Tuesday, August 07, 2012

An Argument from Inherent Value for God's Existence

I recently had a discussion regarding inherent value and whether humans have it. If interested, that discussion can found here

While researching the topic for discussion a friend directed me to the following syllogism:

1. If God does not exist, then human life does not have any inherent value.
2. Human life does have inherent value.
3. Therefore, God exists.1

First, before the premises are examined, what is meant by inherent value needs to be explained.

In order for something to have inherent value, value must be a part of the thing. The value must be essential to it. In other words, the thing did not get the value from something else. How can this be? Before we can ask this question, however, we need to ask another:  How can something have value without someone ascribing value to it? Here, an important observation must be made. A 
thing, or object, cannot have inherent value. A person is required to ascribe value to a thing.

So we can focus our examination of inherent value as such:  In order for 
someone to have inherent value, value must be a part of that someone. Now, one might ask:  How is this possible? Answer this question with another question:  Can a person ever not have value? Of course not. So, we focus in even more:  A person has inherent value not because the value is essential to them, but because personhood is essential to them. Value necessarily follows from personhood.

Therefore, the definition of inherent value is as follows:  Inherent value is value a person has which flows necessarily from their personhood.

Since the definition of inherent value hinges on personhood, the above syllogism can be rewritten as follows:

1. If God does not exist, then no human life has personhood.
2. Every human life does have personhood.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Before this syllogism can be examined, personhood must be defined. Dr. William Lane Craig defines a person as a self-conscious moral agent.
2 This definition implies that humans, as persons, to an extent, transcend the material universe because we are self-aware and because of our moral decisions. With this definition in mind, let us now examine the syllogism.

Premise One

If God does not exist, then no human life has personhood. In order for this premise to fail it must be shown that personhood can develop by natural means (i.e. natural selection). How can the non-personal, non-moral, material process that is natural selection do this? How can natural selection transcend the material universe by bringing about self-conscious beings that make moral decisions? Until this is explained, it is perfectly rational to hold that an eternal, ultimate 
person, that transcends the material universe bestowing personhood upon a material human body, is the best explanation for mankind’s personhood.

Premise Two

Every human life does have personhood. In order for this premise to fail it must be demonstrated that there is at least one human life that does not possess personhood. Yet a human must be a 
person in order to make this determination. What is more, a human must be a person to initially question the premise. Finally, a human must be a person to question the first premise. The fact that each human life has personhood is self-evident.

So, with the above premises standing firm, the conclusion logically follows. God exists.

Stand firm in Christ,
Chase

Footnotes:



33 comments:

Geoffrey Charles said...

In your defense of premise 1 you say "in order for this premise to fail..."

Why does it have the privilege of being true unless proven otherwise?

Geoffrey Charles said...

In defense of premise two you said " Every human life does have personhood. In order for this premise to fail it must be shown that no human life has personhood."

No, it must be shown that ONE human life does not have personhood.

Chase said...

No, it must be shown that ONE human life does not have personhood.

Thanks for pointing this out! The correction has been made.

Chase said...

Why does it have the privilege of being true unless proven otherwise?

Both premises are not to expected to be true upon presentation. Which is why I go on to defend both of them in the post.

Geoffrey Charles said...

"Why does it have the privilege of being true unless proven otherwise?"

"Both premises are not to expected to be true upon presentation. Which is why I go on to defend both of them in the post."
-----------

Up until you say "In order for this premise to fail..." you are just defining terms.

You do not go on to defend premise one.

Chase said...

Which of the premises do you deny?

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chad and Chase:

Here's my more thorough response to the argument:

http://geoffreycharles.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-response-argument-from-inherent-value_11.html

Geoffrey Charles said...

Regarding my point about unfalsifiability: Though the defense of premise one says that an explanation of self-consciousness and moral agency by natural selection would falsify premise one, this is actually not true. Rather than falsifying premise one, such an explanation would just (further) change the definitions of the argument:

1. If God does not exist, then human self-consciousness and moral agency via natural selection does not exist.
2. Human self-consciousness and moral agency via natural selection does exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.

