Thursday, August 28, 2014

a fallibilist intuition pump.

A firing squad comprising 20 riflemen takes aim at a convicted criminal sentenced to death.  Of the twenty, 19 have loaded their guns with a live round, while one of them has loaded his gun with a blank.  Each sharpshooter is aware of this fact, but none are told whether he’s the one with the blank. On command, the firing squad unloads a volley of 19 bullets, all of which hit the condemned man.  Each shooter believes that he’s shot the man—after all, there’s a 95% chance that he has.  Thus, we have a scenario in which 20 persons rightly believe that he’s shot a man.  19 have a true belief and one has a false belief.  It seems that 19 shooters know that they shot the convict, and this despite the fact that their evidence for believing they shot him is consistent with their belief being false. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

non secundum necessitatem naturae; Ergo non est necessarium secundum se.

The fallacy of inferring from the fact that F is accidental (or not necessary) to a thing’s nature, that therefore F is accidental (or not necessary) to the thing.
Example 1:
Being female is accidental with respect to being human; therefore Jane is not necessarily female. 
Example 2:
Being born to Carol and Richard is not an essential feature of my human nature; therefore I could have had different parents.
Example 3:
Being composed of leather is not essential to being a couch; therefore this leather couch could have been composed of cloth.
Comment: Though I agree that each of these examples commits the non secundum necessitatem naturae; Ergo non est necessarium secundum se fallacy, I still affirm the conclusions of examples 1 and 2.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

on the distribution of miracles.

I (tentatively) accept the following two principles: 
[A] (x)(y)(z)(Dx ^ Dy ^ Dz) (Mgx v Mgy v Mgz))
read: for any x, y, and z, if x, y, and z suffer from a disorder (D), then it’s possible that either x, y, or z is miraculously healed by (M) God (g).
[B] (x)(y)(z)((Dx ^ Dy ^ Dz) → ~(Mgx ^ Mgy ^ Mgz)))
read: for any x, y, and z, if x, y, and z suffer from a disorder (D), then it’s not possible that x, y, and z are miraculously healed by (M) God (g).
Comment: Though it’s possible for God to miraculously heal any particular person, it’s not possible for God to miraculously heal each and every person, for miracles by their very  nature must be infrequent.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

a question concerning time.

Could there be the passage of time and nothing else (i.e. no instantiated substances and qualities)?

on having bad luck even when you don't.

“…can’t blame this one on bad luck.”
—Charli XCX, How Can I?
Michelle has been in five minor car accidents, all of which, for one reason or another, were her fault.  Since they were her fault, these accidents weren’t freak accidents.  Thus, upon Michelle’s sixth accident—again her fault—she has every reason to say, “I can’t blame this one on bad luck.”  If it’s not bad luck, then it’s Michelle that deserves blame—some disposition or proclivity of hers is what keeps her from being accident-free.  But can’t the fact that she’s such itself be a function of bad luck?  Suppose that the only salient difference between Michelle and her friend Kim is that Kim is accident-free, and that this difference is itself a consequence of a difference in their genetic endowment.  If this were so, though Michelle wouldn’t be able to blame her accident on bad luck, she still could blame her disposition or proclivity to cause accidents itself on bad luck. Or no?
Put more abstractly and succinctly: it may be that you cannot blame what you do on bad luck, but it may be a matter of bad luck that you can’t. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

on idealism.

When a tree falls in a forest and there’s no one around to perceive it, it doesn’t make a sound. Neither are its fruit sweet, its sap fragrant, and its leaves green.   At least, this is what “science says”.  Fair enough, I say.  But even still—the tree per se is such that I’m to perceive it such. That is, what it means to be a tree—what a tree is—in part, is to be such a thing for me to perceive it such, and this is true of the tree which falls in the forest even when I’m not around to perceive it.
It’s weird to think that, at least for some things, what they are isn’t distinct from what it’s like for us to perceive them.  But then again, in a world full of His Glory, this is exactly what one should expect. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

a case in point.

Reasoning by analogy is as reliable as a spare tire.
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