Thursday, December 23, 2021

Yet another argument against artifacts

  1. If any complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist.

  2. Instruments of torture are essentially evil.

  3. Nothing that is essentially evil really exists.

  4. So, instruments of torture do not really exist. (2 and 3)

  5. So, no complex artifacts really exist. (1 and 4)

One argument for (3) is from the privation theory of evil.

Another is a direct argument from theism:

  1. Everything that really exists is created by God.

  2. Nothing created by God is essentially evil.

  3. So, nothing that is essentially evil really exists.

38 comments:

Brandon said...

It seems extremely implausible to claim that instruments of torture, which are simply combinations of ordinary machinery and are sometimes even medical devices misused, are essentially evil, though. There seems a general problem with arguing that any artifacts are essentially evil; what materially exists underdetermines the ends to which it can be put, and therefore any evil seems more attributable to some failure in intentional use than in what people would be inclined to say is the artifact. The only other option would seem to require that the essence of an artifact is its use and thus that we hold that a book used for reading and the same book used for pressing flowers, even at the same time, are different artifacts.

Zsolt Nagy said...

1-5 is an invalid argument, since the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. If the premises are true, then it follows, that not any complex artifacts really exist or in other words, that some complex artifacts do not exist.

Really, what's the matter with you A. Pruss being not capable of correctly shifting and changing quantifiers as a mathematician and philosopher?!?
The word "any* usually stands for the quantifier "all" and not for the quantifier "some".
I advice you to not use the word "any" for any and all quantifiers!!!
Your word "any" is as ambiguous here as it is in your paper "Skepticism and the principle of sufficient reason":
"By considerations of symmetry [...], if any[-some] natural fact might lack a cause, then any[-all] relevantly similar natural fact might lack a cause. [...] So, if there is some natural fact that might [...] lack a cause, any[-all] natural fact might lack a cause."
Really, why this ambiguity, A. Pruss, and why going particularly from an O-statement "some natural facts might lack a cause" to an E-statement "all natural facts might lack a cause or in other words, that no natural facts might possess a cause"?
In the modern square of opposition the combination of the O- and E-statement is undetermined and in the traditional square of opposition it is only certainly true, that "f E-statement, then O-statement" and "if not-O-statement, then not-E-statement". So then how do you exactly justify your "if O-statement, then E-statement" there? With inductive and abductive reasoning? Well, it's just only appears to be a hasty generalization, which one you tend to do more than sometimes or in other words quite often.

Alexander R Pruss said...

"Any" is tricky in English. In some contexts it translates to a universal quantifier and in others to an existential.

"Any cat is a mammal" translates to ∀x(Cat(x)→Mammal(x)). That's the universal usage.

On the other hand, "If any person deserves the death penalty, Hitler does" translates to ∃x(Person(x) & DeservesDeathPenalty(x))→DeservesDeathPenalty(hitler) and "Alice didn't eat any food" translates to ~∃x(Food(x)&Ate(alice,x)). That's the existential usage. In (1), I was using "any" in the existential sense.

In the sentence from the skepticism and PSR paper, "any" does get used in two different ways, and that's unfortunate stylistically. However, it's worth noting this particular sentence is actually a donkey sentence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_sentence). Even though we can use "some" and "all" in English, the first order logic translation will use two universal quantifiers: "If some natural fact might lack a cause, the all relevantly similar natural fact might lack a cause." The reason is that the consequent has an implicit donkey pronoun: "relevantly similar natural fact" is shorthand for "natural fact relevantly similar to it", where the "it" is the donkey pronoun connected with the "some". The correct translation is now:

∀x((NaturalFact(x)&MightLackCause(x))→(∀y((NaturalFact(y)&Similar(y,x))→MightLackCause(y)).

As for the philosophical question of hasty generalizations, there are various cases where it is reasonable to think that something holds for some instances if and only if it holds for all instances. For instance, some normal adult dogs have a soul if and only if all normal adult dogs have a soul. It would be crazy to think that normal adult dogs differ in respect of having a soul. Such claims are, of course, subject to philosophical challenge, typically by trying to find some relevant division of the class in question.

Alexander R Pruss said...

As for the validity of the argument, note that if in (1) we have "any" meaning "some", then (5) indeed follows from (1) and (4). (1) claims: If there exists at least one complex artifact, then instruments of torture exist. (4) denies the consequent of (1). So we are entitled to conclude that the antecedent of (1) is false: It is not the case that there exists at least one complex artifact. Hence: there are no complex artifacts, which is what (5) claims.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Brandon:

Let's suppose for the sake of the argument that there are artifacts.

Then the essence of an artifact is not defined by its actual use, but by the use it is made for. You can use a book for swatting flies, but that doesn't turn it into a flyswatter. On the other hand, if you added a handle to the book for more conveniently swatting flies, you would have made a flyswatter out of the book. In this case, since the book is still usable, you would probably have two artifacts: a book and a flyswatter, with the book forming a part of the flyswatter. On the other hand, if you ripped out the pages from the book while attaching the handle, you would only have a flyswatter, since you would have destroyed the book.

