentionally misrepresented what I believed was true. I’m sure I unintentionally misrepresented Andy, just as he has unintentionally misrepresented me. It happens all the time. There was also a time I misunderstood Andy, because I paraphrased what he said and while he responded to that comment, he stopped reading it and never told me. He had an excuse: he thought what I was saying was gibberish. Well, that makes communication fucking difficult, if he can just randomly (from my perspective) ignore things I’ve said, and then jump down my throat when I think that he didn’t ignore them. Very tedious.

              These days, Andy is on about me thinking I’m right 99.99999% of the time, despite what I’ve said. Fortunately, he doesn’t tell me what I think 100% of the time, but sometimes it gets pretty damn close. There’s a recent comment of his that has some potential. But really, what’s with telling other people what they believe? I know I do this, but what I really mean is that it’s a good model based on my perceptions, and I know that perceptions can be pretty removed from reality during the learning-to-simulate process. Sadly, when Andy has decided what I believe, it can be hard for me to dissuade him. “Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.””

            • Andy_Schueler

              I’m sure I unintentionally misrepresented Andy, just as he has unintentionally misrepresented me.

              *Sigh*… Yes, communication is difficult, yes, people commonly and unintentionally misrepresent each other, no, my behaviour is not “just as” your behaviour. If you indeed have not told untruths deliberately when I accused you of doing just that, and I´ll grant you that for peace´s sake, then you might want to try a little less “simulating” and a little more taking words at face value. You are not the first person I am talking to, you are also not the first person I am talking to who has very different views compared to my own, but you absolutely are the first person who accused me of saying the opposite – not something different, the opposite – of what I actually said, listened to and acknowledged my correction of it, and accused me of the exact same thing again some days later with the excuse “I need time to update my model of you”. Again, a little less modelling / simulating and a little more taking words at face value might make communication much easier, it´s hard, but it doesn´t have to be that hard.

              These days, Andy is on about me thinking I’m right 99.99999% of the time, despite what I’ve said.

              Well, this is another example of communication clearly being much more difficult than it has to be. I would never have dreamed that anyone could read the 99.99999% comment I wrote and read it as anything other than sarcasm, your direct response to it was also “I guess you enjoy mocking?” so I have honestly no fucking clue at all how you can on the one hand realize that this was sarcasm / mockery while on the other hand assuming that this is what I literally meant (well, actually, even if one would take my comment literally, then it still couldn´t be read as saying “Andy claims that Luke claims to be right 99.9999999% of the time)

              But really, what’s with telling other people what they believe?

              Yeah, what´s with that! No, really, what´s with that?

              “Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.””

              Erm…. I´m not sure that this cultural reference suits the purpose you´d like it to. Pilate did not abide the request from the jewish chief priests to alter “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” to say that Jesus only claims to be that. Or in other words, from a christian perspective, Pilate was actually correct in not changing what he “had written” – he used the exact same title for Jesus that the Magi used for example and refused to abide a request of Jesus´ enemies.

            • Luke Breuer

              Ahh, metadiscussion, how I loathe thee…

              then you might want to try a little less “simulating” and a little more taking words at face value.

              I deal with words differently from many people. Mere definitions aren’t very helpful to me; I tend to need to see them used in a consistent, meaningful way, across several examples. Likewise, I’m terrible at learning physics just via equations. I need to be able to construct little examples which ‘intuitively’ manifest the behavior described by the equations. Bret Victor has written a neat little article on this: Kill Math.

              but you absolutely are the first person who accused me of saying the opposite – not something different, the opposite – of what I actually said

              Get out more, maybe? I’d also point out that we’ve been knocking discussions back and forth pretty intensively for over half a year. I only recall you getting super-irritated with me near the end. In my many discussions with atheists, it is not too infrequent for them to conclude the opposite of what I actually said. I’ll bet this happens more than you think. I’ll try and keep a record of this phenomenon going forward, and once I’ve accumulated enough examples, I’ll send you a ping.

              accused me of the exact same thing again some days later with the excuse “I need time to update my model of you”.

              Honestly, if you don’t like this, stop responding to me. It’s really that simple. I have plenty of friends and acquaintances who aren’t nearly as irritated by this as you are. You do irritating stuff to me too; I like this Bible verse: “… love covers a multitude of sins.”

              I would never have dreamed that anyone could read the 99.99999% comment I wrote and read it as anything other than sarcasm

              That you use sarcasm in such a circumstance—vast disagreement, me modeling you as despising me, us coming from very different places—is a bit surprising. From my perspective, you can retroactively arbitrarily dismiss inflammatory statements you’ve made as “sarcasm”. But perhaps my sarcasm detectors are badly damaged or not well-developed. For the first two-thirds of my life, people made jokes at my expense. And of course, it continues on the internet. So yeah, from my perspective, the ability to cite ‘sarcasm’ is kind of a get-out-of-jail free card. Oh, and your use of sarcasm didn’t advance the conversation; it obfuscated.

              Maybe this will help: I wasn’t joking with my 99.99% number. You were able to point out one instance where you said, “I stand corrected”, in response to me. Given how much we’ve talked, that probably puts it at the 99.999% number; I was estimating that there were nine other such examples.

              Erm…. I´m not sure that this cultural reference suits the purpose you´d like it to.

              Hmmm: “Luke is lying” vs. “Andy claims that Luke is lying.” Yeah, you finally said you’d “grant you [¬lying] for peace’s sake”; time shall tell whether you continue believing it while simply not saying it, or whether you actually attempt to interact in a way that you don’t actually model me as being a liar.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Andy: but you absolutely are the first person who accused me of saying the opposite – not something different, the opposite – of what I actually said

              Luke: Get out more, maybe?

              Those little thingies that you sometimes see between words, they look like this:
              => . <=
              they are called "full stop", or "period", it is used to indicate the end of a sentence, and communication becomes quite a bit easier when you start thinking about sentences and replying to them as a whole. It really makes more sense this way because a sentence usually makes much more sense when you consider it as a whole instead of picking out some bits here and there.
              Teh Moar you know.

              Andy: I would never have dreamed that anyone could read the 99.99999% comment I wrote and read it as anything other than sarcasm

              Luke: That you use sarcasm in such a circumstance

              See above re periods + sentences.

              Maybe this will help: I wasn’t joking with my 99.99% number. You were able to point out one instance where you said, “I stand corrected”

              1. Erm, so were you.
              2. You asked for one and I looked up the first one I could find. I have exactly zero interest in playing childish games along the line of “ok, you found one, but that is certainly the only one…. ok, you found another, but that´s it!”
              3. Much more interesting would be an example of either you or me NOT admitting that we were wrong when we clearly were, I could think of a few here, can you?

            • Luke Breuer

              It really makes more sense this way because a sentence usually makes much more sense when you consider it as a whole instead of picking out some bits here and there.

              Ah, ok, so I’m the first person who used the very specific sentence, “I need time to update my model of you”? Yeah, that’s totally uninteresting. See ROBOT9000 and #xkcd-signal: Attacking Noise in Chat. If I’m allowed to omit that very specific sentence, then I restate what I stated before. I have friends with whom I’ve done what you describe me doing with you, and they have fun doing it with me. They understand that it can take quite a few seemingly identical passes (Poincaré recurrence theorem) before being able to fully map out the “argument territory”. That you perceive each pass to be “the exact same thing” doesn’t mean it is. Or, it could be me arriving at the same result while trying to think about the situation differently. Really Andy, it seems like you haven’t done very much repeated hacking away at a very tricky issue with someone very different from you. This repetitiveness which you seem to so dislike is quite common when attacking difficult issues with other people.

              See above re periods + sentences.

              Yep, I restate my point. Sarcasm is not identical to mockery, although it can include mockery.

              1. Erm, so were you.
              2. You asked for one and I looked up the first one I could find. I have exactly zero interest in playing childish games along the line of “ok, you found one, but that is certainly the only one…. ok, you found another, but that´s it!”
              3. Much more interesting would be an example of either you or me NOT admitting that we were wrong when we clearly were, I could think of a few here, can you?

              1. Relevance?
              2. Relevance?
              3. Yeah, the bit about dark matter and the Standard Model. Dark matter was originally developed because gravitational models weren’t working. See Physics beyond the Standard Model:

              The standard model does not explain gravity.

              Physics beyond the Standard Model refers to the theoretical developments needed to explain the deficiencies of the Standard Model, such as the origin of mass, the strong CP problem, neutrino oscillations, matter–antimatter asymmetry, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Ah, ok, so I’m the first person who used the very specific sentence, “I need time to update my model of you”?

              Look harder you must young padawan (seriously, I know that I am a terrible writer and that my sentences are way too long, but it can´t be that hard…)

              Really Andy, it seems like you haven’t done very much repeated hacking away at a very tricky issue with someone very different from you. This repetitiveness which you seem to so dislike is quite common when attacking difficult issues with other people.

              So you observed this commonly in discussions that you participated in? Well, I have a hunch why that might be.

              1. Relevance?
              2. Relevance?

              Let me recapitulate that (not verbatim but rather paraphrased for brevity)
              Luke: “When I asked you to come up with one example where you admitted being wrong about something, you only came up with one example!”
              Andy: “Erm, so did you.”
              Luke: “Relevance?”

