Intelligent Design

Learned Hand Finally Gets There

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Who says internet combox discussions are never fruitful?  After almost two weeks of back and forth, Learned Hand has finally come around on the infallibility of the law of identity.

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

LH today:  Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible if the only metric is its own definition.

Now if we could only convince him that he does not have to doubt whether he is Mount Everest.

53 Replies to “Learned Hand Finally Gets There

  1. 1
    Barry Arrington says:

    I do have one question for LH. How does he know the proposition is not fallible?

  2. 2
    eigenstate says:

    Barry, you’re equivocating again.

    In the “before” statement, his certainty obtained in the reasoning *about* the definition.

    In the “after” statement, the “aboutness” has been stripped away, and he’s confined the statement to the qualities of the definition proper — that’s what “the only metric” speaks to in the claim.

    This is not a change, but a careful clarification forged out of a persistent misreading of LH’s post by you. I understood this from the first pass. I just don’t have the hostile intentions toward LH that make this such a stumbling block for you.

    LH’s “Before” statement is still true, and so is his “After” statement. They are not interchangeable propositions. When reasoning about any definition D I cannot be certain my reasoning is sound. D as a definition only, without respect to the process of its formation, or any application in formulating synthetic propositions, does not avail of certain or doubt or any epistemic judgment.

    Thus, equivocation. And — ho hum — yet another representation of your opponent’s position. There seems to be a pattern here…

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    These people so fail at logic. But I guess that’s the point? If I fail at logic, anything can be true?

    Is it just my imagination, or is eigenstate trying to use logic. He claims Barry is equivocating. Equivocation occurs over how terms are used in an argument. It presupposes the Law of Identity.

    Hey, I just came up with a brilliant idea! Let’s use the Law of Identity to demonstrate the uselessness of the Law of Identity! Finally, we’ve found a use for the silly thing.

  4. 4
    Barry Arrington says:

    eigenstate came in and, amazingly, tried to assert that there is no difference between LH’s first statement and his second statement. There is only so much willful disruption and dishonesty that we will tolerate. We have been very patient with eigenstate, but enough is enough. He will be in moderation for a couple of days. But let’s address his comment:

    LH1: “I cannot . . . be . . . certain of anything”

    LH2: “the proposition is not fallible”

    In the first statement LH says he cannot be certain about anything, including but not limited to the proposition A=A. In the second statement he asserts that the proposition A=A is not fallible, i.e. “infallible.” “Infallible,” of course, means “unfailing in effectiveness or operation; certain.” eigenstate tries to rescue LH by inserting the word “about” in the first proposition. Does he think we can’t read? Does he think we can’t glance up to the OP and see that the word “about” appears nowhere in it? Does he think we can’t read all of LH’s other affirmations of radical falliblism, up to and including asserting doubt about cogito ergo sum itself?

    The real question is what motivates him to engage in such insane denials? I have to admit that I am utterly flummoxed by it. He knows he is lying. I know he is lying. Everyone else who reads his comment knows he is lying. What in the world motivates such outrageous conduct. It I did not see it myself I would not believe it.

  5. 5
    Box says:

    Eigenstate: In the “before” statement, his certainty obtained in the reasoning *about* the definition.

    In the “after” statement, the “aboutness” has been stripped away, (…)

    No, Eigenstate, “aboutness” was already stripped away in the before statement. In fact there was never any reasoning *about* the definition. So this is where you go horribly wrong, that is, according to your own position.

    Alex Rosenberg:
    Science must even deny the basic notion that we ever really think about the past and the future or even that our conscious thoughts ever give any meaning to the actions that express them. I don’t expect you to accept these outrageous claims without compelling arguments for them.
    The mistake is the notion that when we think, or rather when our brain thinks, it thinks about anything at all. (…) We have to see very clearly that introspection tricks us into the illusion that our thoughts are about anything at all. (..)
    It’s this last notion that introspection conveys that science has to deny. Thinking about things can’t happen at all. The brain can’t have thoughts about Paris, or about France, or about capitals, or about anything else for that matter. When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong.
    Don’t misunderstand, no one denies that the brain receives, stores, and transmits information. But it can’t do these things in anything remotely like the way introspection tells us it does—by having thoughts about things. The way the brain deals with information is totally different from the way introspection tells us it does. Seeing why and understanding how the brain does the work that consciousness gets so wrong is the key to answering all the rest of the questions that keep us awake at night worrying over the mind, the self, the soul, the person.

    [A.Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality ,Ch.8, THE BRAIN DOES EVERYTHING WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL]

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    Alex Rosenberg’s brain wrote an entire book without thinking about anything at all. Forget royalties!

  7. 7
    Popperian says:

    eigenstate came in and, amazingly, tried to assert that there is no difference between LH’s first statement and his second statement. There is only so much willful disruption and dishonesty that we will tolerate.

