Was Van Til A Philosopher?

In response to a recent post on this site, our good friend Mitch from Urban Philosophy made the following comment:

One can grant that Van Til was a philosopher, but they need not grant that he was a competent philosopher. 😉

A few comments later, Pierre-Simon Laplace shared with us his own perspective on Van Til’s Presuppositional approach to apologetics. After sharing this, he then posted a rather interesting follow-up comment (in response to Mitch, as far as I can tell).

“Oh, and Van Til was NOT a Philosopher.”

At first blush, one might see this merely as a knee-jerk response to Mitch, and not worthy of a second look. After all, it doesn’t take more than a few moments to look up the word “philosopher”, compare what we know about Van Til to that definition, and see the significant overlap between the two. But is such a reading really fair to Pierre? After all, perhaps Pierre is simply using the term in a more limited sense. That is, perhaps Pierre has a more stringent definition that he holds to, and that he would like Mitch (and the rest of us) to fall in line with.

Let’s read on …

I’m fairly sure that none of Van Til’s 300+ publications appear in any academic (peer reviewed) philosophy journals.

Neither does he have any publications in any main line academic (peer reviewed) philosophy publishing presses.

Neither is any of his work reviewed in any of the main line academic (peer reviewed) philosophy journals.

He does not possess any graduate degrees in Philosophy, from an accredited institution, nor does he have any professional academic presentations at peer reviewed Philosophy conferences (whether nationally or internationally).

From Pierre’s ensuing comments, it seems that in order to be considered a Philosopher, one must meet one or more of the following criteria:

1. Be published and have one’s work reviewed in an academic (peer reviewed) philosophy journal.
2. Possess a graduate degree in philosophy, from an accredited institution.
3. Have presented at an academic (peer reviewed) philosophy conference.

So it does seem, then, that Pierre has a much more stringent definition that he holds to than the general population. This is not a problem, per se, now that we understand how he uses the word. In future discussions with him, we can keep in mind just how narrow his use of the term “philosopher” is, and take that into account. And so, there really isn’t much more to say at this point. Or is there?

Pierre makes one final comment, that (in my opinion) takes his response to Mitch beyond merely sharing his own definition of the term “philosopher”, as follows:

Interestingly enough, the same things we’ve said about Van Til apply to James White (though we could also say that White has no relevant work in the field of Theology either).

It seems odd to me for Pierre to try to draw a parallel at this point between Van Til and White, especially considering that Dr. White does not even represent himself as a Philosopher. However, considering further Pierre’s comment that “we could also say that White has no relevant work in the field of Theology either”, we begin to get the sense that Pierre is interested in doing more here than merely sharing with us his definition of the word “Philosopher”.
It seems that he is attempting to discredit Van Til (and White, for that matter), due to the fact that neither of them has accomplished that which Pierre feels are necessary to be given the honorific title of “Philosopher” or “Theologian”.

And so this leaves me wondering whether Pierre did not feel his earlier comments regarding Presuppositionalism are strong enough to stand on their own, thereby leading him to fallaciously attempt to discredit Van Til in general, and Presuppositionalism by extension.

Perhaps Pierre will clarify whether this was his intention.

BK

[image courtesy of Stuck In Customs]


63 Comments

Pierre-Simon Laplace

What we are interested in, of course, is the meaning of Bill Craig’s speech act. The locution ‘is a philosopher’ has a meaning which is partly determined by the authorial intentions of Bill Craig (context, as well as semantic content will also fix the meaning of the locution in question). Bill’s remark was:

(1) Van Til was not a philosopher.

The locution ‘looking it up’ suggests that the term can be appropriately defined lexically and that Bill has in mind the lexical definition of the term. What is that lexical meaning? What are the imagined conditions under which (1) is true? Well, quite obviously a lot falls on the meaning of the predicate in view (i.e., the meaning of “philosopher”). Suppose as BK seems to suggest that the meaning of this term is the one accessible to us by merely “looking it up” [1].

Lexical Definiens of ‘Philosopher’: “A student of or specialist in philosophy.”

The other bits of the semantic range of the lexical definien are irrelevant in this case. This first entry under the term in the exhaustive Merriam Webster dictionary suggests that a philosopher is anyone who is a student of philosophy, or a specialist in philosophy. The ‘or’ here is probably inclusive, so a philosopher is someone who is a student of philosophy or (and even perhaps both) a specialist in philosophy. Quite obviously, and charitably Bill does not mean to suggest that Van Til did not read, or study Philosophy (these seem to be two roles essential to being a student of a subject). Even my 15 year old cousin qualifies as a philosopher on the lexical definiens, and it would be right of us to call my cousin a Philosopher.

Charitably, Bill is using a “technical” or what my freshmen students learned as “theoretical” defeniens of the term “philosopher”. While lexical defeiniens highlight how a term is used broadly by compotent speakers of the relevant langauge, theoretical definiens are definitions that attempt to formulate a theoretically adequate or discipline-relevant “suitable descripton” of the object to which the term “philosopher” applies. Theoretical definitions of a term are often determined by how that term is used by specialists or “scholars” of the relevant field. Quite obviously, philosophers at the APA don’t use the term “philosopher” in such a way that the term applies to individuals who have pursued no graduate degrees (at accredited institutions) in philosophy, have no interaction with the discipline via publications or presentations, and have made no measurable impact on the discipline at all (by having one’s work reviewed). [2]

Sadly, James White (a darling of some presuppositionalists) is neither a philosopher nor a theologian (in the theoretical/technical sense of the term).

All in all, with respect to James White and Van Til, the latter is only a Philosopher insofar as my 15year old cousin is a philosopher (and he’s no Kripke), the former is only a philosopher or theologian insofar as my 15year cousin is one as well.

Neither individuals have made any measurable impact on the field of analytic or continental philosophy.

Yes, no one should look up to either individual (on account of their philosophical “work”), and no one should waste their time studying either individuals work where that work touches on philosophical matters.

This is sad. 🙁

——–

[1] The remark was: “After all, it doesn’t take more than a few moments to look up the word ‘philosopher’, compare what we know about Van Til to that definition, and see the significant overlap between the two” Obviously, BK is hinting at a lexical definition of the term.
[2] If someone were to do one of what the conjuncts of this sentence recommends, I’m fairly sure that folks at the APA would look at satisfying that would-be condition as being sufficient for being properly identified as a philosopher.

BK

Pierre said: What we are interested in, of course, is the meaning of Bill Craig’s speech act.

Actually, no – we are not interested in the meaning of Bill Craig’s speech act; we are interested in the meaning of yours, as it was you who uttered “Oh, and Van Til was NOT a Philosopher.” More to the point, we are interested in the intention of the entirety of your comment – specifically the portion where you brought James White into the discussion, and made the claim “though we could also say that White has no relevant work in the field of Theology either”. It was that claim that brought your intention into question, and therefore led me to ask for clarification of it.

And you have done just that (shared your intention), when you say “Yes, no one should look up to either individual (on account of their philosophical “work”), and no one should waste their time studying either individuals work where that work touches on philosophical matters.” As I suspected, you have fallaciously attempted to discredit Van Til’s work relating to philosophy merely because he does not meet your personal criteria for being considered a Philosopher. Of course, as any student of philosophy knows, whether someone meets the criteria (yours, Craig’s, mine, or anyone’s) of being a Philosopher is irrelevant to whether or not there is merit to be found the ideas they have to share – even philosophical ones. The merit of an idea is found in the idea itself, and not the source of the one sharing it.

While you might recommend to others that they should not bother with Van Til when it comes to matters philosophical, that is more autobiographical than anything else. That is, there is nothing found in the assertion “don’t bother to read Van Til on Philosophy as he doesn’t meet my criteria” that is relevant to anyone in determining whether the philosophical ideas Van Til has to share have any merit to them.

Thanks for clarifying your intention for us.

BK

Pierre-Simon Laplace

Craig is a member of the APA. FYI

Pierre-Simon Laplace

My remark regarding Van Til was parroting Bill’s remark. The meaning of my utterance is akin to his, since I intended to pick up on the meaning of his remark. So, if you are interested in my intentions you should be interested in his.

