Intelligent Design

Insane Denial, Example 2,793

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Insane Denial.  This time from Learned Hand:

And I have no way to check whether a slice can be greater than the whole other than by testing it

Romans 1:22 leaps to mind.

UPDATE:

LH can’t seem to stop himself. He added Example 2,794 this morning:

I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A.

And then over At The Skeptical Zone we get 2,795 from “Colin” (LH goes by “Colin” there):

I am logically perfectly certain only that I can’t be logically certain about anything else.

I invite our readers to read the rest of the comments in that post at The Skeptical Zone, where all of the denizens of that site pile on and spout variations of “Oh, too true” and “Barry is so mean.” Except for our Mung, who points out the contradictions.

Why do they do it? Because truth and Truth stand as impediments to the assertion of the autonomous will of course.

Have you ever wondered why there is a near one-to-one correspondence between the people who say:

“I cannot be sure A=A.”

And the people who say:

“Who am I to say it is evil to kill little boys and girls, cut them into pieces, and sell the pieces like so much  meat?”

The same people say both things, because the same spirit animates both assertions.

26 Replies to “Insane Denial, Example 2,793

  1. 1
    Box says:

    Learned Hand is a hyper-empiricist.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Just someone you want to divide a pizza with …?

  3. 3
    Sebestyen says:

    “Never go full retard.” leaps to mind as well…

    Sebestyen

  4. 4
    tjguy says:

    I am logically perfectly certain only that I can’t be logically certain about anything else.

    If it is impossible to know anything, then it is impossible to know that you can’t know anything. How in the world can he be logically perfectly certain about anything?

    I wonder if his actions/his thoughts/his decisions etc. reflect this uncertainty. I doubt it.

  5. 5
    Florabama says:

    Hahaha!

    Materialist: “There are no such things as absolutes.
    Theist: Are you certain?
    Materialist: Absolutely!
    Theist: So, you’re absolutely certain that there are no absolutes?
    Materialist: Correct! I’m absolutely certain that there are no such things as absolutes.
    Theist: What are you certain about?
    Materialist: I’m certain that one cannot be certain of anything.
    Theist: Does that include absolutes?
    Materialist: Absolutely!
    Theist: Are you sure?
    Materialist: I am certain.
    Theist: Is there right and wrong?
    Materialist: No!
    Theist: So that means it’s wrong to say that there is right and wrong?
    Materialist: Yes! It’s wrong to say that there is right and wrong.
    Theist: So that means it’s right to say that right and wrong don’t exist?
    Materialist: Of course! Right and wrong don’t exist so it’s absolutely right to say they don’t exist.
    Theist: And absolutely wrong to say they do?
    Materialist: Correct!
    Theist: What about you? Do you exist?
    Materialist: I’m not certain that I exist.
    Theist: Are you absolutely certain that you can’t be certain?
    Materialist: I am absolutely certain because I’m logically consistent.
    Theist: You are consistent — in your inconsistency.

  6. 6
    Learned Hand says:

    Florabama,

    I’m not going to repeat my explanations of my own beliefs here, but your objection is a pretty obvious one that I haven’t discussed over there. It misconstrues my beliefs.

    I don’t assert that there are no absolutes. I think that there are. I just can’t find any perfect, flawless way to assess them. I can’t be that method, because I’m not perfect and flawless.

    I think the trickiest part of my position is whether I’m certain of my uncertainty. I’ve never really thought about that explicitly, and I’m not sure what my position is. I want to say that I’m not certain it, for the reasons above. Obviously that sounds like a paradox, but then, my ability to determine that is not flawless, so repeat ad infinitum. Not very satisfying, is it? I don’t what to say about that, other than that it seems to be limited. If my own uncertainty is self-proving, it’s limited to my own uncertainty.

    In other words, I might have to say, “I cannot be certain about anything other than uncertainty.” But that doesn’t give me a flawless perspective with which to be certain of anything else.

    And, as a subjectivist, I do believe in right and wrong. I just don’t believe in an external standard with which to assess that belief. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I think that’s what it means to be a subjectivist.

  7. 7
    Bob O'H says:

    I don’t assert that there are no absolutes. I think that there are. I just can’t find any perfect, flawless way to assess them.

    How about asking Barry about them?

  8. 8
    Learned Hand says:

    Turns out you only get detailed answers if you already agree with him; if you don’t, you’re an idiot and a liar, and why would he deign to explain himself to one of those?

