Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Best of all Possible Worlds?

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Recently I did a post called "Quantum Particles Do Not Prove Universe from Nothing." There were some brilliant comments in the comment section by Eric Sotnak. This is in response to part of that discussion. Growing out of the issues involving the realization that QM particles are not actually coming from real nothing, (Eric has some good counters) we turned to the issue What constitutes "the best" explanation? It is in view of that question my next three pieces will be based. I argued that while it would have to include the best scientific data a philosophical (metaphysical/ontological) answer is to be preferred.


Joe: “God as an explanation may leave a lot of blanks unfilled but it's more satisfying in a couple of ways: in that it's final, where as a naturalistic particle will leave us wondering where the string of endless particles comes from Secondly, it allows a broader understanding. Because it accounts for everything we know from modality to meaning.”
Eric:I question whether it is really more satisfying and whether it really accounts for as much as you suggest. Consider the problem that Leibniz struggled so desperately with: Why did God create the world as he did rather than otherwise or not at all? Unlike Spinoza, whose answer was that all is necessarily as it is, Leibniz wanted to maintain that God could have created things differently. But Leibniz was also committed to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, so it wouldn't do to say, “well, God just plain made things this way – no reason for it.” So, if you want to side with Leibniz in rejecting unexplained first explainers (which is what I suggest the QVS would be), then it seems to me you also share this problem. You seem happy enough to say that God's existence is explained by his being a necessary being. What, then, of God's actions? Do you side with Spinoza and say they are necessary, and thus all is necessary? Or do you say they are contingent, in which case we must now ask what explains them (since you have stated that you think anything that is contingent must be so in the relational sense). [1]

Some aspect of being is eternal and necessary. Meaning not contingent upon a higher source. That I determine by rejecting the logic of infinite causal regression (ICR).[2] If there can't be an eternal regression of causes then there be a final cause where it all stops. That's why the something from nothing issue is crucial. We can't posit a never ending chain of C/e. The issues is which is the best solution, violating reason for pragmatic empirical answer (a never ending string of smaller and smaller particles) or a philosophical concept such as final cause and it's implication: God.

He brings Leibniz into it on the premise that necessary being makes all events in creation necessities. That works on at least two levels: (1) God would have to opt for the best possible world if God is to be perfect and good and loving.[3] Thus the universe we have is the best we could have and thus =call the crap is also mandated as the price we pay for the best. That I base upon his comment about the PSR. If you assert that there must be a reason and you are talking about Maximal greatness (God) then surely his PSR would be a mandate for the perfect answer. (2) Atheists on various message boards asserted that since God is necessary all of ?god's actions must be necessary too I am not associating Erick with this answer. I think he would see through that fallacious reasoning.

In answer to no 1: I don't think Best of all Possible Worlds is the right answer. That raises the absurdity of a world with the holocaust and two world wars being better than a world of peace and happiness because of some long range state of affairs most of us will never see. I think the premise is wrong. Rather than saying God would have to lpt for the best of all possible we can say would have to opt for the most loving alternative given the parameters. The term "possible" is tricky because it implies physical possibility whereas it might be best of all possible in terms of the only alternative given the conditions that must be met for having a world. Put like that a horrible world might still fill the bill because it's necessary to allow for horrors in order to have some overriding good, namely free will. Here we lug in the free will defense. Please read mine, "Soteriologoical Drama."[4]

In other words free will must be inviolable because it is necessary to moral decision making. It is imperative to allow a moral universe because we would otherwise not be able to act in love, and love is the basis of creation [5] Here we have that paradox that God must allow evil or it would not be possible for us to do good. But here God is doing the loving thing. Just because it's not the peaceful or less violent thing doesn't mean it's unloving, The price we would pay for an absence of strife is an absence of thought and an absence of reason, absence of decision making. God is treating us as adults.


As for no 2, that a necessary being has to do only necessary actions is just fallacious because it plays upon equivocation between two different senses of the term "necessary." When we say God is "necessary being" (not "a being") we don't mean we can't explain the physical existence of the world any other way (although we can't) but it refers to the idea that God is not dependent upon anyone or anything else besides "himself" for His/Her actuality. In the assertion that all of God's actions must be necessary because God is necessary they are asserting that God's actions are an extension of the divine mode of being. There is no reason why that should be the case. God must create freely or God is merely an automatic reflex subject to some higher basis for being. Creating freely means creating contingencies that might not have existed.


Do you side with Spinoza and say they are necessary, and thus all is necessary? Or do you say they are contingent, in which case we must now ask what explains them (since you have stated that you think anything that is contingent must be so in the relational sense).



God's will explains them. Because God chooses freely to create they are not necessary they night not have been created. Because God did choose to do so they have their being, yes in God, but conditional upon his will.. They are conditionally necessary, condition upon god's choice to create. So this is not the best of all possible worlds but is the choice of a loving calculus of means and ends in a calculation only God could perform.







