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I don't get why people think WLC's moral argument works

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  • I don't get why people think WLC's moral argument works

    The apologist William Lane Craig's moral argument goes something like this:
    1. If objective moral values and objective moral duties exist, then God exists.
    2. Objective moral values and objective moral duties exist.
    3. Therefore, God exists.

    I've seen many people offer this argument, but I've never seen anyone offer an adequate defense of it, especially the first premise of the argument. A few comments on the "moral values" portion of premise 1 should help explain one reason why.

    Premise 1 mentions "objective moral values". Moral values are whatever it is in virtue of which moral statements, moral beliefs, etc. [about what is morally good or morally bad] are true or false. I always found this easier to understand via an analogy to science. If someone says That plant is a mushroom, their statement is true (or false) in virtue of the features of the object their statement refers to. So that object's features/properties serve as the truth-makers for their statement. Parallel point for moral statements such as "that instance of rape was morally bad": moral values are whatever server as the truth-makers for those moral statements.
    [This usage of "moral values" differs from another common usage of "moral values", where "moral values" means something like "a particular subset of stuff one cares about". For example, just as saying "I value my wife" means something like "I care about my wife" on this usage of "value", saying "human welfare is one of my moral values" means something like "human welfare is one of things I care about." This sense of "moral values" differs from the sense of "moral values" Craig is (and should) be using in his moral argument, as I discussed above. Confusing these two sense of "moral value" would be akin to confusing what "theory" means in science vs. what it means everyday life, or confusing what "root" means in plant biology vs. what it means in biology. In short: it would be an equivocation.]

    So the first "moral values" portion of Craig's first premise commits him to saying something like God exists if the objective truth-makers of moral statements, moral beliefs, etc. [about what is morally good or morally bad] exist. And that doesn't make a lick of sense. After all, there are plenty on plausible of accounts of the objective truth-makers of moral statements, where those accounts are compatible with God's nonexistence. These include varieties of virtue ethics, deontology, and utilitarianism. For example, a welfare utilitarianist could note that the moral statement "that instance of rape is morally bad" is true or false in virtue of the rape's negative effects on the victim's welfare, where there were other viable actions that did not harm the victim's welfare in this way. Or a virtue ethicist can point out the callousness that lies behind the act.

    Craig has to reject all such plausible options for objective moral values, since welfare, character traits, etc. can exist even if God does not, and Craig is committed to moral values implying God's existence. And in doing this, Craig commits himself to a wildly implausible subjectivist position: divine command theory.

    Furthermore, Craig opts for a strange, implausible position where moral values must be grounded in God's nature. So, for instance, "that instance of rape is morally bad" is true or false not because of the harm by the rape nor the callousness of the act nor any such plausible answer, but instead because God has such-and-such a nature. I'm sorry, but that's laughable. That answer has nothing to with why the rape is morally bad. It would be like responding to In virtue of what is "that plant is a mushroom" true, with well, biological properties/features are grounded in God's nature. It's a nonsense answer. Biological properties/features are grounded in the particulars things (such as organisms) that have those properties, not God. So the feature referred to by "is a mushroom", is grounded in the particular referred to by "that plant". No God required. Parallel point for moral values as moral properties: they are grounded in the particular actions, persons, etc. that have those properties. So in the rape example, the moral values are grounded in features of the rape itself, not God. It's rather strange that Craig's argument commits him to denying something this apparent.
    Last edited by Jichard; 04-05-2015, 01:16 AM.
    "Instead, we argue, it is necessary to shift the debate from the subject under consideration, instead exposing to public scrutiny the tactics they [denialists] employ and identifying them publicly for what they are."

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jichard View Post
    So the first "moral values" portion of Craig's first premise commits him to saying something like God exists if the objective truth-makers of moral statements, moral beliefs, etc. [about what is morally good or morally bad] exist. And that doesn't make a lick of sense. After all, there are plenty on plausible of accounts of the objective truth-makers of moral statements
    It does make sense if these accounts can be shown implausible, so you will have to refer to Craig's full argument instead of creating a strawman by treating the abbreviated version as the full one.