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    Turns out you only get detailed answers if you already agree with him; if you don’t, you’re an idiot and a liar,

    No, I say you are an idiot or a liar only if you make idiotic statements or tell lies, like:

    you are not infallibly sure that a part of a pizza cannot be larger than the whole pizza,

    or

    you are not infallibly sure that A=A,

    or

    you are logically perfectly certain only that you can’t be logically certain about anything else.

    Anyone who says any of those things, far less all three as you do, is an idiot or a liar. BTW, I am pretty sure you are not an idiot.

    LH, every time you whine about being called a liar, I will just put up your statements and let the readers judge. I’m happy to do that as many times as you like.

    The best way to get me to stop pointing out your lies, is to stop telling lies.

    . . . and why would he deign to explain himself to one of those?

    I spent most of yesterday explaining myself to you, only to have you pretend not to understand. The record is clear on that. Another lie.

  10. 10
    Learned Hand says:

    How do you delineate your perfect, infallible observations from your imperfect, fallible ones? The perfection of the object is separate from the perfection of the observer, after all.

    I spent most of yesterday explaining myself to you, only to have you pretend not to understand. The record is clear on that. Another lie.

    If you say so. I think there’s a lot of unanswered questions; how large does n have to be before n+n=2n is not a SET? How do we know? What does it mean if someone answers n+n=2n incorrectly for some value of n within the SET limit?

    You seem to have fallen back on “liar!” rather than answers to those questions. And rather than answers to how a fallible person can have infallible perceptions. It’s a very convenient answer! It feels good, it can’t be challenged, and it ends conversations without ever requiring you to examine your own beliefs. And one who never examines their beliefs can’t be wrong… perhaps that’s how you became infallible?

  11. 11
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH,

    You seem to have fallen back on “liar!” rather than answers to those questions.

    No, I point out your lies (such as those I quote in comment 9) not as a way to avoid answering questions, but because it is important to point out lies. I have two purposes (1) to try to shame you into better conduct (though I admit I have little hope of success); and (2) to decrease the risk that anyone will be deceived by your lies.

    Dear readers, I addressed the issue that LH raises yesterday multiple times. That he now says I did not is another lie. And just because he wants to play Lucy with the football, does not mean I have to play Charlie Brown and take off running at it again.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Learned Hand says:

    Dear readers, I addressed the issue that LH raises yesterday multiple times.

    I would sincerely appreciate it if you would point out where.

    I think the UD cockpit has an ejection seat, with a big red handle. The label on the handle used to read “BANNED,” but someone scratched that out and wrote “LIAR” instead.

    Conversation gets tough? Pull the LIAR lever. Asked a question you can’t answer? Pull the LIAR lever. And most importantly: important beliefs challenged? Pull the LIAR lever.

    The great thing about the ejection seat is that it’s self-justifying. If someone challenges being called a liar, well, that could be tough to support! So pull the LIAR lever and you’re clear again–no need to get into the details. You can eject from the ejection seat as many times as you like, and never have to get so deep into a conversation that you’re at risk of questioning your own assertions.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH @ 13,

    Banned? Why would I ban you? You are a precious resource. I could not ask for a better example of the literally insane irrationality at the end of the materialist road.

    If I did not know better, I would think you were a fundamentalist Christian faking being a materialist, only overdoing it a little. Kinda like Reefer Madness for the philosophy set.

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    As a matter of absolute logic, I can’t be perfectly certain of them. As I said in the very beginning, “I don’t doubt it.” Not doubting is not the same thing as being absolutely certain

    It is exactly that same thing. If you are not absolutely certain, then you have doubts. If you have no doubts, then you are absolutely certain. You are trying to make them different in an attempt to have it both ways.

    You yourself said the sun won’t absolutely certainly rise tomorrow; do you doubt that it will?

    Cut it out. I said that I can only know that sun with “probably” rise tomorrow to correct your erroneous claim that you “know” the sun will rise tomorrow. The broader point is that a lack of certainty about future sunrises is not at all comparable to a lack of certainty about first principles, such as the law of whole and parts or the law of non-contradiction.

