The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

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Nils
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The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#1

Post by Nils » Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am

I started a discussion with Byblos in the thread Skepticism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason. This thread is now blocked so I continue it here.

I cite Byblos last post in our conversation and reply after it.

Page 10 #141 Post by Byblos » 27 Nov 2017, 16:40
viewtopic.php?p=231226#p231226
So Nils, getting back to this thread and your last post to me. But first I wanted to address this little nugget of wisdom from our friend:
trulyenlightened wrote:Our reality is the result of quantum interaction with the the many fields(electromagnetic, gravity and anti-gravity, Higgs, Quantum, Strong), etc) that permeate the ether of space-time.
That's pretty much what the materialist's argument for reality boils down to and it is precisely why I suggested the PSR, i.e. to show the utter incoherence and self-defeating nature of such an argument. The argument terminates with inexplicable, brute force facts which is a violation of the PSR. If you ask the materialist the next logical question: well, where did these fields and their laws of interactions come from, what is their explanation (as demanded by the PSR)? The ultimate answer to their relality must invariably be 'because that's the way is'.

There are 3 principles that must be assumed for scientists to do what they do so successfully and I will repeat them:

1. The law of non-contradiction
2. The principle of causality
3. The principle of sufficient reason

And 'because that's the way it is' violates at least 2 of the 3, thereby not only undermining the very science they hold so dear but also end up explaining nothing in the process. It is like a hamster climbing the ladder of knowledge on a quest for ultimate knowledge, knowing full well the ladder he chose is a wheel that spins interminably.

So moving on from that, let's see if we can come up with a more plausible answer than 'because that's the way it is', something that might not violate the PSR.
Nils wrote:But yours arguments are new to me so don't be too upset by my comments.
They may be new to you but they're not new at all. Leibniz is probably the philosopher most often associated with the PSR.
Nils wrote: Here I would like to see how your argument goes in more detail - a logic schema with premises and conclusions.
I will definitely post of logical syllogism of the argument and it will be detailed (because I will most likely quote verbartim from Feser's book). But first, let's examine yours.
Nils wrote:Here is my understanding (for what it is worth). Note that this is only a draft, just a fast try.
Nils wrote:P1. Everything must have an explanation (PSR)
Yes.
Nils wrote:P2. A multiverse has no explanation (everyone agrees, I think)
That's already a violation of the PSR since everything must have a reason. So no, according to the PSR the mutiverse either has an explanation exterinsic to itself or it is self-explanatory.
Nils wrote:C1. Hence, there has to be some other thing that explains the universe
Only if the multiverse's explanation turns out to be exterinsic (and as we will see, it is).
Nils wrote:P3. There is another thing that doesn't need an explanation (self-explanatory, pure actuality)
I know you probably meant well but again, that's a violation of the PSR. EVERYTHING needs an explanation. But reason demands that at least one explanation must be inherent in the thing itself (intrinsic, self-explanatory), otherwise we'd have an inifinite regress of extrinsic explanations and end up explaining nothing at all.
Nils wrote:P4. That other thing has to be intelligible, immaterial, timeless, immutable, which is subsistent existence itself.
It doesn't have to be all those things (as if those are assumptions we are sneaking into the argument). Those are attributes that we deduce from its self-explanatory nature. Let's take a few of them for now.

- Immaterial: since matter is contingent by nature (it can be or not be), or in more aristotelian jargon, it is a mixture of potentiality and actuality, then the self-explanatory entity must be immaterial.

- Immutable: Anything that changes is a mixture of potentiality and actuality. Since a pure actuality has no potential whatosever, it stands to reason that it is also changeless or immutable.

In fact, extending the potentiality/actuality idea further, from reason alone we know that this entity must be pure actuality with no potential whatsoever. For if it had any potential to be actualized, it would then depend on some other extrinsic explanation. Therefore it would not be self-explanatiry.
Nils wrote:P5. That thing we call God
C2. There is a God that is self-explanatory, pure actuality, intelligible, immaterial, timeless, immutable, which is subsistent existence itself.
Correct.
Nils wrote:I would like to see a motivation for P3 and P4.
Let me know what you think so far. We can continue discussing other attributes including intelligence.
- - - - - -
Byblos, I missed your answer in November, there were another discussion ongoing. Your comment in the thread Essence and Existense reminded me.