You can have different artifacts that are materially exactly alike precisely because they are designed for different things. Thus, a club and a baseball bat could both be materially exactly alike. But they would still be different things. One way to see the difference is to note that if you added deliberately lethal spikes to the club, the club would survive the alteration. but if you added the spikes, that would destroy the baseball bat, turning it into a spiked club.

Brandon said...

'Defined by' is ambiguous here, I think; all essences are defined by ends, in the sense that a specific end is that which explains everything in the essence, but essences are not ends; and it seems that it is the end, not the essence, that is relevant to questions of whether an instrument is evil or not.

Focusing on the use something is made for, rather than just any use, does not, as far as I can see, help. If two people help each other make a piece of canvas, one intending to use it as a tarp for a construction site and another intending to use it as a sail for a ship, it still doesn't make any sense to say that the one piece of canvas is two artifacts, despite the fact that it was made for two mutually exclusive ends.

But when we are speaking of something that is specifically an instrument of torture, an instrument of torture could be put in a dungeon or prison for torture or it could be put in a museum for educating people about historical events; it's unclear what it would mean to say that it is intrinsically evil in the latter case. In this case, it is like sentences formed for lying. Lies are intrinsically evil, but no sentences are intrinsically lies; if someone wants to know what lie so-and-so told and I repeat it to him, even though I used the same sentence, recognizing it as having been formed for a lie, I did not lie, because the sentence itself is not the lie and is not intrinsically evil. Likewise, it seems plausible that the machinery for torture is not intrinsically evil, even though torturing is evil, because the machinery, even made for torture, is capable of being used for ends like educational purposes. If I put it in a museum exhibit on penal history, I haven't actually changed it at all; it's the same torture machine. But there doesn't seem any sense in which it is even evil in that context, since, whatever it was made for, there is no intention at all to use it for torture.

Zsolt Nagy said...
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Zsolt Nagy said...
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Zsolt Nagy said...

∀x((NaturalFact(x)&MightLackCause(x))→(∀y((NaturalFact(y)&Similar(y,x))→MightLackCause(y))

First, this "∀x(NaturalFact(x)&MightLackCause(x))→(∀y((NaturalFact(y)&Similar(y,x))→MightLackCause(y)))" actually translates to "If all natural facts might lack a cause, then all relevantly similar natural fact to a natural fact, which might lack a cause, might lack a cause.". This appears to be a kind of circular reasoning or begging the question.
Second, "If some natural fact might lack a cause, [then] all relevantly similar natural fact [to some natural fact, which might lack a cause,] might lack a cause." rather translates to "∃x(NaturalFact(x)&MightLackCause(x))→∀y((NaturalFact(y)&Similar(y,x))→MightLackCause(y))". This sounds like an attempt to make a hasty generalization.
Third, maybe you want to rather convey this "For all natural fact, if a natural fact might lack a cause, then all relevantly similar natural fact to that natural fact maybe lacking a cause might lack a cause.", which translates to "∀x((NaturalFact(x)&MightLackCause(x))→∀y((NaturalFact(y)&Similar(y,x))→MightLackCause(y)))"? Maybe you are trying to convey this or maybe you are trying to convey something different. I don't know and how am I supposed to know, if you don't make any consistent formulations of such a claim and statement?
Really, how am I supposed to know, what this "∀x((NaturalFact(x)&MightLackCause(x))→(∀y((NaturalFact(y)&Similar(y,x))→MightLackCause(y))" means, if there is something wrong with the brackets?

While you are at it to properly formulate and phrase, what you are trying to convey with this, you might as well properly phrase and formulate, what the denial and negation of that Restricted and Non-Circular PSR for Basic Natural Facts.
Given that your Restricted and Non-Circular PSR for Basic Natural Facts is basically an A/(∀)-statement, I expect the denial and negation of that Restricted and Non-Circular PSR for Basic Natural Facts to be basically an O/(∃~)-statement, since you know, for any and every negation of an A/(∀)-statement or in other words for any and every ~A/(~∀)-statement, there is an equivalent O/(∃~)-statement according to the square of opposition.
I just want to be sure, if I understand your argument in your paper and if that argument of yours is in any given way a valid argument in that paper of yours.
Thank you.

Zsolt Nagy said...

So if that word of yours "any" in your premise (1) "If any complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist." is actually meaning "some" or your premise (1) is actually this in other words: "If there exists at least one complex artifact, then instruments of torture exist.", then sure, that argument with that premise (1) of yours is valid.

But then why should I trust and accept your premise (1)?
I accept the rest of your premises and I deny your conclusion or in other words I assume the negation of your conclusion to be the case:

(ZsN-1) It's not the case, that there are no complex artifacts.
Or in other words there are some complex artifacts.
Or in other words there is at least one artifact.
(ZsN-2) Instruments of torture are essentially evil.
(ZsN-3) Nothing that is essentially evil exists.
(ZsN-4) So, instruments of torture do not exist. (ZsN-2 and ZsN-3)
(ZsN-4.1) If there exists at least one complex artifact, then instruments of torture exist. (indirect proof assumption)
(ZsN-4.2) Instruments of torture exist. (ZsN-1 and ZsN-4.1)
(ZsN-4.3) Instruments of torture do not exist and instruments of torture exist. (ZsN-4 and ZsN-4.2)
(ZsN-5) Therefore, it's not the case, that if there exists at least one complex artifact, then instruments of torture exist. (from ZsN-4.1 to ZsN-4.3)