    I was sloppy when I wrote “I’m perfectly comfortable agreeing…”, because that can be read as a statement that I agree that I can be absolutely certain that p/slice can’t exceed p/whole. I didn’t mean that, though, only that if someone asks, “Can the part exceed the whole?”, I would be very comfortable saying “no” and not ever worry about being wrong. I think that’s very clear when you read the whole paragraph.

    So, you are not certain that the part cannot exceed the whole, but if someone asks, you are comfortable saying so. You are reasonably certain that a slice of pizza may be less than a whole pizza, but you are a long way from being absolutely certain about it, nevertheless, when pressed, you will say it can’t happen—but when the heat is off, you will reverse your field say that you might be wrong about it after all because your mind is “fallible” and you “cannot know anything perfectly,” So, you always try to have it both ways. Is that about it?

    Oh, I’m supposed to? Yes, I know I’m supposed to agree with you. But I don’t, and I’ve explained at length why not. And your response, rather than to address those reasons, is literally to complain that I am “supposed to” agree with you. According to who? And how can I agree with you when you won’t actually address the points I’ve made about fallibility? You can repeat “insane,” “liar,” “idiot,” all you like; they don’t add up to an actual argument. I know you feel infallible. How do you know that you actually are? What are the conditions under which it is impossible for you to misunderstand or incompletely understand something?

    You are supposed to know that a slice of pizza cannot exceed a whole pizza. You are supposed to know that the laws of non-contradiction and identity are infallibly true and that you can be absolutely certain about it. You are supposed to know that nothing can change or come into existence unless an outside agent causes it to happen. You are supposed to know that it is wrong to slice up babies like pieces of meat while they are still alive and sell them. If you don’t know these things, then you are not a rational person. There are millions of things that we can misunderstand and be wrong about, but self-evident truths are not among them

    Ancient philosophers would have felt completely entitled saying, “A particle moving from point A to distant point C must first move through some separate point B.” Or in other words, you can’t get there from here without passing through some kind of middle. But then, physicists upset the apple cart; it turns out that actually there’s reason to doubt that principle under certain conditions.

    So what? You want me to respond to these and other points, but you don’t really make a point. Are you trying to say that since philosophers and scientists have changed their mind about many things, it follows that reasonable people will also change their minds about the laws of thought? Is that your point? If so, it doesn’t follow. So please don’t waste another thousand words to imply that point without making it.

    An imperfect, limited being cannot know in advance whether there is something they don’t know. We can be so sure of ourselves that we never actually doubt, and we can comfortably live our whole lives assuming the proposition is true, but as a matter of pure logic, we cannot be certain because we are imperfect, limited beings. We cannot know whether there is something we don’t know or are too limited to understand. Even if the principle is perfect and absolute, we aren’t, and we only perceive them with our own minds.

    You know this with absolute certainty, right?. You didn’t say you believe it or suspect it. You characterized it as a fact. You are infallibly sure that there is nothing we can be sure of. Whatever happened to your claim that your mind is “fallible” and that you cannot be perfectly certain about anything?.

    So I know you have lots of mean things to say about me. Vent! Get it off your chest. But if you don’t mind, and if you’re able, can you also respond to the argument? Assuming you agree that you are fallible, how do you know that your perception of logical truths is infallible? What faculty do you use to conclude that, and how do you know it’s infallible?

    My perception of logical truths is infallible for many reasons. I will list only three:

    First, I recognize the immediate absurdity of denying them. If the law of identity was not certain, Jupiter could be Saturn. You could be me. I am infallibly certain that Jupiter is not, or cannot be, Saturn. I am infallibly certain that you cannot be me. If the law of non-contradiction was not true, kindness could be cruelty, cowardice could be courage, and, life could be death. I am infallibly certain that these conditions and qualities are incompatible.

    Second, I can identify and recognize errors and flawed thinking only because there is an unchanging infallible logical standard that exposes them as errors.. I know the difference between a patently true statement and a patently false statement. If someone tells me that I am seven feet tall, I know infallibly that they have made an error because I know the difference between the truth and what was claimed. I am certain that truth is not error..

    Third, I know that my internal logic is perfectly consistent with the logic of the real world. The psychological portion of the law of logic tells me this: If it rains, the streets will get wet.. This fact is perfectly consistent with the laws of nature: when it rains, the streets get wet. I am infallibly certain that my internal logic corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world. That is why I am also certain that a piece of pizza is less than a whole pie. (I also know that you are infallibly certain of same, which is why I am harsh with you).

