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Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
#1

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
I had the honor of being invited into a hangout with Steve McRae when some of my comments in the chat piqued his interest.  It was a hangout in which Steve discusses why he believes Matt Dillahunty's definition of "atheism" is wrong and that agnosticism is a valid middle position.  On that matter, like I told him, I think he's technically right, but the distinction that the term "agnosticism" aims to capture applies so broadly that the term becomes vacuous in most circumstances (see "On the Burden of Proof and Implicit versus Explicit Agnosticism" for my elaboration on that point).  In the course of the conversation, however, theological non-cognitivism (henceforth "TC") came up, and Steve made the rather curious claim that it's not an atheistic or non-theistic position.  I must admit to having originally had an incomplete understanding of what TC says, but I'm not convinced that Steve's correction makes its status as a non-theistic stance any more dubious.  Steve's argument seems to be that TC cannot be atheistic or non-theistic, because to call it either is automatically "God talk," and to a TCist, all "God talk" is meaningless.  Now, I'm an amateur philosopher at best, but this just doesn't compute with me.  I think he's confusing the classification of TC with its actual content.  To me, for TC to not be a non-theistic position, it would have to be possible to be both a theist and a TCist at the same time, and I don't know how that could ever be.

This is the syllogism I originally presented in defense of my modus tollens argument.

Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that X is a coherent and meaningful concept
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God is a coherent and meaningful concept.
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

Steve accepts Premise 1 but claims Premise 2 is question-begging, because it apparently assumes TCists don't believe in God.  Again, I don't see how that's not a simple entailment rather than an assumption.  Still, I could modify the syllogism to reflect Steve's presumably more accurate definition, and I think it would still hold.

Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that at least some propositions about X are meaningful.
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that any propositions about God are meaningful.
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

Another way I've thought of tackling this is as follows.  We have a proposition P and a definition of "theist" Q.

P = At least one god exists or at least existed at some point in time.

Q = A person is a theist if and only if he/she assigns a truth value of "True" to P.

We have four relevant reactions to proposition P.

1)   P is meaningful, and P is true. (theism)
2)   P is meaningful, but P is false. (what Steve would call atheism)
3)   P is meaningful, but we don't know enough (yet) to reasonably assign any truth value to P. (agnosticism)
4)   What proposition?  Oh, you mean P?  Yeah, that's completely meaningless. (TC)

Response #1 is the only response one could have and qualify as a theist.  Response #4, simply by virtue of not being response #1, is a non-theistic reaction.  The only way out of this seems to be if Response #5 were somehow logically possible.

5)   P is meaningless, but it's true.

But I don't see how such a response could be at all coherent.  In short, you can't assign any truth value to a meaningless proposition, and if you fail to assign any truth value to a proposition, then by downward entailment, you necessarily fail to assign a value of "True" to it, and such a failure qualifies as a non-theistic stance by definition.

Philosophy buffs, am I missing something here?  Is there some post-classical logic or something that makes Steve's argument click?  Because for me, it just does not compute.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#2

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-12-2019, 06:06 PM)Glossophile Wrote: I had the honor of being invited into a hangout with Steve McRae when some of my comments in the chat piqued his interest.  It was a hangout in which Steve discusses why he believes Matt Dillahunty's definition of "atheism" is wrong and that agnosticism is a valid middle position.  On that matter, like I told him, I think he's technically right, but the distinction that the term "agnosticism" aims to capture applies so broadly that the term becomes vacuous in most circumstances (see "On the Burden of Proof and Implicit versus Explicit Agnosticism" for my elaboration on that point).  In the course of the conversation, however, theological non-cognitivism (henceforth "TC") came up, and Steve made the rather curious claim that it's not an atheistic or non-theistic position.  I must admit to having originally had an incomplete understanding of what TC says, but I'm not convinced that Steve's correction makes its status as a non-theistic stance any more dubious.  Steve's argument seems to be that TC cannot be atheistic or non-theistic, because to call it either is automatically "God talk," and to a TCist, all "God talk" is meaningless.  Now, I'm an amateur philosopher at best, but this just doesn't compute with me.  I think he's confusing the classification of TC with its actual content.  To me, for TC to not be a non-theistic position, it would have to be possible to be both a theist and a TCist at the same time, and I don't know how that could ever be.