    So, for instance, "that instance of rape is morally bad" is true or false not because of the harm by the rape nor the callousness of the act nor any such plausible answer, but instead because God has such-and-such a nature.
    I agree that pure divine command theory is inadequate, but again you will need to cite in full to refute in full.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
      It does make sense if these accounts can be shown implausible, so you will have to refer to Craig's full argument instead of creating a strawman by treating the abbreviated version as the full one.
      First, that's Craig's fully argument, as he presents it. Two premises and a conclusion. Now, if you want to discuss his defenses of the premises, that's fine. But that doesn't show that I didn't present the full argument.

      Second, your claim is incorrect: even if these account were shown to be implausible, then that would not show that Craig's argument is plausible. You seem to be operating from a false dichotomy, where its either Craig's premise or the options I mentioned, akin to the false dichotomy some theists offer between theism and naturalism. It's a false dichotomy since there are other options, such as moral constructivism, ideal observer theory, error theory, social contract theory, and so on. So just because account X is shown to be implausible, doesn't mean account Y is plausible, especially if Y is not the negation of X.

      I agree that pure divine command theory is inadequate, but again you will need to cite in full to refute in full.
      It's still not clear what you mean by "cite in full to refute in full". In any event, I don't need to. Divine command theory (including the form Craig advocates, as lifted from Adams) is a form of moral subjectivism, and thus does not provide an account of objective moral duties and objective moral values. So DCT would be inadequate for support the argument's first premise. That's why I mentioned this in the OP:
      Originally posted by Jichard View Post
      And in doing this, Craig commits himself to a wildly implausible subjectivist position: divine command theory.
      "Instead, we argue, it is necessary to shift the debate from the subject under consideration, instead exposing to public scrutiny the tactics they [denialists] employ and identifying them publicly for what they are."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jichard View Post
        First, that's Craig's fully argument, as he presents it. Two premises and a conclusion. Now, if you want to discuss his defenses of the premises, that's fine. But that doesn't show that I didn't present the full argument.
        His 'defense' of the premises constitute his argument for them, on which the soundness of the entire argument is founded on. Deal with all the relevant parts of the argument or not at all.

        even if these account were shown to be implausible, then that would not show that Craig's argument is plausible.
        Right. But he has argued for that so go deal with that.

        It's still not clear what you mean by "cite in full to refute in full". In any event, I don't need to. Divine command theory (including the form Craig advocates, as lifted from Adams) is a form of moral subjectivism
        Asserted, but not shown.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Paprika View Post
          His 'defense' of the premises constitute his argument for them, on which the soundness of the entire argument is founded on. Deal with all the relevant parts of the argument or not at all.
          No, the soundness of an argument is based on the validity of the argument and whether the premises of the argument are true. I dealt with the soundness of the argument by explaining why one of its premises was false.

          Furthermore, you're confusing an argument for a premise with an argument for a conclusion. Craig may have separate sub-arguments to support specific premises. But I don't need to present those arguments in order to present his argument for his conclusion.

          Right. But he has argued for that so go deal with that.
          Once again, that would not be a defense of premise 1 nor an argument for it. It would be the false dichotomy I already discussed.

          And Craig has no meaningful objections to these positions, beyond nonsensical stuff like denying (without an argument) the supervenience of the moral on the natural.

          Asserted, but not shown.
          It's actually quite easy to show. For example, if I wanted to show that Cell Theory is a form of scientific theory, then it would suffice for me to show reputable sources (such as scientists writing in scientific papers) defining what a "scientific theory" is, and then showing that Cell Theory fits under that definition as a type of scientific theory. Parallel points for the moral case, since divine command theory fits the definition of what moral subjectivism is.

          Unfortunately, some Christians evade this point, much as Young Earth creationists evade people who correct them on what a "scientific theory" is by citing reputable definitions/accounts of what a "scientific theory". These creationists due this since they want to hold on the idea that a theory is just an educated guess, given that that makes it easier for them to attack evolution (which they find theologically inconvenient as being just a theory. Hopefully, you won't do the parallel thing for definitions/accounts of "moral subjectivism", just to avoid the inconvenient notion that DCT is a form of moral subjectivism.

