Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:12 pm
by Michael
Cole H. wrote:Just because you don't deserve something doesn't mean it has no value. I fail to see the connection here.


I thought you were saying there was some category error involved in saying that any state of existence (such as eternal bliss in heaven) is any better than non-existence.

If that is what you mean to say, it would seem to follow that you gained nothing of value when God brought you into existence, so there was no "gift" for you to "desrve."

Cole H. wrote:
I believe there must be some way to say that being is (or can be) better than non-being.


I agree


Thank you.

Then existence can be favorably or unfavorably compared to non-existence, Barth isn't guilty of any category error, and your life is a gift.

Cole H. wrote:
Actually, Augustine said that all evil was the privation of some good.


There is nothing to require us to say evil is nonbeing or privation. In dealing with good and evil themselves, it's better to regard opposites on the same ontological level. Males and females are opposites but neither is a negation of the other. Both are substantial beings. It's better to see both good and evil as forms of being.


I don't know about that.

I only know Agustine would disagree with you.

But regarding whether there's a way to say existence can be better than non-existence, tell me what you think of this.

Now, according to the Metaphysical Argument, we cannot claim that existence is better (or worse) for a person than non-existence, because this implies that non-existence is worse (or better) for her than existence, and this is ruled out by the No Properties of the Non-Existent Principle. Let us now re-assess this argument. Consider the following (allegedly dubious) proposition:

P: Non-existence is worse for Jeremy than existence.

The question is whether the truth of P can be established without ascribing positive properties to Jeremy in a possible world in which he does not exist. In my main argument, I described different theories of well-being on the basis of which the Value of Existence View can be defended. Each of these theories involves distinctive ontological commitments. Invoking the object account of preferences, I argued that existence is better for Jeremy because he prefers existence to non-existence. And it may now be argued that, for the same reason, non-existence is worse for him. Here, the truth of P is established merely by appeal to a preference Jeremy has in a possible world – the actual world – in which he exists. In this world, then, he has the positive property of having a particular preference. More importantly, the truth of P is established without ascribing any positive properties to Jeremy in a possible world in which he does not exist.

The three other theories of well-being on the basis of which I argued for the Value of Existence View involved a two-step procedure. First, it was pointed out that Jeremy’s life includes a surplus of positive value (preference-satisfactions, positive mental states, or items on an objective list), and that his non-existence involves no such values. Both of these claims are, of course, compatible with the No Properties of the Non-Existent Principle. It was then pointed out that it seems to be better to have a surplus of positive value than to have no value. Contrariwise, it seems to be worse to have no value than it is to have a surplus of value. This judgement relies only on the nature of positive value and no value. Thus, assuming any of these other theories of well-being, once again, the truth of P is established without presupposing any dubious ontology. It may be objected that I have not yet shown that P is metaphysically innocent. It may be argued that, if P is true, it must be true in virtue of a particular relation that obtains and serves as a truthmaker for P. More precisely, the (triadic) relation x is worse for S than y must obtain between the state of affairs, Jeremy does not exist, Jeremy, and the state of affairs, Jeremy exists. Now, Jeremy exists and thus the state of affairs, Jeremy exists, obtains. But the state of affairs, Jeremy does not exist, does not obtain. So how can the betterness relation obtain, when one of its relata does not?

It seems clear that, in fact, a state need not obtain in order to be an object in a betterness relation. Consider, for instance, the following relation: the state of affairs that the allies win the war is better than the state of affairs that the Nazis win the war
.
A more plausible requirement, then, is that in order for a relation to obtain, its relata must exist. And while the state of affairs, Jeremy does not exist, does not obtain, it can be sensibly claimed that it exists as an abstract entity. Since all three relata thus exist, we can claim that the triadic relation, Jeremy does not exist is worse for Jeremy than Jeremy exists, obtains.

Therefore, assuming that this relation is indeed the truthmaker for P, P is true.

http://people.su.se/~folke/holtug.pdf

Do you see any category error in Proff. Holtug's logic?