              :-D

              3. Yeah, the bit about dark matter and the Standard Model.

              Erm, dude, I hate to break it to you but:
              “Luke: No, that “must” is wrong. It could have been that the model of gravity was wrong.

              Andy: I stand corrected.”

              :-D

            • Luke Breuer

              So you observed this commonly in discussions that you participated in? Well, I have a hunch why that might be.

              Fascinatingly, I can get along with some really people just swell by acting this way. Indeed, I’ve had fascinating conversations with Void, who sometimes acts like you do, but often is an utter pleasure to talk to. So yeah, there is a class of people with whom I have the kinds of problems I’m having with you, Andy. And yeah, I could learn better how to interact with them. Or I could just, you know, interact less with them.

              Erm, dude, I hate to break it to you but:

              Luke: No, that “must” is wrong. It could have been that the model of gravity was wrong.

              Andy: I stand corrected.”

              :-D

              But I wasn’t talking about that. I was referring to this comment and ones like it. It started here:

              AS: 1. If your explanatory gaps are analogous to dark matter, then where is your analogy to the standard model of particle physics? Where is the stuff you demonstrably know about God?

              LB: Dark matter comes from gravity, which has no place in the Standard Model.

              My statement is still correct, despite your claims to the contrary. And yet this is what you said:

              AS: you dishonestly pretend that you meant the right stuff all along

              . So Andy, pick:

                   (1) Luke was being dishonest all along.
                   (2) Andy was wrong in imputing dishonesty.

              You see, your 1. remains important. I said natural evils are my dark matter. You want to know what my Standard Model is, as if that would tell you how dark matter fits into it. Except dark matter doesn’t fit into the Standard Model! My Standard Model equivalent only deals with moral evils. Let’s actually just continue that tangent:

              AS: Oh for fucks sake, I wrote something that implied that there is a relation between particle physics and dark matter, you replied by saying “Dark matter comes from gravity, which has no place in the Standard Model.” – and this comment, given the context, makes no sense whatsoever unless you didn´t know that a complete model of particle physics does have to account for dark matter.

              Perhaps you can see how my comment makes perfect sense: I didn’t (and still don’t) have a theology which deals with natural evil like you want me to. Like the Standard Model can explain much more about normal matter, my theology can explain much more about moral evil. Maybe even the proportion of dark matter to normal matter matches, in the sense of there being much more of it, the proportion of natural evil to moral evil.

              So Andy, is it (1) or (2)? I don’t recall any “I stand corrected” from you was ever in reference to you imputing dishonesty to me. So I want you to pick whether this particular issue is a matter of me being dishonest. Screw “peace”; I want to know what you actually think.

            • Andy_Schueler

              But I wasn’t talking about that. I was referring to this comment and ones like it. It started here:

              AS: 1. If your explanatory gaps are analogous to dark matter, then where is your analogy to the standard model of particle physics? Where is the stuff youdemonstrably know about God?

              LB: Dark matter comes from gravity, which has no place in the Standard Model.

              My statement is still correct, despite your claims to the contrary.

              Nope, your statement is still wrong. It is completely irrelevant for the point I made why dark matter was originally postulated, I used [standard model : dark matter] as a general example for [tested + explained : not tested + not explained] and asked you what your theological equivalent to the standard model is. If dark matter exists, then standard model has to account for it eventually. So, the way I used both terms was perfectly adequate in this context.
              See:
              The Standard Model falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions because it makes certain simplifying assumptions.
              ….
              The theory does not contain any viable dark matterparticle that possesses all of the required properties deduced from observational cosmology.

              You want to know what my Standard Model is, as if that would tell you how dark matter fits into it. Except dark matter doesn’t fit into the Standard Model!

              That was my point. As far as I can tell, you have only “Dark Matter” in your theology, plenty of ad hoc stuff and nothing that you actually demonstrably know and explain. That´s why I asked you what your theological equivalent to the standard model is – expecting that you have no such thing (which would have made my point that your theology contains only “Dark Matter” and that the analogy to science you used when it comes to ad hoc hypotheses, doesn´t work because you have nothing but ad hoc hypotheses).

            • Luke Breuer

              As far as I can tell, you have only “Dark Matter” in your theology

              You know, this wasn’t clear to me. Here’s what I suggest: we don’t talk about my theology for a while, until it is more systematic, such that it does not appear as it currently does. I find the way that you criticize “dark matter” bits to be unhelpful to the kind of systematizing you wish to see, so I suggest I find other people to help me do that. And now, would you answer the following?

              LB: So Andy, pick:

                   (1) Luke was being dishonest all along.
                   (2) Andy was wrong in imputing dishonesty.

            • Void Walker

              Okay…you said the F word. We’re done here!

            • Frustration turns to anger.

              Or something Starwarsy

            • Void Walker

              Generally this is the case when the opposition lacks a decent counterargument…*cough* Luke…

            • Maybe you have a slight Christian persecution complex going on.

            • Luke Breuer

              That would be true if it were more than just Andy. You’re a gadfly in comparison.

            • I do recall more than a few atheists complaining about your condition.

            • Luke Breuer

              LOL, “condition”. You’re sounding like Boghossian! Do come up with a list, though. Otherwise you’re just being vague, and I’m the one who’s supposed to have a monopoly on vagueness.

            • No, theists in general have a near-monopoly on vagueness, so rest assured you’re not alone. As I recall, Jon Pearce, Me, Void Walker, Andy Schueler, and several others I can’t think of right now all recognize your easily curable condition.

            • Luke Breuer

              @void_walker_2000:disqus will, I think, not like being placed in a list of people who are less vague than I am. But let’s let him speak, shall we? As to you, Andy, and Jonathan, why would I be surprised? You all share very similar beliefs in the areas I discuss. That you come to the same conclusions from what I say is not surprising.

            • Void Walker

              Dude….you have a follower. I believe he’s a Satanist. WTF? Lmao

            • Luke Breuer

              Gotta start somewhere!

            • Void Walker

              Ha! :-D

            • Andy_Schueler

              If you want to see where I try to make others’ ideas better…

              Ah, so the argument that you disagree with x about y means that you do nothing but pointing out the errors in the arguments of others simply doesn´t apply to you?

              Agreement is boring; building toward new things is much more interesting. You have shown very little interest of doing this with me

              You have shown zero interest in helping me build a better case against the existence of a personal deity and you have also shown zero interest in helping me build a better case for the position that the Bible is a poor guide to morality and that some older texts and many more recent ones are actually far superior to it when it comes to moral issues. You also don´t try to help me building a case for why your “SELO” idea actually is equivalent to indeterminism. And it would be completely ridiculous for me to hold this against you, I expect you to argue against my position on these issues instead of helping me build a better case against your position – I´d expect you to help me in these cases if and only if you are actually persuaded that my position is more likely to be true than yours.
              What are you expecting? That everyone you encounter simply forgets everything (s)he believes and instead adopts your position on everything and helps you make it better? Also, people are actually helping you when they challenge your position – if your position is true, it helps you to better argue for it or think about aspects of it that you haven´t considered so far, and if your position is false, it helps you on the way to realizing that it indeed is false.

              I am still very thankful for our discussion of English-relationships vs. Christianese-relationships, although that turned antagonistic quite quickly.

              1. Then the problem must be your perception because I didn´t do anything different when I discussed christianese relationships with you – I thought that you are wrong and explained why.
              2. Guess why it turned antagonistic? Because you started to repeat arguments that you have already made, completely unchanged – as if the discussion so far never even happened, and because you accused me of saying the opposite of what I actually said and simply kept doing that after I pointed out that I actually said the opposite.

              You really do seem to hate me, Andy.

              Because I think you are wrong on libertarianism and theism? I don´t hate you at all, I merely think that you are wrong on these issues. And I also think that you can´t handle being wrong on these issues very well. I´d happily grant you that all knowledge is provisional and that 100% certainty is never possible about anything (in fact, I did already grant you that, or even pointed you to the best argument for this being true iirc -> the Münchhausen trilemma), but when it comes to libertarianism, you simply don´t even begin to have a case – you throw everything and the kitchen sink against the logical inconsistency of libertarianism but you don´t even begin to build a case for it, because you can´t. And that´s fine, you can stick with it and accept it despite it´s apparent impossibility, but you seem to feel the need to point it as a respectable / defensible position – it simply isn´t, and trying to paint it as a defensible position makes you look ridiculous.

            • Luke Breuer

              You have shown zero interest in helping me build a better case against the existence of a personal deity

              I would be interested in this. But first, I’d like to know what you think a ‘person’ is—what’s the difference between a person and a non-person? For example, Jonathan has made some fascinating claims about not believing in a “continuous I”. Hopefully at some point he’ll elaborate. But if you’d share a bit about your conception of personhood, to motivate what “personal deity” means, I might actually have fun taking a whack at this! Have I mentioned the Christianity.SE question What is the history of the concept of a “personal relationship with Jesus”?? The accepted answer is interesting to me; maybe it would be interesting to you.

