Thursday, November 24, 2011

Breathtakingly rotten arguments

Maverick has a post here, which I haven't had time to give full attention to.  He says that my infinite regress argument against truthmakers is 'breathtakingly rotten'.  This wrongly implies there can be degrees of goodness or badness in arguments.  Not true: an argument is either valid, or it is not.  All invalid arguments are equally bad, and all valid arguments equally good.  And I think my argument is perfectly valid, as follows.

1. There are truthmakers (assumption)
2. If the truthmaker for 'A exists' is not A itself, this leads to a contradiction (by infinite, vicious regress)
3. The truthmaker for 'A exists' is not A itself
4. (Contradiction) Therefore there are no truthmakers

It seems clear that Vallicella accepts consequence (2), but rejects assumption (3).  So he accepts the argument is valid, and therefore (by implication) accepts that it is good, and therefore not 'breathtakingly rotten'.  Whether (3) is true or false is a separate argument, and I haven't seen any such argument against it, nor any replies to my arguments for it.

A separate thread of the debate, which he refers to in that post, is whether the notion of a truthbearer implies the notion of a truthmaker.  I think it does, but haven't given any conclusive arguments for this, yet.

Labels:

8 Comments:

Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:11 pm  
Blogger J said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:12 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

While an argument is either valid or it is not, there certainly are degrees of goodness or badness in arguments. Some invalid arguments are worse than others. One example of a particularly bad argument would be one that is carefully designed to trick lots of people into believing it is valid.

Of course, I'm not sure that's what "Maverick" meant by "breathtakingly rotten".

>> It seems clear that Vallicella accepts consequence (2), but rejects assumption (3).

(2) is vacuously true. The truthmaker for "A exists" *is* A itself.

>> Whether (3) is true or false is a separate argument, and I haven't seen any such argument against it

(2) is the argument against it. If the truthmaker for "A exists" is not A itself, this leads to a contradiction. So obviously the truthmaker for "A exists" must be A itself.

1:04 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

(As an aside, you say "If the truthmaker for 'A exists' is not A itself, this leads to a contradiction". I'm surprised that you would say it, given your definition of "contradiction" as "two propositions that contradict each other".)

What exactly do you mean by (2)? How does the truth of the antecedent "lead to a contradiction". What does it mean to "lead to [two propositions that contradict each other]"?

1:16 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:21 am  
Blogger Anthony said...

>> 3. The truthmaker for 'A exists' is not A itself

I'm especially stumped as to what you mean by this, as you seem to be denying that "truthmaker" is a valid concept.

2:17 am  
Blogger Edward Ockham said...

>> 3. The truthmaker for 'A exists' is not A itself

I'm especially stumped as to what you mean by this, as you seem to be denying that "truthmaker" is a valid concept.

I'm taking the definition of truthmaker as something real that directly makes a given proposition true. (I say 'directly' to avoid the problem of indirect causation, such as the sun rising causing the prop 'it is day' to be true.

3:05 pm  
Blogger J said...

Not distinguishing between premises and argument form again (or, in older terminology, between inductive and deductive arguments).

HOWEVER, I think ...perception of an object (event/state of affairs) is a necessary condition of "ordinary" inductive/empirical arguments. And that's what Armstrong means by a truthmaker (ie, a smoking gun with X's fingerprints in a murder case, where X is charged with a crime)

8:24 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home