Thursday, August 17, 2017

On ulterior motives, or Ezekiel Bulver rides again

Someone on Secular Outpost tried to explain away my arguments by saying I was just looking for reasons to hold onto my religion. I called this ad hominem circumstantial, and I went on to explain what is wrong with that approach. 

No, the problem with reading ulterior motives and less than reputable underground arguments is threefold. One, you don't know me personally, so your speculations about my motives are just that, speculations. I do know Keith personally, and I know his experiences with Christianity are different from mine, and this probably affects our prior probabilities. But it cannot be used as a basis for explaining each other away, and neither of us does that. Speculation about the other guy's motives is too damn easy. "You don't want to give up life after death, so you make up these arguments." "You are living in what Christians call sin, and you don't want to give that up. Besides, you don't want to admit the existence of someone who has the right to tell you what to do. That's why buy the argument from evil." It's like the Cold War, you get mutual assured destruction.
Second, this approach averts the serious and often useful efforts we make to understand one another when we have a deep difference. Instead of working on figuring out just why we differ, and how we differ, you just chalk it up to an ulterior motive. In so doing you avoid the hard work you have to do to understand one another. That is some of the most difficult work in philosophy, but it is also some of the most rewarding.
Third, when C. S. Lewis accepted this line of argument, he was not religious, and went from a form of naturalism to Absolute Idealism, which avoided any commitment to any particular religion or a personal God. Thomas Nagel accepts the argument from reason against standard naturalism but still rejects theism and, so far as I can tell, life after death. I don't think David Chalmers is a religious person, and Lawrence BonJour, who is a dualist, is one either. My undergrad metaphysics teacher, Ted Guleserian, was both a Cartesian dualist and an atheist or many years, fr philosophical reasons, and he also did not believe in life after death. I don't know in what ways he might have changed his mind later on.
This kind of psychological speculation always degenerates discussion. It has a lot to do with how debate and discussion on Debunking Christianity, for example, has gone from reasonably interesting to almost entirely unproductive over the past 12 years.

Angus Menuge responds to Keith Parsons

This part is incomprehensible to me:

It is not the abstract propositional content of, say, the statement of modus tollens that constrains or compels me to reason in accordance with that rule, but rather my physical act of recognition that modus tollens is a valid argument form that, in complex combination with other causal factors and conditions, determines my conclusion in accordance with that rule.

If my recognition of X leads me to do A, then we need an account of how it is that one recognizes X.  Like William Hasker, I find it unintelligible that someone properly trained in logic can derive a conclusion knowing it to be an instance of modus tollens without interacting with modus tollens itself.  But modus tollens is an abstract entity which cannot be reduced to the material world, because of its universality and necessity (Thomas Nagel realizes this).  To see that the conclusion follows as a result of a valid rule of reasoning is to see that it must be true in all possible worlds, a must that can never be justified by the contingent past material interactions of brains (either an individual’s or the whole human species') with their environments.  So our knowledge of logic is not materialistically possible knowledge, hence materialism is false.

This is one of the things I argue in “Knowledge of Abstract: A Challenge to Materialism” (attached), which is, really an example of the argument from reason and fits well, I think, with your whole approach.

Blessings,

Angus

Dr. Angus Menuge

More dialogue with Keith Parsons

KP: My claim is that the realization (cognitive sense) of, say, the cogency of Draper's argument, is realized (non-cognitive sense) in the physical operation of my brain. Indeed, I am saying that the mental act of recognizing the cogency of the argument IS a physical act executed by my brain. I understand propositional contents with my brain. That is HOW I do it. In this case the physical act IS the mental act, and this is the "is" of identity. IF this is a coherent suggestion, then the physical act is not "blind!" On the contrary, it is the very act of mental seeing! The act is a physical, bodily act just as much as singing or dancing, but what it accomplishes is the mental act of understanding the cogency of an argument. VR: Physics is a blind system, because the processes that existed when it was totally blind are supposed to be exactly the same as those currently in operation. If it is physical , but it has mental properties, and those mental properties are relevant to the conclusion you draw, then you have to account for this at least by positing emergent laws. Emergent properties without emergent laws are epiphenomenal. Why the laws of physics should change for our intellectual convenience is something that, to my mind, cries out for explanation, and intelligent design starts looking plausible. But there was a whole series of British Emergentists, and there was Henri Bergson, earlier in the last century. The meaning of physical needs desperately to be clarified here. Does physical mean, as I take it, nonpurposive at its base, or is spatial location sufficient? If all it needs is a spatial location, then it seems to me that a non-Cartesian soul could be physical in that sense.

The exchange with Keith is here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mental causation and a famous football play

What does it mean to say that you were persuaded by the argument from evil that God does not exist? Let us say, at one point, that you believe in God, then you read, say, Paul Draper's version of the argument from evil, and you conclude based on that, that you had been wrong about God and that really, there is no God.
To simplify matters, let's assume physical determinism. (The indeterminism of quantum mechanics is just going to introduce brute chance, which will not produce reason). Given the laws of matter, which render it quite possible for people to believe contradictions, and the facts of the universe at the Big Bang, which surely were not put there for your cognitive convenience, the present state of the physical world is guaranteed to be the way it is. If physicalism is true, that system is a closed system. Given the physical state of the world, the mental states of the world must also exist, via, if I understand you correctly, identity. You think you went from believing in God to not believing in God by reflecting on the content of Draper's argument and being persuaded. Even if your physical states realize a logical connection, it is not the realization of the logical connection that brings about the underlying physical state of your conclusion that God does not exist. No, it's the blind operation of matter in your brain that causes your conclusion, and the logical force of Draper's argument has nothing to do with it. If materialism is true, you think you were persuaded by the argument, but in so thinking you commit the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Only some aspects of an object are causally relevant.
Consider the following analogy. Let us say I have on my mantelpiece the very football that Mike Bercovici threw to Jaelen Strong in 2014 to defeat the USC Trojans. (It's August, time to talk about what's imporant!) And let's say I foolishly let some kids go outside in our front yard and play with it. The unlike Bercovici, the young quarterback throws an errant pass and hits the window and breaks it. Sure, the ball was the ball Bercovici threw, but it's being that ball did not determine that it would break the window. The physical characteristics of the ball, such as size, weight, and the speed with which it was thrown determine that. So even though the Bercovici ball hit the window and broke it, it did not break the window in virtue of being the Bercovici ball. In the same way, even if the brain state which is the thoughts of the premises of Draper's argument cause the conclusion in your mind that God does not exist, the appearance of being persuaded is just that, appearance, if physicalism is true. It is irrelevant to the real causal story concerning your beliefs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFoPi5yLdzs

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Can everyone now see that the issues surrounding Donald Trump are NOT right-left issues

People who follow politics are inclined to think that any and all issues are a matter of whether you are left or right. If you are left, you want the government to help out a lot to overcome economic disparity, if you are right you think the capitalist system should run its course. If you are left, you are pro-choice on abortion and support gay marriage, if you are right you don't. If you are right you think national defense should be strong, and we need to be proactive against the enemies of freedom throughout the world. If you are left, you are more inclined to give peace a chance.