Not all complex artifacts have to be itsruments of torture - not existing essential evils.
Or in other words some complex artifacts do not have to be instruments of torture - not existing essential evils.
By the way, I'm stating and claiming this with certainty, not that I would know this claim to be actually true, since I don't even know, what a "complex artifact" is supposed to be or what you are meaning by that term "complex artifact".
But I'm stating and claiming that with certainty, because I'm certain of it, that you are once again doing nothing but a hasty generalization like you often do.
All of your syllogisms or at least the majority of your syllogisms just sound like this;

1. If at least there is one shape, then a squared circle exists.
Squared circles don't exist. Hence,
2. A squared circle doesn't exist
3. Therefore, there are no shapes.

Sure, some shapes do not exist. But then how do you get from that O/(∃~)-statement to that E/(∀~)-statement, that there are no shapes or in other words no shape exist? This is nonsense and nothing but a false hasty generalization.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Some comments were deleted for including academically unacceptable language such as insults and sarcasm.

Alexander R Pruss said...

A complex artifact is an artifact that is a complex entity. Here, "complex" is used in the mereological sense: an entity is complex iff it has at least one proper part (i.e., a part other than the whole).

Zsolt Nagy said...
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Zsolt Nagy said...

If that's, what a "complex artifact" supposed to be and mean, then my valid and in my opinion very much sound objection against your argument and arguments alike is standing, as it is.
You are making nothing but false hasty generalizations out of ignorance to the possibility and the actuality of something holding for some instances and it not holding for all instances or in other words it holding for not all instances.

Alexander R Pruss said...

A comment criticizing a person's qualifications in a rude way has been deleted.

Zsolt Nagy said...

At the same time a valid, justified and warranted comment criticizing a person's lack luster of an explanation has been deleted.

swaggerswaggmann said...

Poor child...

Zsolt Nagy said...

I would be a poor child only if I would accept any such poor and lack luster of an explanation and justification.
Since I don't accept any such poor and lack luster of an explanation and justification, I am not a poor child.

swaggerswaggmann said...

I was not criticizing you, I targeted the one that delete everything he has no answers for and so hurts his feelings.

Unknown said...

Zsolt Nagy,

You may resist the argument by holding that only *some* artifacts exist, not instruments of torture. Just like you may resist the PSR argument by holding that only *some* contingent or natural facts have no explanation and nothing else follows from that.

The problem is that most people (Pruss included, I assume) would just reject that position right away as being very implausible. Why is it that spoons exist but iron maidens don't? That just seems crazy. Surely there should be some principled reason for that difference - yet it seems like there is none.

And likewise for contingent brute facts. This doesn't just presuppose PSR either, since one way or another we want to minimize unexplained facts as much as possible, and, on top of that, the proposed distinction here seems positively crazy. A pig can exist with no cause, but dogs can't? Josh Rasmussen's point about arbitrary differences comes to mind. There have also been arguments for how to bridge the some->all gap (Andrew Loke's for instance), but the burden of proof is actually on the one who proposes that two similar things just have such a relevant difference with no explanation.

Seems like you're making a huge storm from a purely logical point of view and missing the dialectical context in which Pruss's arguments are inserted. If you wanna resist the argument by holding that spoons can exist but iron maidens can't, you're free to do so, but that's just not a live option for Pruss and most people - except if you provide a positive argument for a principled difference that could make sense of why spoons can exist but iron maidens can't, but this makes us skeptical.

Zsolt Nagy said...

Hallo Unknown,

I might still miss the dialectical context, in which Pruss's arguments are inserted, since Pruss himself appears to be not very interested in giving a proper response and clarification for that matter besides of that response of his "A comment criticizing a person's qualifications in a rude way has been deleted."

Besides that what do you mean by "Why is it that spoons exist but iron maidens don't? That just seems crazy. Surely there should be some principled reason for that difference - yet it seems like there is none."
I asked Pruss, what a "complex artifact" was supposed to be and mean according to him and according to him: "A complex artifact is an artifact, that is a complex entity. Here, "complex" is used in the mereological sense: an entity is complex iff it has at least one proper part (i.e., a part other than the whole)."
So then in this regard, what does that remark "Why is it that spoons exist but iron maidens don't? That just seems crazy. Surely there should be some principled reason for that difference - yet it seems like there is none." of yours has to do with the argument of Pruss and the objection of mine to that argument? Does a spoon fall under the category of "complex artifacts"? How about a space shuttle then?
Really, what are you even saying? Do I really need to make much more argument than a space shuttle being an existing "complex artifact" - some "complex artifact existing - to make a valid objection to Pruss' argument for there not being any "complex artifact" existing? And what do you even mean by that "a principled difference that could make sense of why spoons can exist but iron maidens can't"?
Spoons exist and even if iron maidens might have not existed in the past, then an iron maiden could be built today, so that an iron maidens does now actually exist?
Am I really misunderstanding Pruss' unsound argument for the non-existence of any "complex artifacts" or are you interpreting something more into those premises and argument of Pruss, which are simply not given here? I guess, that it's rather the latter the case here, but I'm open to any proper explanations here.