Chase said...

Ultimately, the argument makes logically contradictory claims: Inherent value is value that does not come from something else, yet God gives inherent value to human bodies.

I did not state that inherent value is value that does not come from something else; I stated that inherent value is value that does not come from someone else. Also, I did not state that God gave inherent value to human bodies; I stated that God gave personhood to human bodies.

Aside from this, you raise good points and questions. However, from these points and questions it is unclear to me whether you just doubt the premises or whether you expressly deny them. Please clarify if you deny premise 1, premise 2, or both of them.

Chase said...

Regarding my point about unfalsifiability: Though the defense of premise one says that an explanation of self-consciousness and moral agency by natural selection would falsify premise one, this is actually not true. Rather than falsifying premise one, such an explanation would just (further) change the definitions of the argument:

Premise 1 states that human personhood requires God's intervention. It is clear from my defense of this premise that I hold that natural selection alone could not bring about human personhood.

The kind of natural selection you are speaking of is dependent upon God, which would make it no longer a natural process, but a supernatural process. You are correct, this type of natural selection does not falsify the premise. However, this is not the type of natural selection I presented in my defense of the premise.

A discussion of natural selection dependent upon God is beyond the scope of this post.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Actually, you did say inherent value does not come “from something else” but that's apparently not what you meant. Either way, God is both "someone" and "something" else.

Your point about God giving humans personhood rather than inherent value: It doesn't seem to alleviate the contradiction because when I give you a beer, I give you both the bottle (or frosty mug, if you prefer) AND the beer that “flows from” it. The beer comes “from someone else.” So too if God gives both personhood and the inherent value that flows from it does the inherent value come "from someone else."

And to your question about what I doubt or deny: what is that to your argument? Let's say I accept both premises for reasons you haven't mentioned. That wouldn't affect your argument. What matters is that you show your premises to be true. Since you have not, you have not shown your argument to be sound.

Chase said...

Actually, you did say inherent value does not come “from something else” but that's apparently not what you meant.

Yes, I did say this. But I go on state that this statement makes no sense in light of the fact that things cannot have inherent value or give value to another thing or a person.

The final culmination of what is meant by inherent value is provided in the post when I state the definition of inherent value as follows:

Inherent value is value a person has which flows necessarily from their personhood.

I will not address anymore accusations of me saying "inherent value does not come from something else" when it is clear from reading this statement in the context of the full post that I hold that inherent value does not come from someone else.

God is both "someone" and "something" else.

If I were to see something moving in the woods or in the distance and I am unsure of what that something is I will say, "There is something over there." However, when I can clearly see that the something in the woods or in the distance is a human and not a deer, I will say, "There is someone over there." The something is no longer a something. It is a someone. There is a clear distinction between something and someone.

when I give you a beer, I give you both the bottle (or frosty mug, if you prefer) AND the beer that “flows from” it.

Beer does not necessarily flow from a bottle.

Also, consider two statements regarding value flowing necessarily from personhood:

God gave humans personhood.
God gave humans value.

What conclusions can be draw from the first statement? Humans are valuable. Why? Because persons are valuable. God did not have to give humans value. The value is intrinsic.

What conclusions can be draw from the second statement? All that can be deduced here is that he had some sort of a reason to give them value and that he gave the value. The value is not intrinsic with this statement.

And to your question about what I doubt or deny: what is that to your argument? Let's say I accept both premises for reasons you haven't mentioned. That wouldn't affect your argument.

I agree, your denial or acceptance of the premises does not affect the argument. However, I am merely trying to bring focus to our discussion. If you agree with the premises then our discussion will go in a completely different direction than if you deny one or both of the premises. So, do you deny premise 1, premise 2, or both?