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, 15:

    You are supposed to know that a slice of pizza cannot exceed a whole pizza. [ –> Cf here.] You are supposed to know that the laws of non-contradiction and identity are infallibly true and that you can be absolutely certain about it. You are supposed to know that nothing can change or come into existence unless an outside agent causes it to happen. You are supposed to know that it is wrong to slice up babies like pieces of meat while they are still alive and sell them. If you don’t know these things, then you are not a rational person. There are millions of things that we can misunderstand and be wrong about, but self-evident truths are not among them . . . .

    My perception of logical truths is infallible for many reasons. I will list only three:

    First, I recognize the immediate absurdity of denying them. If the law of identity was not certain, Jupiter could be Saturn. You could be me. I am infallibly certain that Jupiter is not, or cannot be, Saturn. I am infallibly certain that you cannot be me. If the law of non-contradiction was not true, kindness could be cruelty, cowardice could be courage, and, life could be death. I am infallibly certain that these conditions and qualities are incompatible.

    Second, I can identify and recognize errors and flawed thinking only because there is an unchanging infallible logical standard that exposes them as errors.. I know the difference between a patently true statement and a patently false statement. If someone tells me that I am seven feet tall, I know infallibly that they have made an error because I know the difference between the truth and what was claimed. I am certain that truth is not error..

    Third, I know that my internal logic is perfectly consistent with the logic of the real world. The psychological portion of the law of logic tells me this: If it rains, the streets will get wet.. This fact is perfectly consistent with the laws of nature: when it rains, the streets get wet. I am infallibly certain that my internal logic corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world. That is why I am also certain that a piece of pizza is less than a whole pie. (I also know that you are infallibly certain of same, which is why I am harsh with you).

    Aptly summarised.

    I suggest once we have a world W and a distinct thing A in it, we see a world-partition:

    W = {A|~A}

    In that context the three core first principles of right reason are self-evidently and jointly manifest.

    LOI: A is A

    LNC: A is not simultaneously ~A in the same semse of partition.

    LEM: For some x in W, x is in A X-OR in ~A.

    (X-OR, I find useful to introduce; it denotes exclusive or, AUT not VEL. In short x in W means that x must be in A or ~A, and it cannot be in both, it is in A or it is in ~A, but not both nor neither.)

    Once we see this outline, it shows the underlying issue: distinct identity of A, I have usually spoken of A = a bright red ball on a table.

    One of those medicine/exercise balls is a good case. The old fashioned baby’s first toy ball or a traditional cricket ball count. (These days, I see two-tone cricket balls and white ones. I suspect the two-tone will tell a batsman or a videographer a lot about bowling action, and will feed databases.)

    If someone baulks at this, there is no hope of going on to other self-evident truths or exploring a weak form principle of sufficient reason by which once A is [or even is not], we may ask and investigate in thought or empirically, why A is [or is not] and whether/how it came to be [or, to not be]. This of course brings up possible/ impossible being, possible worlds, non-being or nothingness, and contingent/necessary being. Where also, truth says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not and reasonable warrant allows us to see that a warranted, credibly true belief is knowledge. From such, we may then learn about causes, enabling on/off causal factors (via considering a fire) and their effects/ impacts.

    With such a mental toolbox, we can then begin to explore on a basis of clear, insightful and reasonable thought.

    (Cf here on in context: http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....u2_bld_wvu )

    But, too often, that is exactly what too many have been indoctrinated to fear and be repelled by.

    Of course, the better to be manipulated by those who are confident they can achieve message dominance and institutional dominance. But, muddle-headedness and manipulation have a highly predictable outcome: marches of folly and evil leading straight over the cliff to ruin. Personal, and civilisational.

    Our civilisation is hell-bent on folly and great evil, with the ongoing abortion holocaust of many hundreds of millions as exhibit A.

    A is A, and A leads to ruin, so the chief aim of the sane and sensible, sober-minded person in our day will be to turn back before it is too late.

    And signs aplenty point to the crumbling cliff’s edge leading to an abyss that we are heading straight towards.

    Whom the gods would destroy, first they rob of reason.

    And, the god of this world has come to steal, to kill and to destroy.

    But, there is One who came to redeem, bless, transform and enable us to have life to the full. (Cf. here on.)

    Whose report will we believe, and why?

