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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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"Someone who understands why A is there, why B is there, and why C is there, does not need to understand some further fact in order to understand why the three of them are there."

I'm not sure this is true. Suppose that whenever I pray to God for a sign there always follows a peal of thunder. We can have good explanations for my praying in terms of my psychology, etc., and good explanations for the thunder thanks to physics, but don't you think such occurrences would nevertheless be evidence for the existence of God? But if so, then it looks like there is some further fact here for which God is introduced to account for.

I think a better way to respond to Bennett/van Inwagen is to say that it isn't necessary for P to explain Q that P entail Q, and that some necessary propositions do just that: explain without entailing.

Matt,

You are not getting my point. I am not saying that every whole of parts is such that explanations of the parts amount to an explanation of the whole. I am saying that this is true of SOME wholes, and that the whole which is a conjunction of propositions is like this.

Bill,

I did miss your remark to that effect, but that makes your bum example rather misleading.

Here's another argument (or maybe it's just a rephrasal), assuming that probabilities deal in propositions:

The Pr(A & B & C) will always be less than the Pr(A), Pr(B), etc. taken individually, if we say that none of their individual probabilities equal 1 or 0. But then the probability of the conjunction may have such a low probability that the explanations given individually can't be held responsive to it.

My bum example seems entirely apropos. Why misleading?

And what does probability have to do with this?

This is a bit off topic, but I was wondering how I could contact you, Mr. Vallicella. I found some articles on Charles Dickens that you might find interesting (in response to the Defense of Scrooge post).

And please tell me that your endorsement of Scrooge was tongue-in-cheek! Surely one who spends his life pondering the universe, traveling the world, and experiencing this piece-of-work that we call Mankind would agree that a life of cold, bitter loneliness is far too high a price to pay for profit!

And have a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holiday, or I'm sure you're not offended by either. I can say that I am very lucky this year to have found this blog and it's thoughtful posts, but that's enough brown-nosing for one day.

Merry Christmas, Jim. You can find my e-mail address on my site. You just have to look for it. Gotta go.

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