          So if I offered you reputable definitions/accounts on which divine command theory is a form of moral subjectivism, would you accept them? Or would you not accept them, and thus make the same evasive move as the creationist?
          "Instead, we argue, it is necessary to shift the debate from the subject under consideration, instead exposing to public scrutiny the tactics they [denialists] employ and identifying them publicly for what they are."

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jichard View Post
            No, the soundness of an argument is based on the validity of the argument and whether the premises of the argument are true. I dealt with the soundness of the argument by explaining why one of its premises was false.

            Furthermore, you're confusing an argument for a premise with an argument for a conclusion. Craig may have separate sub-arguments to support specific premises. But I don't need to present those arguments in order to present his argument for his conclusion.
            You need to deal with the sub-arguments instead of merely arguing that the argument in whole and part is incredible, or that 'I've never seen anyone offer an adequate defense of it'. Can you actually make a refutation instead of an argument by incredulity, which your OP is?

            Once again, that would not be a defense of premise 1 nor an argument for it. It would be the false dichotomy I already discussed.

            And Craig has no meaningful objections to these positions, beyond nonsensical stuff like denying (without an argument) the supervenience of the moral on the natural.
            Quote those objections and deal with them. Do you only have silly assertions?

            It's actually quite easy to show.
            Then show it and cut the crap:

            So if I offered you reputable definitions/accounts on which divine command theory is a form of moral subjectivism, would you accept them? Or would you not accept them, and thus make the same evasive move as the creationist?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Paprika View Post
              You need to deal with the sub-arguments instead of merely arguing that the argument in whole and part is incredible, or that 'I've never seen anyone offer an adequate defense of it'. Can you actually make a refutation instead of an argument by incredulity, which your OP is?
              I already argued against premise 1 in the OP. It was not an argument from personal incredulity.

              Quote those objections and deal with them. Do you only have silly assertions?
              No need to, since what he wrote neither defends nor supports premise 1. To say otherwise is to employ the false dichotomy I already noted.

              Then show it and cut the crap:
              So far you've said "crap" and called me an idiot:
              Originally posted by Paprika View Post
              Idiot.
              Please try to maintain the composure Christians are supposed to have.

              In any event, you didn't answer my question:

              We can proceed on that issue once you address that question.
              "Instead, we argue, it is necessary to shift the debate from the subject under consideration, instead exposing to public scrutiny the tactics they [denialists] employ and identifying them publicly for what they are."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jichard View Post
                I already argued against premise 1 in the OP. It was not an argument from personal incredulity.

                doesn't make a lick of sense...implausible...strange, implausible...rather strange
                No need to, since what he wrote neither defends nor supports premise 1.
                Then cite all his writings about his moral argument, and we'll see if that's true.

                So far you've said "crap" and called me an idiot:
                Please try to maintain the composure Christians are supposed to have.
                As in the other thread, I'll do as I like.

                We can proceed on that issue once you address that question.
                I don't need to answer that question. On the other hand you have the burden of proof to demonstrate that divine command theory is a form of moral subjectivism, so go do it and stop stalling.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                  Nothing of substance to respond to there.

                  Then cite all his writings about his moral argument, and we'll see if that's true.
                  Don't need to, since (as I already explained) his critiquing of the positions mention in his OP, would not serve to support nor defend his first premise. That's a simple point regarding logical reasoning; to say otherwise is to commit to a false ichotomy.

                  Originally posted by Paprika
                  Originally posted by Jichard
                  So far you've said "crap" and called me an idiot:

                  Please try to maintain the composure Christians are supposed to have.
                  As in the other thread, I'll do as I like.
                  As will I.
                  Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                  I don't, dumbass.

                  I don't need to answer that question. On the other hand you have the burden of proof to demonstrate that divine command theory is a form of moral subjectivism, so go do it and stop stalling.
                  Still no answer to my questions:

                  We can proceed on that issue once you address that. I'm doing this to forestall the evasions, goal-post moving, etc. that I expect you to do once you're provided the definitions/accounts.
                  Last edited by Jichard; 04-05-2015, 03:36 AM.
                  "Instead, we argue, it is necessary to shift the debate from the subject under consideration, instead exposing to public scrutiny the tactics they [denialists] employ and identifying them publicly for what they are."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jichard View Post
                    Nothing of substance to respond to there.
                    Your OP is largely if not wholly argument from incredulity. Naturally you don't want to respond to the exposure.

