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The book is a great study of argument. It includes a lessons on logical fallacies, inductive and deductive thinking, essays and articles on popular controversial topics, and in the back an unabridged copy of Martin Luther King JR.
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AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally. Amazon Inspire Digital Educational Resources. Why does the theist intuit that there ought to be nothing? Or if there is something, it ought to be chaotic? These intuitions go against all our shared common experience. I have never understood this. The thinking is so bizarre, it makes me think I will never understand religious folks, because their minds just work so differently from mine.
How can I understand someone whose understanding of reality is guided by unjustified intuition, rather than the day to day inter-subjective experience we all share? If a theory explains some phenomena better than any other, then the fact that this phenomena occurs supports that theory.
So the question must be, which does a better job in terms of explanatory power, the brute fact of theism or the brute fact of naturalism? Theists argue that by postulating God we can explain a multitude of diverse phenomena that would otherwise be left unexplained.
Still, theist can say that the brute fact of theism has a higher prior probability than the brute fact of naturalism, bacuse theism is simpler. This is a big argument of Swinburne. Lastly, theists can say that God is a necessary being, whereas the universe is contingent. As for the necessary being issue, I think you hit it right on the head. Theists can certainly SAY that God is a necessary being. They cay SAY a lot of things. First, according to Swinburne the brute fact of theism is simpler than the brute fact of naturalism.
The physical universe is a very complex thing and that there would be this order in it without any explanation at all is a very complicated hypothesis. One simple God with infinte powers, however, would be far simpler stopping point.
So the brute fact of a one simple God is far simpler than the brute fact of the physical universe. Or this what Swinburne argues. Second, the universe is clearly contingent. So the naturalist must say that the existence of a physical cosmos and its ordeliness is a contingent brute fact whereas a theist can say that God is a necessary being.
Are you intentionally missing the point? You are just begging the question. Ockham comes to play only when the two theories have equal explanatory power. Science postulates unobservable extra entities to explain a bunch of phenomena all the time! Atoms, photons, molecules, distant planets, etc.
It does so because by postulating these extra entities it can explain a bunch of facts that would otherwise be left unexplained. These postutaled extra entities must have some prior probability simplicity, background evidence and great explanatory power. And this exactly what theism also does.
Talk of the apparent knife edge of fine-tuning causes me to think of that other knife edge, the idea that life occurs on the edge of chaos. That basically it is only in that transitional zone between order and chaos that anything like life could occur. All the things that we might consider necessary for life, like stars that last long enough to create heavy elements etc.
I always hear theists argue that there must be a god to explain just how orderly the Universe is. Not too much, not too little. There must be a god. Got any evidence for such person s? Additionally, how do you know what they want, how do you know it has the ability to act on a physical world, … and so on?
Why not Debbie in another universe making our universe as an art project? I hear this all the time, even Luke says it. Well, yes, it is trivially true. The problem is that you are misunderstanding the objection: The objection is not that your explanation does any amount of explaining — it does, and very trivially.
We already have brute force assertions. It is not our objection that God is unexplained. He pointed to the marks along the head, the hands, the feet, and then he said something that just blew me away. After I regained my composure, I then asked him how he knew what Jesus looked like when nobody made art with his image on it in his lifetime, and the Bible has so few details about his appearance.
He went silent at that point, so I guess he experienced some cognitive dissonance. God to Christians who actually think it exists is tangible. I suspect that group is substantial. I think that is similar to what is happening here. Yet, when theists attack naturalism, they are considering that if naturalism was out of the way their specific sectarian assertions would all the sudden be the default ones. Could some deities or deity exist?
Some are logically coherent and are consistent with reality. The general categories of deist and pantheist deities are acceptable. Because there is no positive evidence in support of either type. Concerning what constitutes a legitimate explanation, this from Dennett in Consciousness Explained:.
And when they explain the way reflection and absorption of electromagnetic radiation accounts for colors and color vision, they seem to neglect the very thing that matters most. Leaving something out is not a feature of failed explanations, but of successful explanations. Only a theory that explained conscious events in terms of unconscious events could explain consciousness at all.