Further, what do you mean by "And likewise for contingent brute facts. This doesn't just presuppose PSR either, since one way or another we want to minimize unexplained facts as much as possible, and, on top of that, the proposed distinction here seems positively crazy."?!?
What? I mean, "What?" to all of that!
What is a "contingent brute fact"? Something like a "married bachelor" or a "square circle" - a self contradiction? And what "distinction" have been proposed here by who?
Josh Rasmussen can make as many unsubstantiated claims upon unsubstantiated claims or little substantiated claims as he likes. If he can't explain, how energy came or comes out of nothing - creatio ex nihilo, till then I remain in the position of the PSR probably being not true, since as far as we can tell energy can neither be created out of nothing nor energy can be destroyed into nothing. Energy always comes in some form from somewhere, reshaping itself in some physical and dynamical processes into some other energy form and then going somewhere else. So there, somewhere is energy and as far as we can tell it could have been always there, somewhere, here without any causation involved - a brute fact of nature without explanations for its existence yet it exists.
Your claim of the PSR, creatio ex nihilo and the denial of the PSR being a ”crazy” proposition - therefore, your burden of proof of your claims.
As far as I’m concerned, I’ve met that burden of proof of my claims.

Best regards,
Zsolt

Alexander R Pruss said...

Zsolt:

Spoons would be complex artifacts, since they have molecules as parts.

Everyone:

If you want your comments to remain, do not engage in sarcasm, question how another participant in the conversation (whether the OP or a commenter) could possibly make an alleged blunder of a certain sort, etc. Express yourself with the level of courtesy that would be normal in an academic publication, though the language of comments need not be as formal as in print publication.

Alexander R Pruss said...

By the way, Zsolt, before your comments I had never actually noticed before that in English "If any F is G, then p" is ambiguous between "If all Fs are Gs, then p" and "If some F is G, then p".

My own usage of "any" in antecedents of conditionals has been pretty consistently to mean _some_. But your comments led me to do a search of mathematical publications with jstor, and I found that most of the time "If any F is G, then p" is used in the "If all" way. But not always: sometimes it clearly means "If some", e.g., in a sentence like (paraphrasing from memory): "If any of these conditions is satisfied ..." which means "If at least one of these conditions is satisfied ...".

On the other hand, I also did a Google Books search. It looks like outside of mathematical literature "If any ..." tends to be "If some" or a donkey sentence rather than a sentence with a universal quantifier in the antecedent. For instance, in a 1959 piece of Minnesota legislation we have: "If any amount other than or in excess of the charge permitted by this chapter is charged, ...". Obviously, we are not asked to consider the odd scenario where ALL excessive charges are charged, but only one where SOME excessive charge is charged. I went through a couple of pages of Google Books results and did not find any "If all" uses of "If any", common as they were in mathematics.

All this suggests that in philosophical English we might do well to avoid "If any ..." and instead prefer "If all ..." and "If some ..." to avoid ambiguity. That said, in some cases context makes things clear. It is quite usual to indicate that x is a prime candidate for being G by saying "If any F is G, then x is F": e.g., "If anyone deserves severe punishment, Stalin does" or "If any non-human animal is conscious, the chimpanzee is".

Zsolt Nagy said...

I somewhat agree and somewhat disagree with you, A. Pruss.
Again, usually (often and not sometimes) the word "any" stands for the quantifier "all"/"every" - especially in derivations and in mathematics it does stand for that.
This has to do with the Universal Generalisation:
Suppose P is true of any arbitrarily selected c in the universe of discourse.
Then P is true of everything in the universe of discourse.

e.g. "If any (arbitrary) Square is a Rectangle, then all Squares are Rectangles.", or in other words "(All/Every) Squares are Rectangles" - universal generalisation.
(But be careful here, since not any (arbitrary) Rectangle is a Square, or in other words some Rectangles are not Squares.)
So then do you, A. Pruss, suggest, that analytical philosophy is allowed to make any such claims as "If any F is G, then x is F." or in other words "If all F are G, then x is F."?
I don't think so. I'm certainly against the usage of the word "any" in this kind of sense in analytical philosophy, since it doesn't really make any sense there.
Either just simply state and claim directly, that x is a prime candidate for being G OR maybe don't consider yourself to be an analytical philosopher anymore.
If you want to make such claims and statements as "If any Square is a Rectangle, then the quadrilateral with the points A(1|0), B(2,1), C(1|2) and D(0|1) in the xy-coordinate system should be.", then sure, go for it, A. Pruss. But then please consider yourself to be a continental philosopher rather than an analytical philosopher. (This is no sarcasm. But this is a justified and warranted suggestion and proposition of mine for you given and based upon your explanations and suggestions here.)
Besides that, yes I agree to, that the word "any" can and does sometimes stand for the quantifier "some" in non-mathematical and non-analytical contexts. So then given your paper of the denial of the PSR entailing scepticism or given any of your work are we or are you in a non-mathematical and in a non-analytical context? (This is not a rhetorical question. I'm confused about basically any of your responses here.)

Zsolt Nagy said...

