Posted: Dec 18, 2011 11:08 am
by Thommo
jlowder wrote:I'll bite. You're correct about God, but then of course the majority of human beings believe in God whereas I don't know of anyone who belives in the IPU. Is there anyone who professes a belief in invisible pink unicorns? Isn't part of the history of the concept of the IPU that it was invented precisely to demonstrate the implausibility of supernatural claims?

Yes, I think it's very likely that's part of the history, it could however have been a lucky guess (i.e. the person who thought they made up the IPU was divinely inspired or made an astronomically improbable correct hypothesis), my belief as to the history of the idea says nothing about it's veracity.

Or to put it another way, I think it's quite possible that at some point someone made up the God of Christianity, that someone made up Brahma, that someone made up the God of Islam. My knowledge of when the ideas appeared and belief that they were made up (and I'm damn certain that two out of three of these mutually contradictory origin claims was made up) says nothing to their veracity in this context.

Of course more people believe in God than in an IPU, but unless appeals to popularity became respected at some point, I fail to see the relevance of professed belief.

jlowder wrote:
The same can be said for a subjective opinion of unicorns or fairies not doing important metaphysical work.

What metaphysical work does the IPU or fairies perform?

I suppose we could add some metaphysical work for the hypothetical fairies to do, like sustaining the dreams of children and magic in the world or something, but that would only reduce their scope and thus likelihood - and frankly it seems a bit silly and redundant as far as actually estimating their mathematically based probability of existence.

If someone just says "look, I'm not interested in fairies, I really don't care if they exist, so I'm not going to talk about them" - fair dos. Suggesting some legitimacy in not discussing them because they aren't of fundamental metaphysical import (despite the consequent existence of magic) doesn't strike me as a powerful or logical argument at all!