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Charles,

So, if I understand you correctly, you are not implicitly denying the premises, you just want to quibble over the reasons Chase accepts them?

Take care

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase, I think part of the problem here is some vagueness of terms like “flows from” and “comes from”, e.g. the claims inherent value doesn't “come from” somebody else, and the implicit claim that inherent value ultimately comes from God. Perhaps you're saying inherent value doesn't come from other humans? (rather than other persons, which could include God) Presumably God chose for inherent value to “flow from” personhood. And since God gives personhood, then God gives inherent value, as well. Maybe the following analogical argument will illustrate the apparent contradiction better than my beer one:

DNA is an essential part of DNA-containing cells.
DNA-containing cells come from their parent cells.
Therefore, DNA does not come from the parent cells of the DNA-containing cells.

The conclusion seems wrong because DNA does come from the parent cells of the DNA-containing cells.

If you think I'm off base, then maybe we should move on to my other criticisms and come back to this one after further duscussion has perhaps cleared up some confusion.

Regarding a deer in the woods, yes, if by “something” you mean “some non-person”, which is apparently what you mean.

In my opinion, if you want to bring focus to the discussion, you will focus on supporting your premises, which, I've argued, have not been. Nevertheless, for the reasons I originally stated, I don't accept premise one, and I doubt premise two.

Regarding premise one: "Non-supernatural natural selection" cannot, in principle, be shown to work. It cannot be shown that any natural process works without supernatural intervention. One can always claim that there's a God acting behind the natural process. Since it is impossible to show that God is not acting in any natural process (including natural selection) premise one is unfalsifiable.

Chase said...

Maybe the following analogical argument will illustrate the apparent contradiction better than my beer one:

DNA is an essential part of DNA-containing cells.
DNA-containing cells come from their parent cells.
Therefore, DNA does not come from the parent cells of the DNA-containing cells.

The conclusion seems wrong because DNA does come from the parent cells of the DNA-containing cells.


1. Personhood is inherently valuable.
2. God gave humans personhood.
3. Therefore, God gave humans inherent value.

Is 3 really the conclusion? If God gives humans personhood he has no reason to give them inherent value because personhood is inherently valuable (premise 1). The correct conclusion is as follows:

3. Therefore, humans are inherently valuable.

I think a good analogy is you giving me a black eye. You do not literally give me the black eye. You give me the punch. The bruising and swelling necessarily follows without any involvement from you. It is the same with the my argument above. God gives humans personhood. Value necessarily follows without any involvement from him.

Regarding a deer in the woods, yes, if by “something” you mean “some non-person”, which is apparently what you mean.

You agree that “something” can mean “some non-person”.

According to an earlier comment of yours, God is both “someone” and “something” else.

So, if you did not mean “some non-person” when you stated “something” in your statement directly above, what did you mean by “something”? Certainly you did not mean to state that God is both “someone” (a person) and “some non-person” (something).

Chase said...

I don't accept premise one

Regarding premise one: "Non-supernatural natural selection" cannot, in principle, be shown to work. It cannot be shown that any natural process works without supernatural intervention. One can always claim that there's a God acting behind the natural process. Since it is impossible to show that God is not acting in any natural process (including natural selection) premise one is unfalsifiable.


From your statement above, you hold position 1: It cannot be shown that God is not acting in natural processes.

Since you hold this position you must also hold position 2: It cannot be shown that God is acting in natural processes.

Why must you hold to both? If you hold only 1 and not 2, you admit that it is possible for it to be shown that God is acting in natural processes. If you admit that this is possible, then obviously you must admit that it is possible for it to be shown that God is not not acting in natural processes and you can no longer hold to 1. It is the same if you only hold 2.

Position 1 admits that it cannot be known that natural processes are purely natural (i.e. It cannot be shown that human personhood developed from non-supernatural natural selection).

Position 2 admits that it cannot be shown that natural processes are supernaturally directed (i.e. It cannot be shown that human personhood developed from supernatural natural selection).

