|I previously wrote, "I quoted H.W.B. Joseph's argument that the law of universal causation is based on the law of identity. I have a feeling that you may have glossed over that, and not read it very carefully." Bob replied, |
His was a statement, not an argument (at best). Realistically, his opening statement clearly sets up precisely the same fallacy as I described. His first sentence claims that for any causality to exist at all, it must exist everywhere. As a premise for a causality argument, it is fallacious. Bob, if you can't paraphrase accurately, then you need to quote the actual statement. He doesn't say that for any causality to exist at all, it must exist everywhere. He says that for identity to exist at all, causality is required. Here is the sentence to which you refer:
In other words,
[I]f a thing is to have any determinate nature and character at all, there must be uniformity of action in different things of that character, or of the same thing on different like occasions. (Emphasis added)
So, if I understand you, you're claiming that Joseph's argument begs the question - that the author of An Introduction to Logic, and a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Oxford committed an obvious petitio. Well, I'm sure that the Oxford University Press would be glad to know about that, so that they can issue a retraction and expunge this embarrassing philosophical faux pas from their now tarnished reputation.
the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is. It could only act differently, if it were different. As long therefore as it is a, and stands related under conditions c to a subject that is s, no other effect than x can be produced; and to say that the same thing acting on the same thing under the same conditions may yet produce a different effect, is to say that a thing need not be what it is. But this is in flat conflict with the Law of Identity. A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connection between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert that it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be. [Introduction to Logic (1906), p. 407, 408]
I wrote, "Well, as I've said, the law of causality isn't fundamental philosophically; it's a corollary of the law of identity, so I don't know where you got that idea. Actually, I do know where you got it -- from not carefully reading what I wrote." Bob replied,
And you wonder why I make snide remarks? This is nonsense. The law of identity is an AXIOM. A "corollary" is described as a proposition that follows with little or no proof required from one already proven. So, since an axiom is not provable, we already have a problem - a big one. Don't be so pedantic, Bob. You've cited one definition of "corollary," as if it were the only legitimate sense in which the term could be used; in fact, another definition is "a deduction or inference"; another, "a natural consequence or effect." (The American Heritage Dictionary) What I had I mind was an obvious and immediate inference from already established knowledge. The law of identity cannot be "proved" in the sense of being derived from more fundamental knowledge, since it is the foundation of all reasoning, but that doesn't mean that it isn't demonstrably true and, in that sense, provable. You're really grasping at straws to contest my argument on that basis. If you'd rather not call a direct and immediate inference from an already demonstrated truth a "corollary," fine. But it fits better than any other term I can think of, unless you have a better suggestion.
Let's put that aside and look at what I think you really mean. You assert that the law of identity demands, infers, or deductively requires causality. This is 100% identical to the begging the question fallacy. There is no line of reasoning other than the Identity/causality assumption, then the conclusion - fallacious. The line of reasoning is that the law of causality follows from the law of identity, not that it is the law of identity. So, how does that beg the question? How is that fallacious? You've lost me. Then you add,
Now, you're not alone, because the whole Objectivist "movement" commits this fallacy by definition of their axioms. The Objectivist axioms are not "set up" in such a way that they are irrefutable. They are in fact irrefutable by the nature of reality and the requirements of human knowledge. It is true that in order to refute them, one must implicitly assume them, but that's because all knowledge presupposes them. If that constitutes begging the question, then all valid reasoning begs the question, because it is based on these axioms. But to say that all valid reasoning begs the question is a contradiction in terms. Since begging the question is a fallacy, it is by definition a form of invalid reasoning.
"Axioms are the most obvious statements from which everything else follows. The Objectivist axioms are set up in such a way that they are irrefutable. Anyone trying to object to them must implicitly assume them even before he or she can formulate a counter-argument."
(from http://andrej.com/objectivism/ - apparently ARI approved)
See, Objectivists commit the fallacy before they even begin ANY other argument! This is quite funny actually. This is using the fallacy of begging the question to argue that any counter argument is fallacious!
Damn! That would be clever if it wasn't so STUPID! I'll let that comment stand on its own. ;-)
I'm finished with this foolishness.
(Edited by William Dwyer
on 5/01, 8:20pm)