This seems to be the heart of the problem here. And until they are willing to bite the bullet and do that, they are not explaining anything. I think your confusion stems from a misunderstanding of exactly what classical theism is positing. Positing something as metaphysically ultimate is quite different. As Edward Feser recently pointed out:. I think most theists and some atheists have failed to appreciate just how unbelievably easy it is to get order out of chaos. In fact, all of nature pretty much depends upon this property of chaotically ordered systems.
Order and Chaos are not some mutually exclusive positions, the two are quite thoroughly interrelated at all levels. The two notions are only viable in relation to each other and in a rather bold assertion, I would say that they are only viable definitions in relation to each other and nothing else. The science of studying chaotic systems is exactly the study of how chaos arises from order and order arises from chaos.
The Mandlebrot Set and Julia Sets are perfect examples of chaos arising from perfectly ordered instructions. The expectation of patterning in random distributions is a perfect example of order arising from perfectly chaotic instructions. There are some great comments here, thanks to all. I wonder, for those of you who are not persuaded by teleological arguments, could you list what you consider the top resources books, papers, what have you for the opposing view? Ok, I accept your definition of metaphysically ultimate, just like I accept the idea of God as explanation.
You cannot avoid the infinite regress at all. His elaborate scholastic metaphysics is just plain silly in light of what we have leaned from science in the last few hundred years.
Are you aware how fringe his views are? Atheism Explained is a hoot, and unmasks the fallacies that lie at the heart of so many theistic arguments. The Miracle of Theism and The Case against God are a bit more sophisticated, but still readable for a dabbler like me. Anything by Michael Martin too.
This seems to be an intelligible, materialist goal. Theism reverses the order of explanation. Theism treats all the laws of nature and the entire cosmos as a result of intentional activity. As such, the account of physical realities and non-conscious, non-mental events, must, in the end, appeal to an intentional reality.
So when you guys are insisting that a genuine explanation must be non-intentional, you are just begging the question against theism. Theistic and naturalistic frameworks are completely different and we must understand each other if we are going to make any progress. Yes, God is a stopping point of theism and there is no further explanation for his existence.
The reason why postulating God behind the contingent and complex physical cosmos; its orderliness; its fine tuning for carbon based life; the emergence of consciousness; and religious experience, has great explanatory power, is because without postulating God these things would be left unexplained and mysterious.
Also, the prior probability of theism is higher than naturalism because one simple God is a simpler stopping point than the complex physical cosmos with all its features. You guys have certainly made me think. I have to go and study more. Thanks for the discussion. Interesting that in that Feser post he acknowledges that the god he argues for is not the same god Plantinga and Swinburne argue for. Not the same sort of god at all. So it seems to me these guys need to get their terminology straight.
But they carry on as if they are all theists. But that just means that calling yourself a theist is meaningless. You include God as axiomatic through the doctrine of metaphysically ultimate. Now pick one and only one of the following options: Your system of explaining the world is complete or, 2.
Your system of explaining the world is consistent. If your system of explaining the world is complete, then my argument against ontological superfluity holds because your system is necessarily inconsistent: If your system of explaining the world is consistent, then my argument is as follows: What we know of the universe is already known to be inconsistent, and adding axioms will not make it consistent by anything less than an innumerably infinite series of axioms.
You simply cannot define your way out of an infinite regress, at all, ever. Brute facts are exactly already members of that innumerably infinite series of axioms. I can state it finitely, but that does not mean the instantiation of what I state is finite. Among professional philosophers, theism is a fringe view. Yet Feser spends his career flogging these tired old dogs, that even his theistic colleagues have abandoned.
But I might, if I studied it, which I have not to any degree. But suppose I did accept the concept of a metaphysically necessary being? Then it seems to me the best candidate for this being is the vacuum state. I doubt the vacuum cares if I masturbate or eat pork.