So, since you hold both of these positions, what is your explanation of human personhood? If it cannot be a supernatural explanation or a natural explanation, since both of these explanations are unfalsifiable according to the positions you hold, what explanation is left?

I have presented premise one (If God does not exist, then no human life has personhood) and supported it by stating that God (an eternal, ultimate person that transcends the material universe) bestowing personhood upon a material human body is the better explanation for mankind’s personhood than the explanation of mankind’s personhood developing via the non-personal, non-moral, material process of natural selection.

Because of the position you hold, you cannot even present an explanation for mankind’s personhood. That must be why you have not.

Finally, simply because premise one cannot be proven false, it does not follow that it is false.

Chase said...

I doubt premise two.

In your blog post you stated the following regarding premise two:

The argument implies that every human is a self-conscious moral agent, but are…

babies?
Babies certainly are self-conscious. They know that they are hungry, that they are uncomfortable be it from a wet diaper or gas, that they are in pain from getting a shot in the leg 5 times, etc.

Regarding the moral agency of babies, if a person has not yet developed morally it does not follow that they are not moral agents. Using your understanding, it could be argued that some people that are in their late teens even early twenties are not moral agents.

The mentally handicapped/disabled? I think this is similar to babies.

The comatose? See this article regarding their self-consciousness. The article states: “Indeed, in several rare cases, functional neuroimaging has demonstrated conscious awareness in patients who are assumed to be vegetative, yet retain cognitive abilities that have evaded detection using standard clinical methods. Similarly, in some patients diagnosed as minimally conscious, functional neuroimaging has revealed residual cognitive capabilities that extend well beyond that evident from even the most comprehensive behavioral assessment.” Although the research in this area is not conclusive, the authors of the article side with “a proposed ethical framework that emphasizes balancing access to research and medical advances alongside protection for vulnerable patient populations.” And I do as well. They go on to state the following: “Severe brain injury represents an immense social and economic problem that warrants further research. Unconscious, minimally conscious and locked-in patients are very vulnerable and deserve special procedural protections.”

As for their moral agency, it has simply been stopped by their physical body. They are still moral agents. Compare it to a CIA agent being physically stopped when they are caught behind enemy lines. They are not no longer a CIA agent. They may be a bad CIA agent for getting caught, but they are a CIA agent nonetheless!

Psychopaths? The insane? If they are not self-conscious and not moral agents, why do we as a society still hold them accountable for their actions?

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,
After that black eye analogy, I almost understood that your explanation of inherent value wasn't contradictory. However, in your comment on Aug 21st you said "the fact that things cannot have inherent value" and in your comment on Aug 24th at 12:06 you said "personhood is inherently valuable". Isn't personhood a thing? If so, a thing has inherent value. Therefore, your position is contradictory.

Regarding the word "something": "Something" can also include "some person". The earlier comment of mine was using this sense of the word. That was before I knew your use of "something" meant "some non-person", specifically.

However, due to my aforementioned contradiction, I'm guessing you will clarify your definition of "something" yet again.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,

Regarding the unfalsifiability of premise one: I confess, I misspoke. Thankfully, some of your criticisms helped me to see this. So, let me correct my mistake.

Previously, I said that position one is true. However, I now see that position one should be corrected to read as follows: “It cannot be shown that no God is acting in natural processes.” The difference is that before position one said “that God is not acting” (or, “that a God is not acting”), while now position one should say “that no God is acting”. This is a subtle change, but it makes all the difference.

I won't respond to the rest of your criticisms about my claim of unfalsifiability because they were based on the uncorrected version. I'll wait to respond until after you respond to my corrected position.

(By the way, while your criticism starting with “Why must you hold both?” and ending with “It is the same if you hold only 2” was good criticism, your criticisms following that were mostly faulty. Since I now corrected my position, though, I'll only point out the faults if you want me to.)