I’ve argued that there is a technical definiens of the term “philosopher” which Bill had in mind (and by consequence, which I also had in mind). I’ve explained how often times the technical definiens of a term will be how that term is used by specialists of a relevant field wherein that term is often appropriated in communicative acts. Quite obviously, the relevant field is Philosophy, and one very important association of academic philosophers is the APA. Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy, and (another sufficient condition) they do not use it in reference to individuals who have not successfully completed a graduate degree in philosophy (or are at least PhD students or candidates in philosophy). This isn’t my own “personal” definiens of the term. I’m making a substantive claim about the technical definition of the term in question, based upon its application to particular individuals on the part of a relevant body of professional academic philosophers. The definition on offer is not a stipulative definition. [I’m glad to see you’ve dropped the ‘looking up the definition’ business]

There’s no question that Van Til and White MIGHT (possibly) be saying true things. Sure. I’m not arguing that Van Til and White are wrong about various things they’ve said simply because they are not philosophers (in the technical sense of the term). I have suggested that we are certainly within our epistemic rights in not looking to these individuals for a proper education on philosophical matters, and I AM suggesting that it is highly unlikely that there is anything philosophically substantive in any of the literature authored by White and Van Til. Why is it unlikely? It would be strange (very strange indeed) that something like presuppositionalism (in all its complexity with its FAR reaching consequences) could be defended with any real brilliance, or intellectual tenacity, or technical erudition, and IT NOT make any type of measurable impact on the academic and professional field of philosophy.

Think about it. If presuppositionalism (of the Van Tillian sort) is true, then Van Til is quite brilliant indeed……but why is it that this obscure Van Til character never once presented at an academic (peer reviewed) philosophy conference? Why is it that he never once publishes any of his papers on the topic in a peer reviewed philosophy journal/ WHy is it that he never publishes a book length treatement of the issues in a main line academic publishing (philosophy) press? And furthermore, why is it that perhaps the most (if presuppositionalism of the Van Tillian sort is true) brilliant Christian philosopher of the 20th century is never once discussed in any philosophical literature (that has pushed through peer review in journals or academic publishing presses)?

Using one’s time to read Van Til on philosophical issues, or using one’s time to read James White on theological or philosophical issues is (under most circumstances) unwise and a total waste, especially when there are a HOST of Christian philosophers who’ve MADE AN ACTUAL MEASURABLE IMPACT on the field.

A question to the presuppositionalists….why haven’t you guys published anything in peer reviewed (philosophy) journals or peer reviewed (philosophy) presses?

BK

Chris has already addressed much of what you had to say, but I have some further comments to add …

Pierre said: My remark regarding Van Til was parroting Bill’s remark. The meaning of my utterance is akin to his, since I intended to pick up on the meaning of his remark. So, if you are interested in my intentions you should be interested in his.

Oddly enough, you didn’t quote him initially. And although you made a comment consistent with his, you then went on to list criteria for identifying someone as a scholar, but did not attribute that criteria to Craig. Therefore, there was every reason, in your initial comment, to believe you were speaking for yourself, and not on behalf of Craig. However, since you have now indicated you are “parroting” Craig’s remark, I will take that into account moving forward.

Pierre said:Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy, and (another sufficient condition) they do not use it in reference to individuals who have not successfully completed a graduate degree in philosophy (or are at least PhD students or candidates in philosophy).

Let me take a guess here – you are a “PhD student or candidate in philosophy”, and you forgot to list this in your initial criteria.

Pierre said:This isn’t my own “personal” definiens of the term. I’m making a substantive claim about the technical definition of the term in question, based upon its application to particular individuals on the part of a relevant body of professional academic philosophers. The definition on offer is not a stipulative definition.

So it seems we are back to the “Van Til was not a Philosopher because he does not meet the criteria I subscribe to, and so I won’t bother to read him” type of argument you have previously used with me regarding White as a Scholar. Of what relevance is such an argument to anyone who a) does not also subscribe to the same criteria you do as necessary as defining someone as a Philosopher or, more importantly b) realizes that one’s credentials have no necessary bearing on the cogency, usefulness, or merit of what a person writes? Appealing to the APA isn’t going to get you anywhere, as Chris has already pointed out – it just moves the question back.

Pierre, you are in the undesirable position of attempting to convince others not to read certain authors based on a certain criteria, when many of those listening to you neither subscribe to the same criteria nor share your point of view that said criteria is relevant in the first place. How do you expect to convince us that we should not bother reading Van Til, especially when his writings have made a measurable impact on so many of us? After all (and this has been covered ad nauseam), it isn’t a person’s credentials or accomplishments that dictate the merit of their ideas, it is the ideas themselves. I really don’t see what you hope to gain out of this line of argumentation.

Pierre said: [I’m glad to see you’ve dropped the ‘looking up the definition’ business]

You have misinterpreted my lack of repeating the phrase “looking up” as “dropping” it. I stand by my original comments that we can “look up” the word in order to gain an understanding of how it is commonly used. I also stand by my subsequent comments that you were likely using it in a more limited sense, and I do so confidently because you have subsequently demonstrated that I am correct. I explicitly gave you the benefit of the doubt that this what you were doing when I stated “But is such a reading really fair to Pierre? After all, perhaps Pierre is simply using the term in a more limited sense.” Taking this into consideration, what ever gave you the idea that I was somehow backpedaling on my use of the phrase?

Pierre said: There’s no question that Van Til and White MIGHT (possibly) be saying true things. Sure. I’m not arguing that Van Til and White are wrong about various things they’ve said simply because they are not philosophers (in the technical sense of the term).

Good … that is encouraging to hear.

Pierre said: I have suggested that we are certainly within our epistemic rights in not looking to these individuals for a proper education on philosophical matters …

“A proper education on philosophical matters” is a new qualification you have only just introduced. Regardless, who is the “we” in question here? Everyone? Only those who share your criteria for determining who is or is not a Philosopher? And what exactly do you mean by “proper”? I would hate to think you merely mean an education administered by someone who meets your criteria of being a Philosopher.

Pierre said: I AM suggesting that it is highly unlikely that there is anything philosophically substantive in any of the literature authored by White and Van Til. Why is it unlikely? It would be strange (very strange indeed) that something like presuppositionalism (in all its complexity with its FAR reaching consequences) could be defended with any real brilliance, or intellectual tenacity, or technical erudition, and IT NOT make any type of measurable impact on the academic and professional field of philosophy.

Oh, not only do I disagree completely, I will tell you exactly why I disagree. Presuppositionalism (as a method of reasoning) is antithetical to the natural man, even to many Christians for that matter. The mere idea that we cannot be neutral in our reasoning (despite all our efforts) scorches the ear upon first hearing it. More to the point, the concept that we don’t even get to chose whether neutrality is possible when it comes to discussing the God of the Bible is terribly offensive. In short, Presuppositionalism is unpopular, not because of anything inherently wrong with it, but because of what it says about those considering it. This is exactly why it is not “popular” in the circles that you consider to be relevant.

This does not mean it has made no measurable impact at all, of course. On the contrary, Presuppositionlism has a much greater following today than in the past, and (I predict) will continue to grow in popularity and in use as an apologetic method. Does that mean that the “academic and professional field of philosophy” is going to take any more notice than it has in the past? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Is that really relevant to whether Presuppositionalism has merit? Obviously not.

Pierre said: Using one’s time to read Van Til on philosophical issues, or using one’s time to read James White on theological or philosophical issues is (under most circumstances) unwise and a total waste, especially when there are a HOST of Christian philosophers who’ve MADE AN ACTUAL MEASURABLE IMPACT on the field.

Pierre, you seem consumed with the notion that only those meeting your criteria have anything useful to say. Sure, you give lip service to the fact that perhaps Van Til might be saying something true, but you will never know for yourself unless you actually read him. If you decide against it, for the reasons outlined above, then fine. I don’t think anyone here is taking issue per se with the criteria you choose to use to filter out who you read. But to attempt to argue that it is inappropriate for others to read him, without providing something more than an irrelevant set of subjective criteria, is an exercise doomed for failure.

BK

C.L. Bolt

1. Be published and have one’s work reviewed in an academic (peer reviewed) philosophy journal.
2. Possess a graduate degree in philosophy, from an accredited institution.
3. Have presented at an academic (peer reviewed) philosophy conference.

There goes the history of philosophy.

Shotgun

Why does a pagan society accept (via peer reviewed publications) the writings of those Mr. Laplace considers philosophers (in a technical sense)…when the Bible clearly says (and history affirms) that the message of the Christian will be rejected. “The wisdom of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.”

C.L. Bolt

“Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy,”

Note that according to this view whether or not someone has made a measurable contribution to the field of philosophy is determined by whether or not the APA decides that someone has. But then, who is to determine whether or not members of the APA have made a measurable contribution to the field of philosophy?

“and (another sufficient condition) they do not use it in reference to individuals who have not successfully completed a graduate degree in philosophy (or are at least PhD students or candidates in philosophy).”

This is false unless the APA does not consider Socrates and a large host of other well-known philosophers of history to have actually been philosophers.

“I’m making a substantive claim about the technical definition of the term in question, based upon its application to particular individuals on the part of a relevant body of professional academic philosophers.”