But the issue surrounding Trump is not a left-right issue. The issue surrounding Russian interference in our election system is an issue surrounding our national security. They hacked the e-mails of the Democratic National Committee. They hacked into election databases. The intelligence community is unanimous on this. Whether or not it swayed the election is beside the point. What if both DNC and RNC e-mails had been published? Then we could have heard all the concerns from members of the RNC about the possibility of a Trump nomination, and we might have heard what a lot of Republicans thought of Trump before actually endorsing him. Would that have hurt Trump? I bet it would. But the Russians are attempting to harm our election process. It has to stop, and anyone who helped them do it, if there were Americans who did, have to be punished. This happened to help Republicans this time, but the Russians could just as easily turn against the Republicans next time. But Trump continues to mess with the investigation, firing the FBI director and turning against his own Attorney General because he recused himself from the investigation. I happen to think that, even without a case for collusion, his complete refusal to defend our country against enemies, foreign and domestic, and constantly pandering to Putin, is impeachable. Other countries fight back against messing with their elections. Our President has done nothing to protect the integrity of ours. He'd rather go on a wild goose chase about illegal immigrants who might have voted then deal with these very clear and present threats, to prove, contrary to all evidence, that he didn't lose the popular vote.

Someone using Twitter to engage in petty attacks on TV hosts is not engaging the the professionalism one expects of the manager of a restaurant, much less the President of the United States. I find him to be breathtakingly petty.

And now, trying to find equivalencies between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who opposed them is beneath contempt, as many conservatives recognize.

 You can be a conservative Republican and accept these points. Trump does not serve the interests of conservatism, any more than he serves the interests of liberalism. Sure he wanted to repeal Obamacare, but his shallow understanding of the issues surrounding health-care, but he started by saying he wanted everyone covered, which is what Democrats have been trying to do with the health care plans for decades, going all the way back to Hillarycare. He thinks that the art of the deal will give us a health plan that will make everyone happy. That's what I call delusional.

Real conservatives and real liberals treat women with respect. They might differ on what that respect should amount to, but they should agree that Trump's frequent degrading comments about women (it's not just Access Hollywood, what was on Howard Stern was bad enough) are unacceptable from anyone who hopes to be the leader of the free world.

Real conservatives (and real liberals too), respect military service. A man who never wore the uniform saying of a hero like John McCain, "I like people who weren't captured"is a man who does not respect basic conservative values, much less share them.

Saying "Hillary is worse" is not an answer. If the opposition to Trump reaches its ultimate conclusion, Mike Pence, a conservative, will be President. And Hillary, whatever her faults may be, understood government and how it operates better than any Presidential candidate prior to taking office. Instead, we have a kindergartner with his finger on the nuclear button, and lunatics like Kim Jong Un to deal with in the world. Does anyone now find this preferable? Conservatives and liberals should unite to get rid of Trump, then get back to all the issues they disagree about so intensely.


A Christian critique of Thomas Nagel

Here, by David Baggett.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Horgan on non-reductive materialism

Terence Horgan was one of the developers of supervenience theory as a way of developing a nonreductive materialist theory. I read his writings as a graduate student in the late 1980s. But he now has doubts about materialism, and he thinks supervenience as an unexplained brute fact is unacceptable. He also explains the British Emergentist position, represented today by Roger Sperry, and explains why this tradition's positions are unacceptable to present-day physicalists. Students of C. S. Lewis will note that the British Emergentist tradition is referred to by Lewis as Emergent Evolution.

Here.

How does a psychological event occur?

SP: -You passed over the nature of the psychological event. How does a psychological event occur? A psychological event is a brain process, which is dependent upon brain structure, which is altered by learning. Given an observed fact set X the brain will output Y prior to learning principles of sound reasoning and will output Z after learning principles of sound reasoning.

VR: I am afraid not. If physicalism is true, then the physical state of the world is determined by the prior physical state of the world, which contains nothing about learning (or by quantum chance, which provides nothing rational). And, given the weakest form of physicalism, the supervenience-determination thesis, the mental state is fully and completely determined by the physical state. The complete explanation for the mental state is fully given without referenced to anything like learning or any other form of mental causation. You can call it learning if you want to, but the process is completely nonrational.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

An interesting essay on supervenience by Lynch and Glasgow.

Problems for emergent properties

Emergent properties are deeply problematic. They either are reducible to physical states or they supervene on physical states. Is there a particular neuronal pattern that everyone is in when they are atheists, such that a neuroscientist could examine brains and determine whether someone is a believer or not? Science doesn't seem to be going that way. Or they are supervene. But either the supervenience is explainable, or it is a brute fact. If it is explainable, then there has to be an explanation for the explanation, etc. etc., and we have a regress. If it is a brute fact, then we have something other than the physical itself determining mental states, and that is inconsistent with the basic tenets of physicalism.

Slagle on abortion and straw men

Jim Slagle on abortion and the straw man fallacy.