    Barry will tolerate plenty, if it distracts from the explanation he has still yet to provide. Namely, how he has infallibly identified and interpreted an infallible source of objective moral values, that allows him to solve moral problems, in practice.

    For someone who demands answers to questions, he’s being quite evasive.

    Since he won’t come out and explicitly present an argument or explanation, (and we’re dishonest?) I guess I’ll have to try piece something together on his behalf. My guess is that we got here as part of some kind of underlying argument, which he hasn’t actually articulated.

    Specially, Barry seems to be implying there is no difference between the law of identity and the moral problem of unplanned, unwanted and dangerous pregnancies. The supposed self-evidence of one somehow is equal to the supposed self-evidence of the other. But even if, for the sake of argument, we assume the law of identity belongs to a special class which is self-evident, it’s unclear how his view on abortion falls in the same category.

    However, Barry, if I got it wrong, feel free to point out exactly how I got it wrong, and how your view differs, in detail. Please be specific. I won’t be holding my breath.

  8. 8
    Popperian says:

    In anticipation of more of the “crazy” red herring, I’m merely suggesting that self-event truths are not special cases, but are explanations about how the world works which are extremely hard to vary. Posting that something different is happening, in reality, does not require us to abandon reason, etc. For example, when Einstein’s theory indicated something vastly different was happening, in reality, as opposed to Newton, did we have to change the way we launched objects into space, redesign buildings, etc? No, we did not. In the same sense, unifying the way we adopt ideas and create knowledge does not require abandoning logic, reason, etc.

    From the Critical Rationalism entry on Wikipedia

    Critical rationalists hold that scientific theories and any other claims to knowledge can and should be rationally criticized, and (if they have empirical content) can and should be subjected to tests which may falsify them. Thus claims to knowledge may be contrastingly and normatively evaluated. They are either falsifiable and thus empirical (in a very broad sense), or not falsifiable and thus non-empirical. Those claims to knowledge that are potentially falsifiable can then be admitted to the body of empirical science, and then further differentiated according to whether they are retained or are later actually falsified. If retained, further differentiation may be made on the basis of how much subjection to criticism they have received, how severe such criticism has been, and how probable the theory is, with the least[5] probable theory that still withstands attempts to falsify it being the one to be preferred. That it is the least[5] probable theory that is to be preferred is one of the contrasting differences between critical rationalism and classical views on science, such as positivism, who hold that one should instead accept the most probable theory. (The least probable theory is the one with the highest information content and most open to future falsification.) Critical Rationalism as a discourse positioned itself against what its proponents took to be epistemologically relativist philosophies, particularly post-modernist or sociological approaches to knowledge. Critical rationalism has it that knowledge is objective (in the sense of being embodied in various substrates and in the sense of not being reducible to what humans individually “know”), and also that truth is objective (exists independently of social mediation or individual perception, but is “really real”).

    However, this contrastive, critical approach to objective knowledge is quite different from more traditional views that also hold knowledge to be objective. (These include the strong rationalism of the Enlightenment, the verificationism of the logical positivists, or approaches to science based on induction, a supposed form of logical inference which critical rationalists reject, in line with David Hume.) For criticism is all that can be done when attempting to differentiate claims to knowledge, according to the critical rationalist. Reason is the organon of criticism, not of support; of tentative refutation, not of proof.

    Supposed positive evidence (such as the provision of “good reasons” for a claim, or its having been “corroborated” by making successful predictions) actually does nothing to bolster, support, or prove a claim, belief, or theory.

    In this sense, critical rationalism turns the normal understanding of a traditional rationalist, and a realist, on its head. Especially the view that a theory is better if it is less likely to be true is in direct opposition to the traditional positivistic view, which holds that one should seek for theories that have a high probability.[5] Popper notes that this “may illustrate Schopenhauer’s remark that the solution of a problem often first looks like a paradox and later like a truism”. Even a highly unlikely theory that conflicts current observation (and is thus false, like “all swans are white”) must be considered to be better than one which fits observations perfectly, but is highly probable (like “all swans have a color”). This insight is the crucial difference between naive fablsificationism and critical rationalism. The lower probability theory is favored by critical rationalism because the higher the informative content of a theory the lower will be its probability, for the more information a statement contains, the greater will be the number of ways in which it may turn out to be false. The rationale behind this is simply to make it as easy as possible to find out whether the theory is false so that it can be replaced by one that is closer to the truth. It is not meant as a concession to justificationist epistemology, like assuming a theory to be “justifiable” by asserting that it is highly unlikely and yet fits observation.

    Critical rationalism rejects the classical position that knowledge is justified true belief; it instead holds the exact opposite: That, in general, knowledge is unjustified untrue unbelief. It is unjustified because of the non-existence of good reasons. It is untrue, because it usually contains errors that sometimes remain unnoticed for hundreds of years. And it is not belief either, because scientific knowledge, or the knowledge needed to build a plane, is contained in no single person’s mind. It is only available as the content of books.