    Or, will we indulge selective hyperskepticism as usual, leading to incoherence, folly and evils that ought to have been averted or should be reformed?

    Have we come to a point where as a civilisation, the light in us as we imagine it is in reality darkness and deception, a Plato’s Cave shadow show put on for us by those who dominate messages and institutions, pretending to be guardians of science the only begetter of truth?

    (Where that core proposition of scientism is patently self-refuting and so, false. But that does not prevent it from being drummed into us by those who hope to profit by today’s updated multimedia living colour shadow shows presented as though they were truth.)

    Again, whose report will we believe, why?

    KF

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    Except for our Mung, who points out the contradictions.

    Nah. They never contradict themselves.

  18. 18
    Mung says:

    I just can’t find any perfect, flawless way to assess them. I can’t be that method, because I’m not perfect and flawless.

    Empiricism sucks. Consider something else.

    This is in honor of Barry, for noticing:

    The “skeptics” love empiricism because they believe it gives them the most certain knowledge they can have. But it also convinces them they can never have certain knowledge.

    Then they doubt whether they are certain that they desire certain knowledge.

    Go figure.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    LH doesn’t know with absolute certainty that he is mortal.

    LH doesn’t know with absolute certainty that if he stops showing up for work he will stop getting paid.

    LH doesn’t know with absolute certainty that if he douses himself with gasoline and lights it on fire …

    LH doesn’t know with absolute certainty that if he jumps out of an airplane without a parachute …

    LH doesn’t know with absolute certainty that if he sneaks into Mecca and profanes the prophet …

    an on and on and on

  20. 20
    Popperian says:

    Note that Barry is suggesting there is a kind of paradox in respect to fallibilism. From this article of fallibilism.

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    There is nothing paradoxical about this. To suggest that it is reflects confusion about fallibilism.

    Furthermore, the very idea of an infallible source requires one to use reason to identify and interpret it. From the same article ….

    Ascribing a sphere of infallibility to a parent or expert has the same logic as the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine about the pope: It likewise considers him infallible only under certain narrowly-defined circumstances, called ex cathedra (metaphorically “from the throne”). So, consider this thought experiment: You seriously believe in papal infallibility. One day, an atheist friend gleefully tells you that the pope has said something which, after due consideration, you decide must be false: “There is no force of gravity.” Immediately, it becomes vital for you to know whether the pope declared this ex cathedra. For if he did, you would have to accept that you are mistaken about gravity, and act accordingly, even if you never managed to understand the mechanics of how that might be so. Because for you, ideas are about something—important precisely because they have consequences for how you think, feel, and act. And so you would have to drop some assumptions that you hitherto considered true incontrovertibly—or even infallibly.

    Furthermore, one cannot seriously believe that the pope is infallible while also believing any rival religion, or atheism. So the implications of papal infallibility, even more than parental infallibility, are sweeping. Despite its narrow nominal scope, it is functionally equivalent to the entire gamut of Roman Catholic doctrine. But there is another class of implications—even more sweeping—in the opposite direction.

    Consider the steps you are obliged to follow, from hearing of an ex cathedra declaration to believing its content.

    A passing hobo tells you that he saw the pope making the declaration ex cathedra. Do you therefore accept that there is no force of gravity? Obviously not: That would involve assuming that the hobo was infallible—which would contradict the church’s teachings. And the same would hold even if an archbishop were to visit you and swear that he had witnessed it too, and stated his expert opinion that it met the requirements for being ex cathedra. Since the doctrine does not ascribe infallibility to archbishops, you would still not be required to accept the claim about gravity. Thus the doctrine of infallibility has made you take the fallibility of archbishops more seriously than you otherwise might. Even if the pope himself were to swear that his claim about gravity was strictly ex cathedra, you would not be forced, by your faith, to believe it. The doctrine of papal infallibility does not say that the reminiscences of a pope are infallible—unless they are ex cathedra reminiscences.

    So your very faith in papal infallibility has led you to within touching distance of one of the cornerstones of scientific rationality: nullius in verba—“take no one’s word for it”—the motto of the Royal Society.

    But now, what if you personally witnessed the ex cathedra statement?

