Saturday, March 16, 2013

US TV series "Closer to Truth" - 11 ten minute clips of me.

I am currently appearing on several episodes of "Closer to Truth", the TV series on Cosmos, Consciousness and God. The series goes out in the US and elsewhere and features very many high-profile academics. I was flattered to be included. Online clips of me on the following topics can be found here (click on titles to view):

13 comments:

Rick Warden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Warden said...

Professor Law,

It has been a couple of days and no one has commented at your blog. This might be an opportunity to move "closer to truth" as the title of the post suggests.

I had offered a brief logical argument at another post but you had deleted it claiming you did not like the link below it. I'll offer it again, without any links this time.

An atheist at my blog reassured me that you would not discriminate against a person due to his lowly academic stature, so I am hoping that you will condescend to address my question.

Professor, can you find any fault in this argument?

1. Philosophical arguments (such as whether or not God exists) are defined by specific propositions and a conclusion.

2. The logical consequence of an argument is evaluated based on comparing the relationship between the specific premises and the conclusion.

3. Dawkins' central philosophical argument against God's existence includes six distinct propositions and a conclusion in The God Delusion.

4. In his evaluation, Stephen Law does not address Dawkins' six specific premises and does not ask whether there is any logical consequence between the six premises and the conclusion.

5. Therefore, Stephen Law had failed to adequately evaluate Dawkins' central argument in The God Delusion as a philosophical argument.

Thank you for your time.

Stephen Law said...

You have chosen to ignore my previous comment, Rick.

townleystreet said...

Well I've just finished this 'Closer to the Truth' marathon. It seems like the type of show that would be very easy to 'overload' on. Each small 10 minute clip holds enough ideas to think about for a long time, but perhaps that's just me trying to keep up.

My favourite was the 'Why anything at all?' video. Previously I've only read about this from physicist point of view, so I found your approach refreshingly ... well approachable.

One thing I've never quite understood when it came to this type of question, and especially when it's used in something like a 'First Cause' argument is why the idea of an infinite regression is so bad that it can be rejected so easily. Is there a simple explanation for that?

Stephen Law said...

Thanks. Well one standard criticism of positing an infinite series of causes is that it just raises the question: why an infinite series of causes, rather than Nothing? It doesn't really answer the "Why Something rather than Nothing?" question.

Rick Warden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Warden said...

Hello Professor

>You have chosen to ignore my previous comment, Rick.

- The following was the last comment that you had written to me:

Rick

If you continue to post multiple links to your websites here I'll delete them, as it looks like a cheap ruse for generating traffic.

March 9, 2013 at 1:08 PM

I won't post any links, don't worry. But you will find that quoted comment beneath your article, "Tricks of the Mind event CFI, March 30th." That is, as long as it has not been deleted.

Based on your most recent comment here at this post, Mr. Law, the posting of a link may not have been the main problem.

I apologize if the argument is too complex or time consuming to consider. I did not think that would be the case, but I may be wrong.

Perhaps if it were approved for publication or reviewed by secular scholars of high repute, then you could have some assurance of its logical validity and you would feel more comfortable about offering your opinion.

But, wait. Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, was reviewed by many academic scholars and you have yet to offer your opinion as to whether or not its central argument is logically sound. So, that theory kind of falls through the cracks.

Perhaps we should surmise that you have no interest at all in offering your opinion ever on whether any argument presented to you offers any logical consequence or not. Based on what I have observed in your comments so far, that seems to be the case. Please forgive me if you find my questions unpleasant. I find that moving closer to the truth can be unpleasant for people sometimes.

imnotandrei said...

Professor Law,

I'm sure you already do, but feel free to ignore Mr. Warden; any claims he may have upon your time are invalidated by the fact that he believes in his complete privilege to determine with whom he speaks or does not on his own blog.

He doesn't get that whether or not you wish to offer an opinion, you're not in any way obligated to offer an opinion to *him*, on any subject.

Perhaps this will lead Mr. Warden to learn about consistency, something he has been shown to have problems with.

I hope you don't mind my intrusion into Mr. Warden's attempt to argue with you; I figured I'd bring additional evidence from his corner of the world. ;)

Thank you for posting these clips, and I'm sorry you have to deal with Mr. Warden's pestering.

Stephen Law said...

Thanks imnotendrei. Yep I am ignoring Rick Warden for the reasons I mentioned in previous reply to his comment here: http://stephenlaw.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/tricks-of-mind-event-cfi-march-30th.html

Rick Warden said...

>he believes in his complete privilege to determine with whom he speaks or does not on his own blog.