  9. 9
    Popperian says:

    In the first statement LH says he cannot be certain about anything, including but not limited to the proposition A=A. In the second statement he asserts that the proposition A=A is not fallible, i.e. “infallible.”

    Surely, you can do better than this? Especially since I’ve referenced an entire article that addresses this supposed paradox, among others.

    that human beings can be mistaken in anything they think or do is a proposition known as fallibilism. Stated abstractly like that, it is seldom contradicted. Yet few people have ever seriously believed it, either.

    That our senses often fail us is a truism; and our self-critical culture has long ago made us familiar with the fact that we can make mistakes of reasoning too. But the type of fallibility that I want to discuss here would be all-pervasive even if our senses were as sharp as the Hubble Telescope and our minds were as logical as a computer. It arises from the way in which our ideas about reality connect with reality itself—how, in other words, we can create knowledge, and how we can fail to.

    The trouble is that error is a subject where issues such as logical paradox, self-reference, and the inherent limits of reason rear their ugly heads in practical situations, and bite.

    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?

    And…

    Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve. Here is another apparent paradox, for a tradition is a set of ideas that stay the same, while criticism is an attempt to change ideas. But there is no contradiction. Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished). Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.

    Do you have any actual criticism to the view presented in this article?

  10. 10
    Popperian says:

    From the Wikipedia entry on Fallibilism.

    Another proponent of fallibilism is Karl Popper, who builds his theory of knowledge, critical rationalism, on falsifiability. Fallibilism has been employed by Willard Van Orman Quine to attack, among other things, the distinction between analytic and synthetic statements.

    Sound familiar?

    Moral fallibilism is a specific subset of the broader epistemological fallibilism outlined above. In the debate between moral subjectivism and moral objectivism, moral fallibilism holds out a third plausible stance: that objectively true moral standards may exist, but that they cannot be reliably or conclusively determined by humans. This avoids the problems associated with the flexibility of subjectivism by retaining the idea that morality is not a matter of mere opinion, whilst accounting for the conflict between differing objective moralities. Notable proponents of such views are Isaiah Berlin (value pluralism) and Bernard Williams (perspectivism). The view that human beings could be wrong about their moral beliefs, and yet still be justified in holding their incorrect beliefs, underpins quasi-realistic theories of ethics, such as Iain King’s Quasi-utilitarianism; and was expounded by philosopher J. L. Mackie.

    And we’re just pulling this out of our *ss?

    Some critics of epistemological fallibilism claim that it rests on an axiom that there is no absolute knowledge (sometimes expressed as the contradiction “This much is certain: nothing is certain”[citation needed]). But this was shown early on by Popper and others to be a misconception: fallibilism requires no such assumption, and makes no claims — indeed its method has no interest in — demonstrating such a statement.[6]

    Apparently, Barry and company have no interest in actually presenting anything but a misrepresentation of views they disagree with.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    And then why do most atheists claim exemption from falsifiability?

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge

    “On the other hand, I disagree that Darwin’s theory is as `solid as any explanation in science.; Disagree? I regard the claim as preposterous. Quantum electrodynamics is accurate to thirteen or so decimal places; so, too, general relativity. A leaf trembling in the wrong way would suffice to shatter either theory. What can Darwinian theory offer in comparison?”
    – Berlinski, D., “A Scientific Scandal?: David Berlinski & Critics,” Commentary, July 8, 2003

    It’s (Much) Easier to Falsify Intelligent Design than Darwinian Evolution – Michael Behe, PhD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T1v_VLueGk

    “The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments.
    Now let’s turn that around and ask, How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If that same scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis.
    I think the very opposite is true. I think intelligent design is easily testable, easily falsifiable, although it has not been falsified, and Darwinism is very resistant to being falsified. They can always claim something was not right.”
    – Dr Michael Behe

    The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness – David L. Abel
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”
    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published, the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.
    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:
    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    https://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Incompleteness

    Confusing Fantasy with Science – Kirk Durston – August 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Silk and Ellis, in their concern for the damage that string and multiverse theories are doing to the integrity of physics, write:
    “The consequences of over claiming the significance of certain theories are profound — the scientific method is at stake. To state that a theory is so good that its existence supplants the need for data and testing in our opinion risks misleading students and the public as to how science should be done and could open the door for pseudoscientists to claim that their ideas meet similar requirements.”
    So what is the solution? As I proposed earlier, a return to the scientific method. As Silk and Ellis put it:
    “In our view, the issue boils down to clarifying one question: what potential observational or experimental evidence is there that would persuade you that the theory is wrong and lead you to abandoning it? If there is none, it is not a scientific theory.”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....98221.html

    The Origin of Information: How to Solve It – Perry Marshall
    Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community:
    “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”
    “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer.
    A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery. We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research.
    http://cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/

  12. 12

    Popperian said

    Moral fallibilism is a specific subset of the broader epistemological fallibilism outlined above. In the debate between moral subjectivism and moral objectivism, moral fallibilism holds out a third plausible stance: that objectively true moral standards may exist, but that they cannot be reliably or conclusively determined by humans.