              Another question: what is your opinion of the existence of universals? A more concrete question: is a planet any more or less real than its orbit? This is important, because if you won’t allow for a way for unity and diversity to exist simultaneously, we might not be able to get this conversation off the ground. If you examine the Christianity.SE question, you will hopefully see why I am bringing up ‘universals’; if not I can elaborate. It has to do with the tension between radical individualism (or perhaps ‘radical subjectivism’) and communitarianism. Both of these bear on what it means to be a ‘person’.

              you have also shown zero interest in helping me build a better case for the position that the Bible is a poor guide to morality

              I’d be happy to argue that reading the Bible anachronistically is precisely that poor guide. I’ve argued this before on Jonathan’s blog; have none of those conversations involved you? The book Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes comes to mind, as does Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry. Are you aware of the term “evolution of consciousness”?

              that some older texts and many more recent ones are actually far superior to it when it comes to moral issues.

              Have I not argued that there is a ‘moral trajectory’ in the Bible? If you want to suggest a book that compares Israelite law with contemporary law, I would absolutely love to read it and discuss it. I do insist though, on scholarly estimations of whether the Israelites had access to said law (or earlier law); just like we knew more about Japan around August 6, 1945, we know more about the ANE [in some respects] than did the ancient Hebrews. If you want to discuss law and morality contemporary to Jesus, I’d love that too—how about a book to read together?

              You also don´t try to help me building a case for why your “SELO” idea actually is equivalent to indeterminism.

              That seems trivially true; I said that SELO ⊊ indeterminism. Fuzz on a TV screen doesn’t have local order.

              And it would be completely ridiculous for me to hold this against you,

              See, here I disagree. If you are not attempting to simulate the other guy’s argument, you aren’t having a conversation.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I would be interested in this. But first, I’d like to know what you think a ‘person’ is—what’s the difference between a person and a non-person?

              A personal God would be a God that is sentient and able to have a relationship with other sentient beings. The eternally unchanging God of classical theism for example cannot considered to be a person IMO because there is no way for how a being that is eternally unchanging could ever desire anything (like a relationship for example) or in fact do anything, and there is no way for how it could have a relationship with anyone. At best, a God like the one proposed in classical theism is like an impersonal force of nature, at worst, it is not even that and rather simply an abstract object like the number pi. I´m not really interested in arguing against such God concepts because they are, to me, fundamentally indistinguishable from a deistic God and no amount of mental gymnastics from theologians (think Aquinas) changes that – whether such a God would or would not exist would be of no interest to me. I also wouldn´t really consider myself to be an atheist when it comes to such God concepts – I don´t know whether such a God exists and I don´t care whether such a God exists. The God concepts that I consider myself to be atheistic about are God concepts that involve a God who has desires, who is actually able and willing to do things, and who wants to be known and have a relationship with human beings.

              Another question: what is your opinion of the existence of universals? A more concrete question: is a planet any more or less real than its orbit? This is important, because if you won’t allow for a way for unity and diversity to exist simultaneously, we might not be able to get this conversation off the ground. If you examine the Christianity.SE question, you will hopefully see why I am bringing up ‘universals’; if not I can elaborate. It has to do with the tension between radical individualism (or perhaps ‘radical subjectivism’) and communitarianism. Both of these bear on what it means to be a ‘person’.

              I am aware of the tension that you point out (I was a Marxist once), but no matter how you resolve this tension – it doesn´t change the fact that the “relationship with Jesus” is not qualitatively different from the relationship with Captain Picard for a community of Star Trek fans. I know your objections to that, and I think I have addressed them all.

              I’d be happy to argue that reading the Bible anachronistically is precisely that poor guide.

              It doesn´t become a better guide by not reading it anachronistically.

              Have I not argued that there is a ‘moral trajectory’ in the Bible?

              You did. And I agree with that in the sense that the NT is in some ways better than the old. I completely disagree with that in the sense that this is like newtonian mechanics => quantum mechanics. Because that would imply that the moral example set by the older books in the Bible is flawed, but approximatively adequate and the way to better approximations – and I couldn´t disagree more with that, the Bible is full of stuff that is not morally “approximatively adequate” which has been gradually refined over time, but rather simply morally abhorrent and was rejected in whole by more advanced societies instead of being “gradually refined”. We have, for example, not “gradually improved” on the idea that blasphemers ought to be stoned to death, we have rejected it completely.

              That seems trivially true; I said that SELO ⊊ indeterminism.

              What you fail to do is arguing why it makes any sense to come up with a different label at all.

              See, here I disagree. If you are not attempting to simulate the other guy’s argument, you aren’t having a conversation.

              That statement would need several promotions to qualify as “moving the goalposts”.

            • Luke Breuer

              If we’re going to do the below, I want to do it in depth. If you end up just pointing me to definitions, that’ll be your signal to me that this tangent is over.

              A personal God would be a God that is sentient and able to have a relationship with other sentient beings.

              Side note: you might find it interesting to be more careful of using ‘that’ vs. ‘who’. Recently, I observed myself being sloppy in this way and decided to be more careful, to see if anything interesting would be revealed in choosing the personal vs. the impersonal. Just a suggestion—as I said, I think I’ve been very inconsistent myself in this area, up until quite recently.

              I looked at WP: Sentience, dictionary.com: sentience, and reflected on emotions (would you consider them a necessary component of sentience?), via Descartes’ Error and What Emotions Really Are: The Problem of Psychological Categories. I’m having a hard time understanding emotions outside of teleology. Perhaps this bit from Richard M. Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences will help:

                  Let us consider an illustration from Hayakawa’s Language in Action, a work which has done much to put the new science before the public. It is easy to visualize a social situation, the author tells us, in which payments to unemployed persons will be termed by one group of citizens “relief” and by another “social insurance.” One can admit the possibility , but what lies behind the difference in terminology? The answer is: a conception of ends which evaluates the tendency of the action named. The same sort of thing is encountered when one has to decide whether the struggle of the American colonists against Great Britain should be termed a “rebellion” or a “war for independence.” In the first case, the bare existential thing, the payment of money to needy persons (and it will be noted that this translation does not purify the expression of tendency) is like anything else neutral as long as we consider it solely with reference to material and efficient causes. But, when we begin to think about what it represents in the totality, it takes on new attributes (emotional loading, these may be called) causing people to divide according to their sentiments or their metaphysical dream. (152-3)

              In Descartes’ Error, Antonio Damasio explains how particular brain lesions which severed patients’ access to their emotional states also damaged their practical reason, such that they could no longer successfully pursue long-term tasks, even though they could solve word problems and do other analytical thinking on-the-spot. And so, ’emotion’ can be seen as a kind of ‘momentum’. But momentum toward what? My answer: a telos. If the telos is consciously known, “metaphysical dream” (such as the American Dream) is a proper description; if not consciously known, “sentiments” is a proper description.

              Perhaps this is helpful: communication as ability to help the other person simulate your thoughts. Mirror neurons may come into play here, although perhaps there are other mechanisms as well. But what does it mean to understand another person, except that you can simulate him/her well enough to generate similar statements, with similar emotional force behind them? The use of ‘simulation’ allows us to compare the amount one can communicate with a dog, an orangutan, a baby, a young child, and an adult. I wonder to what extent this simulation involves also simulating the other person’s telos (or teloi)? Now for some After Virtue:

              This notion of the political community as a common project is alien to the modern liberal individualist world. This is how we sometimes at least think of schools, hospitals or philanthropic organizations; but we have no conception of such a form of community concerned, as Aristotle says the polis is concerned, with the whole of life, not with this or that good, but with man’s good as such. It is no wonder that friendship has been relegated to private life and thereby weakened in comparison to what it once was.
              […]
              ‘Friendship’ has become for the most part the name of a type of emotional state rather than of a type of social and political relationship. (156)

              So Andy, when you think of “sentience” and “have a relationship”, how do your thoughts differ from what I’ve laid out, above? Oh, a bit from What Emotions Really Are may help:

              My central conclusion is that the general concept of emotion is unlikely to be a useful concept in psychological theory. […] Emotion is like the category of “superlunary” objects in ancient astronomy. There is a well-defined category of “everything outside the orbit of the moon” but it turns out that superlunary objects do not have something specially in common that distinguishes them from other arbitrary collections of objects. (14)

              And here’s my summary of the three natural kinds of ’emotion’:

              (1) “short-term, salient cases of anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, and surprise” (2) “socially sustained pretenses, akin to socially constructed illnesses like ghost possession or “the vapors.”” (3) “at least somewhat variable across cultures. […] guilt, vengefulness, moral outrage”

              Perhaps this provides some justification for what I recently said:

              LB: I deal with words differently from many people. Mere definitions aren’t very helpful to me; I tend to need to see them used in a consistent, meaningful way, across several examples. Likewise, I’m terrible at learning physics just via equations. I need to be able to construct little examples which ‘intuitively’ manifest the behavior described by the equations.

              People often use words in ways that aren’t natural kinds. This stunts understanding, as the author of What Emotions Really Are makes quite clear.

            • Andy_Schueler

              (would you consider them a necessary component of sentience?)