Note that a relevant body of professional academic philosophers determines the technical definition of the term in question, but who is to determine whether or not this body of professional academic philosophers is relevant?

“I have suggested that we are certainly within our epistemic rights in not looking to these individuals for a proper education on philosophical matters, and I AM suggesting that it is highly unlikely that there is anything philosophically substantive in any of the literature authored by White and Van Til.”

Note that the APA or the relevant body of academic philosophers or Laplace can recommend not looking to the works of others as providing a proper education on philosophical matters and can dismiss them as very probably lacking anything philosophically substantive without having looked to them. The reason is that neither the APA nor the relevant body of academic philosophers nor Laplace has determined that the works in question are philosophically substantive, etc., but then, how would they ever know?

“It would be strange (very strange indeed) that something like presuppositionalism (in all its complexity with its FAR reaching consequences) could be defended with any real brilliance, or intellectual tenacity, or technical erudition, and IT NOT make any type of measurable impact on the academic and professional field of philosophy.”

This begs the question concerning whether or not it actually has made any type of measurable impact.

Van Til could have been brilliant and presuppositionalism could be true without Van Til having ever presented at an academic peer reviewed philosophy conference, published in a journal, or published a book on a main line academic publishing philosophy press. The reasons that many of these things did not happen are explained within presuppositionalist literature, but Laplace would not know that since he sees no reason to read it.

“And furthermore, why is it that perhaps the most (if presuppositionalism of the Van Tillian sort is true) brilliant Christian philosopher of the 20th century is never once discussed in any philosophical literature (that has pushed through peer review in journals or academic publishing presses)?”

Fallacy of complex question. Discussions of Van Til do appear from time to time in this type of literature.

“Using one’s time to read Van Til on philosophical issues, or using one’s time to read James White on theological or philosophical issues is (under most circumstances) unwise and a total waste, especially when there are a HOST of Christian philosophers who’ve MADE AN ACTUAL MEASURABLE IMPACT on the field.”

Says the guy who spends his time online at the Dawkins forums, Urban Philosophy, CARM, and now has decided to swing by here. 😉 Perhaps I should just dismiss everything written by anyone who does not have at least an undergraduate degree in philosophy over at Urban Philosophy? Would there be anything left? I’d much rather concern myself with the people there and their arguments. The biblical view on apologetics requires that sort of thing. It is sad to see so many Christians who happen to be philosophers desire to engage in the apologetic realm and forget what it was they were doing in the first place.

“A question to the presuppositionalists….why haven’t you guys published anything in peer reviewed (philosophy) journals or peer reviewed (philosophy) presses?”

Again the answers are provided in presuppositionalist literature which Laplace is apparently unfamiliar with. It is nevertheless worth nothing that this question could at some point been asked of any philosopher or any collective body of philosophers representing a particular school of thought.

“All in all, with respect to James White and Van Til, the latter is only a Philosopher insofar as my 15year old cousin is a philosopher (and he’s no Kripke), the former is only a philosopher or theologian insofar as my 15year cousin is one as well.”

Appeal to consequences. Who is to say that your 15 year old cousin is not a philosopher? The APA? But who says the members of the APA are philosophers? Can 15 year olds not be philosophers? Are cousins excluded from being philosophers?

“Neither individuals have made any measurable impact on the field of analytic or continental philosophy.”

Lots of people disagree. 🙂

Given that skepticism, transcendental arguments, presuppositions, self-deception, and theology are all topics of discussion within peer reviewed academic philosophy and theology journals and given that these topics also constitute the majority of the presuppositionalist program there is not a lot of reason for taking these sort of complaints about the lack of journal articles pertaining to presuppositionalism seriously.

Mitchell LeBlanc

It seems to me that I could use the same positive points BK raised in his recent comment to speak about something like the Flat Earth Society. Would we really take someone seriously who said that the sciences were ignoring Flat Earthism because it’s abhorrent and offensive to those who hold the round earth view, and that this is the (I take you to mean primary) reason why Flat Earthism is frowned upon or discredited? It’s a bit weird.

I’m happy to say that Van Til was a philosopher in the general sense of the term, where by philosopher we denote merely someone who ‘loves wisdom’ but we surely are not to call Van Til an analytic philosopher (reading his work makes it clear that this description does not fit), or use philosopher to describe him in the same way we might describe, say, Derek Parfit. You can choose to disagree with Laplace’s criteria for a philosopher, and further choose to reject accepting the APA as the appropriate philosophical collective by which one must be recognized to properly deserve the title, but then it seems you have to create your own branch in departing from the mainstream academia. Perhaps you folks are fine with this, but in doing so, I think there needs to be very good reasons to take this ‘new branch’ seriously. Otherwise, why shouldn’t it be looked upon as one looks upon the Flat Earth Society. Distinct, organized, but wholly irrelevant.

I also generally agree with Laplace’s claim that one would be within their epistemic rights in not reading Van Til for any philosophical education. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t, but rather that it is not comparable to pursuing a philosophical education without reading Descartes, for example.

And yeah, it’s always seemed to me odd that if Presuppositionalism was all its supporters crack it up to be, that Christian philosophers just ignore it in favor of more difficult tasks. I mean, seriously, wouldn’t Plantinga have far less motivation to publish is trilogy IF presuppositionalism were true? Or are we in the position of saying that presuppositionalism is true and thinkers such as Plantinga, Van Inwagen, Moser, Craig, Swinburne, etc… all just don’t realize it. That’s a pretty high pedestal to place one’s self on and I don’t know if I’d be comfortable there.

Anyhoo, just my $0.02

RazorsKiss

“Ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates?…Morons.”
— William Goldman (The Princess Bride)

Mitchell LeBlanc

It’s almost common sensical to say that the Ancient Greek philosophers were not analytic philosophers.

C.L. Bolt

Since William Lane Craig did not write “analytic” philosopher the argument Mitch raised is irrelevant. Further, since he does not have even an undergraduate degree in philosophy I think we are well within our epistemic rights to not consider his understanding of the definition of “philosopher”. I do hope that Urban Philosophy will either be taken down or having its name changed in light of Mitch’s concerns.

Wouldn’t those who object to the work of Plantinga have far less motivation to publish such objections or their own take on philosophy and apologetics if Reformed epistemology were true? Christian philosophers do not just ignore Plantinga, and they do not just ignore presuppositionalism either.

Seriously, this is a silly argument based in academic pride. Let’s get back to dealing with arguments.

C.L. Bolt

And by the way, notice that Mitch is arguing differently from Laplace in his attempt to qualify using “analytic”. Just admit when you’re wrong, and move on. Van Til was a philosopher.

Mitchell LeBlanc

So I completely agree that one would be well within their epistemic rights not to read my writings for an education in philosophy. This is even laid out on the “About” page on my website. There’s a difference between saying that one is within rights not to do x, and one *should* not do x. I’m sure that you, with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, understand the difference.

WLC did not write “analytic”, correct, but when Continental philosophers (for example) are writing to other philosophers from the Continental tradition, they do not distinguish the term “philosophy” from “Continental philosophy”. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to say that WLC was speaking about analytic philosophy since that is the field in which he operates.

“And by the way, notice that Mitch is arguing differently from Laplace in his attempt to qualify using “analytic””

Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be arguing in line with someone else?

I’ve already said I have no problem saying that Van Til was a philosopher, it is simply obvious that he was not an analytic philosopher, and it is clear that his thought is not deemed relevant with regard to mainstream academia (compare, for example the number of professional publications regarding the Kalam versus the number of professional publications regarding Van Tillian presuppositionalism). Maybe you don’t care about these things, and that’s fine, but then what distinguishes you from the Flat Earther who butts heads with mainstream scientific academia? You *can* deal with the arguments of the Flat Earther, yes, but it’s not clear that it is of any benefit, and especially not clear that you *must*.

If I’m making any claim, I’m simply making the claim that there seems to be no obligation to include any of Van Til’s work in one’s curriculum if their goal is to be a part of mainstream analytical philosophy. The leading academic institutions in the world do not teach Van Til’s work, yet they teach the work of other Christians, so it doesn’t seem that the reason for the absence of Van Til in these contexts in merely his Christianity. So maybe you don’t want to be a part of analytical philosophy, well that’s fine and dandy… but then what are you doing? (that’s not a sarcastic question).

(sorry if any spelling mistakes, must get back to writing paper)

C.L. Bolt

“So I completely agree that one would be well within their epistemic rights not to read my writings for an education in philosophy.”

Yes but would you also say it is “unwise and a total waste, especially when there are a HOST of [real] philosophers who’ve MADE AN ACTUAL MEASURABLE IMPACT on the field”?