Besides that, A. Pruss, I've never stated nor I did ever claim, that "Spoons would be complex artifacts, since they have molecules as parts. "
But the "Unknown" commentator did claim, that "If you[, Zsolt,] wanna resist the argument [for the not-existence of any complexe artifacts] by holding that spoons can exist but iron maidens can't, you're free to do so, but that's just not a live option for Pruss and most people - except if you provide a positive argument for a principled difference that could make sense of why spoons can exist but iron maidens can't, but this makes us skeptical." at January 2, 2022 at 10:48 PM.
Ahh, now I get it: "spoons" stands for some existing complex artifacts and "iron maidens" stands for supposedly non-existing essentially evil complex artifacts.
Yeah, I don't like this formulation from that "Unknown" commentator, since that formulation appears to put words in my mouth, which I have never said or claimed, and at the same time that claim in that formulation forces me something to do in a particular form, which I don't have to do, since I have already done that in a more general form, which then have been deleted here, I guess.
Besides that, my critic and objection is, that the premise 1 "If any complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist." haven't been and isn't properly justified, warranted and substantiated.
Why should I really make and provide a "positive argument" for some complex artifacts existing and not-any/all/every essentially evil complex artifacts existing, when there is also really no such "positive argument" for opposite proposition, namely your premise 1, A. Pruss?!?
Especially why should I do all that work for "nothing", if you, A. Pruss, have not a better justification than something similar to a non-analytical/continental claim as "If any F is a G, then x is F." or "If any Square is a Rectangle, then the quadrilateral with the points A(1|0), B(2,1), C(1|2) and D(0|1) in the xy-coordinate system should be."? (This is actually a rhetorical question but not a sarcastic one. If I do that work for "nothing", then I guess, that there is no real reason for me to do so and this this rhetorical question of mine is indirectly assuming to be at least one reason, when there might be no reason at all.)

So really, now that I or we know, what that your word "any" is supposed to mean, A. Pruss, if "some" complex artifacts really exist, then why should "any/all/every" instruments of torture really exist?
I understand, that if “any/all/every” complex artifacts would exist, then "any/all/every" instruments of torture would exist. But I have problems in understanding your justifications in your premise 1 here, where if “any/some” complex artifacts would exist, then “any/all/every” instruments of torture would exist.
Would you be so kind as to enlighten me of your justification and warrent for your statement and claim?
Thank you.

Unknown said...

Zsolt,

Spoon is just an example of a morally neutral complex artifact. Iron maiden an example of an evil complex artifact.

I really do think the issue is much simpler than you are taking it to be: I (and many others) find it crazy to suggest that objects like spoons could exist as wholes, but iron maidens can't. The reason for that is that there is seemingly no non-arbitrary difference between spoons and iron maidens with respect to their potential existence.

It strikes me as weird as to suggest that I can cook better if I'm wearing black underpants as opposed to white underpants. The color of my underpants should have no bearing on my cooking abilities, and even more clearly, the color being "black" as opposed to "white" should have make no difference whatsoever to my cooking.

Yet this is what it seems like when you suggest that maybe *some* complex artifacts might exist, but not all of them. If you have no issue with that, that is your right, but I do have an issue with it. I do not suspend judgment on the first premise; I accept it. If some complex artifacts exist, instruments of torture really do exist. If you want me, or Pruss, or others in our situation, to seriously question that premise then you have to provide us with an argument giving a principled reason for why (say) spoons might exist but iron maidens can't. What is it that could allow spoons to exist, but not iron maidens? We need a principled difference between the two in order to explain the disparity.

The same thing goes for contingent things. As per my example, I find it crazy to suggest that dogs always need causes of their existence, but pigs don't. What is it about pigs that allows them to exist without a cause, while dogs need causes? We need a principled difference here. And, as Rasmussen would put it with his talk of arbitrary differences, a mere difference in size or shape makes no difference.

So yeah, I do think that you are still missing the dialectical context. Pruss and I accept the first premise; if you don't, that leads to (what we take to be) a very weird and implausible situation, and to avoid that you'd need to give an explanation, some principled reason of why some complex artifacts can exist while others can't, when it seems like there's no non-arbitrary differences between complex artifacts that could make sense of that (is it because an iron maiden is bigger or has a different shape? Surely not. Is it because it is made of iron, but not the spoon - let's say only plastic spoons can exist -? Again, that seems crazy.)

Zsolt Nagy said...

To Unknown commentator:

First, take an actually existing spoon, a complex artifact, in one of your supposedly two healthy hands and then read the conclusion of that argument from A. Pruss out loud: "No complex artifacts really exist."
Do you feel now being rational while doing so, or not?
I certainly feel irrational doing so, because you know, I hold a counterexample and evidence against the statement and claim, which has left my mouth.
So I guess, then the conclusion of that argument from A. Pruss is false and if so, then at least one of the premises of his given supposedly *valid argument must be also false, since:
ZsN-1. If every premise of a valid argument is true, then the conclusion of that valid argument is true.
ZsN-2. The conclusion of a particular valid argument is false.
ZsN-3. Therefore, not every premise of that particular valid argument is true. (from 1 and 2 by modus tollens)
Or in other words at least one of the premises of that particular valid argument is false.