              Of course. Else a spectrometer for example would qualify as “sentient”.

              So Andy, when you think of “sentience” and “have a relationship”, how do your thoughts differ from what I’ve laid out, above?

              Re sentience – no difference at all afaict.
              Re relationships, you didn´t talk about relationships per se afaict. You talked about communication (no disagreement here worth talking about). Communication is certainly a big part of how people interact in a relationship, if not the biggest, but not the only one. Playing football with friends or watching a sunset with your wife is part of an ongoing relationship as well, and such experiences usually involve “communication”, but they cannot be reduced to it.
              And when it comes to alleged communication with God, you have the problem that I keep pointing out;
              a) You are not interacting with anyone, even if your God is real and does communicate with you by, say, planting thoughts in your head, it would be entirely one-sided. You would not be inter-acting with anyone, instead, you would be being acted upon – a prime example of objectification.
              And, even more importantly, b) you have no method at all to distinguish God´s communications from your own thoughts, even if one were to grant you that God does communicate with you by planting thoughts and ideas in your head – you have no way to know which thoughts, if any, come from outside instead of being your own thoughts. Imagine how your relationship with your wife would change if she were invisible, inaudible, and also not detectable by any other means, but occasionally inserting thoughts in your head, thoughts that pop into your mind just like any other thought you experienced so far, thoughts that do not feel different from your other thoughts, so that you don´t even know which ones actually are your own and which ones come from your wife. How would that be a relationship?
              I maintain, even if one were to grant you both that your God is real and further that he does communicate with you – effectively granting you your entire case – even then it could not be said that this would be a “relationship”.

            • Luke Breuer

              If you would, briefly remind me: if Lwaxana Troi were real and started telepathically communicating with you, would you be able to differentiate between you and her, in your head? Suppose that you could not see her.

              Another way to phrase the above: what separates one sentience from another sentience? The answer doesn’t seem trivial; the problem of other minds exists, after all. To what extent is positing other minds beside my own merely pragmatic, and to what extent is it ontic? How do we differ between these two, if we even can?

              FYI, I reject an impassible God, and thus the God of classical theism. Such a God makes a mockery of the OT and NT. I know of zero reason to think that a “pure spiritual being” (Ps 115:2-3, among others) cannot interface with what we tend to call ‘substance’ or ‘matter’, which may be what I mean when I say “particle-and-field reality”. I’m still confused about dualism vs. monism; I find Aristotle’s Hylemorphism absolutely fascinating.

            • Andy_Schueler

              If you would, briefly remind me: if Lwaxana Troi were real and started telepathically communicating with you, would you be able to differentiate between you and her, in your head?

              Long time since I´ve seen TNG but if I remember correctly, then yes, absolutely – because the way it worked involved her transmitting her voice into the mind of the recipient who then listens to what she has to say (again, iirc). But God doesn´t telepathically communicate with you (I know because we have already been at telepathy) and the evidence is overwhelming that he, even if he does exist, never did that – else the concept of “prophecy” would not be the running gag that it happens to be.

              Another way to phrase the above: what separates one sentience from another sentience? The answer doesn’t seem trivial; the problem of other minds exists, after all.

              The problem of other minds is not really relevant. Imagine talking to your wife, now ask yourself two things:
              a) is she a real person or, say, a p-zombie (assuming that p-zombies could exist)?
              b) can I distinguish between her and myself when we communicate?
              a) is an interesting philosophical brain teaser. b) could not be any more trivial – or have you ever been genuinely confused as to who is who while talking to your wife?

              FYI, I reject an impassible God, and thus the God of classical theism. Such a God makes a mockery of the OT and NT.

              Here we are in complete agreement. Then you have to discard a huge chunk of the christian intellectual tradition though, including the arguably best and brightest – Aquinas et al.
              Philosophically, it also seems to be the easiest god concept to defend.

            • Luke Breuer

              Fascinating discussion! I hope you’re at least someone enjoying it; I made quite a bit of progress on multiple areas of deep interest in writing this very response. Thanks. :-)

              else the concept of “prophecy” would not be the running gag that it happens to be.

              Actually, there are serious problems with viewing “prophecy” as a strict telling of the future in the way that is often discussed viz. biblical prophecies coming true, today. For example, if you look at all the ‘messianic prophecies’, you’ll see that it was a huge stretch to connect them all together. What if it weren’t? Well, the easier it is to see whether a prophecy fulfilled, the easier it is to fake it.

              Let’s put the above objection aside. What would prophecy indicate? I claim that all it would indicate is that one or a few people had a stronger grasp of reality than most people, and thus could predict better than most people. I love Asimov’s psychohistory; it demonstrates this concept quite well. Therefore, prophecy seems unable to prove, in the way you seem to think it would, that one is in communion with God, or any being other than himself/herself.

              This pattern matches that of miracles. See for, example, Kant on Miracles, which someone pointed me to a while ago. So what can miracles evidence? Kenny Pearce’s Leibniz on “Efficient” vs. “Final” Causes in Physics: Its Application to God, Science, and Miracles offers some clues: the ability of a consciousness to detect final causes without efficient causes. To know why before how.

              Oh my, this may lead somewhere interesting. Can you have an English-relationship with an entity whom/which you understand completely? If the answer is “no”—an answer toward which I’m currently inclined—then this would be a powerful argument for some amount of divine hiddenness, plus some amount of human hiddenness (from God!).

              b) can I distinguish between her and myself when we communicate?

              […] b) could not be any more trivial – or have you ever been genuinely confused as to who is who while talking to your wife?

              We disagree, fundamentally, on this point. You see, I view ‘communication’ as transference of concepts, not exchange of language. So I can conceive of a concept, translate it into words, utter them, have my wife hear them, and then she translates them into a concept, and have the two concepts be utterly disjoint. Schematically:

              my concept → stated words → perceived words → her concept

              To the extent that we aren’t speaking the same language, we are going to have trouble communicating. And, given that language depends on metaphor (Metaphors We Live By) and culture (sociology of knowledge), we can both be speaking English, and yet not be communicating, per my transference of concepts definition. Finally, I claim that two people who are talking at each other can be reasonable said to be not having an English-relationship. Do you disagree?

              Then you have to discard a huge chunk of the christian intellectual tradition though, including the arguably best and brightest – Aquinas et al.

              Given my reading of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue (he pulls much from Aquinas) as well as others, I don’t think nearly as much must be thrown away as you claim. The mention of Aquinas in particular is fascinating, given that he ended his writings after a vision, by the reason “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings like straw.” I’ve been reading three books which may bear on this issue: Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry and Worlds Apart: A Dialogue of the 1960’s, as well as Emil Brunner’s Truth as Encounter. They raise the possibility of non-sense-perception interaction; Barfield calls it participation. This might be explainable via Leibniz’s Monadology: the senses detect ‘bodies’, while participation involves the ‘monads’ themselves. Kenneth Pearce’s Leibniz on Phenomenalism, Mechanism, and the Great Chain of Being explains the differences between these.

              Earlier you mentioned “watching a sunset with your wife” being part of a relationship; I really like that example. In such a situation, the two people are participating in the same thing. (I’ll exclude the case where one person is solely focused on beauty and the other solely on the mathematics of refraction of light through the atmosphere, such that the participation is disjoint.) Such participation brings about a kind of unity. And yet, perhaps you only have two minds if the each participation has something unique which the other participation does not. Unity and diversity pops up again!

              FYI, all Christians participate in Jesus. But this does not get me out of a Christianese-relationship. I just thought the connection was interesting; I still don’t understand this ‘participation’ concept very well.

            • Andy_Schueler

              my concept → stated words → perceived words → her concept

              Hmm… I would expand that a little to:
              Mental concept in the mind of person A → A thinking about how to express this concept to someone else → expressing it to person B → B perceiving this and trying to make sense of it → mental concept in the mind of person B.
              A sign of good communication would be, that the mental concept in the mind of person B is very close to the concept that A intended to convey.
              Also, expressing the concept doesn´t have to happen verbally, communication can also be non-verbal or a mixture of verbal and non-verbal expression.
              Now, it seems to me that we can agree on the notion that if God is real and has a relationship with someone, communication would have to be part of this relationship (at least I cannot imagine a “relationship” without ANY communication whatsoever).
              Now, I´ll grant you for the sake of the argument that there is a God and that this God happens to be the one you believe in. This leads to the following conceptual problems:
              God doesn´t telepathically communicate with you, if one imagines “telepathy” as it is commonly conceived and shown in fiction like Star Trek for example. Based on previous discussions, we arrived at a point where there is only one option left if one assumes that there is some from of information transfer from God to you – God inserting thoughts directly into your mind (here I am talking exclusively about you, I´ll come to christians in general later). However, this is an option that is categorically different from how communication works in a relationship for the following reasons:
              1. It is completely one-sided, you are not inter-acting with God, God acts upon you.
              2. This option bypasses the steps where someone expresses something to you, and you think about what they meant with this expression. This option rather directly leads to thoughts in your mind, and you cannot distinguish the thoughts that God inserted into your mind, i.e. thoughts that came from “outside” of your own mind, from the ones that emerged within your mind. This means that you quite literally cannot tell who is who in this process, you cannot say what is a thought from Luke and what is a thought from God. And this thus simply cannot be called “communication”, it would be a transfer of information from A to B, but one that is entirely one-sided and one that is categorically different from communication. And that´s why I say that you, even if I grant you that your God is real, do not have a relationship with him.