“There’s a difference between saying that one is within rights not to do x, and one *should* not do x. I’m sure that you, with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, understand the difference.”

I understand the difference, but I did not write that one “should not do x” in this case, so I’m not sure how this is relevant.

“WLC did not write ‘analytic’, correct, but when Continental philosophers (for example) are writing to other philosophers from the Continental tradition, they do not distinguish the term ‘philosophy’ from ‘Continental philosophy’. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to say that WLC was speaking about analytic philosophy since that is the field in which he operates.”

Not only is it completely unreasonable for William Lane Craig to write off every continental philosopher as “not a philosopher,” it is unreasonable to assume that he meant to merely make a comment observing that Van Til was not an analytic philosopher (what would be the point in that?). Don’t you think you are being more than a bit ad hoc here in trying to save Craig from his mistake? You’re inserting things into the text that are not actually there in order to make what he actually wrote sound better, and it’s not working. I wouldn’t doubt that if we skimmed Dr. Craig’s writings we could find that he relies upon philosophy from those of the continental tradition pretty frequently. They are philosophers.

“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be arguing in line with someone else?”

Just pointing out the ad hoc nature of this attempt at a defense of Craig’s actual statement.

“I’ve already said I have no problem saying that Van Til was a philosopher”

That’s good. I don’t either. Craig does though.

“it is simply obvious that he was not an analytic philosopher”

Sure, but what is the value of that statement given the context? He wasn’t a Greek philosopher either.

“and it is clear that his thought is not deemed relevant with regard to mainstream academia (compare, for example the number of professional publications regarding the Kalam versus the number of professional publications regarding Van Tillian presuppositionalism).”

Again you’re arguing differently from Laplace. Now it is not about professional publications that deal with Van Til, but about the number of professional publications! What does any of this have to do with whether or not Van Til was a philosopher?

“Maybe you don’t care about these things, and that’s fine,”

Oh I do.

“but then what distinguishes you from the Flat Earther who butts heads with mainstream scientific academia?”

Does mainstream scientific academia also define mainstream scientific academia? Was Feyerabend a mainstream scientific academic?

“You *can* deal with the arguments of the Flat Earther, yes, but it’s not clear that it is of any benefit, and especially not clear that you *must*.”

Well sure we can ignore any arguments or schools of thought but it is rather telling.

“If I’m making any claim, I’m simply making the claim that there seems to be no obligation to include any of Van Til’s work in one’s curriculum if their goal is to be a part of mainstream analytical philosophy.”

I agree.

“The leading academic institutions in the world do not teach Van Til’s work”

I disagree.

“yet they teach the work of other Christians, so it doesn’t seem that the reason for the absence of Van Til in these contexts in merely his Christianity.”

No one said that it was.

“So maybe you don’t want to be a part of analytical philosophy, well that’s fine and dandy… but then what are you doing? (that’s not a sarcastic question).”

When did I say I didn’t want to be a part of it? Is rejecting Craig’s blunder the same thing as not wanting to be a part? What about reading Van Til and thinking he had worthwhile things to say?

Pierre Simon-Laplace

Chris, how about you and I have a formal debate on whether or not Van Til’s presuppositionalism is true?

We could have it on Urban Philosophy’s ventrilo, then we record it and put it up on the web.

C.L. Bolt

I’m not sure how that addresses the problems you have been raising for yourself here or why I would want to debate someone on a topic they refuse to read about from primary sources.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

So you are a very confused guy.

Why don’t we debate these matters further over Urban Philosophy’s ventrilo? Then we can see where the real problems lie.

NOTE: Not only do presups never publish anything in philosophy journals, present and such……but they shrink away from attempts to get to the bottom of the issues.

I’m done on this website.

BK

Pierre – who were you responding to? It’s hard to tell, because you posted the same comment (word for word) above in response to another post as well as this, without indicating who you were addressing.

In addition, I have addressed your latest comments to me above. Is this an indication you are not going to respond?

BK

C.L. Bolt

heh

C.L. Bolt

https://choosinghats.org/?p=1221&cpage=1#comment-1765

Maybe it was supposed to go with both? :shrug:

Pierre-Simon Laplace

My Initial Claim: “Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy,”
Bolt’s Response: “Note that according to this view whether or not someone has made a measurable contribution to the field of philosophy is determined by whether or not the APA decides that someone has. But then, who is to determine whether or not members of the APA have made a measurable contribution to the field of philosophy?”
My Rejoinder: Chris Bolt is very confused here. He thinks that I’ve made following claim:
(1) For any person p, p has made a measurable impact to the field if and only if the APA has formed the judgment that p has made just such a measurable impact.
Let’s get the cut-off quotation in context:
“Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy, and (another sufficient condition) they do not use it in reference to individuals who have not successfully completed a graduate degree in philosophy (or are at least PhD students or candidates in philosophy).”
The quoted remark (in context) suggests (INSTEAD of Bolt’s imagined interpretation) that the semantic content of the technical definiens of the term “philosopher” supervenes on the usage of that term by an appropriate professional body. Just one such example of an appropriate body is the APA. One understands the usage of a term of a given language x by a body of competent speakers of x by discerning that terms application (i.e., by discerning that term’s extension) by that relevant body of speakers. I’m suggesting that members of the APA do not apply the term (when the technical definiens is in view) to individuals who have made no measurable impact on the academic field of philosophy or (insert the other sufficient conditions I’ve listed in previous posts). Proposition (1) is completely irrelevant and altogether different from the claim on offer here. This is easy to show by a simple thought experiment. Suppose there’s a certain Cornelius who has made a measurable impact on the academic field of philosophy (say in this case by his publication of a paper on some issue peculiar to Epistemology in a mainline peer reviewed academic philosophy journal). Suppose though, that members of the APA aren’t aware of the fact that he has published the relevant paper. [1] This doesn’t mean that Cornelius hasn’t made a measurable impact on the field of philosophy; it just makes it more likely that the APA won’t think of the term “philosopher” (technical definiens in hand) as an applicable description of Cornelius. I’ve never said anything which suggests that the propositional attitudes of the APA are somehow necessary or sufficient (or both) for discerning whether or not someone has made a measurable impact on the field of philosophy. Bolt is out in left field here.
Second, members of the APA will apply the term “Philosopher” (with technical definiens in view) if (SUFFICIENT CONDITION) he has made a measurable impact on the academic discipline/field of philosophy. I’ve explicitly stated twice in my above posts (once in a footnote) that the conditions I’ve introduced are sufficient conditions. Thus, there are some situations in which individuals might be recognized as “philosophers” (with technical definiens in hand) while having not met the conditions on offer.
In light of what I’ve said above, Bolt’s question is completely irrelavent. I don’t think that (1) is true, nor have I said anything which is logically equivalent to (1), nor have I said anything which entails (1) or implies (1), so I’m not sure where this is coming from.
[1] Of course it doesn’t follow from this alone that the APA won’t use the term (technical definiens in hand) in such a way that it is applicable to Cornelius, since there were other sufficient conditions I introduced in my post above.

Pierre-Simon Lapalce

My Initial Claim: “Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy,”

Bolt’s Response: “Note that according to this view whether or not someone has made a measurable contribution to the field of philosophy is determined by whether or not the APA decides that someone has. But then, who is to determine whether or not members of the APA have made a measurable contribution to the field of philosophy?”

My Rejoinder: Chris Bolt is very confused here. He thinks that I’ve made following claim:

(1) For any person p, p has made a measurable impact to the field if and only if the APA has formed the judgment that p has made just such a measurable impact.

Let’s get the cut-off quotation in context:

“Philosophers in the APA don’t appropriate the term in such a way that it applies to individuals who have made no measurable contribution to the field of philosophy, and (another sufficient condition) they do not use it in reference to individuals who have not successfully completed a graduate degree in philosophy (or are at least PhD students or candidates in philosophy).”
The quoted remark (in context) suggests (INSTEAD of Bolt’s imagined interpretation) that the semantic content of the technical definiens of the term “philosopher” supervenes on the usage of that term by an appropriate professional body. Just one such example of an appropriate body is the APA. One understands the usage of a term of a given language x by a body of competent speakers of x by discerning that terms application (i.e., by discerning that term’s extension) by that relevant body of speakers. I’m suggesting that members of the APA do not apply the term (when the technical definiens is in view) to individuals who have made no measurable impact on the academic field of philosophy or (insert the other sufficient conditions I’ve listed in previous posts). Proposition (1) is completely irrelevant and altogether different from the claim on offer here. This is easy to show by a simple thought experiment. Suppose there’s a certain Cornelius who has made a measurable impact on the academic field of philosophy (say in this case by his publication of a paper on some issue peculiar to Epistemology in a mainline peer reviewed academic philosophy journal). Suppose though, that members of the APA aren’t aware of the fact that he has published the relevant paper. [1] This doesn’t mean that Cornelius hasn’t made a measurable impact on the field of philosophy; it just makes it more likely that the APA won’t think of the term “philosopher” (technical definiens in hand) as an applicable description of Cornelius. I’ve never said anything which suggests that the propositional attitudes of the APA are somehow necessary or sufficient (or both) for discerning whether or not someone has made a measurable impact on the field of philosophy. Bolt is out in left field here.