Your argument seems rather straight forward to me.
1. To be able to use the scientific method (or to be rational) you need the Principle of sufficient reason. (PSR)
2. PSR requires that you are able to give reasons for everything.
3.Either the explanation requires an explanation extrinsic to itself, in which case it is contingent on that extrinsic explanation, or
4. the explanation is fundamentally self-explanatory (not contingent on any other explanation)
5. To avoid endless iteration you need at least one self-explanatory explanation.
6. You give some attributes that follows from that an explanation is self-explanatory as immaterial, immutable, and absolutely necessary and there may be more.

What I am missing is an explanation of what is required for an explanation to be self-explanatory. Are the attributes you mention sufficient? Even if the attributes seem to be reasonable for a self-explanation I have difficulties to see that they are sufficient. When it comes to the bottom line there is a difference between an entity that exists and an entity that doesn’t exist and the difference has to be explained or there is no explanation at all. In the latter case the entity is unexplained. How can the concept of self-explanation help?

Can the requirement of absolute necessity help? It does exclude the possibility of a world without the entity but how can you prove that an entity is absolute necessary?
And then you still have to show that absolute necessity implies that the entity is self-explained.

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#2

Post by Byblos » Tue May 01, 2018 7:51 am

Many topics to cover so I'll try to be brief.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
Your argument seems rather straight forward to me.
1. To be able to use the scientific method (or to be rational) you need the Principle of sufficient reason. (PSR)
yes.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
2. PSR requires that you are able to give reasons for everything.
PSR doesn't require to give reasons for everything since to do so would require us to know everything. PSR requires that everything must have an explanation. Whether or not this explanation is discoverable or knowable is a different matter.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
3.Either the explanation requires an explanation extrinsic to itself, in which case it is contingent on that extrinsic explanation, or
Correct
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
4. the explanation is fundamentally self-explanatory (not contingent on any other explanation)
Th explanation is intrinsic but I would say the subject is self-explanatory but not in a trivial manner.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
5. To avoid endless iteration you need at least one self-explanatory explanation.
Very important to note what kind of endless iteration the argument refers to and what kind it is not. It is not the temporal kind that argues against infinite time into the past. It is the kind of endless iteration in the here and now that must terminate in non-contingency (or necessity), otherwise nothing gets instantiated in the first place.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
6. You give some attributes that follows from that an explanation is self-explanatory as immaterial, immutable, and absolutely necessary and there may be more.
Yes, those attributes are not ad hoc, they are arrived at logically from pure act.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
What I am missing is an explanation of what is required for an explanation to be self-explanatory.
What is required is contained in the self-explanatory nature, i.e. non-contingency, absolute pure act. That's it. Everything else flows from that as logical deduction.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
Are the attributes you mention sufficient? Even if the attributes seem to be reasonable for a self-explanation I have difficulties to see that they are sufficient.
Sufficiency is not a concern of PSR (and who determines sufficiency anyway). The argument from PSR (and all the other arguments for the existence of God) logically conclude in an absolutely necessary being who is pure act, no contingency. All other attributes are a logical deduction from that. Sufficiency doesn't enter the equation.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
When it comes to the bottom line there is a difference between an entity that exists and an entity that doesn’t exist and the difference has to be explained or there is no explanation at all. In the latter case the entity is unexplained. How can the concept of self-explanation help?
No, there is no difference between an entity that exists and an entity that doesn't exist simply because the entity that doesn't exist is a non-entity to begin with, it requires no explanation. It is a logical contradiction to state a non-entity requires an explanation for its non-existence; it is a violation of the law of non-contradiction.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
Can the requirement of absolute necessity help?
Absolute necessity is not a requirement, it is the logical and necessary conclusion of the argument(s) put forth.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
It does exclude the possibility of a world without the entity but how can you prove that an entity is absolute necessary?
Yet another logical contradiction. Absolute necessity entails pure actuality which entails that it is subsistent existence itself, not just an entity among a species or genus of absolute necessities. To state that there is a possible world that exists without existence itself is the epitome of self-contradiction.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
And then you still have to show that absolute necessity implies that the entity is self-explained.
But that's the only logical conclusion to the second premise of the PSR, that the explanation is intrinsic entails that the thing is non-contingent in any way, which entails that it is pure act, which entails it is simple, unique, incorproreal, etc. etc. That's the explanation. If you think it fails show me where.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#3