 

5 comments:

Eric Sotnak said...

Re. “(1) God would have to opt for the best possible world if God is to be perfect and good and loving.”
Actually, Leibniz explicitly wanted to avoid the claim that God HAS to create the best possible world (BPW), i.e., that God's creation of the BPW is necessary. What he tries to claim is that God's creation of BPW is certain, but not necessary. What ensues in Leibniz's writings is an effort to distinguish certainty from necessity by invoking the principle that a proposition whose analysis requires an infinite number of steps to complete is contingent – a thesis that is bizarre, implausible, and also a bit ironic from one the inventors of calculus (given its use of infinite convergence). I am actually sympathetic to a reading of Leibniz on this point that suggests it isn't that contingency results from the infinity of the analysis, but rather that contingent analyses are infinite because they ultimately rest on divine free will, which is also very close to what I think you are suggesting. Now Leibniz had the problem here of what looks like a vicious circularity: contingency rests on divine free will, but divine free will presupposes contingency. I'm not sure you can avoid the same problem. What is the sufficient reason for God's freely choosing one way rather than another?

Eric Sotnak said...

The real problem for Leibniz is his commitment to the principle of sufficient reason (PSR), and I would suggest that anyone who accepts PSR thereby inherits Leibniz's headache, as well. So suppose you say, as Leibniz also did, that there must be a sufficient reason that explains the existence of the universe, and that an explanatory chain of sufficient reasons must ultimately terminate in a first explainer. If you accept PSR, it seems you have to reject the thesis that this first explainer is, itself unexplained. So something explains it. But it can't be explained by a prior explainer, because you've already committed to it's being the first, so the only option left is that it is both a first-explainer and also a self-explainer – a necessary being.
Now, here is where the real problem arises, and it hits exactly at the question of whether accepting PSR is a good idea to begin with. And it raises exactly the question that Joe suggests involves fallacious reasoning: If God is a necessary being, does it follow that all of God's actions are necessary? The problem PSR creates here is this: Consider any property P that God has. God either has P necessarily, or contingently. Suppose that God has P contingently. Now apply PSR, and you get the result that there must be a sufficient reason for God's having P. But the same reasoning by which you reject an infinite explanatory regress for the existence of the universe now leads you to reject an infinite explanatory regress for God's having P. So it looks like God's having P must ultimately rest on God's having some other property, N, which is not contingent, but necessary. But if N explains P, then we have to ask whether N necessarily explains P, or whether N only contingently explains P. Lather-rinse-repeat. We could call this the problem of higher-order explanation. And this was Leibniz's problem, exactly. The property is question was God's creation of this world in preference to other possible worlds he could have created instead. So what is the sufficient reason for God's creating this world in preference to the others? PSR says there has to be a reason, and Leibniz says it is because this world is better than the others, and God's goodness is part of his essence, so the certainty of God's creating BPW is grounded in God's essential goodness. But wait. God cannot fail to be good. God cannot fail to be perfect. So how can it make sense to say that God could have failed to create BPW?
So what are the options? It seems to me the only possibilities are to reject PSR altogether, or else to suggest some restricted or modified version of PSR that (non-arbitrarily) avoids the problem here. And I am unpersuaded that any such modified PSR-variant is in the offing. I know Alexander Pruss has proposed one, but I don't see how he avoids the problem of higher-order explanation.

Joe Hinman said...

It will take me longer to address your longer comment. The issue of necessity vs certainty. Certainly I agree with that distinction. No one claims creation is necessary, God is necessary and creation is God's option. But then the question why do it at all can only be answered by the assumption that the calculations of God must prove or show that creation is the most loving act despite it's draw backs.

Joe Hinman said...

The real problem for Leibniz is his commitment to the principle of sufficient reason (PSR), and I would suggest that anyone who accepts PSR thereby inherits Leibniz's headache, as well. So suppose you say, as Leibniz also did, that there must be a sufficient reason that explains the existence of the universe, and that an explanatory chain of sufficient reasons must ultimately terminate in a first explainer. If you accept PSR, it seems you have to reject the thesis that this first explainer is, itself unexplained. So something explains it. But it can't be explained by a prior explainer, because you've already committed to it's being the first, so the only option left is that it is both a first-explainer and also a self-explainer – a necessary being.

I don't think so., I have never understood why PSR is regarded with such disdain when all atheists see to explain everything and if you try to assertive can't know something they use that aws a weness so in effect everyone accepts PSR anyway.

there is a sufficient reson for everything we have to always know what it is

Joe Hinman said...

Eric I wish you would join my message board community. I know you would like it because they are very intelligent and well read a no trolls. None of the usual message board BS/ But we need another atheist. We have some but they are not around right now.

http://www.doxa.ws/forum/

if you sign up let me know because I have approve and I get lots of spam bots so I need to know it's you. see mainly the adventure of faith board.