Now, I'll say it correctly this time: Since it cannot be shown “that no God is acting” in natural processes, including natural selection, premise one is unfalsifiable.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase, note that in my blog post I made multiple criticisms of your explanation of personhood, not just the one criticism about unfalsifiability.

Chase said...

Isn't personhood a thing?

I state in the post that a thing, or object, cannot have inherent value. So, no, personhood is not an object. It is an attribute.

That was before I knew your use of "something" meant "some non-person", specifically. However, due to my aforementioned contradiction, I'm guessing you will clarify your definition of "something" yet again.

As I point out above, "thing" and "something" are clearly defined in the post. I never provided a diffrent definition of these terms in this comment string than what is found in the post. I merely wanted clarification on what you meant when you said, God is both "someone" and "something" else. Which I am still unclear on.

So, you state that God is both someone and some person. Which is to say, God is both some person and some person. What is your reasoning for stating "some person" twice?

Also, since you use "someone" and "something" interchangeably for the same meaning, I have another question for you out of curiosity. When telling your friends about our conversations, do you tell them that you are dialoguing with "someone" through the blogosphere or that you are dialoguing with "something" through the blogosphere?

Finally, do you still deny premise 1 and doubt premise 2?

Chase said...

I'll wait to respond until after you respond to my corrected position.

Your corrected position is this:

It cannot be shown that no God is acting in natural processes.

Nothing has changed. You still are in the dilemma of not being able to provide a supernatural explanation or a natural explanation for human personhood. Which is why you still have not provided one.

Chase said...

in my blog post I made multiple criticisms of your explanation of personhood, not just the one criticism about unfalsifiability.

Premise 1 Criticisms:

non-sequitur (and vague) How so?

Unfalsifiable If something cannot be proven false, it does not follow that it is false. Further, this view (i.e. Anything that cannot be proven false is false) cannot be proven false itself and is therefore self-defeating.

Violate Ockham's Razor My defense of premise 1 states that God (a person) bestowing personhood upon humans is the simplest explanation and therefore does not violate Ockham’s Razor and that natural-selection does as it is more difficult explaining how a non-personal, non-moral, material process can develop human personhood.

make no predictions Premise 1 is a prediction. If God does not exist, then no human life has personhood.

lack objective, repeatable evidence So, truth only includes that which can be repeated? Does this include your birth?

incoherent – What is the causal connection? How does that ultimate person cause human bodies to have self-consciousness and moral agency? How does it “reach in” and bestow upon our human bodies, specifically? Just by magic? The inability of humans to fully explain something does not result in that something being incoherent.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,

Since I'm still asserting that premise one is unfalsifiable, I should respond to your comment about premise one not being false even if it cannot be shown to be false.

I did not say that it was false. I said it cannot be shown to be false.

You could, however, make it falsifiable by being more specific about "God". For example, if by "God" you mean "a being that created humans that never have DNA or even the appearance of DNA" then premise one is falsifiable (and falsified).

The more you specify, the more falisifiable your premise becomes. Actually, that's not QUITE true. This is better: The more you specify with specifications that are falsifiable, the more falsifiable your premise becomes.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,

Regarding my position on not being able to show that no God is acting in natural processes: My position has changed. It was incorrectly stated before. Now it is correctly stated. Though the wording of my position changed only subtly, the logic of my position changed significantly.

Before, my position was stated: It is not possible to show that a God is not acting in natural processes. This position is false because we could do the following: 1) posit a God who can ONLY do a very falsifiable and specific thing, 2) show that that thing is falsified, and 3) thus show that such a God is not acting. For example, we could posit a God who can only make math where 1 + 1 always equals 6. Since there is math where 1 + 1 does not equal 6, we can show that such a God has not made this math. Therefore, position was is falsified. (And if you argue that math is not a "natural process" then I'd say it doesn't matter because in the example we have still shown that this God is not acting at all because it's the only thing this God can do. Thus, we have shown this God is not acting in a(nother) natural process.)

