Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Quote of the Week, 2014-12-31

An end is an object of the free elective will, the idea of which determines this will to an action by which the object is produced. Accordingly every action has its end, and as no one can have an end without himself making the object of his elective will his end, hence to have some end of actions is an act of the freedom of the agent, not an affect of physical nature. Now, since this act which determines an end is a practical principle which commands not the means (therefore not conditionally) but the end itself (therefore unconditionally), hence it is a categorical imperative of pure practical reason and one, therefore, which combines a concept of duty with that of an end in general.

III. Of the Reason for conceiving an End which is also a Duty, The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics, by Immanuel Kant

Translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott

Retrieved from Project Gutenberg

This paragraph contains a basic logical fallacy. Given A(x) meaning "x is an action that leads to an end" and B(x) meaning "x is an idea of an object of the elective free will", the first two sentences make the argument (∀x[B(x)⇒A(x)])⇒(∀x[A(x)⇒B(x)]). This is the Fallacy of the Converse.

Moreover, the reality is that actions come not only from acts of will toward an end, but also from habit, and more importantly even from confusion. Sometimes we have an end in mind, but have no idea of how to proceed toward that end, except that we know the current state of affairs is not the end we seek. We then use our will to enact any random change, without any guarantee such action will put us any closer to our end (and indeed with the understanding that we may end up further away). Some might try to explain this as the change itself is the end of the action, a short-term end in support of a larger end, but this explanation is wanting, as change is the description of the movement between the current state and the end, and therefore can not also be an end unto itself.

One analogous example occurs with inexperienced chess players, who understand the goal is checkmate, but see no method by which to secure it. This results in the seemingly random movement of pieces. It would be a mistake to say that the end of the chess player was to move pieces about.


TomAnders said...

Hey, I thought you got along with The TOF Spot. Why is he on your fodder list?
You and Flynn seem to be pretty civil towards each other.

Of theist blogs I think his is one of the better.

One Brow said...

I get along with lots of people, and I agree that in terms of civility and hospitality, he's near the top of the list.

However, he's not a serious philosopher on his blog, and while he's got a broad vocabulary, it's not used to portray deep thoughts there.


TomAnders said...

But calling it fodder?

What an odd reply though. Because he’s not a serious philosopher you think he’s fodder? You put Feser into that category as well?
Interesting. Feser’s posting are pretty good. It was his postings that actually made me lose all interest in continuing the evolution vs ID debate.
Conversation in his combox is some of the best.
I think it’s sour grapes on your part, though. I’d hope you’re not the type of atheist who would immediately say “well, they’re not an atheist like me…. So fodder it is.”
But, maybe it is that.

One Brow said...


I am no longer active on any discussion forum/combox outside of boardgamegeek. All of my opinions reflect the state of the posts and discussion, as I saw it, the last time I was active. Things may have changed since then, of course.

I created the list on my terms and for my purposes. I like discussing philosophy, even though I am a compete amateur. My categorization was strictly for the purpose of how seriously to take his posts on a philosophical level. I don't see this as any slight on The OFloinn, because to the best of my knowledge, he makes no pretense of doing any serious philosophy.

I have listed Feser as being in both categories because some of his posts are serious stuff and interesting to read, and some of his stuff is not. I agree that much of his take on ID has merit. While I don't think his criticisms of some philosophical concepts can ever be accused of steel manning, he can make some valid points there. On the other hand, having done a review of a book of his, I don't think he has made a very strong case for much of his own position. I was not not overly impressed with the discussion in his combox, frankly. One example came from trying to get a simple answer to the question of whether a Newton's cradle is an example of a per se chain or not.

You are free to take any opinion on my motives you choose. I have nothing I need to prove to you.

That said, you are welcome to post such opinions on here nonetheless. Constructive criticisms and alternative opinions are always prized.

TomAnders said...


You say you like serious philosophy and then you have The Panda's Thumb, Patheos Atheist blogs, and Freethought Blogs on your list of "for educational purposes"??

That is just crazy, mate.

One Brow said...

I do like to educate myself about more than philosophy.

In strictly philosophical terms, I agree the Panda's Thumb is barren. They would never pretend otherwise. They do put in some serious science among the other posts.

Currently, Freethoughtblogs members Ophelia Benson, Richard Carrier, Tauriq Moosa, and Deacon Duncan are capable of writing about philosophy, even though they often prefer other topics. There are also professional scientists, activists, etc.

However, the oddest complaint is directed at Patheos, where Adam Lee, Dan Fincke, Jeffrey Jay Lowder, and Christopher hallquist all post at a level easily the equal of a Feser or a Vallicella. Even in strictly philosophical terms, it's rich and deep.