After a seeing a few interactions yesterday including +Fox in the Know
's discussion with +Trey Jadlow
, I decided to put together a video outlining both where Trey is seeing a contradiction within the arguments concerning causation and events, and where I feel he is mistaken. This has been pointed out quite a few times, but I wanted to attempt something succinct both for Trey and for those who would interact with him. Hopefully this clarifies the issue and at the very least helps in improving communication in regards to his argument. (And, all humor is intended as good fun, as I know Trey can take joke. I'm confident he'll take it as I intend, but for others, please know that this is entertainment and not character assassination) Enjoy!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqV1kvatC5s
#### (Un)Becoming Trey ####
In this video, I want to take a moment to explain where Trey Jadlow is seeing a contradiction and give reasons as to why he is mistaken. It is my hope that in doing so, not only may Trey come to see where it is others are finding issue, but also that those who argue against his position will understand his objection and take the proper course, and in doing so avoid overstating or misstepping in response to his badgering.
First, let’s first establish that, yes, all causes entail subsequent effects and all effects entail antecedent causes. This is by definition as it is what we mean by causation. As Trey likes to put it, it would be to say that the effect is contingent upon the antecedent cause. I would further argue that the cause is contingent upon the effect, but that’s an argument for another day. Settle down Trey.
This contingent relationship between a cause and its resulting effect is also what Trey is implying when he uses the term happening. It is to say that some thing has experienced change, and by that, it is meant that the change entails an antecedent state from which the thing “became” what it is no longer. This is what Trey means by happening and by becoming. This is as the pre-Socratic Heraclitus, whom Trey references, says: you can’t step in the same river twice, because that river is becoming what it was not from its prior self. While I have mereological objections with these notions, for the sake of argument, I can table them.
So in Trey’s mind, effects happen or become by means of an antecedent cause. Where there is an antecedent state and a change occurs such that some thing becomes some thing else, there is a cause and an effect.
Okay, now for where he sees a contradiction and for where his errors lie.
The question on offer is “Is it possible for an uncaused event to obtain?”
Upon this text hitting the screen, Trey has just yelled out “No, my friend, you’re violating the law of non-contradiction.”
So where is the contradiction as Trey sees it? By Trey’s lights, all EVENTS are contingent on a prior state from which they became, and so by uttering “uncaused event”, what Trey’s is hearing us say is “Is it possible for an uncaused caused effect to obtain?” Were we saying that, then yes, that would be a contradiction and Trey would simply need to show that we are saying that.
But the meaning within the question “Is it possible for an uncaused event to obtain?” is of an event where no antecedent cause is present and thus no effect entailed.
The very question being asked is whether is possible for a state of affairs to obtain uncaused.
That “obtaining” necessarily entails cause is the very thing being brought forward as a question for consideration.
For Trey to insist that events definitionally imply causes and effects is to beg the question against skepticism. The skeptical position would be that not all events have antecedent causes. That is the question on offer. Defining it away, absent reasons within the framework of an argument by which to demonstrate that it can’t be, is to beg the question. One can not answer this by stipulating “events necessarily entail antecedent causes from which they are the effect” for that is to beg the question “can a state of affairs obtain without cause?”
Upon this objection, Trey will often want to ask “Are events happening?” Well, remember Trey’s definition for “happening” entails an effect with a prior cause. So, again, by that definition, he’s looking to beg the question. The question on offer is “Is it possible for an uncaused event to obtain?” and Trey needs to demonstrate by means of reasoned argument why it is not possible if he wishes to assert it.
And just to cover all the bases, recalling that by “becoming”, Trey means to say a caused-effect, he would yet again be begging the question against skepticism to insist that all events are becoming by that definition.
In addition to his begging the question, I think Trey is committing the fallacy of affirming the consequent through his equivocations.
Where one can say:
P1: If there is a caused-effect, then there is an event.
P2: X is a caused-effect.
Conclusion: Therefore X is an event..