Here. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

It doesn't add up: A Reply to Keith Parsons

KP: Thanks for your patience. You have been over this territory many times before, I am sure, but something basic is dividing us, and, with your help, I want to see exactly what it is. So, please do bear with me. I doubt that we will agree, having been disagreeing for forty years now, but at least I, for one, hope to finally see EXACTLY where we disagree.
No, I do not think that the physical includes the mental at the "basic" level. At the basic level it is just quarks and leptons doing what they do without any teleology or guidance. However we know that some ensembles of quarks and leptons can run fade routes, sing arias, and dance Swan Lake. Fade routes, arias, and choreography are not physical things. They are abstract patterns of movement or sound that can have innumerable distinct physical realizations. The physics of quarks and leptons makes no reference to football, music, or dance, and nothing in that physics entails such an ability, and no one would expect that it would. However, we know it as a plain and non-mysterious fact, that various functional capacities only emerge with certain types of structural organization. There is no enigmatic "woo woo" emergence involved. It is simply a matter of (physical) form enabling function.
Innumerable examples abound. Merely having a protein with the chemical sequence of amino acid of an enzyme does not make that molecule an enzyme. It is only when it has folded into a particular functional three-dimensional shape that it is able to do the job of catalysis. At the basic level of quarks and leptons, there are no enzymes. At the far more complex level of folded proteins there are enzymes. Similarly, digestion is a function of the digestive system and the circulation of the blood is a function of the circulatory system. Digestive systems and circulatory systems are physical systems made of quarks and leptons that, at the basic level, cannot digest food or circulate the blood, but most definitely can when incomprehensibly great numbers of them are organized in very complex ways.
Therefore you must admit as a plain, commonplace, and undeniable fact that as things are organized they can acquire functions and capabilities of an entirely different sort than those evinced by their fundamental constituents. Again, quarks cannot do ballroom dance but Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers most definitely could. I guess then, what I need to know is why mental performances, in principle, cannot be among the capacities that vast ensembles of quarks and leptons can acquire when they are organized into brains. You need to tell me plainly why not. My cat can think. She can even do modus ponens. She often knows that if she does A I will do B, so she does A to get me to do B. Dammit, that is as good as my freshmen can often do! Are you saying that my cat's brain is not up to it? Sorry, I do not mean to sound flippant, but if you admit that a brain (a cat's or a human's) is up to modus ponens, then everything else follows. Using my brain to understand, say, the Axiom of Choice is just around the corner.

VR: Well, this is the fallacy of composition objection, that says that organization makes it possible for things which are not x by themselves are x in combination. But if it's ensembles of quarks, et al, then the governing laws are the laws governing quarks. Are you prepared to say a higher level of organization introduces new laws into physics?
It is true that if none of the bricks in a wall are six feet in height, the wall can be nonetheless. But in this case, it adds up. The brick-facts add up to close the question of the height of the wall. Going from the physical to the mental, the physical facts don't add up to mental-state facts. The underdetermine the mental. That is what Quine was getting at with the indeterminacy of translation, what Davidson was getting at when the attacked psychophysical laws, what is going on in Kripke with plus and quus.
There are four things that don't add up from the physical to the mental.
One of them is a first person perspective. If something has a first person perspective it affects what it does. If Trump doesn't know who he is, he might watch the news and think the President should be impeached. If he knows who he is, this will happen when hell freezes over. Yet how would science describe what Trump comes to know. "I am Donald Trump" is false for you and me (thank you Jesus!), "Donald Trump is Donald Trump" is a tautology that couldn't possible change anyone's behavior, so what is this truth, exactly?
The second is purpose. If the base level is purposeless, how do you get purpose at another level. You might get something that serves the purposes of a mind, but how can it have a purpose its parts don't have, especially if the laws governing the purposeless parts determine motions without purpose. (And quantum randomness is, well, quantum randomness).
The third is intentionality. How does that work? How the state of a set of particles be about an eternal object, or a nonexistent object. What you have is a set of particles in space, time, and causal connection. Add up the nonintentional facts all day, and you won't see an intentional fact. Given the physical, a person's thought could be about a rabbit, about undetatched rabbit parts, or about nothing at all, since the "person" could actually be a zombie without real mental states. Nothing follows logically from the state of the physical.
The fourth thing that is necessarily missing at the bottom level is normativity. Nothing happens at that level because it ought to happen. We were discussing earlier in this thread the idea that it seems pretty critical to an ethical theory that people are capable of doing some things because it's their duty. But, in that last analysis, everything that happens in the world happens, according to materialism, because of what happens at the basic level. Therefore, in the last analysis, no one ever does anything because it's their duty. They do it because of the state of the physical world.
And on materialism, the "thinghood" of the brain is questionable. Consciousness has a unity to it, but while we attribute a unity to the brain, in reality the "brain" is just a bunch of parts we CALL a brain. The real entities are the basic particles, the brain is just a bunch.
If a brain is literally what a brain is supposed to be on physicalism, a bunch of particles, then it is NOT up to modus ponens. Different parts do different steps, so what makes it modus ponens? If something provides a perspective, then, sure, even a computer can do modus ponens. But only considered as an extension of the mental states of its programmers, and only as a product of intelligent design.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Surely you're joking

Dear Dr. Craig
I am writing you because I am quite in desperation. The church in which I have been a member all of my life has turned into a politically correct hellhole. The transformation which took place in the last few years can only be described as through and through evil and anti-Christian. It’s really hard to give an adequate explanation about just how badly my church has gone the way down. After banning the cross from the church (“because it could offend Jews and Muslims”) the madmen we have as a pastor has decided now to read “Das Kapital” by Karl Marx and “Also sprach Zarathustra” by Friedrich Nietzsche in our church and has decided not to read the holy Bible again, because it is “a racist and misogynistic book”. The apostle Paul – shockingly enough - has been called a “Nazi” and “a woman hating bigot” by the pastor and our very forefathers are constantly attacked for the crusades and their supposed homophobia. The pastor has also started to curse the Lord (in ways which I am not going to repeat). I and some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have stopped attending my church altogether and have chosen to boycott this monstrosity of a church and the deeply blasphemous movement that has taken over. We have politely tried to speak with the leaders of our church, but all negations and discussions have utterly failed. I cannot and will not tolerate such a perversion in my life as servant of Jesus Christ.
Dear Dr. Craig, I know you through your work and writings as a man of great faith and as a good, traditional Christian, who loves our Lord and Savior and who has thought wicked enemies of Christ numerous times. I was wondering, whether you have a suggestion, what I and my friends could do in this terrible plight. We just want to follow the classical teachings of our traditional Christianity. We are looking towards our American brothers and sisters, because they have something we have lost: a traditional form of Christianity that hasn’t been wiped out by the forces of aggressive political correctness (the great Biola University is truly a blessing by the Lord!). We have also heard from Brothers and Sisters from Canada and Germany, who have told us very similar stories about the downfall of their churches. What can we, what should we do?
Thank you for your answers
All the best,
Uli
Switzerland


Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-future-of-the-north-american-church#ixzz4pNz3M8vF

Defining the mental out of the physical

First, when people try to define the physical, they do it, in part, by conceiving the mental and then saying that what is basic to the universe is not that. The laws of physics are always followed by physical particles, the laws of logic are followed by human being some of the time, but the rest of the time not, and if brains are physical systems they follow the laws of logic when the physics of their brains dictates that they follow those laws.
Andrew Melynk writes: “Naturalism claims that nothing has a fundamentally purposeful explanation…Naturalism says that whenever an occurrence has a purposeful explanation, it has that explanation in virtue of certain nonpurposeful (e.g. merely causal) facts.” Are you prepared to agree that nature is not thinking logically at the most basic level of analysis?
If the physical can include the mental at the basic level, then we have a concept of the physical that is, to my mind, extremely nonstandard. I think that is what Thomas Nagel is moving toward. But if we say that, from the beginning, what really guides the physical is something mental, then the watchmaker is not as blind as we thought he was, and you've got something closer to the Absolute Idealism that C. S. Lewis converted to when he became persuaded by the argument from reason, than you have to present-day materialism.

The metaphysics of morals

The Bible is primarily about salvation history, the idea that it God loves us, that nevertheless we are very very flawed because our wills are out of line with those of God, that God cares about even people on the bottom of the totem pole and that there is no human refuse. Humans are not good the way they are, and they need to be changed by God in order to keep them from turning an eternal existence into something hellish. I trust the Bible's revelation of metaphysical reality. Humans are capable of great goodness, but they also can turn virtually into devils with the wrong ideas in their heads. I know some religious ideas have done harm, for example the alliance of some forms of Christianity with the spirit of capitalism, or the idea that we can and ought to pursue and burn witches, or that suicide attacks are justified under Islam. But this is nothing compared to what happened with the bastardized Nietzscheanism of Hitler (and no, there's nothing Christian about the idea that Jews, by race, are evil and have to be eliminated. Christianity teaches that the Incarnate God was Jewish by race), or the adaptation by Lenin of the idea of the vanguard of the proletariat, putting the Party in absolute power in Russia and China. The most harmful ideas of recent history are secular, not religious. The death toll of these ideas dwarfs 9/11 and Salem many times over.
It is always easier to defend the Bible relative to the historical situation in which it is developed, than it is to defend the Bible as a rubber stamp carrying the same practices on in the present day. That is, I don't think you can expect women to be silent in church today without at least asking what in the situation of the time could have prompted Paul to say such a thing. I understand the force of the response "God's omnipotent, he could have done better." But once the metaphysics is in place, the question becomes "How shall we then live?" And different times and cultural situations may require different responses, as in the case of women.
Modern materialism not only removes God, it also removes the metaphysical trappings that make ethical systems like Plato, or Aristotle, or Buddhism, work. You don't need to be a theist to think of the universe as fundamentally a moral universe, though I think Christianity is the best developed version of the idea of a moral universe. But the polytheistic universe of the ancient world has this similarity to modern materialism, and that is that it says that the universe is, at bottom, amoral. You either have a gang of amoral gods bickering, or you have blind matter that, in the last analysis, does not consider what is good when the basic particles go where they go.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Which laws govern the thoughts of a material thinker

I'm not begging the question when I say mental acts cannot be physical acts. A brain is what? An arbitrarily defined collection of physical particles. What are physical particles governed by, the laws of physics or the laws of logic? Last I checked, it was the laws of physics. So the laws of logic, which are presumably obeyed by a material thinker, are really inoperative.

I think numbers are ideas in the mind of God, which he puts into our minds.

See this essay by Plantinga. 
http://www.andrewmbailey.co...

The authoritarianism of science education

Science education is NOT an example of following the argument where it leads. If you do a chem lab and your results differ from those prescribed in the textbook, you are not to ask whether you  have made a new scientific discovery. No, you are asked to figure out where you made a mistake.

Monday, August 07, 2017

The Bible as a moral guide

The problem with the Bible as a moral guide is that the Bible is addressed to social situations which change. Just one example, given what we know about the practice of homosexuality in the ancient Roman empire, Paul had every reason to condemn it. See Sarah Ruden's outstanding Paul Among the People for this. But the practice of homosexuality has changed in our day, and so it becomes an interesting question as to whether we an continue to apply Paul's strictures in the present day.
Slavery, in the Old Testament, was the ancient Hebrew welfare system. If you were poor, or in debt, you could become someone's servant. Freeing the slaves would result in people starving as opposed to eating. In Paul's time, just an across the board freeing of slaves would have made their lives worse instead of better. In the very passage where slaves are told to obey their masters, masters are told not to threaten their slaves. That statement should be a major shock. Everyone who reads it should be going What????? What kind of slavery can it possibly be if the slaves cannot be motivated by fear? Obviously we are not talking about anything remotely similar to slavery as it was practiced in the antebellum South. Again, Ruden is good on this. See also this by Warner Wallace.
The main moral contribution of Christianity in the world is not the specific commands that come from it, it is the statement it makes about what people are. People, all of them, are created by God, who has an interest in their eternal salvation, and this interest is demonstrated by the death of Christ on the cross for everyone, black or white, male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, Jew, Greek or Samaritan. Before this time people, in virtue of who they happened to be, were viewed as human refuse. Obviously we can treat people like crap even though we believe that Christ died for them, but this metaphysic of persons should cause cognitive dissonance if we do so.
The idea that since we can't read morality straight off the Bible, we have to use secular norms, looks like a false dilemma. Modern materialism doesn't just deny biblical commands, it also denies the idea of an objective purpose for human existence. There are things about persons we an learn from seeing them from a Christian perspective, in ways that go over and above the direct commands of the Bible. Consider this famous C. S. Lewis passage:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat (truly lies hidden)—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