              Now on to christians in general. Every christian I ever talked to describes his relationship and alleged communication similar to what you have been describing to me, so what I said so far can be generalized to some degree. However, there are Christians who claim to have experiences that, if they are not lying or deluded, would count as genuine “communication”. But I am not aware of a single example where it is not completely obvious that the Christian in question was making stuff up (think Pat Robertson) or deluded (think insanity pleas in court along the line of “God told me to do this”). Are you aware of an exception to this pattern? I am not, and this is one of the main reasons for why I have no doubts at all that a personal God does not exist.

              Re miracles and prophecy, I do see your point and I do think that there is something to the idea that a God conceived as the greatest possible being would not cause Humean miracles. However, this God is simply not the God of the Bible (or the Quran for that matter) – the life of Jesus, from miraculous birth over raising Lazarus from the dead to his own death and resurrection is a story of Humean miracles. You can´t have your cake and eat it too. The God described in the Bible and the God that Christians actually believe in (i.e. not the idealized concept from the theological ivory tower with the laundry list of attributes like immutability, impassibility, omni-everything, transcendence etc. pp.) is a God of Humean miracles.

            • Void Walker

              That last bit was brilliant; something I’ve given much thought to. We can simply not consider, assuming God does exist, a mental communication to be anything like a relationship. There is no bonding, in any sense of the word. There is no mutual understanding (there simply cannot be, God is far too abstract and removed from the natural world; any conception of “him” is conveniently outside of our senses), there is no relation, at all. A “personal” relationship with THAT? How absurd. Almost as ridiculous as God mind-fucking a teenage girl, who gives birth to his son/himself, then sacrifices himself to himself to atone for what He ultimately allowed for to begin with. Jesus H fuck christianity is an incoherent mess.

            • Luke Breuer

              You tried this cop out before. Several times actually. And I always pointed out to you that the logical inconsistency of libertarianism is completely independent of how exactly causes and effects are related. It also doesn´t depend on any conception of what a natural law actually is, the contradiction remains in any case.

              Has it occurred to you that sometimes people have to see a problem with their ideas multiple times before seeing the problem well enough to do something productive with it? Has it occurred to you that this can happen without evil intention on the part of anyone involved? It doesn’t seem to have. :-(

              Your thinking on libertarianism may not change with new philosophical understandings of causation or natural law, but that is not true for all people. For example, Jonathan’s recent Have I killed someone? has made me think thoughts in some new ways.

              How about we shift to your thoughts for a little bit? How would you describe ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW? Now, I’m not all that hopeful that this conversation will lead anywhere interesting, because I recall you saying that you don’t actually think about things differently based on LFW vs. CFW—contra Void’s account of LFW → CFW. It’s almost as if the difference doesn’t actually matter, which is argued in the accepted (and top-rated) answer to the Phil.SE question What is the difference between free-will and randomness and or non-determinism?

              My biggest goal in talking about LFW is to explore how it would impact one’s understanding of (1) reality; (2) personhood. I am more attached to conceptions of those which lead to good futures (e.g. ones with unity and diversity among people, instead of uniformity or radical diversity). LFW is mostly a tool, something to provoke discussions. And provoke it has done!

            • Andy_Schueler

              How about we shift to your thoughts for a little bit? How would you describe ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW?

              I don´t like CFW conceptually because it is ill defined. For a deterministic will, it is completely clear to me what it would entail, for compatibilism, I´m honestly not sure – it´s so vague that I might well be a compatibilist without realizing it, that´s why I hate the label.

              If you want to know what my position is, I´d wager that it is almost identical to yours – I lean (but am not convinced) towards indeterminism and given what you said about your SELO idea so far, it seems to be exactly how I would understand human will given indeterminism. For a more elaborate account, I´d refer you to the website of the information philosopher (I dropped you some links in the other thread) – I have some quibbles with that but that comes closest to what I believe about the human will.

              because I recall you saying that you don’t actually think about things differently based on LFW vs. CFW

              If I remember correctly, Void is a determinist, I´m not (well, I´d say that determinism might be true but I lean towards indeterminism for various reasons). And given that, there really was no reason for me to think very differently about the issues related to free will – determinism changes many things and makes issues like moral accountability quite problematic, indeterminism doesn´t really. What I do not believe is that I could have chosen differently ceteris paribus and claim ownership over that different fork – what I still do believe however is that there actually were alternative possibilites (given indeterminism) for the choices I made and that it was my will who made these choices, i.e. – the decisions were not imposed on me from the outside but rather came “from within”, they are my choices and I am responsible for them. And to me, that change of view doesn´t require adapting any of the things that I do believe about issues related to free will (like moral accountability for example).

            • Andy, how do you think indeterminism allows for moral accountability, out of interest?

            • Andy_Schueler

              I think that two things are required in order for an agent to be morally accountable for an action:
              1. Things could in principle have turned out differently.
              2. How things eventually did turn out depended on the agent – his / her character, desires, values etc. Or rephrased, the decision was not imposed “from the outside”, but rather came “from within” (in the same sense that we don´t hold people accountable for things they did while someone held a gun to their head and forced them to do it).

              Under determinism, things would have turned out the way they did in any case, and to me, seperating the “outside” factors from the “within” factors becomes problematic or even meaningless, because every decision you and every other agent will ever make was already carved in stone at t=0. So, given determinism, the big bang seem to me to be morally equivalent to someone holding a gun to your head and forcing you to do something, you don´t really have a choice – the decision is being imposed on you.
              Given indeterminism, things could have turned out differently – quantum and thermal noise in your brain generates real alternatives from which your will can select, and in that framework, it is still meaningful to speak of “my” choices.
              I´m not sure how much sense this makes, it made enough sense to me to not reconsider everything I believed about our criminal justice system when I accepted that libertarian free will cannot exist :-D.

            • Thanks Andy. That seems like, certainly from 2, a regular compatibilist stance. I always say I am compatibilist, I just don’t agree ti should be called free will.

              That aside, I find your authorship ideas fascinating. Of course, there is something coming from within, which you admit is either determined or random and outside of the agent’s control, but it still comes from them.

              I would wonder whether this is just a locational thing. The matter inside their bodies (ie brain) having a quantum fluctuation means that they have moral responsibility. But if a brain fluctuation (say, a tumour) cause someone to do something, they would not be accorded responsibility, no?

              Wht do you make of this:

              http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/12/02/whitman-tumours-the-neurotypical-and-moral-responsibility/

            • Andy_Schueler

              I would wonder whether this is just a locational thing. The matter inside their bodies (ie brain) having a quantum fluctuation means that they have moral responsibility. But if a brain fluctuation (say, a tumour) cause someone to do something, they would not be accorded responsibility, no?

              Wht do you make of this:

              http://www.skepticink.com/tipp

              Hmm… That is tricky. I think there is a difference – when it comes to the influence of randomness like quantum noise, you have an influence that you had no choice over (like your genes) but you also have an influence that does not push you in any particular direction, it is just noise that opens up possibilities one way or the other, but it doesn´t make any particular outcome more likely, it only makes more than one outcome possible. Now, when it comes to a brain tumor, it could be very different, it is an influence that might well push you in particular directions. So, where quantum noise gives you the freedom to express your will in different ways, a brain tumor might restrict your freedom to express your will and push you in particular directions. But the same could obviously also be said about genes which you didn´t choose anymore than you chose to get brain cancer…

              I think this then goes into the direction of holding people to different standards dependent on the circumstances, like it is very common to hold people who are intoxicated or intellectually disabled to different standards than people who aren´t. The brain tumor can for example destroy your impulse control – like alcohol, potentially even much worse, to the degree that you no longer have any impulse control to speak of – and this can create a situation where people do things that they a) realize to be wrong and b) would never have done had they still have the ability to control impulses. Where to draw the line exactly is of course subjective, but the principle of holding people to different standards based on different abilities is not subjective I think.

            • Luke Breuer

              Oh, you have stuck with your preconceived ideas as far as I’ve observed. Of course you’ll have a rationalization for this, probably something along the lines of me being 99.9% wrong over all our interactions with each other, whenever we differed. And thus, from each of our perspectives, the other person has stuck with his preconceived ideas. Except that you do it properly, while I do it improperly. Yep, that‘s likely.

            • Andy_Schueler

              No, you were actually 99.999999% right, which means that you were wrong. Or both. And neither. Which means that you do it properly, but you are certainly not doing it properly.

            • Luke Breuer

              Why are we still talking to each other? Is either of us getting anything out of these conversations? I guess you enjoy mocking? That makes the world a better place, right? I mean, at least your world—the one that matters.

            • Andy_Schueler

              It´s cute how you are pathologically unable to call it quits without insinuating that your interlocutor is a dick :-D
              I guess you just enjoy parting shots too much, that makes the world a better place amirite? Well, your world.