Post by Nils » Wed May 02, 2018 1:49 pm

Byblos wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 7:51 am
Many topics to cover so I'll try to be brief.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
Your argument seems rather straight forward to me.
1. To be able to use the scientific method (or to be rational) you need the Principle of sufficient reason. (PSR)
yes.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
2. PSR requires that you are able to give reasons for everything.
PSR doesn't require to give reasons for everything since to do so would require us to know everything. PSR requires that everything must have an explanation. Whether or not this explanation is discoverable or knowable is a different matter.
OK
Byblos wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 7:51 am
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
3.Either the explanation requires an explanation extrinsic to itself, in which case it is contingent on that extrinsic explanation, or
Correct
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
4. the explanation is fundamentally self-explanatory (not contingent on any other explanation)
Th explanation is intrinsic but I would say the subject is self-explanatory but not in a trivial manner.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
5. To avoid endless iteration you need at least one self-explanatory explanation.
Very important to note what kind of endless iteration the argument refers to and what kind it is not. It is not the temporal kind that argues against infinite time into the past. It is the kind of endless iteration in the here and now that must terminate in non-contingency (or necessity), otherwise nothing gets instantiated in the first place.
OK, I have learnt that from earlier discussions :)
Byblos wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 7:51 am
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
6. You give some attributes that follows from that an explanation is self-explanatory as immaterial, immutable, and absolutely necessary and there may be more.
Yes, those attributes are not ad hoc, they are arrived at logically from pure act.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
What I am missing is an explanation of what is required for an explanation to be self-explanatory.
What is required is contained in the self-explanatory nature, i.e. non-contingency, absolute pure act. That's it. Everything else flows from that as logical deduction.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
Are the attributes you mention sufficient? Even if the attributes seem to be reasonable for a self-explanation I have difficulties to see that they are sufficient.
Sufficiency is not a concern of PSR (and who determines sufficiency anyway). The argument from PSR (and all the other arguments for the existence of God) logically conclude in an absolutely necessary being who is pure act, no contingency. All other attributes are a logical deduction from that. Sufficiency doesn't enter the equation.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
When it comes to the bottom line there is a difference between an entity that exists and an entity that doesn’t exist and the difference has to be explained or there is no explanation at all. In the latter case the entity is unexplained. How can the concept of self-explanation help?
No, there is no difference between an entity that exists and an entity that doesn't exist simply because the entity that doesn't exist is a non-entity to begin with, it requires no explanation. It is a logical contradiction to state a non-entity requires an explanation for its non-existence; it is a violation of the law of non-contradiction.
We can come back to this later on.
Byblos wrote:
Tue May 01, 2018 7:51 am
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
Can the requirement of absolute necessity help?
Absolute necessity is not a requirement, it is the logical and necessary conclusion of the argument(s) put forth.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
It does exclude the possibility of a world without the entity but how can you prove that an entity is absolute necessary?
Yet another logical contradiction. Absolute necessity entails pure actuality which entails that it is subsistent existence itself, not just an entity among a species or genus of absolute necessities. To state that there is a possible world that exists without existence itself is the epitome of self-contradiction.
Nils wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 7:29 am
And then you still have to show that absolute necessity implies that the entity is self-explained.
But that's the only logical conclusion to the second premise of the PSR, that the explanation is intrinsic entails that the thing is non-contingent in any way, which entails that it is pure act, which entails it is simple, unique, incorproreal, etc. etc. That's the explanation. If you think it fails show me where.

I have commented just a few statements above. The rest I comment now. I have made two tries to start a formal deduction but as you note they were not very successful. One reason is that it is always a bit complicated to write one, you have to be cautious about your wording. Worse is that I can only guess what your premises are, what the conclusion is, and how this deduction is related to all concepts that we discuss. It would facilitate the discussion if you could write at least a sketch of a deduction starting with premises that we (at least temporarily) can agree on and end with some conclusion (perhaps the existence of God). Now you refer to different logical arguments but I don’t understand there connections.