Wielenberg, causal efficacy, and the moral argument for God

 Erik Wielenberg defends a robust moral realism compatible with atheism. However, for him, moral duties are causally inert. Since I was talking about the moral argument in the context of rights, let me connect these dots.  A right implies a moral duty. A right, as I see it, is an objective obligation to permit someone to have something. What is important about it is that it has to exist even if it is being violated, and never gets exercised.
Someone's having a right should have the possibility of providing a basis for action. As Kant puts it, it should be possible to act not only in accordance with duty, but from duty. One should be able to do something, not merely in a way that is consistent with a duty imposed by a right, but it should be possible for someone to behave in certain ways because they have a certain right. But if the right has no causal power, then it cannot make a difference as to what I do whether this right exists or not. I can never do anything, say, because I respect your right to live. This is the essence of C. S. Lewis's second moral argument, the one found in Miracles (as opposed to the one found in Mere Christianity), chapter 5. It says that if naturalism is true all our actions stem from non-moral causes, and are therefore if naturalism is true, our moral ideas are illusory.
Second, if I have a moral duty, I should, as a human being, be able to refer to that moral duty. The strongest theories of reference, such as Kripke's invoke a causal relationship between our thoughts and the object of our thoughts. If my thought is about a tree, then there is a causal relationship between me and that tree. If my thought is about a girl's right to an education, then there is a causal relationship between my thought and that right. But, if, as Wielenberg says, our moral duties are causally inert, then I cannot refer to a girl's right to an education.
Furthermore, one typical way atheists argue for their own position is to ask "Where's your evidence?" I raised that question concerning human rights on my site, expecting to hear a robust defense of secular human rights, and I instead got two atheist replies telling me that there was indeed no evidence for human rights, and therefore they did not exist. What evidence can exist that girls have a right to be educated the same as boys, or that gay couples have the right to marry. That is, what evidence is there that there is an objectively binding moral obligation on the part of member of the Taliban to permit Malala to be educated, whether there is a chance in the world that that Taliban member will respect that right, or not.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Rights, evolution, and slavery

David Brightly: When someone lacking a theistic grounding for the notion of 'right' says something like 'group X has the right to good Y' what they mean is 'group Z has a genuine right to good Y and it's unfair that group X lacks it'. By 'genuine' I mean backed up by law or social custom to the extent that somebody or some institution takes responsibility for meeting the demands of those asserting the right. The moral content of the claim lies ultimately in appeal to our sense of fairness, which we take for granted independent of any theory as to its divine or other origin. To ask for any more specific ground for the putative 'right' is to misunderstand how the word is used in contemporary political engagement.

VR: Do we have a common sense of fairness? If the people with the biggest guns say I don't have a certain right, do I have that right even though those who think I lack this right have the guns (and the knives, and the whips) and the people who think I have this right do not. Think of the countless black Americans who died in slavery. They, I maintain, had a right to freedom which was denied them, and which they never could exercise, but how can this be true? Social custom and law wasn't there to back up their right, so on what basis can we say, if there are no metaphysically grounded moral facts, that they really had the right be free, but that right was denied them. 

When we had slavery in this country, of course slaveowners appealed to religion, because people were religious. Had they not been, do you think they would have had any trouble appealing to evolution to justify enslaving black people? If you are looking for it, the case for slavery virtually jumps off the pages of the Origin of Species.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Atheism, gay rights, and human rights

Chad Handley: I've always thought it a bit scandalous that some atheist writers 1) have moral views of which they are quite certain 2) are adamant that certainty without evidence is abhorrent and yet 3) offer no evidence for the truth of their moral views.

VR: Yes, for example, they believe in gay rights. But the existence of gay rights entails the existence of human rights. But, as I showed here a few posts back, the existence of human rights a) does not fit in with an atheist world view and b) is open to the same kind of question atheists ask Christians, namely "Where's your evidence?" And, given new atheist methods for ascribing evidence, the answer has to be, "there is none."

I've heard people on both sides of the gay rights issue say that it is easier, if you are pro-gay, to be an atheist.  In the short run this is true, and demographically, atheists overwhelmingly support gay marriage. But logically, atheism undercuts the case for equal human rights, on which the case for gay marriage depends. They have no case against a homophobic secular state that just doesn't like gay people. 

Friday, August 04, 2017

A White House Bible Study: Oh, Horrors!

I have numerous objections to the Trump administration. This is not one of them.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

How New Atheism Slid into the Alt-Right

Phil Torres has had enough.

A movement primarily united over what it is against, not what it is for, is bound to run into trouble.

Paul as a source of information about Jesus

Here. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Is Christian persecution a myth?

I have seen Candida Moss's book taken as the last word on the subject. Warner Wallace makes the case that, as Ricky Ricardo would say, she has a lot of splaining to do.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Susan Blackmore on the Hard Problem of Consciousness

How can objective things like brain cells produce subjective experiences like the feeling that ‘I’ am striding through the grass? This gap is what David Chalmers calls ‘the hard problem.’ ...It is a modern version of the ancient mind/body problem – but it seems to get worse, not better, the more we learn about the brain... The objective world out there, and the subjective experiences in here, seem to be totally different kinds of things. Asking how one produces the other seems to be nonsense. The intractability of this problem suggests to me that we are making a fundamental mistake in the way we think about consciousness – perhaps right at the very beginning.

 Susan Blackmore, ‘What is consciousness?’, Big Questions in Science, in Harriet Swain (ed.), Big Questions in Science, (Jonathan Cape, 2002), p. 29-40.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Supervenience and its discontents

Terence Horgan was one of the original defenders of supervenience as a way of cashing out nonreductive materialism. However, he is one of its critics. See here. 

He now claims to be ambivalent about materialism.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Almeder on the scientific proof of materialism

After all, where in the scientific literature, biological, neurobiological, or otherwise, is it established either by observation or by the methods of testing and experiment, that consciousness is a biological property secreted by the brain in the same way a gland secretes a hormone? Better yet, where in the history of science has it been established that consciousness exists, but cannot be a substance very much unlike any substance we ordinarily deal with in contemporary physics or biology? In short, there is no scientifically well-confirmed (much less robustly confirmed) belief within science that consciousness is a biological product of the brain. We do not see the brain secrete consciousness in the same way we see a gland secrete a hormone. Consciousness is nothing like a hormone.

Almeder's paper is here. 