Now, however, the corrected position one states: It is not possible to show that no God is acting in natural processes. This is different than my previous position because to show that "a God is not acting" (like in the method listed above - from the old position one) is not the same as showing that "no God is acting". These are not logically equivalent - to show that "a ball is not bouncing" is not the same as showing that "no ball is bouncing". Therefore, my position is now logically different thnt it was before.

Because of this, I can now hold position one and not hold position two. Thus, all your criticism that was based on thinking that I had to hold both position one and position two is faulty.

Now let me back up a bit.

In my comment on Aug 22 at 1:18am I said that premise one is unfalsifiable. However, I misspoke again - due to the context I should have said that your defense of premise one is unfalsifiable. To show that "natural selection alone" produces personhood is unfalsifiable. If we had a theory of natural selection in which no God was involved it would not be enough because one could posit a God that accounts for some unknown or foundational premise of the theory. And if one could develop a seemingly naturally explanation of the unknown or foundational premise of the theory, then one could posit a God that accounts for some other unknown or founational premise of the theory. This could go on an on and on, all the while your defense of premise one still escaping falsification, except until we could explain literally everything with seemingly natural explanations.

So, as long as the string of foundational questions remains unanswered - basically until we can explain everything seemingly naturally - one cannot claim that a theory of personhood via natural selection is non-supernatural. (Actually, this is not quite true because if there was a being that we knew was omniscient and this being told us that natural selection can produce personhood completely naturally, then your defense of premise one would be falsified though we wouldn't know how to explain everything seemingly naturally.)

Thus, unless you think it's possible we'll eventually be able to explain everything seemingly naturally, or that an omniscient being will tell us that personhood can be produced completely naturally, then your defense of premise one is unfalsifiable.

Chase said...

Regarding premise 1 you stated: I did not say that it was false. I said it cannot be shown to be false.

So, according to you, premise 1 does not have the potential of being false.

In your comment on August 22nd you stated: I don't accept premise one

By not accepting premise 1, you are implicitly stating that it is false.

I'm still asserting that premise one is unfalsifiable

In order for you to assert this position you cannot state that you do not accept premise 1. You can only state that you doubt it.

Finally, I presented premise 1. You state it is unflasifiable (i.e. it is not potentially false) for the reason below:

Since it cannot be shown that no God is acting in natural processes premise one is unfalsifiable.

You state this because even if it is shown that human personhood can develop via natural selection, one can always claim that natural selection is being supernaturally directed. This claim is what is unflasifiable not premise 1.

Premise 1 states that If God (an eternal ultimate person, that transcends the material universe... in other words a supernatural person) does not exist then human personhood does not exist. A personal supernatural explanation is the only explanation.

However, if it is discovered that natural selection can produce human personhood we now have two available options. Either,

1) God directed natural selection to produce human personhood

or

2) natural selection without any involvement from God produced human personhood.

By the mere fact that there would then be two possibilities they are both potentially false and the discovery of human personhood developing from natural selection would indeed make premise 1 falsifiable. As I stated earlier, it would make it fail, because now God is not the only option. Which is what premise 1 is stating.

Chase said...

I should have said that your defense of premise one is unfalsifiable. To show that "natural selection alone" produces personhood is unfalsifiable.

In my August 20th comment I do state that I hold that natural selection alone could not bring about human personhood.

However, in my defense of premise 1, I do not state that the premise will fail if it is shown that personhood can develop by this type of natural selection. I state that the premise will fail if it is shown that personhood can develop by natural selection.

Since it seems that neither premise 1 or the defense of premise 1 is unflasifiable would you like to move on to another of your criticisms I responded to in my August 28th 1:05 comment? Or perhaps my response to your criticisms of premise 2 in my August 24th 12:14 comment? There is also my August 27th comment.