This is the syllogism I originally presented in defense of my modus tollens argument.

Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that X is a coherent and meaningful concept
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God is a coherent and meaningful concept.
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

Steve accepts Premise 1 but claims Premise 2 is question-begging, because it apparently assumes TCists don't believe in God.  Again, I don't see how that's not a simple entailment rather than an assumption.  Still, I could modify the syllogism to reflect Steve's presumably more accurate definition, and I think it would still hold.

Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that at least some propositions about X are meaningful.
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that any propositions about God are meaningful. 
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

Another way I've thought of tackling this is as follows.  We have a proposition P and a definition of "theist" Q.

P = At least one god exists or at least existed at some point in time.

Q = A person is a theist if and only if he/she assigns a truth value of "True" to P.

We have four relevant reactions to proposition P.

1)   P is meaningful, and P is true. (theism)
2)   P is meaningful, but P is false. (what Steve would call atheism)
3)   P is meaningful, but we don't know enough (yet) to reasonably assign any truth value to P. (agnosticism)
4)   What proposition?  Oh, you mean P?  Yeah, that's completely meaningless. (TC)

Response #1 is the only response one could have and qualify as a theist.  Response #4, simply by virtue of not being response #1, is a non-theistic reaction.  The only way out of this seems to be if Response #5 were somehow logically possible.

5)   P is meaningless, but it's true.

But I don't see how such a response could be at all coherent.  In short, you can't assign any truth value to a meaningless proposition, and if you fail to assign any truth value to a proposition, then by downward entailment, you necessarily fail to assign a value of "True" to it, and such a failure qualifies as a non-theistic stance by definition.

Philosophy buffs, am I missing something here?  Is there some post-classical logic or something that makes Steve's argument click?  Because for me, it just does not compute.

If P is meaningless, undefined and incoherent it is dismissed and no position with respect to it is taken or required.
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#3

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
The devil is in the definition of God/gods. It/She/they may well exist in one's experience without their having any independent existence of their own. Perhaps they have the same status as dreams, something that goes on within us and others.

When someone answers that P is true but has in mind something of the sort I am describing, are they necessarily a theist? I tend to think they're not.
"Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's. 
F. D.
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#4

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
Why should I care what an Australian ballet dancer thinks?  Big Grin

Actually I find Steve's position silly because he's not addressing peoples/humans concept of god. The concept certainly exists even if it's not considered meaningful or coherent. 

To take the position that there can be someone in our society that has not had/heard of a god fantasy is ridiculous. 
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#5

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
It's atheistic if the person wouldn't believe in the God claim once they understand it.

It's theistic if the person would believe in the God claim once they understand it.

It makes sense to be a noncognivist against definitions of God that are logically incoherent.

But, it also makes sense to be strong atheist about them: because logically incoherent=not logically possible.

It doesn't make sense to be noncognitivist against concepts of God which ARE coherent and are merely absurd.

For example, Zeus. A man in the sky who shoots lightning. Totally conceivable ... just absurd.

Same with goblins ... or pixies ... or fire breathing dragons ... conceivable... just absurd. And no evidence of.

I'm not a noncognitivist merely because any God I have reason to be noncognitivist (or ignostic) about I also have equal reason to be a strong atheist about.

I'm a strong atheist about some gods and a so-called "weak atheist" about others. That's it really. Agnosticism applies most places but not everywhere. Those who demand that nothing is certain are ironically just as absolutist as those they criticize. Truth is certain on some matters and uncertain on some matters.
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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#6

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-12-2019, 06:06 PM)Glossophile Wrote: Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that at least some propositions about X are meaningful.
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that any propositions about God are meaningful.
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

I disagree with premise 1 because I think that you can believe X exists but not understand the meaning of X in which you believe in.

For example ... you can believe that the sun exists in the sky without understanding the meaning of the proposition "the sun exists in the sky" (for example, you don't speak English, or, you're an animal that doesn't even think in language or propositions ... but still believes there's a sun in the sky, regardless of your inabiltiy to express that belief or understand its expression in others).

I do agree that everyone is either a theist or an atheist. And this includes noncognitivists

With regards to any God concept you either do or don't accept it ... regardless of whether you consider it meaningless or not.

