Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Final Response to Paul Manata

Paul’s final post contains somewhat of a summary of our debate, so I won’t respond point by point since that would just be repeating much of what has already been said. While I am not crying ‘straw man’ over his rundown of my argument, I do think it combines my initial argument with my responses to Paul’s statements on choose and determinism. Paul did bring up some new arguments about epistemology which I won’t address either since I doubt the relevance and I would have to do quite a bit of research– to his credit, Paul is much better read on these matters than I. Also, I won’t comment on the role of philosophy and scripture (since I said enough already), even though I actually consider that matter of greater importance than the LFW/determinism debate. The one area I will address is Paul’s definition of choose.

Choose = df to select freely out of a greater number of things, where this selecting is a mental action explained in terms of reasons, where a reason is a purpose, end, or goal for choosing one (or more) thing to make a selection out of a group of things, or an intentional object, which is about or directed at the future and opative in mood, i.e., wishing to pick x-thing and that it be good for x-thing to prevail in the world rather than y-thing being picked and prevailing in the world.

I don’t think “to select freely out of a greater number of things” is a technical “philosophical” definition. Perhaps a case could be made that the definitions I provided are better or more common, but I don’t think that’s necessary. So this shifts the burden of proof to me to show this definition rules out determinism.

P1: Choosers only consider selecting things they think to be possible
P2: Choosing is out of multiple things
C1: So choosers believe in multiple possibilities
P3: But determinism rules out multiple possibilities and determinists can not consistently believe in multiple possibilities
C2: So choosing rules out determinism.

P1 and P3 are probably the only controversial premises. P1 can be clarified by the fact that we never choose something we think to be impossible. If we think something is impossible, we rule it out. By Paul’s definition, we choose things we believe to be conducive to our goal, so clearly the impossible isn’t conducive to our goal. P1 can be further clarified, in that choosing a thing entails an intention to act to produce that thing. For example, choosing an apple over a pear entails the intention to reach out and grab the apple. But actions are the actualization of a possibility and no one believes his own hypothetical actions (when he’s evaluating what to choose) to be impossible. So P1 seems sound. Even if exceptions could be found, certainly P1 is normally the case.

P3 is the subject of the debate between Steve and myself (so perhaps Paul’s view lives on in Steve), but given Paul is a semi-compatibilist he should grant P3.

With that, I would like to thank Paul for his time and this stimulating debate. God be with you Paul!

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