Among the professional philosophers who are most familiar with the arguements, theism is the majority view. Here is the problem. You claimed that the theistic explanation was scientific. But now you have done a Fine tuning makes more sense in terms of an alien or an extra-dimensional deity entering this universe and tinkering with it scientifically so that it produces life. It does not make sense in terms of a supernatural, magical creator God. There are two kinds of explanations that we use.
Now we can judge the justification of both of these kinds of explanations in terms of explanatory power and prior probability. But they are still different and distinct kinds of explanations. Theism offers a personal explanation to the existence of the world, its fine tuning, consciousness, etc. In fact theism tries to explain everything logically contingent via a personal explanation. In the respect that science sometimes postulates unobservable entities and in the case of string theory, makes postulations that are empirically non-falsifiable , yes, theism is like science.
In the sense that it supplies an ultimate explanation, whereas science supplies much more limited explanations, it is not. It seems that this dispute reduces to what we understand a good explanation to be. Theism, for all the reasons stated above, is the opposite of what I understand a good explanation to be. But, using your framework, that would be an outstanding explanation. I do not think demon possession is a good explanation for epilepsy.
But, using your framework, demon possession is a really good explanation for epilepsy. The scientific explanation of lightning and epilepsy seems to me much more virtuous. But, I understand that demon possession must seem like an equally virtuous explanation to you. You cannot do this. Bertrand Russell on ultimate explanations: I have been studying various aspects of these debates for a long time, and as a layman and outsider, I have a few thoughts to add.
If anyone has seen or heard these concepts before, please forgive the redundancy and point me to where I can learn more. The design people always say that it was designed perfectly for this environment. Sidestepping the biological arguments against design, I refer to the fact that our sun outputs the most energy in the exact wavelength that our eyes perceive the best.
The sun was burning before life arose here. It was part of the evolutionary environment. Our eyes evolved sloppily to try to take the best advantage of the preexisting environment. Similarly, the fine tuning argument always works from the end of the problem backward. I usually do not see the argument that if the gravitational constant and the amount of matter in the universe were different, that a different form of life might have had just as good a chance of evolving in that different environment.
A different universe might have a different gravitational constant, but by the same token, different order might arise out of different circumstances giving rise to life that we might have trouble recognizing. If some of the wilder theories are to be believed, our universe may be part of a collection of an infinite number of them. The really unstable ones might wink out of existence instantly, but there could be an untold number of them with just slightly different parameters than ours, each self contained, with rules that work internally, but not interchangeably.
My point is that our order arose from our chaos in this way because our gravitational constant and our amount of matter and any other relevant variable is set at a certain value in our universe. These things make sense for conditions in this universe, and that is why they are the way that they are. The problem is that you are underestimating the effects of varying the constants. The constants have to be exquisitely fine-tuned to even have a universe that does not either collapse back in upon itself or one which expands so rapidly that matter can never coalesce.
Stephen Hawking now appears to have joined this bandwagon:. John Horgan, Scientific American: Seems a bit strange, but welcome. A simple substitution of God for Multiverse in your statements shows that you think that God is an ad hoc naturalism avoidance mechanism. Also, your first paragraph is an argument from incredulity. Inflation, for one, seems to have an effect on lots of those parameters. The original idea hope was that there would be one and only one geometric manifold that would satisfy the equations of M-theory.
However, Ed Witten showed this to be false, and there are actually infinitely many possible geometries that could satisfy the M-theory equations.
The real let down in all of this, is that even if M-theory really is the grand unified theory that physics is looking for, we will never be able to fully define the geometry of our universe, and therefore the grand unified theory will never be complete. I find theism more persuasive since it resolves find-tuning, the contingent nature of any universe or multiverse, and explains why even a multiverse cannot be past-eternal under the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem.
Not sure what you mean here—a supernatural entity could exist in a universe without matter? I would like a clearer explanation of your point, yes. In practice they are unfalsifiable, due to our lack of ability to confirm or deny either one in any experimental way. Which in my opinion, leaves both multiverse theory and supernatural propositions as philosophical dead ends, at least for now.