Thanks for the good discussion by the way! Talk to you soon.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,

Regarding personhood, "thing", and "something": Yes, you said a "thing" was an "object". But we were talking about the word "something", and it wasn't clear to me that your use of "something" always meant "object". Now I understand that your use of "something" does not include "somone" or an "attribute", but rather just an "object".

The reason I said God is something and someone is because God can be a "spirit" or a "disembodied mind", and therefore a "thing". No, not an object. But I said this before I understood that your use of "something" always meant "object", which is fine. So, in this sense, God can be a someone and something.

Regarding your black eye analogy - you said that value flows from personhood without any involvement from him. That is the key premise that clears up the contradiction. You seem to be saying that God had no say in whether the personhood he gives to humans is inherently valuable. God had no choice in the matter - he didn't choose for or cause human personhood to be inherently valuable. That human personhood is inherently valuable is true regardless of God's will. (also interesting to note is that Good valuing someone does not give them inherent value).

Am I interpreting you correctly?

Geoff

Chase said...

Now I understand that your use of "something" does not include "somone"

Yes, this is my understanding. I have difficulty understanding when something could ever include a person. Hence the question I asked you on the 27th.

Certainly when I refer to family or friends or any person, I do not refer to them as something because they are not something. They are someone.

You seem to be saying that God had no say in whether the personhood he gives to humans is inherently valuable.

Human personhood is not inherently valuable. Personhood is inherently valuable. Why is personhood inherently valuable? Personhood is inherently valuable because it is an attribute of, and grounded in, God who is eternal, immaterial, and self-sufficient. He chose to give humans the attribute of personhood, thereby creating humans in his image and therefore they are inherently valuable.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,

To help clear this “something” issue up, the context of my original claim that your explanation of inherent value was contradictory was when I understood you to be saying that inherent value was non-contingent, or didn't come from something else. You said inherent value doesn't come from something else, and I interpreted that as “inherent value is non-contingent”. With that my mind, I understood “something else” to mean “anything other than inherent value itself”. Since God is “anything other than inherent value”, and God is also “someone”, God is both “something else” and someone.

FYI - I updated my post to say that the contradiction I saw in your argument is actually not there.

Regarding premise one: No, I did not mean that premise one “does not have the potential of being false.” That is different. It is not what “cannot be shown to be false” means. “Not potentially false” does not equal “unfalsifiable”.

Because you use these terms interchangeably, the logic at the end of your Aug 20 12:05 comment was faulty. I will respond to it anyway:

You said premise one states that God is the only explanation for human personhood. This is not QUITE true. Premise one states that God is a necessary cause of human personhood. Therefore, premise one allows for the possibility of God-directed natural selection. You even said as much on Aug 20th; premise one can only be falsified by “natural selection alone”, and premise one is not falsified by God-directed natural selection.

(but now your Aug 30 12:46 comment says that's not what you said in your defense, but it is what you said in your Aug 20 comment. So, which is it? Please be more specific about what will falsify the specific God you're talking about in the premise.)

1. Premise one says God is a necessary cause for a human to have personhood.
2. If a human can be shown to have personhood completely naturally, then premise one is falsified.
3. To show that a human can have personhood completely naturally is to show that no God was acting.
4. To show that no God was acting is unfalsifiable.
5. Therefore, to show that a human can have personhood completely naturally is unfalsifiable.
6. Therefore, premise one is unfalsifiable.

By not accepting premise one, I am saying that there's not enough evidence to say it is true. It might even be false. I tend towards false because of ALL of the reasons I gave (not just this one).

I do not have to say only that I “doubt” premise one. Doubt can be applicable to things I both accept and do not accept.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Chase,
By the way, sorry for my delayed responses, and thanks for the conversation.

Regarding premise two: It's interesting to note that premise two, as it's presently worded, validly fits in your argument, but so does the following alternate premise two:

“A human has personhood.”

As long as it can be shown that ONE human has personhood, then you could change premise two to the above, keep premise one, and the argument will still be valid.