It's true that you usually consider it meaningless because you consider it illogical and you're therefore an atheist ...

but it's also possible that you may not understand it because you're illogical, rather than the concept.


I think that noncognitvists are usually atheists but they may also be theists.

It's conceviable that you don't understand the concept of something that you do in fact believe in as soon as you understand it. And it's not just that you start believing in it ... it's that you always believed in the concept you just didn't understand it.

Like, imagine a foreign language that expresses the sentence "People have brains" ... you've always believed people have brains ... and that applies even if the sentence is in a language you don't understand. It is meaningless to you ... but when you learn the language you don't suddenly believe that people have brains ... you always believed it you just, until now, didn't understand the language.

Basically: noncognitivists are either noncognitivists because they're atheists or because they don't understand a concept that they actually accept as soon as it is explained to them properly.

Sure, I would agree that noncognitivism correlates extremely strongly with atheism. But so does non-belief in ghosts or astrology ... but it's possible to be an atheist and believe in those things.

... there's nothing about noncognitivism that logically entails atheism. That's what I'm saying.
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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#7

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-12-2019, 07:34 PM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote:
(02-12-2019, 06:06 PM)Glossophile Wrote: Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that at least some propositions about X are meaningful.

I disagree with premise 1 because I think that you can believe X exists but not understand the meaning of X in which you believe in.

For example ... you can believe that the sun exists in the sky without understanding the meaning of the proposition "the sun exists in the sky" (for example, you don't speak English, or, you're an animal that doesn't even think in language or propositions ... but still believes there's a sun in the sky, regardless of your inabiltiy to express that belief or understand its expression in others).

There's a difference between comprehensibility and meaningfulness/meaninglessness, though.  Plus, it may be the case that a noncognitivist really doesn't understand a proposition, but the label "noncognitivist" is meant to describe the person's own interpretation of that lack of comprehension, not necessarily the actual reason for it.  The proposition itself may be meaningful or meaningless, but for someone to be a noncognitivist, it is only necessary that he/she believe that it is meaningless. There's a difference between that and believing a proposition is meaningful but simply beyond one's personal comprehension. In addition, "X exists" is a proposition, so if you believe in X, then there is at least one proposition about X that you consider meaningful enough to call it true, even if you understand nothing else about X.

Also, I don't think a proposition is defined by the form it takes but rather by the meaning it expresses.  For me, "The sun exists in the sky," "El sol existe en el cielo, "Sōl est in caelō," and "Sēo sunne is in heofonum," are all the same proposition.  As for animals, I would consider them technically non-theistic as well, simply because they don't believe that the proposition "God exists" is true.  True, it's because they lack the cognitive capabilities to even comprehend the concept, but the end result is the same: a lack of belief.  It just so happens that, since most animals aren't sufficiently conscious for such labels to be useful, we usually don't think of them in such terms.
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#8

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-12-2019, 08:55 PM)Glossophile Wrote: There's a difference between comprehensibility and meaningfulness/meaninglessness, though.

Not everything that is incomprehensible is meaningless but everything that is meaningless is incomprehensible.

Quote:  Plus, it may be the case that a noncognitivist really doesn't understand a proposition, but the label "noncognitivist" is meant to describe the person's own interpretation of that lack of comprehension, not necessarily the actual reason for it.

Exactly. So they may actually be failing to understand rather than the concept actually not making sense. Which means if they actually understood what the concept meant then they may realize that they in fact did believe in such a God they just didn't understand what was being uttered.


E.G.

"Do you believe in SGPASGKASPGKASPGKPAS SPOOP QUAP LOBNAKAR?"

"That's meaningless nonsense. Of course I don't believe that."

"But in Martian that means: "Do you believe that a supernatural being created the universe?" 

"Oh. So I do believe it then. I thought I was a noncognitivist but I wasn't."

Quote: The proposition itself may be meaningful or meaningless, but for someone to be a noncognitivist, it is only necessary that he/she believe that it is meaningless.

No, it's only necessary that they believe that they believe that it's meaningless. They may in fact believe it's meaningful but wrongly think that they don't. They may think that they don't believe X but they actually do becasue what X actually means is something they believe in but they don't realize it.