The fine tuning argument fails for the same reason. It claims to explain various features of the world by a voluntary action of a personal being. But you can judge whether some personal explanation is a good one with the same criteria as you judge scientific explanations.
The crucial question then is whether this postulate does the required job. But all I mean is that theism does some same moves that science does. Theism, like ayer said, offers an ultimate explanation of existence, the world and various features in it.
I agree completely that we should prefer a scientific explanation if there is one. For example, why is there a physical world in the first place and why is it governed by these laws? These question are too big for science so there cannot be in principle a scientific explanation for them.
So we have two alternatives: Either leave these questions as brute unexplained facts, or offer a personal explanation for them. Theism tries to offer a personal explanation for these ultimate questions. Could you explain to me why scientist ought not appeal to a personal agent for any phenomenon they to not yet have an explanation for? It seems to me, according to your framework, that my invisible midge theory really rocks as a good explanation.
If you disagree, please tell me why. No, they are scientific dead ends, not philosophical dead ends. If an issue is outside the realm of scientific falsification one can still decide which explanation is more plausible than the others, as Hawking has done with M-theory, which it appears he intends to hold as his position over theism even if it is and remains nonfalsifiable.
Therefore, I think the fact that God exists and is orderly provides evidence that Supertheism is true and counts against Theism. Please explain why your argument re: Theism is any different from this argument regarding Theism vs. Are you saying you side with the intelligent design community on what constitutes science?
I am asking a simple question. Why, according to your understanding of what a good explanation is, is a transcendent horde of ALS causing midges not a good explanation of ALS? Because you have provided no good reasons for thinking such things exist and are the cause of ALS, when e.
I have provided no good reason? ALS is a disease that afflicts some people and not others. A committee meeting of freely voting ALS midges explains this perfectly.
At least according to your framework of what a good explanation is. It seems you are borrowing my framework for what a good explanation is. I agree, according to what I think a good explanation is, the midge theory is a disaster. I want to know, within your framework of what a good explanation is, why is the midge theory no good? The Midges Hypothesis MS has explanatory power, because it would explain our observations.
The problem is that we can come up with an infinite amount of hypotheses which would explain the observations. So we have to judge these hypotheses in terms of prior probability. Now, the prior probability of MS is extremely low! So we should reject MS. Ok, now you might just say that we should reject every theistic explanation for the same reason. But here is a crucial point to consider: It is so large, that it tries to explain everything logically congintent, apart from itself.
Therefore there is not much else left outside of its scope. If science can get a TOE some day, there is no background evidence outside of it. Now, this is why theism can postulate completely new kinds of entities to explain some phenomena. Theories so big that there is not much left outside of their scope can postulate new kind of entities compared to other theories. So, theistic explanations have explanatory power they lead us to observe what we observe and there is no adequate rivals and their prior probability is not so low, because theism is fairly simple and background knowledge drops out because theism is so big theory.
This is certainly one reason why your parody-analogy fails. One reason why you think that the Midges Hypotheis is anaologous to Theism might be that both are unobservable. So the Midges Hypothesis is to be rejected because of its extremely low prior probability. Now we can of course invent an infinite amount of theories consistent with the data, most of which will be quite crazy. Why do you think that a theist should consider them to be good explanations?
I have already said that I reject them because of their low prior probability and I have also said that the prior probability of theism is not so low. So have you got any other reasons why theism and midges are on the same boat? Again, you are borrowing from what I think a good explanation is. According to you, we can posit agents with basic powers of intention.
We can even posit invisible undetectable agency as a good explanation. And that is exactly what I have done. I have taken your framework for a good explanation and perfectly explained everything we observe about ALS. I have also explained perfectly everything we will observe about ALS is the future. Also, the scope issue is a non-starter. I can easily expand my midge theory to explain a bunch of other stuff. Why does the universe exist? The theist pulls an invisible agent out of his ass: Why is the universe so finely tuned for life?
