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3 AM Philosophy

Steve McRae’s actual positions to help with strawman abatement. (Work in progress)

In order to at least attempt to avoid being strawmanned or at least less frequently I have endeavored to try to make a comprehensive list of my actual positions which people can reference if they so desire rather assuming them and arguing against a strawman. These are not to be considered immalleable, unopen to change, or in any way complete and may be revised at any time.

1) The word “atheist” can have multiple meanings and refer to different things. In the most widest possible interpretation it means someone who do not believe that there is a God. In the more stricter sense usually found in philosophy and in academic literature it means someone who believes that theism is false, or the ontological equivalent of there are no Gods:

a. I hold to the stricter sense definition as standard (Cambridge 2013) and how it ought to be understood when reading most philosophical papers, unless of course noted otherwise by the author. (SEP/Draper 2017).
b. I have never said if someone does not hold to stricter definitions that they are not an atheist.
c. I have always argued that people should be allowed to use any definition they prefer to label themselves.
d. Use of a preferred label is not transportable such that I do not use my preferred use of definitions to assign a label to other people.
e. I argue that if people accept a more broader definition, that they should not use their preferred broader definition to label me.   

2) Agnosticism is polysemous in that can refer to a variety of different things:

a. Agnosticism can mean Huxley’s method or philosophy similar to evidentialism and the scientific method.  (SEP)
b. It can mean the belief that the knowledge of the existence of God(s) is unknowable. (Sensu lato)
c. It can mean suspending judgement on a proposition. (Oppy 2018, Friedman 2011)
d. It can mean the psychological state of being agnostic on a proposition and it (SEP).
e. Agnostic on a proposition means S does not believe p is true nor believes p is false. (SEP) Logically agnostic is represented by ~Bp ^ ~B~p. (Malpass 2017)
f. I hold with respect to the proposition of theism to ~Bp ^ ~B~p. (e)
g. I am agnostic with respect to the proposition of theism meaning that if theism is to be accepted as p=”at least one God exists” then I do not evaluate p as true nor evaluate p as false. (e)(f)
h. I argue that given agnostic from (d) and (e) that with respect to any proposition that
when I say I am agnostic on p it makes no knowledge claim nor does it even refer to anything relating to knowledge.
f. I hold to how the term “agnostic” is used now a days as “an agnostic is a person who has entertained the proposition that there is a God but believes neither that it is true nor that it is false.” (SEP)

3. I argue babies and rocks are not atheist nor theists.
a. Babies are innocent not atheist (Oppy 2018)
b. Rocks (and babies) do not have higher executive functions nor decision making abilities and can not hold a philosophical position.
c. Babies do not have a BoP because they have not tried to evaluate a p, nor have they suspended judgement on it. (a)

4. I argue that atheism and theism are not a dichotomy and that agnosticism does not  fall into neither atheism nor theism:
a. Agnosticism is not the “middle ground” between believing and not believing, but between believing theism is true and believing theism is false (Malik 2018, Malpass 2017 view #2
b. Logically I hold that given p=”at least one God exists” then:
Bp= Theism
B~p = Atheism
~Bp ^ ~B~p = Agnosticism
~Bp = weak atheism

c. I hold that by mirroring that if p=”there does not exist at least one God”
Bp= Atheism
B~p = Theism
~Bp ^ ~B~p = Agnosticism
~Bp = weak theism

d. I maintain if ~Bp is allowed to be ‘weak atheism’ for p=”at least one God exist” and colloquially reduced to atheism, then by mirroring ~Bp with respect to p=”There does not exist at least one God” would be ‘weak theism’ which reduces to theism. Meaning that if one does not accept Bp that there are no Gods then they would be ‘theist’ the same way if one does not accept Bp with respect to p=”at least one God exist” are colloquially atheist.
e. I maintain that one accepts ~Bp as atheism but rejects (d) then they are guilty of special pleading.
f. I hold that logically weak atheism, agnosticism and weak theism are logically equivalent (b)(c) justified by (d).  

5. Definitions are generally either descriptive, prescriptive or stipulative.
a. One is free to use stipulative definitions to simply conversation if both parties agree or is asserted in an argument to be evaluated or used in context with the argument. 
b. Prescriptive definitions only tell you how a word ought to be best used to understand the word in context in relationship to a particular field.
c. Modern dictionaries provide you with descriptive definitions of how a word is often in the most widest interpretation used in general parlance.

Example:
Wiki states that “Mathematics  has no generally accepted definition.”.
Oxford however will give a general definition “The abstract science of number, quantity, and space, either as abstract concepts (pure mathematics), or as applied to other disciplines such as physics and engineering (applied mathematics)”
However there prescriptive definitions with in mathematics such as i (imaginary) is defined by the square root of -1. This does not mean it can not have other uses in math such as i representing an index of a summation. Prescriptive definitions tells you how something ought to be understood to mean, it does not mean the same word or symbol can not be polysemous or used in a different way in a different sense or a different context.

e. I argue that sensu stricto definitions are always more narrow (sensu strict in the strict sense), but one is not obligated to always use sensu stricto definitions in any way and in some context the sensu lato (in the broad sense) definition may be more useful or practical to use within a given context or discussion.
f. Use of definitions is situational and words do not have intrinsic meanings, but usages.
g. I tend to avoid words and phrases such as “better/worse”, “more correct, or “good/bad” as I see those as more value judgments and do not believe any definition is better or worse than another, but more useful or less useful in a given context.
h. Any philosophical or colloquial definition can be accepted or rejected, but I maintain that a sufficient reason should be given to why one accepts or rejects an offered definition.
i. It is not inconsistent in some context to prefer a philosphical definition over a colloquial, but is dependent upon situation and what one is trying to convey in an argument or discussion.
j. Typically a single word can have different philosophical meanings (Agnosticism, realism, relativism, naturalism etc) and no one philosophical definition has a higher standing than another and a person is free to use the definition they prefer that they believe best expresses the meaning of the concept they are trying to convey.

6) I argue that anyone that has a position, evaluation, or opinion on a proposition has a burden of proof to make it rational.
a. I maintain that in epistemology Burden of Proof and Burden of Justification have no epistemic difference.
b. I maintain that both acceptance and rejection of a claim requires justification (reason) to be rational to do so.
c. I maintain that to reject a claim without justification is as irrational as accepting one with out justification.
d. I maintain that if one has never heard of p they have no BoP. (Innocents)

7) I believe arguments should be evaluated on their merits and you should try to argue against the argument not against the person.

a. I maintain that people should not just blindly agree or disagree with someone out of a sense of loyalty.
b. I believe however that certain people we hold to be more trustworthy should be given the benefit of the doubt and if ambiguity arises clarification should be requested. (Earned trust vs a track record of duplicitous behavior)
c. I hold to myself that I do not base my friendships on a litmus test nor require anyone to hold to any particular position, and belief others should do the same. (granting that in some cases this is difficult if someone has an extremely vile position, but typically when they do they are also usually an asshole or toxic person who I wouldn’t want to be friends with anyways: Example- Nazi’s, people who advocate putting homosexuals to death, Trump supporters <joke>)

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