For example: An alien may visit our planet and ask me if I believe in spongdabbles. I may say "No, I have never seen such a thing in my life" and then they may say "But "spongdabble" is just our word for "horses" and then I'll say "Oh ... yes of course I believe in spongdabbles then. They obviously exist and they eat hay."

In the above example it's not the case that the person didn't believe in spongdabbles ... but it is the case that they believed that they didn't believe in spondabbles.

A noncognitivist may actually believe in a God but think that they don't because they don't understand what is being described ... as soon as they understand the description they may react "Ohhhhhhhh THAT. Yes I've believed in that my whole life ... if that's what God is then of course I believe in a God. That's very mundane. I thought you meant something much more nonsensical."

Quote:  There's a difference between that and believing a proposition is meaningful but simply beyond one's personal comprehension.

But there's also a difference between believing that you believe that a proposition is meaningless when in fact you believe it's meaningful and actually believing that a proposition is meaningless. It's certainly possible to think that you think X is meaningless when in fact it's merely beyond your comprehension but you don't realize it precisely because it's beyond your comprehension.

Those who think they don't believe in the territory may in fact merely be disbelieving in the map because they're mistaking the map for the territory and not realizing it.

Quote:  In addition, "X exists" is a proposition, so if you believe in X, then there is at least one proposition about X that you consider meaningful enough to call it true, even if you understand nothing else about X.

If you believe in it, yeah. But you may believe that you believe in X when you in fact don't and you may believe that you don't believe in X when you in fact do. Because you may be confusing your concept of X with X. You may be confusing your belief in a belief with the belief itself.



Quote:Also, I don't think a proposition is defined by the form it takes but rather by the meaning it expresses.  For me, "The sun exists in the sky," "El sol existe en el cielo,  "Sōl est in caelō," and "Sēo sunne is in heofonum," are all the same proposition.

Exactly my point. So when someone thinks they don't believe in that proposition they may be mistaken about their own belief because it may simply be that the proposition is being expressed in a language they are unfamilar with but what the proposition actually refers to is in fact something that they actually believe in.

Quote:  As for animals, I would consider them technically non-theistic as well, simply because they don't believe that the proposition "God exists" is true. 

They believe the sun exists, though. My point was that you don't have to be able to express something in language in order to believe in it.

Quote: True, it's because they lack the cognitive capabilities to even comprehend the concept, but the end result is the same: a lack of belief.

Not in the sun, though. The point of that analogy was not just that different languages can express the same proposition but you can mistakingly think they're different propositions because you don't speak the language ... but you don't even need a language at all to have a belief.

Quote:  It just so happens that, since most animals aren't sufficiently conscious for such labels to be useful, we usually don't think of them in such terms.

Yeah, I agree but I don't see the relevance because that wasn't my point Tongue
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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#9

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
Thank fuck I'm ignostic.     Tongue
I'm a creationist;   I believe that man created God.
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#10

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
Atheist means one who does not believe in God(s).  It does not matter if that atheist has good reasons for doing so, offers bad reasons for doing so, or offers no reasons at all for not believing in God(s).

  • I have never had the least sympathy with the a priori reasons against orthodoxy, and I have by nature and disposition the greatest possible antipathy to all the atheistic and infidel school. Nevertheless I know that I am, in spite of myself, exactly what the Christian would call, and, so far as I can see, is justified in calling, atheist and infidel.- Thomas Huxley
Sitting in the club car of the hell bound train.

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#11

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-13-2019, 12:24 PM)Cheerful Charlie Wrote: Atheist means one who does not believe in God(s).  It does not matter if that atheist has good reasons for doing so, offers bad reasons for doing so, or offers no reasons at all for not believing in God(s).