    So, there you were, visiting the Vatican and you took a wrong turn and found yourself witnessing the pope as he solemnly declared that there is no force of gravity. You happened to have purchased, from the souvenir shop, a checklist of the official requirements for a declaration to count as ex cathedra, and you took the trouble to verify that each one was met. None of this constitutes direct observation of what you need to know. Did you observe infallibly that it was the pope? Did you do a DNA test? Can you be certain that souvenir checklists never contain typos? And how is your church Latin? Was your translation of the crucial phrase “no force of gravity” infallible? Have you never mistranslated anything?

    The fact is, there’s nothing infallible about “direct experience” either. Indeed, experience is never direct. It is a sort of virtual reality, created by our brains using sketchy and flawed sensory clues, given substance only by fallible expectations, explanations, and interpretations. Those can easily be more mistaken than the testimony of the passing hobo. If you doubt this, look at the work of psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, and verify by direct experience the fallibility of your own direct experience. Furthermore, the idea that your reminiscences are infallible is also heresy by the very doctrine that you are faithful to.

    I’ll tell you what really happened. You witnessed a dress rehearsal. The real ex cathedra ceremony was on the following day. In order not to make the declaration a day early, they substituted for the real text (which was about some arcane theological issue, not gravity) a lorem-ipsum-type placeholder that they deemed so absurd that any serious listener would immediately realize that that’s what it was.

    And indeed, you did realize this; and as a result, you reinterpreted your “direct experience,” which was identical to that of witnessing an ex cathedra declaration, as not being one. Precisely by reasoning that the content of the declaration was absurd, you concluded that you didn’t have to believe it. Which is also what you would have done if you hadn’t believed the infallibility doctrine.

    You remain a believer, serious about giving your faith absolute priority over your own “unaided” reason (as reason is called in these contexts). But that very seriousness has forced you to decide first on the substance of the issue, using reason, and only then whether to defer to the infallible authority. This is neither fluke nor paradox. It is simply that if you take ideas seriously, there is no escape, even in dogma and faith, from the obligation to use reason and to give it priority over dogma, faith, and obedience.

    Not a Catholic? Despise the Catholic church? It doesn’t matter, as you can replace “ex cathedra” statements with any supposedly infallible source, including the Bible. Reason always comes first.

    Now, I would again point out how, when actually faced with a moral problem in practice, it’s unclear how Barry has any other recourse than to conjecture solutions to moral problems and criticize them. That is, how he can infallibly identify an infallible source and interpreted it infallibly, and therefore escape the need to use reason first. Furthermore, Barry has presented a dilemma in which such a thing must be possible, otherwise there can be no knowledge and everything goes.

    Again, Barry is claiming we either must have somehow got it right in the first place, or we cannot get anything right. However, it’s unclear why he would expect us to get it right in the first place. This is effectively an attempt to hold reason hostage. it’s immoral.

  21. 21
    Popperian says:

    The “skeptics” love empiricism because they believe it gives them the most certain knowledge they can have. But it also convinces them they can never have certain knowledge.

    The funny thing is, I’m not an empiricist. Empirical observations are a form of criticism, not support.

    We conjecture solutions to problems, then criticize them. In the case of science, criticism also takes the form of empirical observations and tests.

    That’s not empiricism. Yet, empirical observations play an important role.

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    What if things only look like they’ve been designed?

    What criterion would Dawkins have used to ascertain(!) that the natural world only LOOKS as if it’s been designed?

    If the appearances of the natural world are specious and illusory, does that not cut the ground from under bedrock of the so-called scientific method: empirical testing, examination, etc?

  23. 23
    Axel says:

    ‘Learned Hand is a hyper-empiricist.’

    …in colloquial parlance, Box, a ‘nutter’.

  24. 24
    Learned Hand says:

    BA,

    Banned? Why would I ban you?

    To control the conversation; presumably the same reason you did it in the past. (Jeez, Barry—don’t ask questions with uncontrolled answers. Lawyering 101.)

    SB,

    If you are not absolutely certain, then you have doubts.

    I don’t think so. I think that if you aren’t absolutely certain then you can have doubts, but may not. I’m not absolutely, logically certain that the sun will rise tomorrow—but I don’t currently doubt it. This seems like a flexible area of language, so I won’t say that your thinking is wrong. It seems very unlikely that you will agree that disagreement is possible here.

    So, you are not certain that the part cannot exceed the whole, but if someone asks, you are comfortable saying so.