- That is correct. I generally do not attempt to engage in debate with people who make repetitive false and slanderous statements, such as Mr. Imnotadrei. Documented instances of such are recorded in article,

Slander, Logic and Venn Diagrams: Adventures in Internet Apologetics

>I figured I'd bring additional evidence from his corner of the world. ;)

- "evidence" hmmmmmmm. The actual evidence at the article I just mentioned indicts you, Imnotandrei, as one who makes repetitive false and slanderous statements. If I have made any false statement about professor Law, it would be helpful to see at least one link to such a statement. That would be some kind of evidence.

As it stands, I am apparently being shunned by Law for being "unpleasant" "muddled" and not "published" according to the comments at the provided link.

Apparently, Imnontandrei continues to hold to his opinion that professor Law is a good example of someone who uses sound, demonstrable logic in his analysis and arguments.

So far, the mounting evidence says otherwise. This is not a one-off observation. I would provide multiple links to evidence of this, but then Law would probably accuse me of a "ruse."

The main ruse here is that Law cannot admit the fact that his review of Dawkins' God Delusion as a philosophical argument was completely inadequate.

Instead of engaging in a logical discussion, Professor Law seems to be offering ethos-based rhetoric. However, deep down, most people believe that logical principles offer a higher sense of credibility than ethos-based rhetoric. And, to date, no one has offered to point out a fault in the following logical argument:

A Logical Proof that Stephen Law Failed to Adequately Evaluate The God Delusion

1. Philosophical arguments (such as whether or not God exists) are defined by specific propositions and a conclusion.

2. The logical consequence of an argument is evaluated based on comparing the relationship between the specific premises and the conclusion.

3. Dawkins' central philosophical argument against God's existence includes six distinct propositions and a conclusion in The God Delusion.

4. In his evaluation, Stephen Law does not address Dawkins' six specific premises and does not ask whether there is any logical consequence between the six premises and the conclusion.

5. Therefore, Stephen Law had failed to adequately evaluate Dawkins' central argument in The God Delusion as a philosophical argument.

All I am doing here is trying to move people closer to the truth. If people prefer to ignore logical arguments, so be it.

wombat said...

Re: "an infinite series of causes"

Perhaps an alternate question is why we (or at least many of us) are dissatisfied with this but are happy with an infinite succession of effects arising from a particular cause. Is this just a cultural artefact related how we view the progression of time?

[ I believe I have read although it may be unreliable-no reference, an account of a tribe for whom our passage through time is backwards. By analogy you can see what is in front of you i.e.the past but the terrain behind you (the future) is only revealed as you step backwards. ]

Michael Fugate said...

Rick,
If you argue from design to god and god is not needed for design, then god or god so defined is likely not to exist. There may be other arguments for god, but this one is useless. You might want to update your science to the 19th century.

Jon Wainwright said...

Great series of video shorts, Stephen. In the last one (Is Consciousness an Illusion?), you draw attention to the way our use of language can sometimes create an illusion of a "metaphysical barrier" and "metaphysical territory" to which we have no access. I happen to be reading Wayne Proudfoot's excellent book on Religious Experience in which he tackles the thorny issue of a "mystic's claim that his experience is absolutely ineffable" (page 126). He first points out that "something can only be ineffable with respect to a particular symbolic system", and so "the ineffability of an experience must result from its logical or grammatical component."

As you did with the idea of the mind as a private garden, Proudfoot steers us back to the crucial role of language (page 127): "The component of the experience which insures ineffability is a grammatical rule; it is prescriptive rather than descriptive. It is a criterion for the identification of an experience as mystical."

He then introduces the concept of "placeholder" - which functions I think as exactly a "metaphysical barrier" blocking off access to a particular territory (e.g. the mystic's experience). He gives the example of the opening sentence of the Tao te Ching, where we are told that the tao that can be put into words is the not the Tao. Here, the term Tao stands as a placeholder, "repelling all attributions" and playing a very important role: "It formulates the rule by which the term tao will be governed in this context."

The same approach can be taken towards unpacking that old favourite: "God is ineffable". Some philosophers have argued this is self-contradictory, because one is simultaneously denying that anything can be predicated of God and predicating something of him, namely, ineffability. Proudfoot suggests that this is no ordinary predicate. "It is an operator designed to achieve the result it is supposed to describe. It is prescriptive and evocative rather than descriptive or analytical." (page 129)

A key property of a placeholder is that it is not representational, and its "opacity maintains a sense of ineffability."

Perhaps the term "God" is also a "shadow cast by language"? In any case, this seems to be an area sorely in need of exactly the kind of "linguistic therapy" philosophers are qualified to give!