  • I have never had the least sympathy with the a priori reasons against orthodoxy, and I have by nature and disposition the greatest possible antipathy to all the atheistic and infidel school. Nevertheless I know that I am, in spite of myself, exactly what the Christian would call, and, so far as I can see, is justified in calling, atheist and infidel.- Thomas Huxley


This fits.  It isn't that I'm against religion.  I simply don't have or want one.
"Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's. 
F. D.
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#12

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-12-2019, 06:06 PM)Glossophile Wrote: I had the honor of being invited into a hangout with Steve McRae when some of my comments in the chat piqued his interest.  It was a hangout in which Steve discusses why he believes Matt Dillahunty's definition of "atheism" is wrong and that agnosticism is a valid middle position.  On that matter, like I told him, I think he's technically right, but the distinction that the term "agnosticism" aims to capture applies so broadly that the term becomes vacuous in most circumstances (see "On the Burden of Proof and Implicit versus Explicit Agnosticism" for my elaboration on that point).  In the course of the conversation, however, theological non-cognitivism (henceforth "TC") came up, and Steve made the rather curious claim that it's not an atheistic or non-theistic position.  I must admit to having originally had an incomplete understanding of what TC says, but I'm not convinced that Steve's correction makes its status as a non-theistic stance any more dubious.  Steve's argument seems to be that TC cannot be atheistic or non-theistic, because to call it either is automatically "God talk," and to a TCist, all "God talk" is meaningless.  Now, I'm an amateur philosopher at best, but this just doesn't compute with me.  I think he's confusing the classification of TC with its actual content.  To me, for TC to not be a non-theistic position, it would have to be possible to be both a theist and a TCist at the same time, and I don't know how that could ever be.

This is the syllogism I originally presented in defense of my modus tollens argument.

Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that X is a coherent and meaningful concept
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God is a coherent and meaningful concept.
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

Steve accepts Premise 1 but claims Premise 2 is question-begging, because it apparently assumes TCists don't believe in God.  Again, I don't see how that's not a simple entailment rather than an assumption.  Still, I could modify the syllogism to reflect Steve's presumably more accurate definition, and I think it would still hold.

Premise 1: If you believe X exists, then you believe that at least some propositions about X are meaningful.
Premise 2: Theological non-cognitivists do not believe that any propositions about God are meaningful.
Conclusion: Therefore, theological non-cognitivists do not believe that God exists (and are therefore either atheists or at least non-theists, depending on your definitions).

Another way I've thought of tackling this is as follows.  We have a proposition P and a definition of "theist" Q.

P = At least one god exists or at least existed at some point in time.

Q = A person is a theist if and only if he/she assigns a truth value of "True" to P.

We have four relevant reactions to proposition P.

1)   P is meaningful, and P is true. (theism)
2)   P is meaningful, but P is false. (what Steve would call atheism)
3)   P is meaningful, but we don't know enough (yet) to reasonably assign any truth value to P. (agnosticism)
4)   What proposition?  Oh, you mean P?  Yeah, that's completely meaningless. (TC)

Response #1 is the only response one could have and qualify as a theist.  Response #4, simply by virtue of not being response #1, is a non-theistic reaction.  The only way out of this seems to be if Response #5 were somehow logically possible.

5)   P is meaningless, but it's true.

But I don't see how such a response could be at all coherent.  In short, you can't assign any truth value to a meaningless proposition, and if you fail to assign any truth value to a proposition, then by downward entailment, you necessarily fail to assign a value of "True" to it, and such a failure qualifies as a non-theistic stance by definition.

Philosophy buffs, am I missing something here?  Is there some post-classical logic or something that makes Steve's argument click?  Because for me, it just does not compute.

I always thought that TC was specifically about religious language ("god talk") and was not necessarily a position on the absolute absence of the knowledge of God, which would render any further comment on the matter moot.

That is to say, if I have no meaningful or coherent understanding of "God" then I cannot adopt a position on it.
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#13

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: Exactly. So they may actually be failing to understand rather than the concept actually not making sense. Which means if they actually understood what the concept meant then they may realize that they in fact did believe in such a God they just didn't understand what was being uttered.

In such a case, I would argue that the person was never really a theological noncognitivist.  He/she was a theist all along and just didn't realize that the label applied to him/her.  Let's say I self identify as an couch-ological non-cognitivist, such that I think the word "couch" is meaningless.  However, I believe the word "sofa" is not only meaningful but applicable to a whole class of real-world referents.  Once I realize that a couch is a sofa, I consequently realize that "couch-ological noncognitivist" was never really an accurate description of my views.

(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: "Do you believe in SGPASGKASPGKASPGKPAS SPOOP QUAP LOBNAKAR?"