Trey is stating:
P1: If there is a caused-effect, then there is an event.
P2. X is an event.
Conclusion: Therefore X is a caused-effect.
Trey is inferring the converse of the first premise. We have experience with causes and effects, and when these manifest, they do so as events, as becoming, as change within a state of affairs. P1 implies that all caused-effects are events, but it does not imply that all events are caused-effects. Trey is wanting to assert that not only do caused-effects imply events, but that they are what ONLY implies events. This, again, is the question on the table: are all events caused-effects?
Trey would need to establish that events can only occur where there is a causation. In order to assert the logical necessity of all events entailing causation, Trey would need to demonstrate the impossibility of the contrary. What is on the table is the possibility of such a state of affairs, and Trey can not beg the question by stipulating that it is impossible. He must demonstrate it by means of a reductio ad absurdum for the skeptical position as it relates to his assertion. That is the only means by which one demonstrates that it is what is on offer is not possible.
There is no contradiction, at least that he has demonstrated, and his thinking that there is one comes as a result of him begging the question.
Why is any of this important? Because our inferences related to causation are relevant to when some antecedent effector obtains and causes change in the prior-existing affected. We have no inference for a state of affairs where no antecedent effector obtains and no prior-existing affected obtains. Our inferences relate to things affecting other things.
In the case that no thing obtains, were some thing to obtain, there would be no antecedent thing by which to cause it. Upon what inference would we conclude that such a thing were not possible? A theist might be tempted to leverage this lack of an antecedent thing to invoke the necessity of a God to act as the antecedent cause. But such a being would be instantiating an obtaining state of affairs of some things from no things. Our causal inference is relevant to an antecedent material and efficient cause. In this case, our inferences regarding causation are equally ill-suited, rendering a creator no better an inference based on causation than a state of affairs where no thing obtains. Where we insist on what can be inferred by our experience with causation, we could only infer that somethings have been composed from and by antecedent somethings, and go no further.
We simply lack inferences by which to conclude what is possible or necessary for a state of affairs where what it is we are familiar is not to be found. Anyone saying otherwise must show the necessity by means of demonstrating the impossibility of the contrary.
For Trey, that is your burden for what you wish to claim. You are making a synthetic proposition about the world based on the inference that there are no states of affairs that obtain uncaused. You can either prove your logical necessity for causes by demonstrating non-question-begging impossibilities, you can revise or find new arguments, or you can soften your assertions into questions of what is more or less plausible. Your arguments being considered rational by the community depend on it, and by your failure to satisfy the burden you yourself have created, you will take your place amongst those you find to be absurd within the community. Your errors are becoming evident to nearly all and you only have yourself to blame. Believe it or not, I’m rooting for you.
For those who would argue against Trey, I would encourage you to not say things like there can be effects without causes or that the pre-Socratics are rubbish. They’re not, and when you have a moment, I’d encourage you to watch one of the several fine Youtube breakdowns of Heraclitus and Parmenides.
In the case of Trey’s argument, we don’t even have to go as far as finding examples of what we feel might be uncaused events. Trey is arguing a logical necessity, which is to say anything else is impossibility. That’s a proposition concerning the world which carries a hefty burden that one clears only by means of demonstrating a reductio. When Trey invokes “change”, “happening” or “becoming” in the event that you ask him to demonstrate the necessity of cause, I would ask him what he means by those terms, and where you see him invoke a definition that smuggles in cause, that you ask him to not equivocate. You are asking about uncaused events, and in the case that Trey wants to define event as a “caused effect” either explicitly or through an equivocation, he is begging the question against skepticism. Logically necessary implies an impossibility of the contrary, and Trey is on the hook for demonstrating such a strong assertion. This is a good thing for Trey and a good thing for us. Were we allowed arguments that employ errors and fallacies akin his question begging, not only would God have been defined out of existence, but as well the world would be filled with far more irrationality than we currently see and far more cackles of misplaced incredulity.