First Principles

Recently, Jimmy Stephens wrote this in response to a video:

There are some good principles here, but many of the mistakes Rand made pop up in this video. There is too much here to cover for a mere youtube comment, but let’s consider logic and first principles. Take for example the recurring claim in this video that logic is “objective.” This is ambiguous. Although it is unpopular in the West to deny the objectivity of logical laws, the nature and content of those laws remains as controversial now as it was during the Classical Era. So then, what does it really mean to say logic is objective?

Is logic a sociological construct? Is it a conceptual framework or category of human psychology? Is it a natural law? Is it grounded in a Platonic form or timeless propositionality? Is it the wisdom of God? Is logic intuitionist or dialetheistic instead of classical? Is it fuzzy instead of binary? Is it normative or just descriptive? Without covering these more basic questions, it is unclear what “logic” really is, and so ambiguous to call it “objective.”

Consider also the naive foundationalism proffered to support the argument. Are there really first principles that do not need to be defended? If it is meant that people will just naturally agree with Shane’s view, then he is mistaken. Coherentists and foundherentists might accept some or all of his first principles without adopting foundationalism. Infinitists will reject his notion of first principles entirely. Foundationalists disagree not only on what makes a belief a “first principle,” including whether they should be defended, but on what our “first principles” include. Shane’s argument therefore is a lot less simple than he makes it out to be.

Consider his consistency principle (3). It is not obvious how Shane avoids special pleading when for some beliefs he deems them true without defense and then proceeds to defend other beliefs. If in principle one can just name some belief’s “first principles,” then one can simply call the negation of Shane’s position a “first principle” and call it a day. If Shane rejects these alternative “first principles,” he will have to provide us a reason for taking up his instead and will thereby undermine their nature as not needing a defense. So it appears Shane’s epistemology is not consistent with itself both in general and in the sense that Shane doesn’t follow (3), his own principle of consistency.**

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About TheSire

I'm a Christian, Trinitarian, rational scientific anti-realist, Baptist, Van Tilian, Covenant theology, Inerrancy, Substance dualist, Classical theist, Protestant, Reformed, and a particularist. Here is a place where I take information from many different sources and place them in a useful format. My influences are Steve Hays, Dr. James Anderson, Dr. Greg Welty, Dr. Vern Poythress, Dr. John Frame, R. C. Dozier, Dr. Greg Bahnsen, Ronald W. Di Giacomo, R. C. Sproul, Dr. James White, Dr. Paul Helm, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, Paul Manata, Turretinfan, Milton Friedman, James A. Gibson, and others. " You're one of the most intricate thinkers I know so if you believe something I would like to understand why and be challenged to think about it." Tyler Vela I'd like to thank Vincent Ransom for the profile picture.

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