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Showing posts from September, 2012

On Craig's Appeal to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem in His Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Craig regularly appeals to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem (BGV) as strong empirical evidence that (a) the universe or multiverse -- or at any rate, matter-energy -- had an absolute beginning. From there, he argues that (b) it had a cause, and that (c) the cause is a person.

Is Craig's appeal to BGV sufficient evidence for accepting (a)? Not unless the relevant experts agree with him that BGV is correct, and that it's strong evidence for (a). Appeal to an expert's testimony that P is legitimate iff (i) the expert is reliable and credible in the given context, (ii) they're speaking within their area of expertise, (iii) their expertise is a genuine field of knowledge, and (iv) the consensus among the experts is that P. Therefore, unless the consensus of the relevant experts is that BGV shows what Craig's thinks it shows, Craig's assertion is an illegitimate appeal to expert testimony: whether Craig is right or not, I'm not justified in thinking so.[1]

But let&#…

Open Source + 3D Printers = Free Everything?

On a Common Apologetic Fallacy

In this post, I discuss a dialectical norm that's often violated in the apologetics literature (though of course apologists don't have a corner on the market for this fallacy or any other). First, though, some stage-setting.

1. Statements, Stances, and Evidence There are three main propositional attitudes or "stances" one might take with respect to a given proposition, P:

(i) Believe that P is true. (ii) Believe that P is false, i.e., believe that ~P is true. (iii) Suspend judgment with respect to P: neither believe that P is true nor believe that ~P is true.
The epistemically appropriate stance for one to take with respect to P is a function of the evidence one has with respect to P. Thus, if one's basic or non-basic evidence at least slightly favors P, then one rationally ought to believe that P is true, where the strength of one's belief is proportioned to the strength of the evidence for P; if one's evidence at least slightly favors ~P, then one rationally…

New Critique of Anselmian Theism

Einar Duenger Bohn, "Anselmian Theism and Indefinitely Extensible Perfection", The Philosophical Quarterly 62, Issue 249 (October 2012), 671-683. 

Abstract: The Anselmian Thesis is the thesis that God is that than which nothing greater can be thought. In this paper, I argue that such a notion of God is incoherent due to greatness being indefinitely extensible: roughly, for any great being that can be, there is another one that is greater, so there cannot be a being than which nothing greater can be.

Pruss's Cannonball and the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument


A standard criticism of the Leibnizian cosmological argument exploits the point that there are cases in which a whole is explained in virtue of its parts. Examples:

Hume such a chain or series of items, each part is caused by the part that preceded it, and causes the one that follows. So where is the difficulty? But the whole needs a cause! you say. I answer that the uniting of these parts into a whole, like the uniting of several distinct counties into one kingdom, or several distinct members into one organic body, is performed merely by an arbitrary act of the mind and has no influence on the nature of things. If I showed you the particular causes of each individual in a collection of twenty particles of matter, I would think it very unreasonable if you then asked me what was the cause of the whole twenty. The cause of the whole is sufficiently explained by explaining the cause of the parts. -Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Part IXPaul Edwards:
The demand to find…