*The given argument from A. Pruss here is really not valid, because again premises 1 "If any complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist." actually is supposed to stand for "If any arbitrary/all/every complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist.".
I wouldn't dare to question such statement and claim as "If any arbitrary/all/every complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist.", since such statements and claims are trivially true. And if that premise 1 truly stands for that, then again that particular conclusion "No complex artifacts really exist." doesn't follow from those premises. But it would follow then, that "Not any arbitrary/all/every complex artifacts really exist." or in other words "Some complex artifacts do not exist.".
Well, while this conclusion still doesn't explain the existence and that existing spoon in one of my two hands, at least this conclusion certainly doesn't obviously contradict that existing spoon in one of my two hands as the conclusion from A. Pruss' argument actually did contradict that spoon in my hand.

Zsolt Nagy said...

Second, now take a copy of the horror novella "The Hellbound Heart" (1986) by Clive Barker into your supposedly second healthy and not-occupied hand besides your first hand still occupied with that actually existing spoon, a complex artifact.
Certainly, that particular novella by Clive Barker exists, but how about that mystical puzzle box mentioned in that novella, the "Lemarchand Configuration", which can be used to summon the Cenobites, demonic beings, who do not distinguish between pain and pleasure? Does that device/essentially evil instrument of torture actually exist?
I argue here, that the lack of empirical evidence for such a device is evidence for its absence, since the absence/non-existence of that device explains quite well that absence of empirical evidence for the existence of that device - abductive reasoning. So it is justified and warranted to assume and to think, that such a device, the "Lemarchand Configuration", does not exist till properly proven otherwise to be the case. Hence,
ZsN-4. Some complex artifacts exist (e.g. the spoon in my one hand) and not any arbitrary instrument of torture exist or in other words some instruments of torture do not exist (e.g. "Lemarchand Configuration" does not exist).
ZsN-5. Some complex artifacts exist (e.g. the spoon in my one hand). (from 4. by conjunction reduction/elimination)
ZsN-6. Not any arbitrary instrument of torture exist or in other words some instruments of torture do not exist (e.g. "Lemarchand Configuration" does not exist) or in other words no intruments of torture exist. (from 4. by conjunction reduction/elimination)
ZsN-7.0 If "any non-arbitrary/some" complex artifacs exist, then (any arbitrary/all/every) Intruments of torture exist. (indirect proof assumption)
ZsN-7.1 Intruments of torture exist. (from 5 and 7.0 by modus ponens)
ZsN-7.2 No instrument of torture exist and intruments of torture exist. (from 6 and ZsN-7.1 by conjunction introduction)
ZsN-8. Therefore, it's not the case, that "if "any not-arbitrary/some" complex artifacts really exist, (then any arbitrary/all/every) intruments of torture really exist".
This is a valid argument. So the conclusion of this valid argument is only false, if at least one premise of mine is false. So then which premise of mine is false, if any is false?
So please Unknown commentator, give a "positive argument" or a "principled reason" against my one and only premise ZsN-4 "Some complex artifacts exist and not any arbitrary instrument of torture exist." here. I guess, then otherwise my argument is a successful argument.

Zsolt Nagy said...

Or in other words give a proper justification for premise 1 "If "any non-arbitrary/some" complex artifacts really exist, instruments of torture really exist.".
I would like it to be as general of a justification as it could be.
What, I mean by this, is, that it shouldn't be so particular like your "spoon" and "iron maiden" case.
Sure, you can make and give examples. But please first do the proper work in general or generally, then you might reduce that to a specific and particular case.
You see, there are no problems with Universal Instantiation or at least there are less problems with that than with Universal Generalization.
A. Pruss tends to think, that if he shows and explains, that a particular and specific and non-arbitrary proposition as "If some dogs have souls, then all dogs have souls." holds, then also the more general case "If some P, then all P." will hold, and this is not true in general. He makes here a hasty generalization and this is fallacious to do and to think so. It is certainly no proper Universal Generalization, since he is not going and starting from an arbitrary case, but from a particular, specific and non-arbitrary case.
So please Unknown commentator, do not make the same mistake as A. Pruss here.

Zsolt Nagy said...

ZsN-4. Some complex artifacts exist (e.g. the spoon in my one hand) and not any arbitrary instrument of torture exist or in other words some instruments of torture do not exist (e.g. "Lemarchand Configuration" does not exist).
ZsN-5. Some complex artifacts exist (e.g. the spoon in my one hand). (from 4. by conjunction reduction/elimination)
*ZsN-6. Not any arbitrary instrument of torture exist or in other words some instruments of torture do not exist (e.g. "Lemarchand Configuration" does not exist). (from 4. by conjunction reduction/elimination)
ZsN-7.0 If "any non-arbitrary/some" complex artifacs exist, then (any arbitrary/all/every) Intruments of torture exist. (indirect proof assumption)
ZsN-7.1 Intruments of torture exist. (from 5 and 7.0 by modus ponens)
ZsN-7.2 Some instruments of torture do not exist and any intruments of torture exist. (from 6 and ZsN-7.1 by conjunction introduction)
ZsN-8. Therefore, it's not the case, that "if "any not-arbitrary/some" complex artifacts really exist, (then any arbitrary/all/every) intruments of torture really exist". (from 7.0-7.2 by indirect proof)

*I guess, that I'm starting to make the same mistake now as A. Pruss makes.
This should be now through and through correctly formulated.

Unknown said...