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#4

Post by Byblos » Thu May 03, 2018 8:15 am

Nils wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 1:49 pm
I have commented just a few statements above. The rest I comment now. I have made two tries to start a formal deduction but as you note they were not very successful. One reason is that it is always a bit complicated to write one, you have to be cautious about your wording. Worse is that I can only guess what your premises are, what the conclusion is, and how this deduction is related to all concepts that we discuss. It would facilitate the discussion if you could write at least a sketch of a deduction starting with premises that we (at least temporarily) can agree on and end with some conclusion (perhaps the existence of God). Now you refer to different logical arguments but I don’t understand there connections.
I fear merely sketching a deduction will not do the subject matter justice (in fact, it may hinder it). No, only a formal statement of the argument is warranted. Since I am nowhere near equipped to string together such a formal argument, I will quote Feser directly from his book. It will take some time as I have to retype the formal argument in its entirety, which has 26 premises and a conclusion. I should have it done in couple of days as time permits.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#5

Post by Nils » Thu May 03, 2018 2:17 pm

Byblos wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:15 am
Nils wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 1:49 pm
I have commented just a few statements above. The rest I comment now. I have made two tries to start a formal deduction but as you note they were not very successful. One reason is that it is always a bit complicated to write one, you have to be cautious about your wording. Worse is that I can only guess what your premises are, what the conclusion is, and how this deduction is related to all concepts that we discuss. It would facilitate the discussion if you could write at least a sketch of a deduction starting with premises that we (at least temporarily) can agree on and end with some conclusion (perhaps the existence of God). Now you refer to different logical arguments but I don’t understand there connections.
I fear merely sketching a deduction will not do the subject matter justice (in fact, it may hinder it). No, only a formal statement of the argument is warranted. Since I am nowhere near equipped to string together such a formal argument, I will quote Feser directly from his book. It will take some time as I have to retype the formal argument in its entirety, which has 26 premises and a conclusion. I should have it done in couple of days as time permits.
I could as well buy the book. Some months ago we discussed Aquinas and some book by Feser was mentioned. I was going to by it but when the discussion ended I forgot it. Is that the same book and what is the name of it? It will take a week or so to me to get it and some day to read the relevant part if you indicate what to read. Meanwhile we may start discussing the premises you mention in the OP.

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#6

Post by PaulSacramento » Fri May 04, 2018 4:49 am

You can go over to Feser's website also:
http://edwardfeser.blogspot.ca/

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#7

Post by Kurieuo » Fri May 04, 2018 6:05 am

Beware though, he's Catholic. :incense:
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#8

Post by Byblos » Fri May 04, 2018 6:31 am

Nils wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 2:17 pm
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 8:15 am
Nils wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 1:49 pm
I have commented just a few statements above. The rest I comment now. I have made two tries to start a formal deduction but as you note they were not very successful. One reason is that it is always a bit complicated to write one, you have to be cautious about your wording. Worse is that I can only guess what your premises are, what the conclusion is, and how this deduction is related to all concepts that we discuss. It would facilitate the discussion if you could write at least a sketch of a deduction starting with premises that we (at least temporarily) can agree on and end with some conclusion (perhaps the existence of God). Now you refer to different logical arguments but I don’t understand there connections.
I fear merely sketching a deduction will not do the subject matter justice (in fact, it may hinder it). No, only a formal statement of the argument is warranted. Since I am nowhere near equipped to string together such a formal argument, I will quote Feser directly from his book. It will take some time as I have to retype the formal argument in its entirety, which has 26 premises and a conclusion. I should have it done in couple of days as time permits.
I could as well buy the book. Some months ago we discussed Aquinas and some book by Feser was mentioned. I was going to by it but when the discussion ended I forgot it. Is that the same book and what is the name of it? It will take a week or so to me to get it and some day to read the relevant part if you indicate what to read. Meanwhile we may start discussing the premises you mention in the OP.

Nils
I believe it was the same book, yes. "Five Proof of the Existence of God" by Edward Feser. It is available as an e-book. The PSR is Feser's fifth argument which starts at page 240 with the formal statement of the argument beginning on page 266.

But to appreciate the full force of the argument and to help you understand some nuances of the argument (like God's attributes) which, taken from the PSR argument alone, might seem ad hoc. I would recommend to start with his first argument or what Feser calls "The Aristotelian Proof" (act and potency). Really, it would be ideal to read all five proofs because, besides standing on their own as proofs, each contributes something in understanding the other arguments. Not the least of which that they all logically conclude in a necessary being with the aforementioned divine attributes.