Threats to religious freedom

Here. 

Apologetics and the Academy

By Kelly Burton, who teaches philosophy at Paradise Valley Community College in the Phoenix area.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why the Resurrection wasn't fabricated

Here. 

Hinman on Carroll on atheist cosmologists

Here. 

But see also Donald Page's guest post on Carroll's blog.

Do evolution advocates violate the establishment clause?

According to this, yes. 

And please, spare me the "A Discovery Institute person said it, so you know it has to be wrong." That's called, you know, the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy.

NOMA and the Jones decision

The Jones decision absolutely reeks of NOMA, and it only works as an establishment clause case on the assumption of NOMA. Were questions of design refuted by Darwinian biology, or were they set aside as metaphysical issues outside the purview of science per se? Did the methodological assumptions of science change over time to preclude design inferences? Are there weaknesses in the Darwinian story that are constantly being papered over? Is Darwinian theory being protected by leaders in the scientific community, using the phobia of creationism to silence honest, and secular criticism of the standard theory? The guy from China said that while in China you can criticize Darwin but not the government, over here you can criticize the government but not Darwin. 

If you go by the Jones decision, then biology textbooks are going to have to be checked to make sure they don't have antireligious content in them. Otherwise they violate the establishment clause in just the same way that the Dover statement violated it. How much do you want to bet that you could find lots of violations in many biology textbooks? 

What I believe on the other days of the week is that NOMA is true, biology should be metaphysically neutral, and science textbooks should indicate that questions of intelligent design lie outside the purview of science and cannot be settled one way or the other by science. So, evolution is affirmed because science has to work that way, and you can legitimately ask the question of design, but as an extrascientific question that science, per se, cannot answer.

Creationism, Evolutionism, Intelligent Design

When people say that intelligent design is just creationism, it is hard to see what they mean exactly. Meanings of terms like these have a bad habit of sliding around.

Creationism can mean the belief that God created the world, the belief that God created the world in six days, the belief that science can discover that God created the world, or that science can discover that God created the world in seven days.

Evolution can mean that the earth is old, or that there is common ancestry, or that speciation occurred without design, or that life and speciation occurred without design.

Intelligent design means that at least some life on earth was designed (by a nonhuman designer), or that science can discover that life on earth was designed. It typically means at least the second of these things.

All creators are designers, but some designers are not creators. Plato believed in design but not creation. ID advocates say that science can discover design but not creation. But most believe in creation, and hope that those who come to accept design will come to believe in creation. Is this enough to make them creationists, in the perjorative sense?

With respect to the public school controversy, it is true that ID was used by many creationists to bring as much of what they believed into the public school classroom as they could. Insofar as leading ID advocates took an interest in public education, they aroused the ire of the scientific community. But someone could support the idea that, at the higher education and research level,  researchers should be free to pursue design hypotheses, but until those are further developed, they should not attempt to push theories that contradict the consensus of the scientific community in the public school classroom. This is my position, at least on some days of the week.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Jewish philosopher Saul Kripke on materialist prejudice

“I don’t have the prejudices many have today, I don’t believe in a naturalist world view. I don’t base my thinking on prejudices or a world view and do not believe in materialism.”

Saul Kripke. 

Materialism and the Illusion of Following the Evidence

Brain processes are physical events. They occur in accordance with the laws of physics, not the laws of logic or laws of evidence. Our brains follow the laws of physics automatically, we obey the laws of logic or laws of evidence, when we do, only when the laws of physics dictate that they do so. If you think this way, then I fail to see how William Hasker's conclusion is avoidable: the laws of logic and evidence, or as he puts it, the principles of sound reasoning, are inoperative.

Some atheists (Jerry Coyne is a good example) think that the idea of free will is a useful fiction; we should keep it around even though we know it's false. I think that if naturalistic atheists are consistent, they have to say the same thing about their claim that they believe what they do because the evidence is superior. But this would be an awfully damaging admission. They perceive themselves as following the evidence, but if their own world-view is correct, their thoughts are brain processes ultimately subject, not to the rules of evidence, but to the laws of physics. Their beliefs are caused in exactly the same way as a fideistic religionist who believes in God as a matter of faith.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

You are only a Christian because of your birthplace!

Gee, where have we heard that before? Saints and skeptics answer here. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Advice to Christian Apologists, from William Lane Craig

Here. 

The is part of a paper I am writing to extend the debate with David Kyle Johnson

The debate appears in Gregory Bassham ed. C. S. Lewis's Christian Apologetics: Pro and
Con
. (Brill Rodopi, 2015).