Pruss is not talking about things actually existing, the way we might for example say that unicorns do not exist. You have to remember that this is an argument about artifacts, which are a controversial ontological topic in metaphysics. No one denies that spoons exist; of course when I'm holding a spoon in my hands I can see that it exists in some way, that's not what is controversial and it isn't what Pruss is talking about. The issue is whether composite artifacts really are real over and above their natural constituent bits.

I myself do not believe "spoons" exist; I think they are just bits of natural matter assemblied in a certain geometry. I do not think there is a form of spoons the same way I think there is a form of dogness. I think dogs and other living beings (as well as natural inorganic elements) truly exist as specific formal configurations of matter with their own laws and such. Spoons and other complex artifacts, on the other hand, are more like "the State" to me: I don't think there is anything literally like "a State" over and above patches of land and the customary actions and beliefs of some human beings. I don't think States *really* exist, just like I don't think spoons *really* exist. But I still recognize that there are spoon-shaped material configurations in my hands.

I take it that this is what Pruss is talking about ("if any complex artifacts REALLY EXIST...") and as such, the issue is about how these things might exist in possible worlds (not simply whether they exist in our actual world).

So of course the Lemarchand Configuration does not exist in our actual world. That's not the point. And that's not what we're saying when we move from "any complex artifacts really exist" to "all complex artifacts really exist".

But *could* a Lemarchand Configuration exist? If it's a "mystical puzzle box" that "summons demons incapable of differentiating between pain and pleasure", then that already makes it a very different kind of complex artifact. Presumably it would not be possible for such a thing to exist in our world given our laws of nature. Except if God or some other actual being were capable of miraculously withhold the laws or something, if this is possible. In other words: the fact that a "Lemarchand Configuration" is a magical object which defies our natural laws, involves demons, etc., IS itself a principled difference that sets it apart from other complex artifacts, which is what I was asking you to give me. It doesn't at all seem arbitrary to me to say that "spoons can really exist, but mystical puzzle boxes which summon demons cannot really exist", because these two things are indeed different in a non-arbitrary way. The puzzle box defies our laws and might (for all we know) involve metaphysical impossibilities. Not so with spoons and iron maidens, however. An iron maiden doesn't defy our natural laws or involve demons with weird consciousness configurations. It is in fact very similar to spoons and other ordinary complex artifacts, so if iron maidens cannot exist even though spoons can, you owe us a principled, non-arbitrary difference or explanation for that. Which was precisely my point.

Zsolt Nagy said...

To Unknown commentator:

Are you listening to me and to what I have said, Unknown commentator?
I'm not stating and claiming, that "spoons can really exist, but mystical puzzle boxes which summon demons cannot really exist, because these two things are indeed different in a non-arbitrary way".
But I'm stating and claiming, that "Spoons really exist and the mystical puzzle box "Lemarchand Configuration", which summon demons, really don't exist, because the existence of the spoon explains the spoon in my hand, the empirical evidence for the existence of the spoon, and the non-existence of that mystical puzzle box explains, why there is no such mystical puzzle box in my other hand, the lack of any empirical evidence of the existence of such a mystical puzzle box."
If you are that eager to have a "principle of difference" or "non-arbitrary" explanation or reason, then take that, what I said, as such a "non-arbitrary principle of difference".

Now, that you have that from me, what you asked for, would you be so kind as to also give me, what I have asked you, namely the reason to believe, that "if any non-arbitrary or some complex artifacts really exist, then any arbitrary or all or every instruments of torture really exist.", since apparently A. Pruss can not do that?

Zsolt Nagy said...

Also I'm not stating and claiming, that "dogs always need causes of their existence, but pigs don't", Unknown commentator.
So stop straw manning or making red herrings or putting words in my mouth, which I have not said.
But what, I'm saying, is, that dogs, pigs and you and anybody actually and really existing are made out of matter and energy. So the existence of such objects is directly linked to the existence of matter and energy and given the conservation laws of mass and energy [energy can neither be created out of nowhere and nothing nor can energy be destroyed into nothing as far as we know and we can tell] the assumption of creatio ex nihilo to be probable and plausible is nonsensical, since there is no empirical evidence of such. Yet energy and everything concerning and relating to it exist. Hence, there you have your "non-contingent/necessary" entity, on which the existence of any other contingent thing is depending on and which might as well explain any existence of such contingent things.

Unknown said...

Zsolt Nagy,

It would be crazy if spoons could really exist but iron maidens couldn't. Without a principled difference between the two to account for why one can exist but the other can't, I (and Pruss and most people) would just hold that if spoons can exist, then so can iron maidens. That's all.

A mystical puzzle box that summons demons with weird conscious attributes would be a very different kind of composite artifact. There is a ready explanation for why it could not exist even though spoons can exist: contrary to spoons, the puzzle box defies our natural laws and might well involve metaphysical impossibilities. This is a non-arbitrary, principled difference.

Until you find us a principled difference w.r.t. possible existence between spoons, chairs, TVs and iron maidens and choke pears, we will continue to accept that "if some (ordinary composite artifacts) really exist, then instruments of torture really exist". And if you reject that notion without having any candidate for a non-arbitrary difference between spoons, chairs, etc. and iron maidens, then we think that is extremely weird and implausible. That is all.

