People have repeatedly called my attention to three posts by Mitch LeBlanc at www.urbanphilosophy.net wherein he makes a “case against presuppositionalism”. There are reasons I have put off writing anything about them other than not having a great deal of time. The arguments contained in the posts are in fact not what they claim to be (arguments against presuppositionalism), but are arguments against the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. The arguments presented do not originate with Mitch at all, a fact he readily admits, but are arguments familiar to many presuppositionalists that have been rehashed. Some of the arguments Mitch attempts to use against “presuppositionalism” are arguments that were created by presuppositionalists themselves in order to sharpen particular portions of particular arguments used in conjunction with presuppositionalism. All of this is to say that there is nothing new here, and what Mitch has rewritten is not made up of arguments against presuppositionalism as the posts and their titles would have readers believe, nor are the posts made up of arguments against the existence of God persay. Therefore my response will be brief and will focus on the last of the three posts found here: http://urbanphilosophy.net/philosophy/the-case-against-presuppositionalism-part-iii/ A few observations concerning the Strawman Fallacy will be followed by an example of an irrelevant argument and finally the Transcendental Argument will be employed in defense of the Transcendental Argument.
Mitch writes, “I have previously presented two main arguments against the claim that logic depends on God’s existence”. The arguments Mitch advances against this claim may be dismissed without evaluation since the majority presuppositionalist position which I am a part of does not involve this claim. Unfortunately, Mitch constantly employs this strawman and thinks he has thereby refuted presuppositionalism. God is a necessary being. Logic does not depend upon the existence of God; it is not contingent. Logic is necessary. Presuppositionalism is thus immune to the first argument Mitch makes.
The second argument Mitch makes is based upon the first with the added assertion that presuppositionalism presumes an Ontological Argument. Perhaps Mitch means that presuppositionalism presumes the conclusion of the Ontological Argument. In any event, he argues that since logic depends on God, if God possibly does not exist, then some law of logic may possibly fail. Since no law of logic can possibly fail, God necessarily exists. Now, I do not see how this argument shows that God necessarily exists, and as already mentioned, logic is not contingent, but even given that the argument works it directly contradicts the next premise. Mitch states in one premise that God necessarily exists and follows with another premise which states that there is a possible world in which God does not exist, which makes little sense to me. Aside from what appears to me to be an inconsistency at this point, Mitch fails to support the premise that there is a possible world in which God does not exist and shifts the burden of proof onto the person who would deny the premise.
In his third argument, the “impossibility of the contrary” is described as stating that if non-Christianity fails at accounting for X then Christianity accounts for X. Mitch thinks that the inability of non-Christianity to account for logic does not mean that Christianity can account for X. This neglects that Christianity may be shown to be able to account for X whereas non-Christianity does not, and furthermore it is absurd to assert that it is impossible to account for X. Mitch writes that “it may simply be impossible to account for X, that is to say the presumption of justification may not be valid”, but then none of this would be intelligible, especially terms like “impossible” and “valid”, so the power of a transcendental argument is seen in that both the acceptance and denial of X presuppose Y. If non-Christianity does not provide the preconditions for the accepted intelligibility of X then Christianity does. It is not like there is some third option.
Mitch immediately gives chase to a rabbit and asks his readers to consider four “worldviews”: Christianity, Christianity without the incarnation (C1), Christianity with four persons in God (C2), and Christianity with an extra disciple of Jesus (C3). Mitch writes that these, “are, in effect, non-Christian worldviews that match Christianity point for point in every regard, save for one difference”. Unfortunately for Mitch this assertion is false, as may be easily demonstrated. If there is no incarnation, then Jesus has not been raised from the dead. If there are four persons in God, then baptism is to be performed in the name of more than just Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If there is an “extra” disciple of Jesus, then the risen Christ was seen by more than “the Twelve” as the term was understood. Thus C1, C2, and C3 are not non-Christian worldviews that match Christianity point for point in every regard save for one difference and the statement Mitch makes is false. It is therefore doubtful that the rest of whatever Mitch argues in this regard makes sense. Sunday School teachers refute these kind of “worldviews” all the time, especially in cases where the class is made up of children. Since C1, C2, and C3 accept the authority of Scripture but contradict what Scripture teaches they are to be rejected as incoherent. Now I suspect that Mitch might change his argument, but really none of this should be of any concern anyway as will be seen in a moment.
One can follow Mitch down his rabbit trails for some time and in so doing miss what is really going on. Mitch continues to dodge the problems which have been raised concerning his worldview through offering in response argument after argument allegedly based upon logic. Yet when questioned about his use of logic itself, he provides no real answer, as he finds the “notion of ‘justifying logic’ is a peculiar one”. On the other hand, he has attempted to argue for the Law of Non-Contradiction on this site.
To begin with, Mitch is not entirely clear concerning what he believes about logic. Mitch writes that it “is clear and evident that logical principles exist as logically necessary abstractions…” but elsewhere writes in a self-contradictory fashion that logic “isn’t a thing, it’s a referrer to things” and argues that logic cannot be referred to as it is not an abstract object or entity. Again, Mitch supposedly holds that logic is a “referrer to entities”, a “referrer to things”, and “refers only to arguments”, yet such things are contingent and hence logic is as well, which contradicts the assertion made by Mitch that “logical principles exist as logically necessary abstractions”. Further, if one grants what Mitch wants to argue using TANG and turns one of his own arguments back on him, then logic is contingent upon a non-Christian theistic worldview, and hence is not necessary. Mitch writes that “logical principles are axioms and as such they are not subject to any proof or justification outside of themselves”, yet he attempts to argue for the Law of Non-Contradiction elsewhere by appealing to arguments outside of the law itself.
For all of his talk concerning logic, Mitch does not appear to be really clear on what exactly logic is, nor does he offer anything by way of attempting to account for logic from within his own worldview. If he wants to account for logic by converting to Fristianity, then we can meet him there, but so long as he remains an adherent to his current position he has no place upon which to stand and make any of his arguments.
What is Mitch standing on when he raises the Fristianity objection? What would Mitch have us to believe concerning the laws of logic, and how are they at all consistent with his worldview? How can such immaterial entities exist in a materialist universe? Why does logic continue to apply in a contingent realm of experience? How is logic imposed upon the world? Why should anyone care about adhering to the laws of logic? How is the universal and absolute nature of such laws consistent with the existence of only particular and finite minds? Such questions are only the beginning of an internal critique.
Mitch needs to give an account for his use of logic or cease using logic because given his presuppositions logic may be called into question. Mitch may continue to parrot old arguments against TAG, but what has been offered in reply is a TA in defense of TAG. I, for one, do not think Mitch is quite able to answer it. This may be the reason for the prolonged discussions concerning apologetic method as well as the search for anything on the Internet which might be used against the presuppositionalist method.