            • Luke Breuer

              Better to be called a dick than a liar, no?

            • I thought I was the only one who had this problem with you?

            • Luke Breuer

              I’m not sure you’re remembering precisely enough. But suppose that you are. Then I was wrong. BOOM.

            • Luke, do yo outright dent LFW as the ability to do otherwise, ceteris paribus, with the agent having rational ownership over that different fork, given the exact same scenario?

              That is what we claim is logically incoherent. Let us do this one step at a time.

            • Luke Breuer

              One step at a time? Ok, let’s tackle this: what would ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW look like? That is, if we tried to describe human behavior by something not in the set ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW, how would that description go?

            • That was a question, not an answer.

            • Luke Breuer

              I mean it to be a prerequisite to my answer. But I’ll take a step in good faith. I don’t think we can know whether or not anyone ever had the “ability to do otherwise”. It doesn’t seem empirically knowable—not directly. Therefore, it seems like it would be better to be agnostic about it, no? Or, at least, we ought to note that any foundation built on an affirmation or denial is shaky.

            • But if it is repudiated by basic logic, then…

            • Luke Breuer

              Logic proves that nobody has ever had the ability to do otherwise?

            • Just curious Luke – what’s the difference between spontaneous eruptions of local order, and random eruptions of local order? If a RELO is not in any sense “free,” – either by CFW or LFW standards, then how can something spontaneous be in any sense “free” either?

            • Luke Breuer

              SELO would have laws that hold strongly, locally, but weakly, elsewhere. Just like a wavefunction can be mostly localized in space. Usually, we think of laws holding everywhere in the universe; there is no philosophical and not even a strong scientific reason to hold that this is the case.

            • I’m not sure I understand your answer. The wave function operates by predictable quantum equations. Does the spontaneousness of SELO do the same? Or is it random?

            • Luke Breuer

              False dichotomy. There’s nothing logically wrong with a law holding strongly in a local area of spacetime but not globally across all spacetime. Have you ever looked at people wondering whether the physical constants might change over spacetime? One reason inflation is important is that it guarantees fairly constant constants, which is important if we want to trust distant starlight (among other things).

            • Whether the wave function is local or universal is not the problem, as it would all be following different, but predictable laws. Besides, that the laws of physics change over spacetime doesn’t mean they aren’t the same universally at particular times.

              The problem is whether your analogy holds up. I asked what is the difference between SELO and RELO and you gave me a story about localized wave functions. The same analogy could be applied to RELO through random localized wave functions. So how is free will compatible with spontaneousness and not randomness?

            • Luke Breuer

              And how do you know the laws would be ‘predictable’? I also don’t know what you mean by “the same universally at particular times”—are you referring to inflation or something?

              The problem with RELO is that randomness by definition doesn’t well-explain an eruption of local order. Go ahead and watch Sean Carroll’s Fluctuations in de Sitter Space; it’s a fun talk. He mentions the statistical, temporary local decrease in entropy that comes from fluctuating microstates underlying a macrostate like temperature. SELO is much more than a “temporary local decrease in entropy”. Furthermore, you don’t necessarily get temporary local decreases in entropy of quantum state—depending on what interpretation of QM to which you hold.

            • I mean at time T we have one set of universal laws of physics, and at time T1 we have slightly different but universal laws of physics.

              How does spontaneousness well-explain an eruption of local order?

            • Luke Breuer

              SELO is not an explanation, it is a phenomenon which could be observed. It would provide a problem to people who believe as you seem to believe. You’d have to expand your idea of what is possible. I’m not sure if you’re up for that.

            • If it can be observed, then you have empirical evidence for it. So what’s your peer-reviewed empirical evidence for SELO as it relates to free will?

            • Luke Breuer

              In sense you’re right; we didn’t know that the Higgs boson “can be observed” until the LHC detected it to within 5-sigma. In this sense, it is not known that SELO “can be observed”. So I shall weaken my statement:

              it is a phenomenon which could be observed.

                                          ↓                                ↓

              it is a phenomenon which could we do not know cannot be observed.

            • But you’re still on the hook for providing positive evidence for it. How do you explain the fact that every study shows that we become consciously aware of our decisions after our brain has already made them? Does SELO predict such phenomenon?

            • Luke Breuer

              You think that the will lies entirely in the conscious mind? From Wikipedia’s article on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The Over-Soul:

              With respect to the four themes listed above, the essay presents the following views: (1) the human soul is immortal, and immensely vast and beautiful; (2) our conscious ego is slight and limited in comparison to the soul, despite the fact that we habitually mistake our ego for our true self;

              Or here’s Andy Schueler:

              AS: “Will” = the sum of all things that lead to patterns in your behaviour and that are part of yourself / that can be demarcated from the rest of the world, in other words – the sum of your beliefs, wants, desires and all other conscious and subconscious factors that influence the decisions you make.

              To see how inane your comment about those studies (some of which I’ve seen) is, consider military training, which has as a purpose to condition responses to various combat situations so that the conscious mind doesn’t need to be involved. Now consider those conditioned responses: are they willed? I say yes: they were willed a good time before they ever happened, via training. And guess what: people can train themselves outside of military training. Meditation and reflection can do it. Bible studies can do it. All sorts of things can do it.

              P.S. SELO doesn’t need to be brought in at this stage. In my model there is a fragility to SELO, such that it’s easy to screw it up. That isn’t relevant to this discussion.

            • 1. Everything you said is perfectly in tune with determinism, if we discard the silly idea of a soul, which we have zero evidence for.

              2. To say that the soul makes decisions before we become consciously aware of it means the having a soul and supposedly having “free will” is indistinguishable from determinism. It also means your consciousness could be controlled by something else besides your soul and you’d have no way to discern if your thoughts were yours.

              What empirical evidence do you have for SELO or soul-inducing free will that is not explained or is not compatible with determinism?

            • Luke Breuer

              1. Emerson was not a Christian; he was a Transcendentalist. I suggest you deal with your gag reflex to terms like ‘soul’. As to what I said working under DW, who cares? Only you, because you’re not willing to admit that DW is not the only (or best) explanation of the empirical evidence. You apparently just don’t want to think that under small ∆v-LFW[ish], some decisions are made well ahead of the resultant action—sometimes years ahead. When I say “LFWish”, I mean something in the set ¬DW ∧ ¬CFW.

              2. You clearly didn’t read what I read, and it was quite explicit re: military training. No vagueness, there. It seems that when I’m not vague, you prefer not reading what I’ve written. Curious.

              I don’t have empirical evidence for SELO; it is a specific kind of indeterminism (SELO ⊊ indeterminism) which doesn’t seem well-explainable by DW or CFW. I dreamed it up as an attempt to make DW ∨ CFW actually falsifiable. If you can find a better form of falsifiability, I’m all ears. But if DW ∨ CFW is not falsifiable, then what does it assert?

            • Well since you’re the only person who knows SELO, I have to refer to you for additional information.

              So SELO is undetectable, appears in the same manner as determinism would, or at least is empirically equivalent to determinism, and it is essentially unexplainable and mysterious, if I got that correct.

              I suggest you provide evidence for the soul.

              Military training is simply conditioning your mind and body to excel in certain situations through training so that you can do it almost on auto-pilot. How does that support SELO in anyway, and how does it make sense of the facts in a way that determinism cannot? In other words, what evidence does SELO explain that determinism cannot?

            • Luke Breuer

              So SELO is undetectable,

              Says who?

              appears in the same manner as determinism would,

              Says who?

              or at least is empirically equivalent to determinism,

              Define ‘determinism’ in a non-vague way, please.

              and it is essentially unexplainable and mysterious,

              Unexplainable by the tools available to people like you and Andy and Jonathan, most definitely. Unexplainable in principle (“essentially”)? Not clear! Mysterious? All of reality is mysterious to those who are not arrogant and stupid to think that pictures of the thing are the thing.

              I suggest you provide evidence for the soul.

              Sigh. No, if you’re not willing to try and understand what Emerson said in your own worldview, I’m not interested in trying to help. What I will do is present sociologist Peter L. Berger’s interpretation of ‘psychologism’, in Facing Up to Modernity:

              Only a relatively small segment of the total self is present to consciousness. (29)

              There, no ‘soul’. Where’d it go? Into “total self”. Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

              Military training is simply conditioning your mind and body to excel in certain situations through training so that you can do it almost on auto-pilot. How does that support SELO in anyway,

              You sure are zoomed in on SELO. My bringing up military training was in response to your:

              TT: every study shows that we become consciously aware of our decisions after our brain has already made them?

              Now, I actually think it’s actually 100% bullshit that “every study shows …”. How about you give a representative sampling of said studies? Hopefully they’ll go beyond “press this button randomly while I MRI your brain”. I suppose you could say that the decision to join the military was pre-conscious, that every experimental design was pre-conscious, etc. But what does this even mean? Where are you going with this? Who said that something LFWish must be conscious?

              It’s not even clear what you mean by ‘consciousness’. Is it something which only ever watches? It’s not even clear that it can be trusted if this is the case. Scientific experiments cannot be trusted unless they are set up in certain ways; if the consciousness had no part in how they were set up, how can it be trusted? It seems like you’re getting yourself into some hot water here; let’s see if you can get out without recanting some of what you’ve put forward so far.