Regarding self-awareness and self-consciousness: These terms are different from the terms “awareness” and “consciousness”, respectively. While a baby or a person in a coma may exhibit evidence of awareness and consciousness, this doesn't mean that they exhibit evidence of self-awareness and self-consciousness. Because babies feel hunger, discomfort from wet diapers or gas, and pain from shots, and because patients in comas show fMRI activity in response to certain words, they are therefore exhibiting evidence of awareness, but not SELF-awareness. They aren't “aware of their qualia” (one definition of self-awareness).

However, there seems to be different levels of self-awareness. Are you referring to a specific level of self-awareness? Some animals exhibit evidence of self-awareness, and some of these animals seem to exhibit moral behavior. I'm fairly certain, though, that you'd say these animals don't have personhood. Are the specific elements of self-awareness and moral agency that come only from personhood?

Regarding the moral agency of babies, if a person has not yet developed morally it does not follow that they ARE moral agents. While some philosophers hold that some infants have some basic moral capabilities, I do not think there is good evidence that ALL infants are moral agents. Especially a mentally disabled, comatose, 20 weeks premature infant. Such an infant can hardly act at all, let alone act with conscious, morally-accountable intent.

Geoffrey Charles said...

Correction: Premise one states that God is a necessary condition for personhood, not a necessary cause of personhood.

Chase said...

Hi Geoffrey.

By the way, sorry for my delayed responses

If you need to apologize for delayed responses then so do I. But neither of us need to apologize. We both have lives outside of the blogosphere. The beauty of the comment forum is that we respond when we can respond, so no worries.

No, I did not mean that premise one “does not have the potential of being false.” That is different. It is not what “cannot be shown to be false” means. “Not potentially false” does not equal “unfalsifiable”.

So, my understanding is this: One of the reasons you deny premise one is because it cannot be shown to be false. This implies that your view is that any premise that cannot be shown to be false should be denied. As I stated previously, this is a self-defeating view. The view that any premise that cannot be shown to be false should be denied is a premise that itself cannot be shown to be false!

This being the case, we can move on to another of your reasons for denying premise one if you wish. I addressed these in my 28 August 1:05 comment.

By not accepting premise one, I am saying that there's not enough evidence to say it is true.

The evidence available tells me that personhood cannot develop from non-personhood.

It might even be false. I tend towards false

So, just so I am understanding you, you do not hold that premise one is false. You hold that premise one is more than likely false. In other words, you have doubt about its falsehood.

However, there seems to be different levels of self-awareness. Are you referring to a specific level of self-awareness?

I do not think there are different levels. A life form either is self-aware or it is not. It is the addition of moral agency that makes a life form that is self-aware a person. Animals are not moral agents. They may seem to exhibit moral behavior, but they do not have moral obligations and duties. The fact that humans have moral obligations and duties is what makes them moral agents.

Regarding the moral agency of babies: If they are not moral agents then they do not have moral obligations and duties. Why then do we raise them as if they do?

Because babies feel hunger, discomfort from wet diapers or gas, and pain from shots…they are therefore exhibiting evidence of awareness, but not SELF-awareness.

It seems that you hold that babies have second level awareness of pain. They experience pain, but they are not aware that they are themselves in pain. If this is indeed your view, when does the move into third level awareness of pain occur in human development?

See here for a further explanation of the hierarchy of pain awareness.

because patients in comas show fMRI activity in response to certain words, they are therefore exhibiting evidence of awareness, but not SELF-awareness.

The studies referenced in the article showed a response to more than just certain words. In one study, the female patient was asked to imagine playing tennis or to navigate her way around her house. In others, the patients were instructed that they could just listen or count the number of times a given target was repeated. For example their own name in Schnakers et al. In this study, “9 of 14 patients exhibited more activity when instructed to count the number of times their own name (or another target name) occurred than when they passively heard it” (p. 402).