God fine tuned it! What is the explanation of why you wrote an answer to me? What about something like this: A person P Rob had a basic power B to act and he chose to act because he had an intention I. Now, is this some how an inferior explanation to a scientific, mechanistic explanation?
Why on earth is that? Just as we can posit invisible particles as a good explanation. Lack of explanatory power? And again, your explanation of the ALS has explanatory power, but we can come up with an infinite number of explanations consistent with the data.
That is not the issue. I have said that the midget hypothesis has an extremely low prior probability. Theism, on the other hand, is simple and the background evidence drops out in case of theism.
Theism posits intentional agency to explain things in the same way as we all do all the time. We use intentional explanations all the time. I get the feeling that the reason why some naturalists do not like theistic explanations is because they unjustifyidly just assume that scientific explanations are the only legitimate ones.
But that is false. Intentional explanations are perfectly legimitate. Your claim that my midge theory has a low prior probability while theism does not have a low prior probability is just an arbitrary assertion. Thomas, you and I have a fundamental disagreement about what constitutes a good explanation. If Theism is a good explanation for fine-tuning, then invisible midges having committee meetings is a good explanation for ALS.
Because just making stuff up is not what I understand an explanation to be. I realize you disagree. If something is mysterious, I am comfortable with that. You have not explained anything. You are just pretending to.
So the question is: Because you pulled it out of thin air? Take up the M-theory business with Hawking. Thomas and Ayer, do you got the goods? If so, slap it down on the table. The link was funny, but come on. Is it that simple? Do we have to take God in our hands and show it to you? I have said many times now that theism offers an intentional explanation for the existence of the contingent cosmos and various features in it that has explanatory power and not too low a prior probability.
If you disagree, then i challenge the idea of intentional explanations, ii challenge the explanatory power of theism, or iii argue that theism indeed has a very low prior probability.
Background knowledge plays a crucial role in assessing the prior probability. So it has a very low prior probability. The prior probability of theism is not so low, as I have argued. Give an argument if you think otherwise. So there is something wrong with this criteria. This is standard stuff from anti-theists.
But what I have asked is why? Does a theistic personal explanation lack explanatory power? Why on earth would that be true!? You are still not offering any genuine arguments against theistic explanations. Ok, so unless you have some academic credentials regarding the origins of ALS, we can similarly ignore your speculations in that area. You have not argued that the prior probability for midge theory is low and high for theism, you have just asserted it.
The prior probabilities seem to me exactly equal to each other. I have said over and over, we have different understandings of what a good explanation is. My midge theory shows why I think invoking invisible personal agents is idiotic. We are going in circles now. Inter-subjective verifiability is a good criteria for weather something exists. I did not say it was absolutely necessary in all cases.
But I never generalized inter-subjective verifiability like you are implying I did. Ok, then we agree on that. Philosophical arguments are also a good criteria for whether something exists in some cases, e. Well, of course, the answer to the cosmological argument, the argument from contingency, the fine-tuning argument, and the moral argument is that the midges are responsible in each case.
I say it is not. This is not possible. Physics is a formal system. Any formal system of sufficient explanatory merit is either complete OR it is consistent. Physics is such a formal system. Science and most forms of logic are too. Let us suppose that physics is consistent. In that case it cannot be complete. In other words, in order to make it complete, one would have to introduce an axiom into the system that allows for it to be complete.
In fact, it is not possible to create a consistent system with any countably infinite set of axioms. In physics, these axioms are brute facts — you will always be able to explain away your current set of brute facts, but only in terms of other brute facts — it is indeed turtles all the way down! This cannot be what you are defending, that physics is indistinguishable from God, so therefore the next paragraph defines what you are defending. Let us now suppose that physics is complete. In that case it cannot be consistent.
In other words, there are statements about physics which are true that cannot be proven within the framework of physics itself. If we posit God as not supervening on physics, then why posit God at all? If we then posit God as supervening upon physics, and therefore allowing physics to be consistent, the concept of God itself is inconsistent and requires something that supervenes on God in order to allow the concept of God itself to be consistent.
