If it appeared that a crab had claws in order to hold things, it was difficult to argue the backward causality that claws were there because they were useful to the crab's survival.

I am having a problem understanding the meaning of 'argue' in the above sentence. Does it mean that the backward causality was true and unarguable or the other way round, that the backward causality was actually wrong and could not be justified?
Anyway the subject is teleology, if that is of any help.

Thanks in advance.
'It is difficult to argue' means it is difficult to prove it to be so and thus the latter interpretation suggested is correct.
Hey, I think this is the first time I've ever seen a question posed by a moderator and answered by a guest! Emotion: wink

But sure, I have to almost agree with Guest in that "to argue" means "to apply logical reasoning", or "to debate logically". (Guest said "to prove", but I would argue that this is a bit too strict a requirement). To argue is to hold a view which you think you can back up with consistent logic. If a premise is claimed to be "difficult to argue", then the speaker is essentially saying that, in their opinion, it is difficult to maintain a logically consistent paradigm in which that worldview holds true. However, this is still only IN THE OPINION OF THE SPEAKER.

For example, if person A were to say "It is difficult to argue that god exists", that means ONLY that person A does not see the reasoning underlying such a conclusion. Person B, who believes in god, might have an entirely different viewpoint.

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Incidently, Orpheus, shouldn't "it was difficult to argue" read "it would be difficult to argue"?
Hello, I posted the original reply and have now registered.
I agree that it should read "it would be difficult to argue".
Thanks Rommie and Rogue, I am just a mod, not a native English speakerEmotion: wink
The text is actually from a book I am translating at the moment and I just wanted to make sure that I got it correct. I think I have confused it with 'it could be argued'. Thanks to both of you.
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And Rommie: yes, I agree with you that it should be 'it would be difficult to argue'.
I'm intrigued now.
Did the crab, as it evolved, develop claws specifically to hold and manipulate things (presumably potential food) or as a means to defend itself? Or both?
We need to know! ; )
hehe unfortunately that is not in the book. Actually the 'claws' only serves as an example used to argue that teleology is in fact in confict with the concept of evolution. Here is the full text in case you are still intriguedEmotion: smile

In a way, when Rosenblueth, Wiener and Bigelow proposed, in their classic paper in Philosophy of Science, that the self-corrective circuit and its implications provided a possible way to model the adaptive reactions of organisms, they attacked the central problem of Greek philosophy: the problem of purpose, unresolved for 2500 years. Since Plato and Aristotle, Greek philosophers were inclined to believe in what were later called final causes (which, by the way went on to structure most medieval Christian thought via Augustine). They believed that the pattern generated at the end of a sequence of events could be seen as the cause of the pathway followed by that sequence. This led to what they then called teleology (telos: the end or purpose of a sequence). This, however, did not appear to be consistent with the concept of evolution. If it appeared that a crab had claws in order to hold things, it was difficult to argue the backward causality that claws were there because they were useful to the crab's survival. When causal systems become circular, however, a change in any part of the circle can be regarded as a cause for change at a later time in the system: it explains adaptability to a changing environment without having to postulate prescience of the change.
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