Second, members of the APA will apply the term “Philosopher” (with technical definiens in view) if (SUFFICIENT CONDITION) he has made a measurable impact on the academic discipline/field of philosophy. I’ve explicitly stated twice in my above posts (once in a footnote) that the conditions I’ve introduced are sufficient conditions. Thus, there are some situations in which individuals might be recognized as “philosophers” (with technical definiens in hand) while having not met the conditions on offer.
In light of what I’ve said above, Bolt’s question is completely irrelavent. I don’t think that (1) is true, nor have I said anything which is logically equivalent to (1), nor have I said anything which entails (1) or implies (1), so I’m not sure where this is coming from.
[1] Of course it doesn’t follow from this alone that the APA won’t use the term (technical definiens in hand) in such a way that it is applicable to Cornelius, since there were other sufficient conditions I introduced in my post above.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

My Initial Claim: “and (another sufficient condition) they do not use it in reference to individuals who have not successfully completed a graduate degree in philosophy (or are at least PhD students or candidates in philosophy).”

Bolt’s Response: “This is false unless the APA does not consider Socrates and a large host of other well-known philosophers of history to have actually been philosophers.”

My Rejoinder Ok Chris…I’m not sure if you got this in your Intro to Logic course, but here’s a refresher:

(2) P is a sufficient condition for Q, just in case the proposition “if p, then q” is true.

(3) P is a necessary condition for Q, just in case the proposition “if not-q, then not-p” is true.

In my first two posts above, I clearly stated that the conditions on offer were sufficient conditions. This means that we have significant evidence for the thesis that some person x is a philosopher when they meet those conditions. Understanding my conditions as sufficient, but not necessary, implies that there can be exceptions to those conditions re the proper applicability of the term “philosopher” (technical definiens in hand). Put this aside.
Socrates has made a measurable impact on the field of Philosophy. His work has been reviewed in professional philosophy (peer reviewed) journals. In fact, entire books published in mainline academic philosophy publishing presses (with peer review) have appeared, multifarious in amount.

What other individual in the history of philosophy hasn’t made a measurable impact by having his/her work reviewed in the way suggested above? Leibniz? Fichte? Kant? Reid? Hume? Anselm? Augustine? Aquinas? <<quite obviously, all of these individuals have had their work reviewed with entire books (published in the relevant presses already mentioned) being written on their thought.

So Bolt is confused here as well.

My Initial Claim: “I’m making a substantive claim about the technical definition of the term in question, based upon its application to particular individuals on the part of a relevant body of professional academic philosophers.”

Bolt’s Response: “Note that a relevant body of professional academic philosophers determines the technical definition of the term in question, but who is to determine whether or not this body of professional academic philosophers is relevant?”

My Rejoinder First, I’ve not said that this body is the EXCLUSIVE relevant body. Rather, I’ve said that they are “a” relevant body [2]. There will be other relevant bodies of academics who contribute to our understanding of the technical definiens of the term “philosopher” as well [for example the Aristotelian Society, or the British Academy of Arts and Sciences, or the Society of Christian Philosophers etc.). But Bolt forgets that in philosophical logic a technical definiens just is how a term is used by a relevant body of professionals. Abductively, the suggestion that the APA is at least one such body is rather cogent. The key question for Bolt is (well after we’ve corrected his interpretation of me), is it not the case that the best answer to the following question is a group or society just like (if not equalivalent to) the APA?

(Why-Question): Why would we look to any other academic society than one sufficiently akin to the APA, for evidence as to the TECHNICAL usage and application of the term “philosopher”?

What best accounts for the semantic content of a term when that content is thought to be providing a technical definiens of a relevant definiendum?

Suppose we were interested in a technical definiens of the term “inertia”. Well, I think the best account of a technical definiens of that term would be how the term is used by folks at the National Science Foundation (or some association or foundation reasonably similar to this one). If you disapprove, then what other self-sufficient association of persons is as appropriate? At some point, you must acknowledge and privilege one group of persons over others re technical erudition and précising knowledge about an issue. To not fess up to such an acknowledgement would leave one open to intellectual anarchy and theory-choice pluralism.

[2] I’ve been very careful to use the “indefinite article” when speaking about relevant bodies of academics.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

My Initial Claim: “I have suggested that we are certainly within our epistemic rights in not looking to these individuals for a proper education on philosophical matters, and I AM suggesting that it is highly unlikely that there is anything philosophically substantive in any of the literature authored by White and Van Til.”

Bolt’s Response: “Note that the APA or the relevant body of academic philosophers or Laplace can recommend not looking to the works of others as providing a proper education on philosophical matters and can dismiss them as very probably lacking anything philosophically substantive without having looked to them. The reason is that neither the APA nor the relevant body of academic philosophers nor Laplace has determined that the works in question are philosophically substantive, etc., but then, how would they ever know?”

My Rejoinder We know on the propositional evidence provided: White and Van Til have not….have not…have not….have not…[remember ?].

My Initial Claim: “It would be strange (very strange indeed) that something like presuppositionalism (in all its complexity with its FAR reaching consequences) could be defended with any real brilliance, or intellectual tenacity, or technical erudition, and IT NOT make any type of measurable impact on the academic and professional field of philosophy.”

Bolt’s Response: “This begs the question concerning whether or not it actually has made any type of measurable impact.”

My Rejoinder I have not said, “ANY type of measurable impact.” Once again Bolt misinterprets what I’ve said. The measurable impact with which I’m concerned is having one’s work reviewed (discussed extensively) in professional academic philosophical (peer reviewed) publications. Van Til has not had the privilege.”

Bolt’s Response: “Van Til could have been brilliant and presuppositionalism could be true without Van Til having ever presented at an academic peer reviewed philosophy conference, published in a journal, or published a book on a main line academic publishing philosophy press. The reasons that many of these things did not happen are explained within presuppositionalist literature, but Laplace would not know that since he sees no reason to read it.”

My Rejoinder I’ve read Van Til’s “Christian Apologetics”, his “In Defense of the Faith”, I just completed his “Survey of Christian Epistemology”, and I’ve read Bahnsen’s Van Til’s apologetics. I’ve nowhere come across an explanation as to why Van Til failed to publish in philosophical literature. This is entirely irrelevant. My claim isn’t that (once again Chris doesn’t interpret me correctly) Van Til didn’t do xyz and so what he says in his work is false. I’ve said that it would be highly suprising that presuppositionalism of the Van Tilian sort is true and it make no measurable impact on the field of Philosophy…and remember “measurable impact” does not just include (as sufficient conditions) publishing and such, it also includes having one’s work extensively discussed and/or reviewed in philosophical literature proper. [This is like someone discovering that which puts the Einsteinian interpretation of STR over the Minkowskian interpretation of STR, and hail this fact in obscure in-group Christian publishing presses and no one in the scientific community proper review the material at all…utterly strange and highly unlikely.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

My Initial Claim: “And furthermore, why is it that perhaps the most (if presuppositionalism of the Van Tillian sort is true) brilliant Christian philosopher of the 20th century is never once discussed in any philosophical literature (that has pushed through peer review in journals or academic publishing presses)?”

Bolt’s Response: “Fallacy of complex question. Discussions of Van Til do appear from time to time in this type of literature.”

My Rejoinder Let’s revisit Intro to Logic again (this time at my institution). Students learn that the informal fallacy of complex question is:

(IFCQ): The fallacy of complex question is committed when a single question that is really two (or more) questions is asked and the single answer is then applied to both questions.

Have I provided a singular answer to both questions and then AFFIRMED that that answer is the answer to the two or more questions I’ve asked? But is my question really plural? No. I’ve asked Why hasn’t x been phi-ed in light of abc? < That’s a singular question. So Chris is multiply comfused.

Where have discussions of Van Til been in peer reviewed philosophy Journal Articles? Where have discussions of his work gone on in philosophical peer reviewed publishing presses? Nowhere. Even the recent “Critical Notes” section of Philosophia Christi doesn’t afford or provide us with a full-blown Journal article…..what’s worse is that that notes selection which does appear is condemnatory of transcendental arguments. Plus, Philosophia Christi is an Apologetics and Philosophy Journal, not a full blown Philosophy.