    Yes! I’m not absolutely certain that the sun will rise tomorrow, but if someone asks, “LH, will the sun rise tomorrow?” I will say yes. Not “probably” or “it’s always risen in the past, so I surmise…” or anything like that, unless it’s a specialized conversation about probability or certainty. I’ll just say “yes.” I’m comfortable saying the sun will rise tomorrow, even though I can’t be logically perfectly certain of it.

    There are millions of things that we can misunderstand and be wrong about, but self-evident truths are not among them

    Your ability to discriminate between “things I can be wrong about” and “things I cannot be wrong about” is suspect. It requires an infallible faculty for discriminating between fallibility and infallibility, for example. And didn’t we establish that it’s possible to be wrong about whether a truth is self-evident? (Else you’d be able to tell me at what value of n n+n=2n ceases being a self-evident truth.) If you can’t tell with certainty whether a given truth is self-evident or not, how do you discriminate with absolute perfection between SETs and suspicions? (At this level, bear in mind we’re talking about the identification of SETs, not the truth of any given SET. After all, how do you know you’re infallible on a question if you can’t tell a SET from a non-SET?)

    Are you trying to say that since philosophers and scientists have changed their mind about many things, it follows that reasonable people will also change their minds about the laws of thought? Is that your point? If so, it doesn’t follow. So please don’t waste another thousand words to imply that point without making it.

    First, please relax. Second, not quite. My point is that your self-certainty feels quite reasonable to you—just as a pre-QM thinker would have felt entirely justified feeling that it was indisputable that objects can’t move from point A to distant point C without passing through some intermediary point B. Not just undisputed, but indisputable—it would be irrational to believe that things can move without moving! But that belief was, in fact, wrong. Not because the believers weren’t justified based on their knowledge, but because that knowledge was limited—just as we are all limited. Their belief was equal to your belief in strength and surety. But it was wrong. Why are you infallible when they weren’t?

    I do also make the point that you’re supposing that you can perfectly perceive the limits of a proposition. A must equal A because there is no counter example, and nothing works without it. This is also equivalent to beliefs that, for example, a particle must be a particle and can’t also be a wave. Those prior beliefs were limited because the believers and their knowledge were limited; they could not predict counterexamples outside their experience and education. Why are you infallible when they weren’t?

    You know this with absolute certainty, right?. You didn’t say you believe it or suspect it. You characterized it as a fact. You are infallibly sure that there is nothing we can be sure of. Whatever happened to your claim that your mind is “fallible” and that you cannot be perfectly certain about anything?.

    It’s still there. Do I need to repeat, after every assertion, “but I take the formal position that one cannot be logically certain of anything without an infallible perspective from which to assess it”? As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m comfortable with something like, “I’m certain that I can be certain of nothing but my own uncertainty.” Probably someone else could word that more artfully. But no, I don’t think that any part of my assertions here are infallible. That would be incredibly arrogant.

    My perception of logical truths is infallible for many reasons. I will list only three:

    Each one of these arguments presupposes infallibility in order to demonstrate infallibility. It’s a little shocking—how did you not think that we’d see through these?

    First, I recognize the immediate absurdity of denying them. If the law of identity was not certain, Jupiter could be Saturn. You could be me. I am infallibly certain that Jupiter is not, or cannot be, Saturn. I am infallibly certain that you cannot be me. If the law of non-contradiction was not true, kindness could be cruelty, cowardice could be courage, and, life could be death. I am infallibly certain that these conditions and qualities are incompatible.

    And what if you’re mistaken about what would happen if the LOI were violated? Your perception of what would happen if the law of identity were “broken” is imperfect. This presupposes, for example, that the law of identity would be broken on a human scale if it weren’t absolute. It could be violated in ways that aren’t apparent to you, and thus not absurd. If a methane molecule on Saturn was also a helium molecule, would you notice? Would it mean you were me and I was you? I don’t think so. As a fallible being, you can never know for certain what would happen if the LOI were different than what you believe it is. Since you can’t be infallibly certain of what the result would be, that result can’t support a conclusion of infallibility, can it? The possibility of error has already crept in.

    The much greater flaw with this argument is that no part of it explains why the LOI can’t be broken. This is an argument for why you don’t want it to be broken. And I agree, the LOI underpins basically all rational thought. We need it to be true. We assume it to be true. It’s an axiom, not a conclusion—we assume that it’s true because the assumption works, and is important, not because it’s proven. It’s OK to make such assumptions.