In any case, I will still post a quote of the PSR argument anyway as a reference for future discussion. But I would reserve detailed discussion on it until such time that you've read the book (if you so decide).
Last edited by Byblos on Fri May 04, 2018 6:59 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#9

Post by Byblos » Fri May 04, 2018 6:36 am

The PSR argument as formulated by E. Feser (quoted verbatim from his book: "Five Proofs of the Existence of God"


Formal Statement:
1. The PSR holds that there is an explanation for the existence of anything that does exist and for its having the attributes it has
2. If PSR were not true, then things and events without evident explanation would be extremely common
3. But this is the opposite of what common sense and science alike find to be the case
4. If PSR were not true, then we would be unable to trust our own cognitive faculties
5. But in fact we are able to trust those faculties
6. Futhermore, there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy
7. But there are many genuine explanations to be found in science and philosophy
8. So, PSR is true

9. The explanation of the existence of anything is to be found either in some other thing which causes it, in which case it is contingent, or in its own nature, in which case it is necessary; PSR rules out any purported third alternative on which a thing's existence is explained by nothing
10. There are contingent things
11. Even if the existence of an individual contingent thing could be explained by reference to some previously existing contingent thing, which in turn could be explained by a previous member, and so on to infinity, that the infinite series as a whole exists at all would remain to be explained.
12. To explain this series by reference to some further contingent thing outside the series, and then explain this cause in terms of some yet further contingent thing, and so on to infinity, would merely yield another series whose existence would remain to be explained; and to posit yet another contingent thing outside this second series would merely generate the same problem again
13. So, no contingent thing or series of contingent things can explain there are any contingent things at all
14. But that there are any contingent things at all must have some explanation, given PSR; and the only remaining explanation is in terms of a necessary being as a cause

15. Furthermore, that an individual contingent thing persists in existence at any moment requires an explanation, and since it is contingent, that explanation must lie in some simultaneous cause distinct from it
16. If this cause is itself contingent, then even if it has yet another contingent thing as its own simultaneous cause, and that cause yet another contingent as its simultaneous cause, and so on to infinity, then once again we have an infinite series of contingent things the existence of which has yet to be explained
17. So, no contingent thing or series of contingent things can explain why any particular contingent thing persists in existence at any moment; and the only remaining explanation is in terms of a necessary being as its simultaneous cause
18. So, there must be at least one necessary being, to explain why any contingent things exist at all and how any particular contingent thing persists in existence at any moment

19. A necessary being would have to be purely actual, absolutely simple or non-composite, and something which just is susbistent existence itself
20. But there can in principle be only one thing which is purely actual, absolutely simple or non-composite, and something which just is subsistent existence itself
21. So there is only one necessary being

22. So, it is this same one necessary being which is the explanation of why any contingent things exist at all and which is the cause of every particular contingent thing's existence at any moment
23. So, this necessary being is the cause of everything other than itself

24. Something which is purely actual, absolutely simple or non-composite, and something which just is subsistent existence itself must also be immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporial, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient.
25. So, there is a necessary being which is subsistent existence itself, immutable, eternal, immaterial, incorporial, perfect, omnipotent, fully good, intelligent, and omniscient.
26. But for there to be such a thing is for God to exist.
27. So, God exists.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#10

Post by Byblos » Fri May 04, 2018 10:27 am

Of note that Feser did not break down the premises in packets the way I did but I thought it would further clarify the logical progression of the argument as such:

01-08 PSR is true
09-14 From contingency, a necessary being as cause (ontological, if not temporal)
15-18 Necessary being as simultaneous cause (here and now)
19-21 Necessary being is unique
22-23 Necessary being as cause of everything other than itself
24-25 Necessary being entails the divine attributes (DS)
26-27 Logical conclusion derived from premises
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#11

Post by Nils » Fri May 04, 2018 2:27 pm

Interesting but yes, indeed, there seems to be lot of things that are ad hoc. But I wait to comment until I read at least parts of the book.

I have ordered it now, I prefer to read it on paper and it will take a week or so to get it and then it depends how many other things I have to do (too many probably). Time is limited.