That they believe because they believe for personal reasons, for social reasons, but not based on evidence or logic or facts. Private and personal reasons, not public ones. That mentioning any reasons for their religion to others has nothing to do with having a conversation based on finding mutually arrived facts. That it is recruiting of others or to shore up their own doubts. That they admit that they do not know for a fact that their sectarian beliefs are superior to the sectarian beliefs of others — be they Catholics or Lutherans, Baptists or Buddhists, Trinitarians or Taoists, Mormons or Sunnis, or a Russian Orthodox in New York or a Hindu in Mumbai.
Finally, that they neither need to justify their beliefs nor defend them. That they do not need to insist that others agree with them at all for no reason at all on any premise.
That is, as long as they keep their private beliefs private. When it becomes public, it would be nice to see them hold to the same rules that apply to everyone else on any other topic not related to their sectarian and personal religious ideas. And so we realized that all our folk psychological explanations could in some sense be cashed out as neurological ones note: In much the same way, we used to think of objects as solid and unified things.
Then we realised that objects were made of molecules, and our talk about objects could be cashed out at a lower level. Likewise, thousands of years ago, when all we had were black-box, high-level models of people, then it would seem reasonable to stick a person-like black box behind the lighting, say.
Say a god a disembodied person did it. Then we realised that all the people were embodied, and at that point it became implausible to talk about disembodied people. So unless you can give me a reason to think that talk of people causing things is anything but a high-level description of a complex lower-level reality, positing a person as cause in the absence of the particles which we now understand as the causal agents is ridiculous.
That, of course, is what I think. You may well disagree. Indeed, his theorem has profound theistic implications:. So by definition it is not possible to draw a circle around it.
Because all the matter and energy are inside the circle. Otherwise we could draw a circle around them. The thing outside the biggest circle is indivisible. For this reason Godel was himself a theist: There is no evidence for this one particular being fine-tuning the universe.
But someone else could say: But do any of those assumptions actually prove those statements to be true? The argument makes it seem like the universe is a mechanism where someone inputs fine-tuned numbers to generate life. I think its better to say that this is the natural state in which the universe exist.
The fine-tuning argument at least as defended by William Lane Craig concludes only that the universe is designed:. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design. It is not due to physical necessity or chance. Therefore, it is due to design. It does not specifically mention God as the designer; however, it is part of the cumulative case Craig makes i.
It is not due to design 3. Therefore, it is due to physical necessity or chance. I said a while back that some people have said that intentional explanations can be reduced to scientific ones. So this is a crucial issue, I agree. I of course think that reducing intentional explanations to mechanistic ones totally destroys human action, rationality and responsibility, but this is another vast topic.
Human beings are self-deceptive and many times irrational creatures. Is that your blog? I really hope not. Strangely enough, recently someone linked me to this post http: As for Godel himself, sure, he was a clever guy and he believed in God. I doubt it was for that reason, since he understood his own theorem. In fact, he tried to come up with a formal version of the ontological argument which, as ever, had contentious premisses. That makes me a reductionist, but not an eliminative reductionist.
There is nothing wrong with intentional explanations, just as there is nothing wrong with objectual explanations. A high-level explanation is just more abstract and conveys less information. Well, no, it was the brick that he threw. No, his arm moved and that threw the brick. No, it was caused by a motor neuron firing. No, it was caused by neurological processes. Human actions are always phsically mediated. Apart from anything else, we have inductive evidence that all persons are embodied.
Now, if you have neurological evidence of magic going on in the brain, I think a lot of people are going to be very interested! This is all very similar to arguments you can have in the free will debate: And of course there are many people who think that determinism etc. Hermes, Loath as I am, I have to agree with Thomas. Thomas, that list was not an argument and it was not an attack.
If anything, it was muted frustration wrapped in kindness. As for your comments about atheists and humans in general being self-deceptive, I fully agree with that. Yet, even Craig has admitted that his belief is based on personal revelation, not reason. Frank, who posted on CSA yesterday, also made other personal comments on why he believes. As I stated, I have no problem with that.