"That's meaningless nonsense. Of course I don't believe that."

"But in Martian that means: "Do you believe that a supernatural being created the universe?" 

"Oh. So I do believe it then. I thought I was a noncognitivist but I wasn't."

Hmm, we seem to agree, since this is essentially analogous to my couch/sofa example.

(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: No, it's only necessary that they believe that they believe that it's meaningless. They may in fact believe it's meaningful but wrongly think that they don't. They may think that they don't believe X but they actually do becasue what X actually means is something they believe in but they don't realize it.

With that, the disagreement resurfaces, and I think the bolded sentence above strikes at the heart of it.  That is what I contest.

(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: A noncognitivist may actually believe in a God but think that they don't because they don't understand what is being described ... as soon as they understand the description they may react "Ohhhhhhhh THAT. Yes I've believed in that my whole life ... if that's what God is then of course I believe in a God.  That's very mundane. I thought you meant something much more nonsensical."

My point is that it would be wrong to call such a person a "theological noncognitivist" in the first place.  For me at least, a true theological non-cognitivist holds the concept of a deity to be meaningless and/or incoherent.  The person you've just described does not hold the concept to be meaningless and/or incoherent.  He/she just didn't realize the connection between the word "god" and that concept.

(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: But there's also a difference between believing that you believe that a proposition is meaningless when in fact you believe it's meaningful and actually believing that a proposition is meaningless.

Exactly!  I'm starting to think our disagreement, to the extent that we have one, reduces to semantics.  You seem more willing to describe either state of mind as "theological non-cognitivism," whereas I think the term only applies to the latter scenario.  If you "actually believe that a proposition is meaningless," you're a non-cognitivist.  If you merely "believe that you believe that a proposition is meaningless when in fact you believe it's meaningful," you're a believer who's just mistaken and/or confused about terminology.

(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: It's certainly possible to think that you think X is meaningless when in fact it's merely beyond your comprehension but you don't realize it precisely because it's beyond your comprehension.

Well, if a proposition or concept is beyond your comprehension, you can't believe it's true or real, so whether you call it non-cognitivism or not, it's still a non-Xist(ic) stance.

(02-13-2019, 01:27 AM)EvieTheAvocado Wrote: Those who think they don't believe in the territory may in fact merely be disbelieving in the map because they're mistaking the map for the territory and not realizing it.

Exactly, but I wouldn't automatically call someone who disbelieves in the map a "territorial non-cognitivist" and lump them in with people who genuinely do disbelieve in the actual territory.  If I had to give such a person a label, it might be something like "cartographic non-cognitivist."
The only sacred truth in science is that there are no sacred truths. - Carl Sagan
Ἡ μόνη ἱερᾱ̀ ἀληθείᾱ ἐν τῇ φυσικῇ φιλοσοφίᾳ ἐστὶν ἡ ἱερῶν ἀληθειῶν σπάνις. - Κᾱ́ρολος Σήγανος


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#14

Theological Noncognitivism: Non-Theistic?
(03-15-2019, 06:10 PM)Glossophile Wrote: My point is that it would be wrong to call such a person a "theological noncognitivist" in the first place. 

Exactly ... so, like your couch/sofa example, they believe that they believe that such a thing is meaningless when in fact they believe such a concept to meaningful and, hence, they are not a non-cognitivist. It's not sufficient to merely think that you are deeming something meaningless in order to be a theological noncognitivist ... you have to actually correctly deem it to be meaningless.

And the problem is ... once you understand the meaning of a God concept then you're either a theist or an atheist. This is the problem I have with noncognitivism. If such a person was "never a non-cognitivist in the first place"... then this does kind of leave the number of non-cognitivists at zero. You have cognitivists and you have people who think they're non-cognitivists but actually aren't, right?

Either someone is describing something coherent or they're not ... if they're not then they're not even describing a deity so it has nothing to do with theism, atheism or non-cognitivism ... if they are then you're either an atheist or a theist.

This is the thing ... there's no third option. Everyone is either a theist or an atheist. Because "atheist" merely means "non-theist" and theism/non-theism is a true dichotomy.

Quote:  The person you've just described does not hold the concept to be meaningless and/or incoherent.  He/she just didn't realize the connection between the word "god" and that concept.