I don't think just being energy (or fundamental simples) is a sufficient non-arbitrary difference to allow one to exist without a cause, and I don't think it would be exempt from the problems in Pruss's article (on skepticism and crazy occurrences), but if you think that it serves as a principled difference, have at it. I was just explaining the implicit reasoning behind the generalizations in these arguments (from "some X" to "all X").

Unknown said...

And of course, the dogs and pigs thing was an example to get you to think of what we're talking about when it comes to arbitrary differences. Surely you would find it crazy, or at least puzzling, if dogs always needed causes for their existence but pigs could exist uncaused. One reason is that dogs and pigs are not sufficiently different from each other in any way or property that is relevant for existence or existing without a cause. In other words, there are no non-arbitrary differences between pigs and dogs w.r.t. causeless existence. So if dogs always need causes for their existence, it is reasonable to conclude that pigs also always need causes for their existence.

You think that the fundamental matter-energy underlying pigs and dogs might not need a cause. But that's because you think there's a principled, non-arbitrary difference between pigs and energy in this case: pigs are made up of energy, energy is fundamental, there's the law of conservation of energy while there's no such a specific law for pigs, etc. I might disagree with you and think that these differences are not sufficient, but still, these *are* candidate differences. It is a potential response to the issue of arbitrary differences. Whereas with dogs and pigs, it is clear that there's no non-arbitrary differences between them to justify one being possibly causeless while the other is always caused.

The same reasoning is at play in Pruss's first premise here. The idea is just that if ordinary composite artifacts (spoons, forks, etc.) really exist, then torture devices like iron maidens, choke pears, etc. also really exist. Spoons and iron maidens are like the dogs and pigs in the PSR case. There seems to be no non-arbitrary differences between them with respect to being able of really existing. So if we think, in our world, that spoons really exist, but iron maidens do not, that is crazy.

Zsolt Nagy said...

To Unknown commentator,

Without a "principled difference" between the two to account for, why one can exist but the other can't, you (and Pruss and most people) are still not justified to hold, that if spoons can exist, then so can iron maidens, since without any "principled difference" you (and Pruss and most people) can only hold tautologies - spoons can or can not exist and iron maidens can or can not exist.
I agree with you, that it would be crazy, if spoons really exist but iron maidens couldn't. So I'm glad, that I'm not making this claim.
Besides that, without a "principled difference" it would be crazy, if "spoons really exist BUT iron maidens couldn't" or in other words if "spoons really exist AND iron maidens couldn't", and also it would be crazy, if "if spoons exist, then iron maidens exist" or in other words if "spoons do not exist OR iron maidens exist" or ín other words if "it's not the case, that spoons exist and iron maidens do not exist".
AGAIN, without a "principled difference" you (and Pruss and most people) are only justified in holding tautologies: "(Spoons can exist OR spoons can not exist) AND (iron maidens can exist OR Iron maiden can not exist).
So I'm really and still wondering, how you are justifying premise 1 "If some complex artifact exist, then instruments of torture exist.".
Word of advice from me to you: Learn some propositional logic!

Maybe it wasn't clear enough the first time, so I'm going to reiterate and repeat here in some other formulation:
If you (and Pruss and most irrational people) are making a maybe fallacious (and I already explained, why it is actually fallacious here,) hasty generalization from a particular, specific and non-arbitrary case of "If spoons really exist, then iron maidens really exist." to the general case of "If some complex artifacts really exist, then instruments of torture really exist.", then how do you justify this generalization, since the reduction of that general case to this particular and specific case of "If spoons really exist, then the mystic puzzle box "Lemarchand Configuration" really exists." is obviously and trivially false?
Or in other words, how can the general case be ever correct and true, if a particular and specific reduction of that general case is obviously and trivially false?
It appears to be, that the only logical and rational answer to this question is, that the general case can never be correct and true, if a particular and specific reduction of that general case is false.

Zsolt Nagy said...

Besides that Unknown commentator, I'm not focusing on "differences and what makes a thing different from another thing - principles of difference - yeshh.
I'm more focused and interested in similarities and what makes one thing similar to another thing. You might as well call them principles of similarities.
Do you know in what way energy is similar to a pig?
A pig is capable of taking on different forms or a pig can be put into different forms similar to energy being capable of taking on different forms or energy being put into different forms.
There is kinetic, potential, mass, thermal, electrical, nuclear, biological and chemical energy and there is bacon, sausage, pork chops, pork ribs, Christmas ham, insulin for the regulation of diabetes, valves for human heart surgery, suede for shoes and clothing, gelatin for foods and non-food. Swine by-products are also important parts of products such as water filters, insulation, rubber, antifreeze, certain plastics, floor waxes, crayons, chalk, adhesives and fertilizer and lard is fat from pig abdomens and is used in shaving creams, soaps, make-up, baked goods and other foods.
So yeah, I guess, that here is at least one similarity here.

Zsolt Nagy said...

(1) If any swans exist, then black swans exist.
There are white swans, but since white swans are not black swans, hence
(2) Black swans do not exist.
(3) Therefore, not any swans exist.
Or in other words "no swans" exist, since there appears to be no difference between swans and black swans.
By this I mean, that both exist - swans and black swans exist.