              In other words, what evidence does SELO explain that determinism cannot?

              From Richard M. Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences:

              It would be tedious to point out that rationalism and the machine are overwhelmingly against personality. The first is suspicious of its transcendental origin, and the second finds that personality and mechanism positively do not mix. Accordingly, the determination of our day to make all things uniform and all things public cannot forgive this last citadel of privacy. Since, after all, personality is the beginning of distinction, every figure in modern public life feels called upon to stress the regularity of his background, his habits, his aspirations. (181)

              The plea for piety asks only that we admit the right to self-ordering of the substance of other beings. Unless this little point is granted, it is futile to talk of tolerance on a grander scale. (181-2)

              Without SELO—without the dignity of the soul, or “total self”—a person is merely the production of his genes and her environment, and can be continually reshaped and reformed as Society sees fit, where Society is often the State. In Facing Up to Modernity, Berger talks a lot about how modernization created a dichotomy of public vs. private self, such that most people cannot be in any way individuals in the public sphere, pushing their self-expression and self-definition entirely to the private sphere. These days, who and how you fuck are used as metonymy for one’s private life, although it strikes me that they are becoming saddeningly larger parts of what most people consider to be “private life” and personal identity.

              As long as you are a good little employee (see Neo’s treatment by his boss in The Matrix, Mr. Incredible by his boss in The Incredibles, or Joanna (Jennifer Aniston) by her boss in Office Space) in the public sphere, you can do whatever you want in the private sphere, as long as it doesn’t “leak out”. What is the message? Whatever it is that makes you an individual, it isn’t wanted in the public sphere, unless you are one of the precious few who get to shape it. SELO is a problem, unless you are essentially in the position BF Skinner wanted to be in—a behavioral technologist. (See Noam Chomsky’s The Case Against B.F. Skinner.)

              In addition to being something that would characterize the set ¬DW ∧ ¬CFW, SELO is a physical underpinning of individuality. Without such an underpinning—whether SELO or something else—the future can be characterized as behavioral manipulation plus designer babies, to construct people just as we the elite few want them.

            • So if SELO is detectable, where is your empirical evidence? After all you said:

              In this sense, it is not known that SELO “can be observed”.

              So I’ve asked you over and over what empirical evidence does SELO have that determinism doesn’t, and all I hear is crickets.

              Define ‘determinism’ in a non-vague way, please.

              I’m not defining determinism, or interpreting it in a way that is any different from what most philosophers/scientists understand it as. Determinism is the philosophical movement that for every event, including human action, exist conditions that could cause no other event.

              Now, I actually think it’s actually 100% bullshit that “every study shows …”. How about you give a representative sampling of said studies?

              Can you name any studies that show conscious thought comes before physical brain states? I have not heard of any.

              Your military example only further helps the idea that our consciousness doesn’t drive our actions, it in no way is evidence for SELO – which you still have zero evidence for and cannot even define.

              Who said that something LFWish must be conscious?

              Both Cartesian and interactionist theories of dualism state that the will comes first or at least can precede physical brain states that represent when a decision is made. In light of the neuroscientific evidence falsifying this, some dualists like WLC have revamped their theory, to say that the soul exists independently of the conscious will and causes your decisions before you are aware of making them. In other words, they’ve made it unfalsifiable in the process. By the way, is SELO falsifiable? And if so, how?

              Your last few paragraphs do not provide the evidence for SELO that i’ve been asking. They just complain that without something like SELO, we’ll have designer babies. First, who gives a shit, and how does this support SELO? Second, how would SELO prevent the advances in genetics which might lead to designer babies?

              I want quality, not quantity. Get to the point: what evidence is there that SELO exists (with an emphasis on empirical evidence)? And what does SELO explain that determinism cannot?

              Your only response is:

              Without SELO—without the dignity of the soul, or “total self”—a person is merely the production of his genes and her environment, and can be continually reshaped and reformed as Society sees fit, where Society is often the State.

              But this is just like saying, “Without special creation, we’re just evolved animals no different from monkeys or chimps.” You wouldn’t accept that as an argument against evolution, so why should I accept yours as an argument against determinism? Show me actual evidence that SELO is true, evidence that cannot be explained by determinism or which contradicts it, not some subjective emotional whining like the creationist’s – because that’s all your explanation amounts to. All we are is the product of our genes and environment – which we have no control over. Just as all we are is another form of evolved animal – which we had no control over.

            • Luke Breuer

              So if SELO is detectable, where is your empirical evidence?

              I have addressed this thoroughly. Suppose there is no SELO, The Thinker. Then is your model of the will even falsifiable? If not, it ain’t science. How’s them apples?

              Determinism is the philosophical movement that for every event, including human action, exist conditions that could cause no other event.

              So quantum fluctuations and wave function collapse are determined beforehand? And where do the causal chains terminate? Nowhere? Turtles all the way down? You aren’t thinking through this stuff very clearly, TT.

              Can you name any studies that show conscious thought comes before physical brain states?

              The burden of proof is on you. You keep not wanting this. Too bad.

              Oh, another thing, which addresses further along in your post: you’ve changed the goalposts. Originally, you said:

              TT: How do you explain the fact that every study shows that we become consciously aware of our decisions after our brain has already made them?

              If studies showed that some decisions were made only after conscious deliberation, (a) your comment directly above would be wrong; (b) this would be different from “conscious thought comes before brain states”. So pick your actual arguments, articulate them coherently (being non-vague ain’t helpful if you’re self-contradictory), and provide the burden of proof for positive claims.

              First, who gives a shit,

              Since you don’t care, I suggest we drop that tangent.

              what evidence is there that SELO exists

              Admit that you did not read what I wrote:

              LB: I don’t have empirical evidence for SELO;

              , or we’re done. You cannot handle when I’m vague, and neither can you handle when I’m non-vague, apparently. You have trouble reading very simple statements of mine.

            • I have addressed this thoroughly.

              You haven’t provided one shred of empirical evidence. So no you haven’t.

              Suppose there is no SELO, The Thinker. Then is your model of the willeven falsifiable? If not, it ain’t science.

              Sure it is. Show some peer review scientific evidence that the consciousness precedes physical brain states.

              So quantum fluctuations and wave function collapse are determined beforehand?

              Yes, quantum mechanics is completely deterministic. The indeterminacy is an epistemic problem, not an ontic occurance.

              And where do the causal chains terminate? Nowhere? Turtles all the way down?

              The big bang, or if our BB isn’t the absolute beginning, which it is probably not, then the past may be eternal. Eternalism makes this practical.

              The burden of proof is on you. You keep not wanting this. Too bad.

              No it isn’t. If there are studies that show otherwise, you need to cite them. There aren’t any studies.

              If studies showed that some decisions were made only after conscious deliberation, (a) your comment directly above would be wrong; (b) this would be different from “conscious thought comes before brain states”. So pick your actual arguments, articulate them coherently (being non-vague ain’t helpful if you’re self-contradictory), and provide the burden of proof for positive claims.

              (A) There are no studies that show this, that’s my point. (B) It would be “”conscious thought comes before brain states”. So you’re dead wrong here.

              So since there is no empirical evidence for SELO, why should anyone consider it? What does it explain? I asked if it is empirically equivalent to determinism and you asked that I define determinism. So I did and you now throw up QM as a defeater. Well the Copenhagen Interpretation is dying fast because it’s inconsistent. That’s the interpretation that says QM is ontically indeterministic. The other major interpretations are all deterministic. So if SELO is built on top of the CI of QM, you don’t have a lot riding on it because you have an inconsistent theory of the will built on top of an inconsistent interpretation of QM!

              But hey, at least you’re consistent about being inconsistent!!

            • Luke Breuer

              Show some peer review scientific evidence that the consciousness precedes physical brain states.

              Convince me that what you describe is even possible to detect, and that you aren’t just making shit up that could never be observed in principle. Surely you understand what ‘falsifiability’ denotes? You don’t just get to claim that something is falsifiable, you’ve got to present a convincing case that it is. For example, show me a study where this thing you describe, “consciousness precedes physical brain states”, is looked for. And please show something other than “randomly press a button”.

              It still seems like you changed the goalposts. I return to what you said earlier:

              TT: How do you explain the fact that every study shows that we become consciously aware of our decisions after our brain has already made them?

              What do you even mean by “become consciously aware”, other than that certain brain states occur? And yet above, you talk about consciousness preceding brain states. Huh? Are you modeling consciousness as non-physical?

              Yes, quantum mechanics is completely deterministic. The indeterminacy is an epistemic problem, not an ontic occurance.

              LOL, ok TT. Glad to hear that you’ve solved a major problem in interpretation of QM that most people think is an open question.

              No it isn’t. If there are studies that show otherwise, you need to cite them. There aren’t any studies.

              You don’t understand how “burden of proof” operates. This has become a pattern. It makes me increasingly less willing to even talk to you.

              No it isn’t. If there are studies that show otherwise, you need to cite them. There aren’t any studies.