Exactly, so  as I said ... unless you're going to say that non-cognitivists don't exist then merely believing that they believe something is meaningless has got to make someone a non-cognitivist. Although technically they are just incorrectly descrbing themselves (see above) ... if we actually require someone to correctly deem something to be meaningless in order to be a non-cognitivist ... then the conclusion is that non-cognitivists don't exist. Why? Because NOTHING is meaningless and meaninglessness is nothing..



Quote:Exactly!  I'm starting to think our disagreement, to the extent that we have one, reduces to semantics.  You seem more willing to describe either state of mind as "theological non-cognitivism," whereas I think the term only applies to the latter scenario. 

No, I think that non-cognitivists either are anyone who believes that they believe something is meaningless or they don't exist. You seem to think that a non-cognitivist should be someone who actually believes something to be meaningless ... and I agree that they should but where we disagree strongly there is that I think that such a person does not exist. Every single concept is meaningful so once someone correctly understands the concept they either accept or reject it. Everything is either true or false. There is no "meaningless" middle ground. There's no such thing as a meaningless thing. Non-cognitivsts are mislabelling themselves.

I'm the same about metaethics as well. Error Theory may correct because it, at least, believes that all moral statements are false (as it happens I disagree with it because I'm a moral objectivist but at least Error Theory is coherent) but non-cognitivism about morality isn't possible. Nobody actually believes that moral statements are meaningless ... they, at most, merely deludedly believe that they believe that they are meaningless.

BASICALLY:Non-cognitivists about metaethics, or God, or anything else are JUST like the person who thinks they don't believe in couches but in fact does because they believe in sofas.

Quote: ... but   If you "actually believe that a proposition is meaningless," you're a non-cognitivist.

Yeah, but such a person doesn't exist. So either you loosen the requirement of being a non-cognitivist to anyone who merely deludedly believes that they believe something is meaningless or such people do not exist and they're all just falsely labeling themselves. Non-cognitivism, in reality, is incoherent BECAUSE everything is meaningful.

Quote:  If you merely "believe that you believe that a proposition is meaningless when in fact you believe it's meaningful," you're a believer who's just mistaken and/or confused about terminology.

If you're a believer that incorrectly believes that a proposition is meaningless then you think you're a non-cognitivist but you're actually a theist.

If you're a non-believer that incorrectly believes that a proposition is meaningless then you think you're a non-cognitivist but you're actually an atheist.

Those are the only two options.

... "But what about correctly believing something to be meaningless?" I hear you ask, but like I said, my contention is that such a thing is not possible because EVERYTHING is meaningful.




Quote:Well, if a proposition or concept is beyond your comprehension, you can't believe it's true or real, so whether you call it non-cognitivism or not, it's still a non-Xist(ic) stance.

.Something either is true or real or it isn't and you either believe that something is or you don't.

A concept beyond your comprhension is just like a meaningless string of letters like epaghieagheageaigeagiaegiaegaeigae or like your couch/sofa example ... it is again just a case of someone potenially discovering that they either did or didn't believe in X concept in the first place.


Quote:Exactly, but I wouldn't automatically call someone who disbelieves in the map a "territorial non-cognitivist" and lump them in with people who genuinely do disbelieve in the actual territory.  If I had to give such a person a label, it might be something like "cartographic non-cognitivist."

Such a person is just like your couch-non-cognitivist but you said they were "never a non-cognitivist" in the first place ... so why are you not willing to apply the same standards to the cartographic non-cognitivist and say that they were "never a non-cognitivist  in the first place"?

I see that as inconsistent.

Anyway, where we disagree most strongly is that you seem to think non-cognitivism is coherent even when it is applied to people who supposedly ACTUALLY believe a concept to be meaningless but such people clearly do not exist and the best you can get is people who deludedly believe that they believe a concept is meaningless but as soon as they understand it they realize it isn't meaningless at all and they were, in your words, "never a non-cognitivist in the first place." There are no actual non-cognitivists ... that is my contention.
My Argument Against Free Will Wrote:(1) Ultimately, to control your actions you have to originate your original nature.

(2) But you can't originate your original nature—it's already there.

(3) So, ultimately, you can't control your actions.
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