BK

Pierre said: My Rejoinder Let’s revisit Intro to Logic again (this time at my institution). Students learn that the informal fallacy of complex question is:
(IFCQ): The fallacy of complex question is committed when a single question that is really two (or more) questions is asked and the single answer is then applied to both questions.

That quite interesting that students at your institution are being taught that definition.

The fallacy of the complex question, per Copi’s “Introduction to Logic”, Tenth Edition, page 183:

One of the most common fallacies of presumption is this: asking a question in such a way as to presuppose the truth of some conclusion buried in that question. The question itself is likely to be rhetorical, no answer being genuinely sought. But putting the question seriously, thereby introducing its presupposition surreptitiously, often achieves the questioner’s purpose – fallaciously.

Copi’s definition does not line up with your’s, Pierre. It is missing an element of your institution’s definition – specifically that “the single answer is then applied to both questions.” In other words, those students taking Intro to Logic at an institution that uses Copi’s text are probably not going to learn the IFCQ to be what you claim, but more likely what Copi claims in his text. Copi’s definition is entirely consistent with my understanding (and Chris’, if I may be so bold as to speak on his behalf) of what the complex question is. In fact, in form, your question is quite similar to a very popular example used when learning about this fallacy – namely “Have you stopped beating your wife?” To make the parallel work somewhat better, we would need to rephrase it to be “Why do you beat your wife?”, but the result is the same; the question of whether you actually dobeat your wife is never asked or supported, it is merely presupposed.

Actually, I could ask “Pierre, why do you teach your students the wrong definition of the fallacy of the complex question?” That would be a perfect example, according to my understanding of this fallacy, of the fallacy itself.

Definitions aside, let’s just look at what you said and see whether or not it was fallacious.

why is it that perhaps the most (if presuppositionalism of the Van Tillian sort is true) brilliant Christian philosopher of the 20th century is never once discussed in any philosophical literature (that has pushed through peer review in journals or academic publishing presses)?

Your question presupposes that Van Til is never discussed “in any philosophical literature (that has pushed through peer review in journals or academic publishing presses”, and seeks instead to ask the question “why” is this the case? What makes your question fallacious is that you don’t first establish your claim about Van Til’s work not being published, but rather presuppose it to be so. After all, no matter what reason a person comes up with to answer the “why” part of your question, they will be implicitly agreeing with your presupposition about Van Til’s work (purportedly) not being published in the way you have claimed.

So what have we learned?

1. Not all textbooks used in institutions of higher learning define the fallacy of the complex question in the same way.
2. Regardless of whether your claim should “rightly” be called the fallacy of the complex question is irrelevant. It is fallacious regardless of what you call it.

Pierre, would you say that your posing of this question was fallacious?

BK

Pierre-Simon Laplace

My Initial Claim: “Using one’s time to read Van Til on philosophical issues, or using one’s time to read James White on theological or philosophical issues is (under most circumstances) unwise and a total waste, especially when there are a HOST of Christian philosophers who’ve MADE AN ACTUAL MEASURABLE IMPACT on the field.”

Bolt’s Response: Says the guy who spends his time online at the Dawkins forums, Urban Philosophy, CARM, and now has decided to swing by here. Perhaps I should just dismiss everything written by anyone who does not have at least an undergraduate degree in philosophy over at Urban Philosophy? Would there be anything left? I’d much rather concern myself with the people there and their arguments. The biblical view on apologetics requires that sort of thing. It is sad to see so many Christians who happen to be philosophers desire to engage in the apologetic realm and forget what it was they were doing in the first place.”

My Rejoinder: I’m confused as to what witnessing and participation in apologetics ministries has anything to do with my claim that under most circumstances reading Van Til or White on the relevant matters is a waste of time. I don’t think my time on Dawkins’ forum or Carm, or UP is a waste especially since real people have experienced real conversions to Theism and even Christian Theism, and have admitted to their views being significantly challenged by my objections and argumentation in all three contexts. Notatheist at CARM is just one example. One of my colleagues at Northern Illinois University over beers admitted that he was influenced for the better by reading the debate and interaction on Dawkins’ forum.

Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics is not even possibly true, how can it be the biblical view? If it is the biblical view, the Bible in the relevant places is wrong.

My Initial Claim: “A question to the presuppositionalists….why haven’t you guys published anything in peer reviewed (philosophy) journals or peer reviewed (philosophy) presses?”

Bolt’s Response: “Again the answers are provided in presuppositionalist literature which Laplace is apparently unfamiliar with. It is nevertheless worth nothing that this question could at some point been asked of any philosopher or any collective body of philosophers representing a particular school of thought.”

My Rejoinder: See my response to a similar remark above.

My Initial Claim: “All in all, with respect to James White and Van Til, the latter is only a Philosopher insofar as my 15year old cousin is a philosopher (and he’s no Kripke), the former is only a philosopher or theologian insofar as my 15year cousin is one as well.”

Bolt’s Response: “Appeal to consequences. Who is to say that your 15 year old cousin is not a philosopher? The APA? But who says the members of the APA are philosophers? Can 15 year olds not be philosophers? Are cousins excluded from being philosophers?”

My Rejoinder: See my remarks above about technical definitions. It’s a reductio for a technical definition of the term philosopher which as a consequence admitted that my 15year old cousin is a philosopher. Chris just doesn’t realize this.

My Initial Claim: “Neither individuals have made any measurable impact on the field of analytic or continental philosophy.”

Bolt’s Response: “Lots of people disagree. ”

My Rejoinder: So, where’s the measurable impact of White or Van Til? Where has their work been discussed in peer reviewed Philosophical journal articles, or publishing presses? Where have they published in peer reviewed academic philosophy journals or presses?

Bolt’s Response: “Given that skepticism, transcendental arguments, presuppositions, self-deception, and theology are all topics of discussion within peer reviewed academic philosophy and theology journals and given that these topics also constitute the majority of the presuppositionalist program there is not a lot of reason for taking these sort of complaints about the lack of journal articles pertaining to presuppositionalism seriously.”

My Rejoinder: My complaint isn’t that there are a lack of articles in the relevant literature PERTAINING TO (being RELATED TO) tenets of presuppositional apologetics. WTFudge are you talking about? Of course there’s literature on skepticism, presuppositions, and self-deception. Of course these are RELATED TO issues often discussed I npresuppositionalist literature. My claim isn’t that there ISN’T ANY RELATED LITERATURE. My point is that PRESUPPOSITONALIST (I’m speaking exclusively about Bahnsen, Van Til, and White) have not published anything on any of the topics Bolt names in peer reviewed academic philosophical literature.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

TYPO:

(3) above should have read:

P is a necessary condition for Q just in case: “if not p, then not q” is true.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

Since Bolt recommended it….Does anyone here want to debate me on whether or not Presuppositional Apologetics (of the Van Tilian or Bahnsenian sort) is true?

Pierre-Simon Laplace

^ We could do it right here on Choosing Hats.

Shotgun

Well, I’m the least of those here, Mr. Laplace, but if you intend to challenge the sovereignty of God in your philosophy, (and subsequently seek to deconstruct orthodox Protestant theology by demonstrating that man’s reasoning is not dependent on the Triune God) then, I’ll meet you at CARM this evening around 2000 Eastern.

We can discuss your accusation of “circularity” in Van Til’s writings.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

Shotgun (holocaust denier) and author of other interesting comments!

Unfortunately, CARM has blocked all IP addresses at both Universities with which I’m affiliated. I have no clue why they are blocking these entire schools especially since I’ve never logged from any IP there either institution….but….I’d love to discuss issues with you regarding presuppositionalism on Urban Philosophy’s chat (since I can’t get into CARM’s)…..here’s the link:

http://urbanphilosophy.net/chat/

I’ll be on as “Laplace” all night tonight (starting now 6:15pm EST).

Shotgun

See you there.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

Wait, Shotgun apparently also thinks that mixed race marriage is Satanic (check out his blog). wowzers….

I guess Moses, Judah, Joseph, and Ruth were into Satanic actions.

I’m waiting for you in UP’s chat.

BK

Pierre said: “Wait, Shotgun apparently also thinks that mixed race marriage is Satanic (check out his blog). wowzers….
I guess Moses, Judah, Joseph, and Ruth were into Satanic actions.”

How very ad hominem of you, Pierre.

BK

Shotgun

Shotgun also thinks the color red is the best, and Mustangs are classic American Muscle cars…his favorite ice-cream is butter-pecan, and he has a soft spot in his heart for blonds …

But, most importantly…Shotgun doesn’t appreciate those who publicly deny the Sovereignty of God, and thumb their noses at anyone who would deny them their precious autonomy.

danielj

Shotgun (holocaust denier) and author of other interesting comments!