                    Don't need to, since (as I already explained) his critiquing of the positions mention in his OP, would not serve to support nor defend his first premise. That's a simple point regarding logical reasoning; to say otherwise is to commit to a false ichotomy.
                    He has not only critiqued other positions but also argued for his first premise, so deal with that.

                    We can proceed on that issue once you address that. I'm doing this to forestall the evasions, goal-post moving, etc. that I expect you to do once you're provided the definitions/accounts.
                    There is no burden on me to answer your questions. You have the burden of supporting what claims you've made. Carry on.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                      Your OP is largely if not wholly argument from incredulity. Naturally you don't want to respond to the exposure.
                      Not an argument for personal incredulity.

                      He has not only critiqued other positions but also argued for his first premise, so deal with that.
                      Already argued against the first premise.

                      There is no burden on me to answer your questions. You have the burden of supporting what claims you've made. Carry on.
                      Still no answer to my questions:

                      We can proceed on that issue once you address that. I'm doing this to forestall the evasions, goal-post moving, etc. that I expect you to do once you're provided the definitions/accounts.
                      "Instead, we argue, it is necessary to shift the debate from the subject under consideration, instead exposing to public scrutiny the tactics they [denialists] employ and identifying them publicly for what they are."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jichard View Post
                        The apologist William Lane Craig's moral argument goes something like this:
                        1. If objective moral values and objective moral duties exist, then God exists.
                        2. Objective moral values and objective moral duties exist.
                        3. Therefore, God exists.
                        In this page http://www.reasonablefaith.org/moral-argument
                        Dr Craig offers his own argument, whose premise 1 is different: You switched terms (If objective moral values and duties exist[Term A] then [Term B]--your version but Dr Craig's version is, if B then A).

                        Your version is not a syllogism. Given that premise 2 is true, the conclusion is true; If false, then false. Premise 1 is necessary (God's existence and the existence of objective morality are logically linked in some way), but the truth or falsity of the conclusion is always the same as that of premise 2 the way your version is set up.

                        I wonder if you have read Dr. Craig's rebuttal (link above, here it is again: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/moral-argument
                        The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                        [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jichard View Post
                          The apologist William Lane Craig's moral argument goes something like this:
                          1. If objective moral values and objective moral duties exist, then God exists.
                          2. Objective moral values and objective moral duties exist.
                          3. Therefore, God exists.
                          Problems: (1) Failure to define what are 'objective morals.' (2) It is not logical to conclude that 'objective morals' exist simply based on the premise that they may exist. In other words IF (the possibility) something exists is not a basis to conclude it exists. (3) There is an adequate natural explanation for human morals.
                          Last edited by shunyadragon; 04-05-2015, 08:28 PM.
                          Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                          Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                          But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                          go with the flow the river knows . . .

                          Frank

                          I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                            Problems: (1) Failure to define what are 'objective morals.' (2) It is not logical to conclude that 'objective morals' exist simply based on the premise that they may exist. In other words IF (the possibility) something exists is not a basis to conclude it exists. (3) There is an adequate natural explanation for human morals.
                            It appears without a reasonable response, WLC's Moral Argument is down the toilet.
                            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                            go with the flow the river knows . . .

                            Frank

                            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                              Problems: (1) Failure to define what are 'objective morals.' (2) It is not logical to conclude that 'objective morals' exist simply based on the premise that they may exist. In other words IF (the possibility) something exists is not a basis to conclude it exists. (3) There is an adequate natural explanation for human morals.
                              Re (3) you appear to think that the existence of something is basis for denying the existence of something else. I doubt that's the case for "human morality" and "objective morality." Possibly, depending on what you mean by human morality, you have committed the fallacy of equivocation. Or this: defining human morality so that it excludes objective morality--that needs justification.
                              The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                              [T]he truth I’m after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                              Comment

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