    Second, I can identify and recognize errors and flawed thinking only because there is an unchanging infallible logical standard that exposes them as errors.. I know the difference between a patently true statement and a patently false statement. If someone tells me that I am seven feet tall, I know infallibly that they have made an error because I know the difference between the truth and what was claimed. I am certain that truth is not error..

    And what if your perception of the infallible external logical standard is in error? That’s what happened to people who thought a particle couldn’t also be a wave, for example. Granting the existence of an infallible logical standard, that standard’s name isn’t “StephenB.” Whether the standard is fallible isn’t the question—it’s whether you can infallible perceive it. Your example is amusing, but did you think it through? You know your own height because you can use a measuring stick. When we’re talking about axioms, what’s the measuring stick? You can’t measure all cases, to see whether A is literally always A. You assume that it is because you haven’t found a counter-example, and can’t imagine one. But your knowledge and ability to imagine are limited, fallible. You have only those limited faculties to observe and test the axiom. In other words, you can put the measuring stick of yourself up to any axiom, but how do you tell that the measuring stick is accurate? You have none other to use, and it can’t measure itself—if it’s in error, it will measure itself erroneously.

    Third, I know that my internal logic is perfectly consistent with the logic of the real world. The psychological portion of the law of logic tells me this: If it rains, the streets will get wet.. This fact is perfectly consistent with the laws of nature: when it rains, the streets get wet. I am infallibly certain that my internal logic corresponds perfectly to the logic of the real world. That is why I am also certain that a piece of pizza is less than a whole pie. (I also know that you are infallibly certain of same, which is why I am harsh with you).

    Oh? What if random Brownian motion evaporates each rain drop before it hits the ground? I agree that we would never expect to see such a thing in the real world; I don’t think, though, that it’s logically impossible. Your example of a logical impossibility is actually logically possible; if you failed to anticipate this condition, perhaps it’s an indication that you aren’t infallible? (I can’t believe I’m trying to persuade someone that he isn’t infallible. I think we’re both equally shocked with each other. I’m proud to remain civil though!)

    Or maybe you think it’s actually impossible for the rain to not make the street wet. How do you reach that conclusion? By experience of how rain works and reasoning out cause and effect; reason and experience both being limited faculties. As with the other examples, you’re assuming the infallibility of the faculties you’re using in these three approaches, then claiming you’ve used them to show that you have infallible faculties. You’re assuming your conclusion. Do you feel like that’s good logic?

    Let me ask it this way: how can you show us that you are infallible without assuming that you are infallible? Oh, and by the way, at what value of n does n+n=2n ceases being a self-evident truth? If you don’t know, why not?

  25. 25
    Learned Hand says:

    Thanks Popperian, that’s an interesting contribution. I doubt it will be well received. I think it must be ruinously hard to question your own infallibility. Especially if you’ve made it the center of your moral beliefs.

  26. 26
    Popperian says:

    What criterion would Dawkins have used to ascertain(!) that the natural world only LOOKS as if it’s been designed?

    Neo-Darwinism is a hard to vary explanation for the growth of knowledge in biological organisms. Creationism is not. Nor is ID, which has an abstract designer with no defined limitations. So, they fall under the same idea as suggesting 2+2 does not equal 4. That is, it implies something (apparently, a designer) is at work in what we would consider a malevolent way which interferes with the creation of knowledge. It only appears that things were not designed, etc.

    For example, if we try to take ID seriously, it claims that its designer designed organisms in the order of least complex to most complex, despite it being completely unnecessary for it to do so. That is, having no limit on what it knew and when it knew it, IDs designer could have created organisms in the order of most complex to least complex, or even all at once, but decided not to. More troubling is that, in doing so, did the designer realize that order particular order would make it appear that organisms evolved? If that order was not necessary, then why did the designer chose it given the implications?

    Again, that results a bad explanation, because it indicates the designer acted in a malevolent fashion, in that it knew how it would appear, or it was unaware of how its choice would have the same impact. Ether way, it suggests something is at work that interferes with our ability to create knowledge.

    If the appearances of the natural world are specious and illusory, does that not cut the ground from under bedrock of the so-called scientific method: empirical testing, examination, etc?

    Does that not undermine empiricism? Yes, it would. But that doesn’t prevent us from using empirical observations and testing as criticism of our theories. I’m not an empiricist.

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