              I suggest you and I no longer discuss SELO, or anything I think depends on SELO. Some people are happy to consider empirically possible observations, even if they have not been made. You clearly aren’t. That’s fine. It’ll restrict what I choose to discuss with you, but so be it.

            • Surely you understand what ‘falsifiability’ denotes?

              Yes, and how is SELO falsifiable by the way?

              If we can detect brain states determining your choices before your conscious states, surely we could have found it the other way around. You’re just upset over the fact that non of the neuroscientific data supports dualism, SELO or free will. If it did you’d have presented some evidence by now.

              For example, show me a study where this thing you describe, “consciousness precedes physical brain states”, is looked for.

              What have you got against buttons? Starting with the Libet experiments, free will has been searched for in many studies. See here, here, here.

              What do you even mean by “become consciously aware”, other than that certain brain states occur?

              There is the recurring theme I’m seeing every time a theist is in a dilemma: they pretend to not understand what’s going on. Suddenly everything is too complicated. Here’s the baby version for you. At T1 brain state A indicates subject will choose “A”, at T2 subject becomes consciously aware they want to choose “A” at T3 subject chooses A. The scientist monitoring the subject knows what the subject will choose with a high degree of accuracy up to 7 seconds before the subject does. And you said even god couldn’t know this. Apparently, scientists can, with increasing accuracy.

              Is that so hard to understand?

              No goal post moved. Again it’s your inability to deal with challenges that’s your problem.

              And yet above, you talk about consciousness preceding brain states.

              What? Quote me where I said that.

              LOL, ok TT. Glad to hear that you’ve solved a major problem in interpretation of QM that most people think is an open question.

              You’ve got either a fully deterministic universe, or a random one. Nowhere is free will found. SELO is the same thing as RELO. Many scientists do not think this is an open question. Those who do are losing steam with the CI of QM.

              You don’t understand how “burden of proof” operates. This has become a pattern. It makes me increasingly less willing to even talk to you.

              I don’t have to find evidence for something that doesn’t exist -that’s a theist’s job (LOL). This is well known is neuroscience. To refute me, all you’d have to do is find one study that contradicts my claim. But it doesn’t exist.

              Some people are happy to consider empirically possible observations, even if they have not been made.

              I’m open to any evidence that you can provide that supports SELO, I just haven’t seen any at all, and because of this, I don’t think SELO is real or plausible.

            • Luke Breuer

              Yes, and how is SELO falsifiable by the way?

              It’s something you either observe or don’t observe. It doesn’t pretend to be all-encompassing, like CFW ∨ DW. Maybe you can explain everything as a result of prior state under time-evolution of physical law. If so, then there is no SELO. Very simple.

              You’re just upset over the fact that non of the neuroscientific data supports dualism, SELO or free will. If it did you’d have presented some evidence by now.

              If you’re going to refuse to rise to the burden of proof for your claims, I will stop talking to you. This is at least the second time you’ve made a global claim, and then utterly refused to substantiate it. I’m not interested in discussing issues with someone if he/she acts as if claims are empirically established without showing that they are. If you’re just working with ideas of how the world might be, that’s fine as long as you admit this is the case. But you refuse to admit this. You want the backing of empirical data, without the work required to show it backs your stances. We’re done, as long as this is how you choose to operate.

            • Luke Breuer

              What have you got against buttons? Starting with the Libet experiments, free will has been searched for in many studies. See here, here, here.

              “Do a random action.” Oh, it turns out that when you ask for this, instead of, you know deliberation, the conscious mind doesn’t originate the action. Who woulda thunk!

              Soon et al 2008 Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain:

              The subjects were asked to relax while fixating on the center of the screen where a stream of letters was presented. At some point, when they felt the urge to do so, they were to freely decide between one of two buttons, operated by the left and right index fingers, and press it immediately

              Hey, waddya know, ask people to randomly do shit, and the consciousness really isn’t required! What’s being tested isn’t free will, but random will. You and they have conflated the two.

              Bode et al 2011 Tracking the Unconscious Generation of Free Decisions Using UItra-High Field fMRI:

              Subjects were instructed to passively view the stream of letters, relax, and refrain from thinking about the upcoming task. The index- and middle fingers of both hands rested on 4 buttons of two joysticks. Subjects were free to decide, at any time, to press the left or the right button with the corresponding index finger. As soon as they were aware of their decision, subjects were to note the letter presented on the screen.

              Ahh, yes, “refrain from thinking”. Just spontaneously, randomly, press button. A test of consciousness? Not really. The consciousness here, as in the previous study, is merely channeling a pseudorandom number generator into the brain’s motor functions.

              Frias, 2013 Moral responsibility after neuroscience:

              1. References Libet 1983, which involves more random will.
              2. References the above two papers, also random will.
              3. References Fried et al 2011 Internally Generated Preactivation of Single Neurons in Human Medial Frontal Cortex Predicts Volition, which contains “press the key whenever “they felt the urge to do so””. More random will.
              4. After some discussion of philosophers, it shifts to a single case study.

              You’ve failed to show anything interesting re: free will, The Thinker. Try again, or admit that the empirical evidence doesn’t support what you claim it supports.

            • Oh, it turns out that when you ask for this, instead of, you know deliberation, the conscious mind doesn’t originate the action. Who woulda thunk!

              How is it that you expect free will to work? The conscious mind never originates the action no matter what you test for.

              Hey, waddya know, ask people to randomly do shit, and the consciousness really isn’t required! What’s being tested isn’t free will, but random will. You and they have conflated the two.

              LOL. You’re the guy saying the will is spontaneous, which is random, now you’re accusing me of conflating free will with random will. Hilarious.

              Ahh, yes, “refrain from thinking”.

              The reason why these tests ask subjects to refrain from thinking is because if they don’t, the subjects will try to time their actions. The scientists want to replicate the split second kind of decisions we make in our everyday lives when we do not have time to plan ahead.

              The consciousness here, as in the previous study, is merely channeling a pseudorandom number generator into the brain’s motor functions.

              Prove it.

              You’ve failed to show anything interesting re: free will, The Thinker. Try again, or admit that the empirical evidence doesn’t support what you claim it supports.

              Explain to me the kind of test you’re looking for that could provide evidence either for or against free will, since apparently making a choice to press a button doesn’t involve free will according to you. I think the fact that someone else can predict with 90% accuracy up to 7 seconds what decision you’re going to make before you make it is pretty telling. If anything like free will or SELO, whatever that is, existed, this should be impossible. And once again you haven’t cited a single study that shows conscious states come before and control physical brain states. I challenge you to find one.

            • Luke Breuer

              How is it that you expect free will to work?

              I don’t have a detailed model. If I did, I’d be publishing in peer-reviewed journals and not commenting on a blog of someone who doesn’t seem to publish peer-reviewed work (I’ve spent about 10 minutes looking, so I could be wrong).

              How is it that you expect free will to work?

              You do not know this. You’re making shit up.

              The scientists want to replicate the split second kind of decisions we make in our everyday lives when we do not have time to plan ahead.

              Yep, and I have no problem believing that the conscious mind has no causal role in such decisions. I simply don’t think such decisions comprise all the decisions we ever make.

              Prove it.

              That was tongue-in-cheek. If you want a non-fun version:

              The consciousness here, as in the previous study, is merely channeling a pseudorandom number generator other non-conscious brain functions into the brain’s motor functions.

              Sigh.

              Explain to me the kind of test you’re looking for that could provide evidence either for or against free will, since apparently making a choice to press a button doesn’t involve free will according to you.

              I suggest reading Wikipedia’s Neuroscience of free will, and all of it, not just the stuff that agrees with your current thinking. You haven’t even established that freedom of the will would necessarily like 100% in the conscious functions of the brain. Perhaps the conscious brain functions operate more like a ‘curator’.

              I’m not sure there are any experiments which would demonstrate anything LFWish (in the set ¬CFW ∧ ¬DW); all that you’d get is a failure to show determinism. Experiment design is surprisingly tricky; I’d have to spend quite some time coming up with a better answer to your question, and I think I’ll spend that time in other ways.

              If anything like free will or SELO, whatever that is, existed, this should be impossible.

              Trivially false.

              And once again you haven’t cited a single study that shows conscious states come before and control physical brain states.

              Why do you continually speak as if “conscious states” aren’t “physical brain states”?

            • I am tending to agree with you here, @Andy_Schueler:disqus. I think, @LukeBreuer:disqus, you are appearing to try to wriggle out of a position by calling into question almost everything in the universe rather than accepting the conclusion. And when Andy, very respectfully, ‘cornered’ you, you asked to bow out…

            • Andy_Schueler

              “calling into question almost everything in the universe…”
              – Which would be fine per se, but it seems to be completely ad hoc, even worse than ad hoc because Luke is questioning the foundations of propositional logic for this and only this issue, while accepting them for any other one.

            • Just catching up here. I struggle to see how Luke can get out o this one. Good stuff, Andy, and I am not just saying that out of mutual massaging.

            • I have to agree with Andy here. That is how I read it, too, fwiw.

            • Luke Breuer

              The error isn’t in perception, it is in judging perception to well-match reality.