Oh no! My gosh!

Better not stick around and hear any reasonable arguments offered in defense of the revisionist position or any scriptural reasons for the defense of racial separatism!

Instinctive revulsion isn’t very philosophical. Would you react the same way if I was going to debate the merits of child sodomy? Or, would you carefully weigh the arguments?

RazorsKiss

I’m still looking for a kinist to debate. Topic: God created one race of men. I’ll take the affirmative.

I’d be more than willing to address the arguments.

Ryft Braeloch

I don’t think textbooks used by institutions of higher learning define the Complex Question (CQ) fallacy in different ways. If there are differences between textbooks over CQ, I think it can be attributed to one defining when a CQ is committed and the other defining when a CQ is fallacious (i.e., it is only fallacious when the respondent is forced “to accept propositions that he is not really committed to, and would disavow if given a reasonable chance to do so”—such as Pierre’s question about Van Til).

Pierre’s definition failed to account for the fact that it is not just the complex nature of the question that makes it fallacious. For example, I might ask you, “When did you stop cheating on your income tax returns?” This is clearly a case of CQ, but it is not fallacious if previously you admitted to having cheated on your income tax returns; the hidden presupposition in this case would be acceptable to the respondent when the question is asked. A case of CQ is fallacious if it contains a proposition the respondent is not actually committed to, would disavow if given a reasonable chance to do so, entraps him into conceding something that would cause him to lose the argument or otherwise be unfavorable to his side.

Walton, Douglas. “The Fallacy of Many Questions: On the Notions of Complexity, Loadedness and Unfair Entrapment in Interrogative Theory.” Argumentation 13. (1999): 379-383.

BK

Ryft said: I don’t think textbooks used by institutions of higher learning define the Complex Question (CQ) fallacy in different ways.

Yes, I see your point and agree. I was assuming that the definition taught at Pierre’s institution came directly from a text book, but I guess I shouldn’t automatically assume that.

BK

C.L. Bolt

RazorsKiss wrote:

“I’m still looking for a kinist to debate. Topic: God created one race of men. I’ll take the affirmative.
I’d be more than willing to address the arguments.”

I would be happy to moderate such a debate.

danielj

I’m still looking for a kinist to debate. Topic: God created one race of men. I’ll take the affirmative.

I’d be more than willing to address the arguments.

I’m not ready or capable of formal debate with any of you guys about anything. However, I’m more than willing to discuss the issue. I imagine there are plenty of others that would enjoy the debate as well. Why don’t you post a message in the Kinism form?

There is a problem, however, with the way you’ve framed the debate. Kinists don’t deny that Adam and Eve were one race and would not, therefore, deny that God created one race. We don’t even deny that modern humans are one “race” if you define race a certain way.

Shotgun

The “debate” went semi-well…

Mr. Laplace tried arguing that certain apriori truths were necessary, so that “God’s sovereignty is such that He does not have control over abstracts.”

Additionally, he argued that if God creates properties…and “the ability to create properties” is itself a “property” therefore, my position is inconsistent since God cannot create Himself and still be defined as “sovereign.”

It’s been a while since I read Dr. Bahnsen’s article on Revisionary Immunity, and I was struggling to remember his conclusions about the faux distinction made between analytical and synthetic truths so that I could present it in the debate. (I’m re-reading it today…to great benefit!)

As for the second argument, I just re-affirmed the creator / creature distinction and pointed out the equivocation between a property that has been created and a property of God.

I pray God was glorified.

To Mr. Razor Kiss…

I’m always willing to read anything you write…especially on the subject of race…if you ever get around to it…

Laplace

Shotgun wanted to have a formal “typing” debate about the relationship between the following concepts: “Sovereignty, Aseity, and Reason”…he offerred no stipulative definitions so I felt free to explicate my understanding of these ideas and then show how they relate, and defend my understanding of their relationship:

Shotgun had some remarks up above in quotation marks…but these aren’t quotations of me. Here’s what I actually argued in my opening statement “word-for-word”:

19:06: Laplace Prior to spelling out the relationship between these (interestingly) chosen concepts, I’ll first offer what I take to be my views about their technical definiens.

19:08 Laplace (1) Aseity – That property exemplified by God which entails that God is a metaphysically necessary being, and that the proposition ‘(a) God exists’ has no external explanation.

19:10 Shotgun Would you like more time to prepare?

19:10 Laplace (2) Reason – that belief-source (i.e. that means by which human cognizers form beliefs), and that source of knowledge (i.e., reason can be appropriated as a knowledge conducive belief-source), which is also (at least) a faculty proper of human persons, whereby human persons apprehend (at least) necessary apriori truths.

19:11 Laplace [Rule Violation #1 on Shotgun’s part he must wait until I say done]

19:12 Laplace (3) Sovereignty – That property exemplified by God which entails that God is omnipotent. Where, an entity is omnipotent just in case that entity possesses maximal power. An entity possesses maximal power just in case that entity can actualize any metaphysically possible state of affairs, or maximal state of affairs.

19:12 Laplace Now as to the relationships between (1), (2), and (3).

19:13 Laplace (4) RELATIONSHIP

19:13 Laplace (4a): God by actualizing this possible world, is creatively responsible for all faculties human persons possess. Thus, the fact that human persons know any necessarily true (apriori) proposition is explained in terms of God’s creative activity.

19:13 *** lauren joined #urbanphilosophy

19:14 +++ Socrates has given op to lauren

19:15 Laplace (4b): However, the objects of knowledge by means of the appropriation of the faculty that is reason (i.e., necessarily true apriori propositions) do not owe their existence to God’s creative activity. In fact, all abstracta are essentially such that no other proposition (whether about God’s creative activity or not) explains their existence (or the propositio

19:15 Laplace ….n about their existence).

19:16 Laplace (4c): Thus, God’s sovereignty is such that he does not have control over the realm of abstracta.

19:17 Laplace (4d): Thus, God’s aseity is not such that he stands in no ontological dependence relations with other entities. God’s existence is very much comprised by an exemplification nexus: substance wherein the divine properties/attributes are instantiated.

Laplace

Continued:

19:18 Laplace (5) Proposition (4) is inconsistent with Van Til’s presuppositional apologetics, as are my definitions (1)-(3).

19:18 Laplace (5a): ^ This is because Van Til thinks that coherence supervenes on God’s beliefs. That is to say, he thinks that only those propositions which God believes are coherent propositions, and as a consequence Van Til is committed to this:

19:18 Laplace (5b) Only those propositions which God believes are possibly true.

19:19 Laplace (5c) As a consequence, Van Til is committed to the claim that only true propositions (since God believes no falsehood) are possibly true propositions, and this entails (on any normal modal logic) that all true propositions are necessarily true.

19:19 Laplace (5d) Proposition (5c) entails modal fatalism, and infinite possibilism.

19:20 Laplace (5e) Christian theism cannot afford infinite possibilism or modal fatalism…not to mention they are both necessarily false.

19:20 Laplace (5f) Therefore, presuppositionalism is necessarily false, (or false because Christian Theism is true).

19:20 Laplace DONE

Laplace

FYI: The contemporary consensus view among those who ACTUALLY study the SCIENCE of “race”, and those scholars who publish on the issue in mainline journals….is that there is no objective feature of human persons called “race.”

“The ‘black’ peoples of Africa, however, should not be characterized as belonging to a single race. In fact, many scholars have ABANDONED the use of the conept of ‘race’ as a way of categorizing peoples. Skin color and other physical features do not reveal much about the genetic makeup of an individual or group. Two individuals with the same skin color and hair texture may be more genetically different from one another than they are from two persons with another pigmentation. [In fact, East Africans are more genetically similar to East Asians, then they are two West Africans] For this reason, scholars have concluded that Africans, and other peoples as well, are so internally different that the old way of classifying people according to physical appearance or ‘race’ is no longer useful.” [1]

__________
[1] Colin A. Palmer, “The First Passage: 1502-1619,” in Robin D.G. Kelley and Earl Lewis (eds.), A History of African Americans to 1880 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 4.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

Fallacy of Complex Question:

(The Question): “And furthermore, why is it that perhaps the most (if presuppositionalism of the Van Tillian sort is true) brilliant Christian philosopher of the 20th century is never once discussed in any philosophical literature (that has pushed through peer review in journals or academic publishing presses)?”

This [above] question presupposes that Van Til has not been discussed (even once) in peer reviewed philosophy journal articles or philosophy publishing presses. To ask a question which presupposes some point x, after x has already been affirmed [I might add, it was affirmed with no evidence to support any gain-saying denial] in one’s line of reasoning is in no way informally fallacious. This is easily demonstrable….