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#12

Post by Nils » Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am

Byblos, now I have read part of the book, especially chapter one on Aristoteles, chapter five on PSR and here and there in chapter six and seven. Unfortunately we don’t have the same editions so I can’t use page numbers as reference.

The book is well written, relatively easy to understand even if the issue is rather complex and mostly new to me. However, I should read the whole book, probably several times, to grasp it fully.
So what I say below is my preliminary view and I please be forgiving if I don’t get the terminology 100% correct, But let's start with PSR.

Above you group the arguments and I will condence that further:

A. 1-8 PSR is true
B. 9 The explanation of the existence of anything is to be found either in some other thing which causes it, in which case it is contingent, or in its own nature, in which case it is necessary;
C. 10-18 From contingency, a necessary being as cause
D. 19-25 Properties of the necessary being
E. 26-27 Logical conclusion derived from premises: God exists

A. I don’t agree that PSR follows from 2 to 7. What follows is a weaker PSRx:
PSRx The PSRx holds that there is an explanation for the existence of anything in the universe that does exist and for its having the attributes it has
The arguments for PSR relies only on our experiences, our cognitive faculties and explanations in science and philosophy. We know nothing and have no experience of how and why our universe was created. Therefore I deny 6 that say that there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy. To discriminate between what happens within our universe and forces outside is a principled way in my opinion even if Feser doesn’t agree. His argument isn’t convincing.

B. I have never before heard about anything that is self explaining, that is explained in its own nature. To me that is not an explanation, it’s only mysterious.

C. I have no problems with conclusion that if there is something that is not contingent that has to be necessary.

D. I haven’t read Feser so carefully yet that I can comment on the attributes of a necessary being but what I have read doesn’t convince me about all attributes. We can come back to that later.

E. seems reasonable given the presumptions. But it is a proof only if you accept the presumptions.

I agree that if there is a self explaining necessary entity then PSR is true (and perhaps it can be shown that this entity is God). An alternative is that only PSRx is true and then there has to be unexplained entity(ies), for instance physical laws and energy. I find this as plausible as that mysterious self explained entity. When I choose between the unexplained and the self-explained I choose the former not because the argument is better but because it aligns better with my world view and other arguments against theism. I have no problems to understand that other persons come to another conclusion depending on their world views as long as they don’t claim that their conclusion is proved.

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#13

Post by Byblos » Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm

Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
Byblos, now I have read part of the book, especially chapter one on Aristoteles, chapter five on PSR and here and there in chapter six and seven. Unfortunately we don’t have the same editions so I can’t use page numbers as reference.

The book is well written, relatively easy to understand even if the issue is rather complex and mostly new to me. However, I should read the whole book, probably several times, to grasp it fully.
I'm with you there. On my 3rd reading and still can't fully grasp certain ideas.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
So what I say below is my preliminary view and I please be forgiving if I don’t get the terminology 100% correct, But let's start with PSR.
And I will have just a few thoughts here and there until such time that we can discuss them in more detail.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
Above you group the arguments and I will condence that further:

A. 1-8 PSR is true
B. 9 The explanation of the existence of anything is to be found either in some other thing which causes it, in which case it is contingent, or in its own nature, in which case it is necessary;
C. 10-18 From contingency, a necessary being as cause
D. 19-25 Properties of the necessary being
E. 26-27 Logical conclusion derived from premises: God exists
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
A. I don’t agree that PSR follows from 2 to 7. What follows is a weaker PSRx:
PSRx The PSRx holds that there is an explanation for the existence of anything in the universe that does exist and for its having the attributes it has
I don't agree with that at all. The PSR as it is formulated is not just universal, it is reality-based, i.e. is applicable to all possible universes, instantiated or not.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
The arguments for PSR relies only on our experiences, our cognitive faculties and explanations in science and philosophy. We know nothing and have no experience of how and why our universe was created. Therefore I deny 6 that say that there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy. To discriminate between what happens within our universe and forces outside is a principled way in my opinion even if Feser doesn’t agree. His argument isn’t convincing.
PSR says nothing specific about the creation of our universe or any other universe, potential or otherwise; only that there must be an explanation for everything. It is through our reliable cognitive faculties that we can arrive at the PSR for if our cognitive faculties are unreliable then we cannot reason and if we cannot reason then, well we cannot reason, might as well just go home so-to-speak.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
B. I have never before heard about anything that is self explaining, that is explained in its own nature. To me that is not an explanation, it’s only mysterious.
There is nothing mysterious about it, it is borne out of pure logic. There is an explanation for everything (otherwise nothing is explained). Either the explanation is extrinsic, in which case the explained is contingent, or the explanation is intrinsic, in which case the explained is necessary. There is no other option, you can't get any simpler and un-mysterious than that.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
C. I have no problems with conclusion that if there is something that is not contingent that has to be necessary.
Then C is contradicting B.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
D. I haven’t read Feser so carefully yet that I can comment on the attributes of a necessary being but what I have read doesn’t convince me about all attributes. We can come back to that later.
That fine.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
E. seems reasonable given the presumptions. But it is a proof only if you accept the presumptions.
Of course. But it's not enough to say 'I don't accept such and such premise'. You must show why the premise is invalid.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
I agree that if there is a self explaining necessary entity then PSR is true (and perhaps it can be shown that this entity is God). An alternative is that only PSRx is true and then there has to be unexplained entity(ies), for instance physical laws and energy. I find this as plausible as that mysterious self explained entity. When I choose between the unexplained and the self-explained I choose the former not because the argument is better but because it aligns better with my world view and other arguments against theism. I have no problems to understand that other persons come to another conclusion depending on their world views as long as they don’t claim that their conclusion is proved.
- Unexplained entities are in violation of the PSR (as we end up explaining nothing).
- Physical laws and energy are contingent insomuch as they can be one way or another, depending on whether or not a particular possible world is instantiated. In other words, they are contingent and, as per the PSR, contingent things require an extrinsic explanation. Moreover, that the physical laws and energy exist at all requires an extrinsic explanation (an ontological one, if not temporal).

Just a few thoughts to ponder as you read the material further.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
When I choose between the unexplained and the self-explained I choose the former not because the argument is better but because it aligns better with my world view and other arguments against theism.
One final comment on the above, I would hope that you (and I, both), as rational, intelligent beings, shape our world view by what we discover, rather than the other way around and end up reading the world around us though a preconceived notion already shaped by our world view. It's wishful thinking, I know, as it is our nature to tend to stick to what we know. But one can only hope ...
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#14

Post by Nils » Sat Jun 02, 2018 2:56 am

Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
Byblos, now I have read part of the book, especially chapter one on Aristoteles, chapter five on PSR and here and there in chapter six and seven. Unfortunately we don’t have the same editions so I can’t use page numbers as reference.

The book is well written, relatively easy to understand even if the issue is rather complex and mostly new to me. However, I should read the whole book, probably several times, to grasp it fully.
I'm with you there. On my 3rd reading and still can't fully grasp certain ideas.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
So what I say below is my preliminary view and I please be forgiving if I don’t get the terminology 100% correct, But let's start with PSR.
And I will have just a few thoughts here and there until such time that we can discuss them in more detail.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
Above you group the arguments and I will condence that further:

A. 1-8 PSR is true
B. 9 The explanation of the existence of anything is to be found either in some other thing which causes it, in which case it is contingent, or in its own nature, in which case it is necessary;
C. 10-18 From contingency, a necessary being as cause
D. 19-25 Properties of the necessary being
E. 26-27 Logical conclusion derived from premises: God exists
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
A. I don’t agree that PSR follows from 2 to 7. What follows is a weaker PSRx:
PSRx The PSRx holds that there is an explanation for the existence of anything in the universe that does exist and for its having the attributes it has
I don't agree with that at all. The PSR as it is formulated is not just universal, it is reality-based, i.e. is applicable to all possible universes, instantiated or not.
You don’t seem to understand what I say. PSR may be true or not. It’s a premise for the reasoning in the discussion of the PSR-question. Feser starts with 1 defining PSR but he doesn’t say that PSR is true. In 2-7 he argues for PSR being true and 8 is the conclusion. What I say is that I don’t agree with Fesers conclusion in 8. I agree that PSR as defined is “reality-based, i.e. is applicable to all possible universes, instantiated or not.” However I disagree that PSR follows from 2-7.
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
The arguments for PSR relies only on our experiences, our cognitive faculties and explanations in science and philosophy. We know nothing and have no experience of how and why our universe was created. Therefore I deny 6 that say that there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy. To discriminate between what happens within our universe and forces outside is a principled way in my opinion even if Feser doesn’t agree. His argument isn’t convincing.
PSR says nothing specific about the creation of our universe or any other universe, potential or otherwise; only that there must be an explanation for everything. It is through our reliable cognitive faculties that we can arrive at the PSR for if our cognitive faculties are unreliable then we cannot reason and if we cannot reason then, well we cannot reason, might as well just go home so-to-speak.
What I say is that PSRx (defined above) is enough to imply that our cognitive faculties are reliable. PSR implies too much, unnecessarily too much in my opinion.
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
B. I have never before heard about anything that is self explaining, that is explained in its own nature. To me that is not an explanation, it’s only mysterious.
There is nothing mysterious about it, it is borne out of pure logic. There is an explanation for everything (otherwise nothing is explained). Either the explanation is extrinsic, in which case the explained is contingent, or the explanation is intrinsic, in which case the explained is necessary. There is no other option, you can't get any simpler and un-mysterious than that.
I don’t follow you. I agree that if there is a something that is self explaining then it has to be a necessary entity (or at least I don’t have any counterarguments) but that doesn’t prove that there is any self explaining entity.
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
C. I have no problems with conclusion that if there is something that is not contingent that has to be necessary.
Then C is contradicting B.
No, C is a conditional statement, B is not.
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
D. I haven’t read Feser so carefully yet that I can comment on the attributes of a necessary being but what I have read doesn’t convince me about all attributes. We can come back to that later.
That fine.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
E. seems reasonable given the presumptions. But it is a proof only if you accept the presumptions.
Of course. But it's not enough to say 'I don't accept such and such premise'. You must show why the premise is invalid.
And you have to show why the premise is valid. If we agree that the argument is based on one premise, PSR, all what remains is to discuss the validity of PSR. That is what A is about and there I argued for why it is not valid and we have to continue that discussion.
(Generally, it is not an argument for the truth of a statement that you can’t show that is false. There are lot of statements for which it is impossible to show that they are true or false )
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
I agree that if there is a self explaining necessary entity then PSR is true (and perhaps it can be shown that this entity is God). An alternative is that only PSRx is true and then there has to be unexplained entity(ies), for instance physical laws and energy. I find this as plausible as that mysterious self explained entity. When I choose between the unexplained and the self-explained I choose the former not because the argument is better but because it aligns better with my world view and other arguments against theism. I have no problems to understand that other persons come to another conclusion depending on their world views as long as they don’t claim that their conclusion is proved.
- Unexplained entities are in violation of the PSR (as we end up explaining nothing).
I am aware of that. That’s why I prefer PSRx
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm

- Physical laws and energy are contingent insomuch as they can be one way or another, depending on whether or not a particular possible world is instantiated. In other words, they are contingent and, as per the PSR, contingent things require an extrinsic explanation. Moreover, that the physical laws and energy exist at all requires an extrinsic explanation (an ontological one, if not temporal).
Yes, that what PSR states, but I deny PSR.
Byblos wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 12:45 pm

Just a few thoughts to ponder as you read the material further.
Nils wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 12:34 am
When I choose between the unexplained and the self-explained I choose the former not because the argument is better but because it aligns better with my world view and other arguments against theism.
One final comment on the above, I would hope that you (and I, both), as rational, intelligent beings, shape our world view by what we discover, rather than the other way around and end up reading the world around us though a preconceived notion already shaped by our world view. It's wishful thinking, I know, as it is our nature to tend to stick to what we know. But one can only hope ...
I think it is both ways. Sometimes you have an unquestionable premise and then you should trust the conclusion even if it is non intuitive. But sometimes the premise is questionable, then you have to go to other arguments to find out if the conclusion is valid or not, and this I think is the case with the PSR discussion.

To sum up what we disagree on:
1. I find the intrinsic, self explaining part of PSR mysterious.
2. I don’t find the arguments for PSR convincing
3. Therefore I reject PSR

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#15

Post by PaulSacramento » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:03 am

You realize that, simply, the PSR means that humans have the rational ability to reasonably draw conclusions about the world they live in, even in an abstract sense.
To deny that is to deny basic science and the possibility of quantum physics.

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