Now I think it important here to point out one very important area of disagreement between myself and Johnson. Johnson firmly accepts supervenience and causal closure, but he thinks that insisting that the supervenience base mechanistic is in fact a non-standard definition of naturalism. He writes:
In reply, Reppert might insist that property dualism is not a naturalistic theory because it is also violates his first tenet of naturalism by including mental properties at the basic level of analysis. But this simply reveals that he has chosen a (non-standard) definition of naturalism to load the dice in his favor—to preclude naturalism from doing the one thing he says it must do. In reality, this tenet does not actually express a necessary component of naturalism (which is that nothing exists beyond the natural world). Not only is naturalism not necessarily mechanistic (a possible world of chaotic matter would still be naturalistic), but neither a mechanistic world nor a naturalistic would preclude mentality existing at the basic level of analysis—as property dualism and the identity theory reveal. Simply put, the mental is not necessarily supernatural, as Reppert seems to assume.
            Well, I would simply have to ask how mental causes came to start operating in a naturalistic world. Given theism, minds operate in the world because they are products of divine creation (even if there was an evolutionary process involved). Or perhaps there is an Absolute Mind that is not distinct from the physical world, so that what appears to be nonmental really is not nonmental. This is the perspective of Absolute Idealism which Lewis embraced when he was first persuaded by Owen Barfield of the difficulties the Argument from Reason poses for naturalism. Or mind might be fundamental to the universe in some other way, and Thomas Nagel in Mind and Cosmos and elsewhere has been casting about for how that might be. But it should be noted that, while being very explicit about avoiding supernaturalism, he is being ferociously attacked by advocates of standard naturalism, precisely for trying to fit mind into the foundation of his view of the universe. As one commentator points out,
The critics have focused much of their ire on what Nagel calls "natural teleology," the hypothesis that the universe has an internal logic that inevitably drives matter from nonliving to living, from simple to complex, from chemistry to consciousness, from instinctual to intellectual.
In short Nagel is upbraided by many of his collegues for his failure to adhere to the what I am calling the doctrine of mechanism, the doctrine that the mental must be excluded from the suprervenience base.
Or, perhaps there are emergent laws, such that, once biological systems get complicated enough to produce brains, the matter in those brains stop acting like the matter in the rocks flying down the hill toward my head, and instead start acting as if they had purposes they were fulfilling. But the individual parts of my brain don’t obey logical laws, so it looks like this form of emergentism not only involves emergent properties and emergent laws, it also seems to include emergent substances. This certainly is going to be regarded as blazing heresy by the mainstream naturalists, who agree with Francis Crick:
 ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons.” 
            The mainstream naturalistic position is that mentalistic explanations are not allowed in the supervenience base. That is the essence of Darwin’s dangerous idea. Long before writing Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Daniel Dennett spelled out the fundamental commitments of naturalism when he wrote:
Psychology of course must not be question-begging. It must not explain intelligence in terms of intelligence, for, instance by assigning responsibility for the existence of intelligence to the munificence of an intelligent creator, or by putting clever homunculi at the control panels of the nervous system. If that were the best psychology could do, then psychology could not do the job assigned to it.[10]
And again:
Darwin explains a world of final causes and teleological laws with a principle that is entirely independent of "meaning" or "purpose." It assumes a world that is absurd in the existentialist's sense of the term: not ludicrous or pointless, and this assumption is a necessary condition of any non-question-begging account of purpose.[11]
In fact, in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, he explains the difference between cranes and skyhooks as follows:
"Let us understand that a skyhook is a "mind-first" force or power or process, an exception to the principle that all design, and apparent design, is ultimately the result of mindless, motiveless mechanicity. A crane, in contrast, is a subprocess or special feature of a design process that can be demonstrated to permit the local speeding up of the basic, slow process of natural selection, and that can be demonstrated to be itself the predictable (or retrospectively explicable) product of the basic process."
In fact most of the book is spent upbraiding not religious believers, (who he probably considers marginalized anyway)  but thinkers who say they are naturalists but have not fully and completely applied the dangerous idea, such as Chomsky, Penrose, Searle, and Gould.
            If we think about it, if we are naturalists, how did things happen in the world before brains came on the scene? What principles of causation were operative? Presumably nonmental ones. Wouldn’t it take a miracle for brand new principles of causation to enter the universe? And miracles are, of course, anathema to the naturalistic mind.



What the argument from reason criticizes

The viewpoints that the argument from reason criticizes are variously called naturalism, materialism, and physicalism. The idea is that nature, or matter, or physics, is all there is. Behind all of this is the attempt to exclude the supernatural, such entities as God, angels, or the soul. But in order to know what supernatural is, you need to know what natural is, so that supernatural can be “super” that. But what is naturalism more precisely? After all, I could attempt to qualify as a naturalist, or even a materialist or a physicalist. I could say to my materialist friend that we are both materialists, only I believe in some different kinds of material entities than he does. I believe in psychons, which used to be called souls, angelons, which used to be called angels, and one triune theon, who used to be called God. I suspect that any materialist worth his salt is going to point out that I am misusing words here, and that whatever we mean by material has to exclude God, angels, and souls. Bu this means that we need a principled analysis of these concepts in order to get them to work, and we need to keep them from sliding around when it is convenient for them to do a little sliding. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Belief without evidence is crucial for knowledge

Here. 

The key quote is from Swinburne:

n the introduction of his book The Evolution of the Soul, Philosopher Richard Swinburne lays out some key principles we all use in our reasoning. The first is the Principle of Credulity. Swinburne defines it as "in the absence of counter-evidence probably things are as they seem to be."1 This principle holds that we should basically trust what our senses tell us. While sometimes our sense can be wrong, we trust them to tell us true things about the world, for that's simply how we observe the world. As Swinburne points out:
Without this principle, there can be no knowledge at all. If you cannot suppose things are as they seem to be unless further evidence is brought forward—e.g. that in the past in certain respects things were as they seemed to be, the question will arise as to why you should suppose the latter evidence to be reliable. If ‘it seems to be' is good enough evidence in the latter case, it ought to be good reason to start with. And if ‘it seems to be' is not good enough reason in the latter case, we are embarked on an infinite regress and no claim to believe anything with justification will be correct.2

Believing in God for pragmatic reasons

What would you say to people, for example, who say that if there is no life beyond this one, there is really no hope for human existence, and it is vain to continue. In answering this question, it is important to realize that many of us are members of the educated class, and our lives probably have more creature comforts than most people in the world have. Most people cannot afford to be part of the great brave new world of science or philosophy like Dawkins or Dennett. Can you really object to people who say, quite honestly, that they believe in God because it makes them happy? What are you going to give them, some altruistic argument?

I would have to say that I could never do it this way. But I think it is vain to just say that these people are weak. I don't live under their circumstances. That is why I don't think Bertrand Russell's answer works.

“To refuse to face facts merely because they are unpleasant is considered the mark of a weak character, except in the sphere of religion. I do not see how it can be ignoble to yield to the tyranny of fear in all ordinary terrestrial matters, but noble and virtuous to do exactly the same thing when God and the future life are concerned. There is to my mind something pusillanimous and sniveling about this point of view, which makes me scarcely able to consider it with patience.”
― Bertrand Russell, The Value of Free Thought: How to Become a Truth Seeker and Break the Chain of Mental Slavery (1944).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Richard Bauckham on Lewis's Fernseeds and Elephants

Summarized here.  Bauckham is a leading biblical scholar, who sees a great deal of value in Lewis's criticism of his discipline in an essay I know as "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism."

Culpably Ignorant? In a deterministic universe?


I presented some arguments on Debunking Christianity a few weeks back and got identified as the 
Gullible Person of the day. Since I consider it a major step toward an unproductive discussion when the focus of discussions switch from subject matter to the intellectual viability of persons. I interact in the blogosphere under my own name, and my institutional affiliations are also known, so I find it offensive to be attacked personally, not just by Loftus, who also writes under his own name, but many of his commenters, who write under pseudonyms. Which is why, for the most part, I now avoid his site. 