If private beliefs are kept private. In public, though, there are other expectations of fairness. If you are working with the best available evidence, and acknowledge that in your decisions without either ignoring or skirting what you are informed of, then we have a working conversation.
We can reach mutual conclusions since we are working with the same world and the same facts, not our own private ones. If this is your intent — to deal with facts and evidence as a whole and to reach mutual conclusions — then the message was not directed at you or anyone like you even if I personally think specific people reach that goal or not. For details, check the blog post I linked to. After that, I know enough to realise that it is a very precise and complicated result. I have similar reservations about arguments involving quantum physics put forward by people who are not physicists and have not studied quantum physics in detail.
Hermes, It looked like an attack to me! Perhaps that is because the frustration is more evident than any kindness. Again, IMHO of course.
My rebuke, such as it is, is then of course just as applicable to Roger3. A few particular complaints, from my own limited understanding 1 it is not clear to me that physics is a formal system in the necessary sense.
In particular, unless you deny that the law of excluded middle applies to reality, any inconsistent physics is a false physics! This is I think the same remark that Mackie made in response to Swinburne:. Only by ignoring such key features do we get an analogue of the supposed divine action. That we are souls who make undetermined choices is at least possible. Now I think that all I have to do here is to defend the coherence of some kind of dualism and free will, not their plausibility.
We see that its simplest form would be direct personal causation, and so are led to postulate that at work to explain the complexities around us. My point is here that we can use theistic intentional explanations even though we humans fulfill our intentions as a matter of fact only indirectly. All perception is theory laden.
This is just the epistemic situation of human beings and we have to live with that. But we can certainly discuss and try to find as much common ground as possible and then look whose arguments makes more more sense. Or something like that. So we can reach to different conclusions but discuss our disagreements with respect and honesty. And yes, we certainly can get along just fine.
Think of it as the natural extension of scare quotes: Subjects are shown a coloured dot on a screen, which then disappears and is rapidly replaced by another coloured dot some distance to one side. Now, if you do this fast enough, subjects will report seeing the dot actually move from the first position to the second and back, if you keep it going.
The real weirdness starts if the two dots are different colours. Then subjects will report seeing the dot change colour as it moves, with the change occurring half way! This occurs even the first time, that is, they report having seen the change before they could have seen what the second colour would be. You acted in order to fulfil an intention, and so your actions were to some extent determined by that intention!
Regarding what you say later where you quote Swinburne , I think I would disagree that we see indirect personal causation at work in the world. The interesting thing is that these sorts of beliefs are all interconnected. It turns out that the saccades in which your eyes scan the nearby environment are totally ballistic.
So they strap the subject into a head brace and put a screen with text on it in front of them. So to an outside observer, the page is a constantly shifting mess. The subject notices nothing! It looks perfectly normal to them.
So your brain also lies to you about your awareness of things in your peripheral vision. When I scratch my nose, there is a troop of invisible substantial gremlins which which guide my finger to the right spot. There is no evidence from neuroscience against this supposition. There are many things that we as individuals will never agree on in any detail. That said, there are many more that we can either generally understand about each other or definitively learn about the world that we share.
We can limit our statements to what we know, while not arbitrarily rejecting what we do not like. As an example, as I mentioned elsewhere , I do not reject all cultural truths that religions may promote.
Neither do I reject all literal claims of religious groups. I am a bit concerned that literal claims in religion tend to trump the cultural truths, and that additionally that both the cultural truths and the literal claims are not open to investigation. This tendency in religion is clearly observed as beliefs and dogmas are often held in higher esteem above an honest inquiry. Using the best available evidence [discussion here] we can both come to a single general answer to each, and have a generally high level of confidence in each answer.
It is not a valid difference in opinion when facts are available. As Alan Sokal said;. As I recall, he thought it was so surprising he actually went and had it tried on himself.
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