January 31, 2011

A Technical Difficulty in Sobel's Treatment of the Logical Problem of Evil

Unlike most other recent writers on the subject, Sobel believes that the logical problem of evil - that is, the problem of showing that it is logically possible for God and evil to coexist - is a serious problem which recent treatments have not adequately dealt with. In his 12th chapter, he considers several deductive arguments from evil against the existence of God. In future posts, I will consider the specific arguments that Sobel makes, but here I just want to point out a flaw or limitation in the way Sobel frames his arguments. Each version of the problem of...
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January 19, 2011

Skeptical Theism and the 'Beforehand-Switch'

I return now from my hiatus to blog through the last three chapters of Sobel's Logic and Theism. There are two chapters on arguments against the existence of God, mostly focused on arguments from evil, and one on Pascalian wagers. In chapter 11, section 4, Sobel presents what he takes to be Hume's evidential argument from evil, and discusses skeptical theist responses to it. Now, in general, the dialectic between the evidential arguer from evil and the skeptical theist goes something like this: the evidential arguer from evil says, a perfect being would probably create a world with very little...
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January 15, 2011

Validly Affirming the Consequent

I'm grading some logic exercises from an intro class today. The students were supposed to give examples of valid and invalid arguments, with true and false premises and conclusions, and so forth. One student turned in the following fantastic example (I have edited it to remove some ambiguities):
(P1) If P1, then C
(P2) C
:. (C) P1
The student, understandably, thought the argument was invalid, since it has the form of affirming the consequent. However, due to the self-reference, the argument is valid. The student just wrote 'the premise' and 'the conclusion', so I'm not sure if this is the intended interpretation, but still pretty clever.
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January 11, 2011

The Nature of the Visible Space in Berkeley's New Theory of Vision

One of the main aims of Berkeley's Essay Toward a New Theory of Vision is to argue that the application of spatial vocabulary ('far', 'near', 'big', 'small', 'right', 'left', etc.) to how things look ("visible objects") is derived from the primary meaning of that vocabulary as applying to how things feel ("tangible objects"). A big object is one you can't fit your arms around. An object looks big when the way it looks makes you think that you probably wouldn't be able to fit your arms around it. It is only by experience that we learn that objects we can't...
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January 10, 2011

January 1, 2011

Blog Year 2010 in Review

Welcome to 2011! As I have done in past years, I will provide a review of this blog's 2010 activity. The year 2010 saw over 141,000 visits from nearly 44,000 distinct users. This is a significant increase over last year, probably due to my joining The Prosblogion in September. There were 80 posts in 2010, holding roughly constant from the 79 in 2009. That makes an average of nearly 1770 visits per post, a significant increase from 2009, but still well behind 2008's 2623 visits per post. Most Popular Posts March 15, 2010: Philosophers' Carnival 105. November 13, 2005: Translation...
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