But he said it was nothing personal against me. Well, why isn't it personal, I asked. He said it had nothing to do with my likability as a person, but as a Christian apologist I was culpably ignorant.. 

The attitude here seems typical amongst atheists. They act as if it is our fault that we believe what they consider to be nonsense, since we exercise faith and don't apportion our beliefs to the evidence and recognize the evidential vacuity of Christianity. They are moralistic about rationality, as is explained here.

But can they really say that we are culpably ignorant? On their own view, evolution spit some of us up as atheists, and others as Christians.. And deterministic brain processes determined that he should lose his faith and I keep mine. No one could possibly be culpable.

Consider Richard Dawkins

But doesn't a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused's physiology, heredity and environment. Don't judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car?

Now, surely it would be inconsistent to apply Dawkins' logic to murderers but not to Christians. 

Jerry Coyne is also an opponent of moral responsibility.

Sorry, atheists, but on your own view, everyone is doing what they have to do. You can't blame us believers from believing in God, even if we were delusional. (Which we're not, but that's the other debate). 

Ockham's Razor and Ockham's Lobotomy

Now, the principle of explanatory exclusion is very popular amongst atheists and naturalists. It is simply a form of Ockham’s Razor. Atheists are happy to point out that the electrical explanation of electricity makes Thor’s hammer unnecessary, and that the Blind Watchmaker of evolution replaces the divine watchmaker. But in the case of the mental and physical explanations for, say, the mental events that produced Godel’s Theorem or even Darwin’s theory of evolution, they insist that while the thoughts of Godel and Darwin have a physical explanation, they also have a mental explanation. Otherwise, Ockham’s Razor becomes Ockham’s Lobotomy (thanks, William!), and the scientific thought processes that produced these beautiful theories and theorems could not have existed.





What to do when someone challenges your faith

Just say it's a matter of faith and by definition it can't be challenged? No. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Kim's Principle of Explanatory Exclusion

Jaegwon Kim has argued that in order for there to be a workable account of mental causation, reductionism has to be true. According to his principle of explanatory exclusion: 

An event cannot have two separate and complete* explanations.
Take any human behavioral event M (A person decides to change seats, comes to understand a principle of physics,feels sorry for her little sister, etc.) For every M, there can be only one complete explanation. There cannot be two explanations which
a). individually provide a complete explanation of M, and
b). are unconnected to each other.
*An explanation is complete if the events or properties that it specifies are the only ones that need to be mentioned in order to fully explain the occurrence of that event.

Explained here. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Anscombe's commentary on her exchange with Lewis

In 1948, Elizabeth Anscombe, then a student of Wittgenstein and a research fellow at Oxford, publicly challenged C. S. Lewis’s central argument against naturalism. In response to her criticisms, Lewis rewrote the relevant chapter of his book Miracles. Anscombe briefly acknowledged the revision in print as an improvement, but never wrote more extensively about it. In 1985, however, she gave a talk about Lewis’s revised version to the C. S. Lewis Society, discussing its strengths and remaining weaknesses. This chapter is a transcript of that talk.

Here.  I wish this transcript had been available back when I was writing my dissertation chapter on the Lewis-Anscombe Controversy. Now if I can just get my hands on it!

This is Gregory Bassham's summary of Anscombe's discussion. from Church History. 

One reading that will be of special interest to Lewis scholars is Elizabeth Anscombe’s talk on “C. s. Lewis’s Rewrite of Chapter III of MiraclesAs is well-known, Lewis and Anscombe engaged in a famous debate in 1948 over Lewis’s claim that naturalism is self-refeting (his so-called "argument from reason”). Confroversy has swirled over who won the debate and whether Lewis largely abandoned rational apologetics as a result of his perceived defeat. What we know for sure is that Lewis substantially revised and expanded his original argument in the second edition of Miracles (London: Collins-Fontana, 1960), and that Anscombe stated in the early 1980s that Lewis’s revised argument was a substantial improvement over the original formulation, iat we have not known until now is whether Anscombe believed that Lewis’s revised argument was substantially correct. We can now see that she did not. Anscombe examines Lewis’s argument in detail, and finds it to be rife with confiisions, ambiguities, and false assertions (16-22). Lewis argues that naturalism undermines itself, because naturalism can only be justifiably believed if it can be rationally inferred from good evidence, and naturalism excludes the possibility of rational inference by claiming that all human mental processes are wholly determined by nonrational causes. In other words, naturalism can be rationally believed only if reasoning is possible. But if naturalism is true, then reasoning is impossible. So if naturalism is true, it cannot be rationally believed (and neither can much else). Anscombe suggests that this argument rests on a confiision. The fact that a beliefor statement is felly determined by non-rational causes has no bearing on whether it is true or rationally justified. Consider, she says, the analogy of a printed book. Every word in such a book is wholly determined by the machinery that printed the book. Yet no one would suppose that this casts any doubt on whether the things said in the book are true or rationally defensible (16). As Anscombe sees it, the whole issue of causal determination is a red herring؛ even strict, reductionistic naturalists can consistently recognize the existence of reasoning and the possibility of rational beliefs. But Anscombe does find something of real value in Lewis’s discussion. Lewis raises the important and deeply puzzling question of how logical grounds can cause a conclusion to be drawn (18). As Anscombe sees it, Lewis’s “damnably obscure” claim that an inferred conclusion can be "determined only by the truth it knows” (22) does not do much to solve this problem, but Lewis was right in pointing to the deeply puzzling nature of mental causation.

As I noted in the first essay I wrote on Lewis-Anscombe, Anscombe is committed to a divorce between rational justification and the causation of belief that strikes me as implausibly strong, and one that would not have be embraced by most naturalists today, who would follow Donald Davidson in rejecting a strict divorce between reasons and causes (see his essay "Actions, Reasons, and Causes" in which he criticizes the standard Wittgensteinian position on this). Anscombe also has to deal with the ontological restrictiveness of naturalism. Whether an explanation is causal or not, it still has an ontology, and most philosophical materialists and naturalists will not accept reasons into their ontology without some kind of intertheoretic reduction or supervenience relation, and this is not part of Anscombe's critique at all.