(1) Every question presupposes (I’ll suppose that something like the semantic view of presuppositions is the case since this might be the view of my interlocuters, though I hold Stalnaker’s pragmatic view), the truth of some set of propositions.
(2) If the fallacy of complex question is committed by simply presupposing the truth of some proposition [2], then every question commits the fallacy of complex question. [from (1)]
(3) If every question commits the fallacy of complex question, then the fallacy of complex question (as understood in (2))should not be considered an actual informal fallacy.
(4) [On Bk’s view, cf. footnote [2] below] The fallacy of complex question is committed by simply presupposing the truth of some proposition.
(5) Therefore the fallacy of complex question (as understood in (2)) should not be considered an actual informal fallacy.

Proposition (1) is easily demonstrable since every question presupposes (in the semantic sense) the existence of meaning, since the nature of a question entails the reality of some set of conventional symbols which comprise a meaningful sentence of a language.

(2) follows from (1) on normal predicate logic.

Quite obviously, (3) is true, since we don’t want an informal fallacy to be so strong that its committed everytime someone asks a question.

Proposition (4) follows from Bk’s view.

And by application of two modus ponens inferences we get (5).

Copi-Cohen 12th edition (I think the most recent edition) states on page 149:

(Copi/Cohen): “Complex Questinon A fallacy in which a question is asked in a way that presupposes the truth of some propositoin buried within the question.”

The problem is that BK seems unfamiliar with the context of the definition in the text. Copi/Cohen are adamament about the fact that a complex question is fallacious due to (in part) the fact that the question presupposes UNESTABLISHED assumption. I’ve affirmed the proposition that James White, Gregory Bahnsen, and Cornelius Van Til have not published (ONE) peer reviewed academic philosophy article in any mainline philosophy journal, nor have they published in any peer reviewed academic mainline philosophy presses, nor have they had their work discussed in any of this self-same literature.

The closest we get is a critical notes section on TAGs in Philosophia Christi (an Apologetics and Philosophy journal) that amounts to an allusion to Van Til by stating that his followers like to provide TAGs. He nowhere discusses Van Til’s work directly. And as I’ve remarked above, this is not a full-blown article, nor is it in a full blown (solely) Philosophy journal.

So its completely ok for us to ask “Why x, when Van TIl has not abc?” subsequent to justifiedly affirming Van Til has not abc.

So I don’t think there’s any fallacious reasoning here.

Why hasn’t my debate challenge been picked up by anyone?

__________________

[2] BK said he cited Copi/Cohen (what edition we don’t know): “asking a question in such a way as to presuppose the truth of some conclusion buried in that question.” < Notice BK takes the fallacy to be asking a question when some conclusion (and every proposition can be taken or considered as a conclusion in an argument [even if it is affirmed alone with non-inferential justification]) is presupposed in some proposition buried in the question. So this second premise is not a straw-man.

Laplace

I didn’t notice it till now…but

Daniel said: “Instinctive revulsion isn’t very philosophical. Would you react the same way if I was going to debate the merits of child sodomy? Or, would you carefully weigh the arguments?”

^ So, this has caused me to not only place him on omni-ignore, but to seriously suggest he contact a psychiatrist quickly!

danielj

FYI: The contemporary consensus view among those who ACTUALLY study the SCIENCE of “race”, and those scholars who publish on the issue in mainline journals….is that there is no objective feature of human persons called “race.”

Oh no! Mainline journals!

Listen bud, we can through journal articles back and forth at each other all day long but this has nothing to do with science. My condemnation of the practice of miscegenation stems solely from exegesis of Scripture. That is where my moral compass is.

With that caveat aside, I’d like to say that you are wrong about the science as well. You qouted passage merely highlights the fact that phenotype and genotype are two different things and that race is a lot deeper than morphology.

Thanks for playing. Move along.

^ So, this has caused me to not only place him on omni-ignore, but to seriously suggest he contact a psychiatrist quickly!

Is English you first language? Do you understand what I was getting at?

danielj

You think criminologist get forensic geneticists to throw bones or cast lots when they declare, without a doubt, what the race of a suspect is?

ZaoThanatoo

PSL asked, “Why hasn’t my debate challenge been picked up by anyone?”

Maybe it’s because you don’t read carefully what others write to you, so a formal debate would appear as a waste of time:

(e.g. PSL said, “BK said he cited Copi/Cohen (what edition we don’t know)…”

BK had said: “The fallacy of the complex question, per Copi’s ‘Introduction to Logic’, Tenth Edition, page 183:…”)

Or maybe it’s because your proposed debate topic is broad and vague.

(e.g. PSL said, “Chris, how about you and I have a formal debate on whether or not Van Til’s presuppositionalism is true?”)

Or maybe it’s because you’re just flat dishonest.

(e.g. PSL: “I’m done on this website.”)

Just a few possibilities to consider…

Laplace

Example #1 was my simply not seeing the listed edition. This is a mistake on my part. No question about it. Thanks.

Example #2: I don’t think the proposed topic is vague at all. In fact, Jamin Hubner agreed to debate Chris Weaver over that exact issue. [It seemed clear enough to both of them]

Example #3: Yea, I think Pierre-Simon Laplace is done on this website. And then he changed his mind. Is it dishonest to change your mind?

TOO BAD THE DEBATE CHALLENGE ON OFFER WAS ISSUED BEFORE ALL THREE EXAMPLES YOU’VE PUT FORWARD.

So really, why not debate me here on Choosing Hats on the topic of Van Tillian Presuppositionalism……Zao…if the topic is too vague for you we can work out the details…how about that?

RazorsKiss

Laplace is Weaver, what’s he got to do with it?
Laplace (~Laplace@c-98-193-124-79.hsd1.in.comcast.net)
Menzies is ~Menzies@c-98-193-124-79.hsd1.in.comcast.net

Hrmm 🙂

RazorsKiss

[Mitch] Laplace is Weaver, what’s he got to do with it? – formatting wiped that first part 🙂

ZaoThanatoo

1.) You’re welcome.

2.) It was my understanding that the debate would be regarding the interrogative, “Is presuppositionalism the most God-honoring (biblical and requiring the least theological sacrifice) apologetic method?” I may be mistaken on that. However, if I am correct, it is still far less vague than “whether or not Van Til’s presuppositionalism is true.”

3.) No, it’s not dishonest to change your mind. But it seems a bit intemperate. Why not simply wait a few moments before hitting that ‘submit’ button?

So, why would I not debate you, Mr. Weaver? Well, I have to ask myself, why would a philosophy PhD candidate from Rutgers dress up in “French drag” to challenge a GED candidate like myself to a debate? Probably in an effort at more thoroughly preparing for your upcoming debate with Mr. Hubner.

So, no, I won’t accept your challenge for three reasons:

1.) I simply don’t have the time.

2.) I’m not interested in helping you prepare for the upcoming debate. (Though I will be very interested to see the outcome. I believe you and Mr. Hubner may both have your hands full, at the very least regarding assimilating each other’s word per minute volume.)

3.) I’m unsure of the ethicality of using online French mathematician “sock puppets” in debate preparation.

Cheers!

Mitchell LeBlanc

I’m not sure what my name is doing up above, are you claiming that I’m Weaver? :S

Mitchell LeBlanc

Nevermind, Chris clarified. I thought you were confused regarding my last name and were calling me Mitch LaPlace. =D

RazorsKiss

Zao, us GED candidates can hang together. We’ll never be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but at least we aren’t questionably ethical sock puppets 🙂

Fisher

Socrates never fit any of Laplace’s criteria for a philosopher either. In fact, his ideas were laughed at by all the mainstream authorities of his day. So, by using Laplace’s standards, is Socrates not a philosopher either?

Just a thought.

Mitchell LeBlanc

@Fisher: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necessary_and_sufficient_condition

It’s a good thing LaPlace wasn’t outlining the Necessary conditions for being a philosopher…

Bernie dehler

A person once told me they were a scientist, but they were scientifically naive. Same problem for those who claim to be philosophers simply because they like to talk and try to spread their ideas.

RazorsKiss

Calvin College (A.B., 1922), Princeton Theological Seminary (Th.B., 1924; Th.M., 1925) and Princeton University (Ph.D., Philosophy, 1927) – joint editor of Philosophia Reformata. Instructor of apologetics at Princeton Theological Seminary, 1928-29, professor of apologetics at Westminster, 1929-72. Author, A Survey of Christian Epistemology, A Christian Theory of Knowledge, The Reformed Pastor and Modern Thought, Psychology of Religion, Christianity and Idealism, others.

A Ph.D. in Philosophy (from Princeton, an Ivy-league school, no less), author of a variety of Philosophy texts, wasn’t a philosopher?


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