    This is, of course, false. We can reliably and conclusively determine that the standard “torturing babies for fun is immoral” is infallibly true (true in all possible worlds and situations) because it is self-evidently true (whereas morality would be absurd if the statement were false in any situation). “Torturing babies for fun = immoral” is as infallibly certain as “A=A”.

    Moral fallibilism is thus demonstrable false, and moral objectivism demonstrably true.

  13. 13
    Andre says:

    Popperian, thanks for the content….

    I’ll ask you too, how do you know that you don’t know?

  14. 14
    Box says:

    Popperian: Some critics of epistemological fallibilism claim that it rests on an axiom that there is no absolute knowledge (sometimes expressed as the contradiction “This much is certain: nothing is certain”[citation needed]). But this was shown early on by Popper and others to be a misconception: fallibilism requires no such assumption, and makes no claims — indeed its method has no interest in — demonstrating such a statement.[6]

    So, fallibilism doesn’t require the assumption that “nothing is certain”. Is that for certain? Are fallibilists certain about that?

    I’m just asking.

    Also the method of fallibilism has “no interest in demonstrating such a statement”. Is that a fact? Can we be certain about that? I want clarity. I would like reassurance from fallibilists here.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Andre asks:

    “Popperian,,, I’ll ask you too, how do you know that you don’t know?”

    Indeed, given atheistic/materialistic premises, there is no ‘you’ to know or not know. There is only an illusion of a person, an illusion of ‘you’, who thinks (if illusions could think) that he might be mistaken in his perceptions:

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    “What you’re doing is simply instantiating a self: the program run by your neurons which you feel is “you.””
    Jerry Coyne

    “The neural circuits in our brain manage the beautifully coordinated and smoothly appropriate behavior of our body. They also produce the entrancing introspective illusion that thoughts really are about stuff in the world. This powerful illusion has been with humanity since language kicked in, as we’ll see. It is the source of at least two other profound myths: that we have purposes that give our actions and lives meaning and that there is a person “in there” steering the body, so to speak.”
    [A.Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide To Reality, Ch.9]

    So since there is no ‘you’ in materialism, and yet the fact that we do exist as persons is the most certain thing about reality that we can know,,,

    David Chalmers on Consciousness (Philosophical Zombies and the Hard Problem) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK1Yo6VbRoo

    ,,,then a better question to militant atheists would be, “how do ‘you’ know that there is no ‘you’ to not know anything for certain?” Or perhaps more simply, “How do ‘you’ know that ‘you’ are an illusion?

    “I think the idea of (materialists) saying that consciousness is an illusion doesn’t really work because the very notion of an illusion presupposes consciousness. There are no illusions unless there is a conscious experience or (a ‘person’) for whom there is an illusion.”
    Evan Thompson, Philosopher – author of Waking, Dreaming, Being

    Supplemental quotes on the atheists abandonment of the scientific method in regards to explaining conscious experience i.e. in regards to explaining ‘you’:

    Contemporary physicist Nick Herbert states,

    “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.”

    Physician and author Larry Dossey wrote:

    “No experiment has ever demonstrated the genesis of consciousness from matter. One might as well believe that rabbits emerge from magicians’ hats. Yet this vaporous possibility, this neuro-mythology, has enchanted generations of gullible scientists, in spite of the fact that there is not a shred of direct evidence to support it.”
    http://www.merkawah.nl/public_.....gwrepr.pdf

  16. 16
    Charles says:

    Barry Arrington @ 4:

    The real question is what motivates him to engage in such insane denials? I have to admit that I am utterly flummoxed by it. He knows he is lying. I know he is lying. Everyone else who reads his comment knows he is lying. What in the world motivates such outrageous conduct. It I did not see it myself I would not believe it.

    He can’t help himself. It has become his nature. I have watched liars lie for years, and I have noted their inability to admit even the simplest of truths. I have observed their self-destructive behavior (as a consequence of losing the trust and charity essential in routine communication and cooperation) over matters both mundane and mission-critical.

    This fellow suggests a mechanism for something I have suspected for years:

    Dishonesty reduces applied intelligence: re-wires the brain

    What I am suggesting is that, although the fundamental efficiency of neural processing is an hereditary characteristic which is robust to environmental differences and changes (short of something like destructive brain pathology – encephalitis, neurotoxin, head injury, dementia etc) – habitual dishonesty (such as is mainstream among the modern intellectual elite) will generate brain changes, and a long-lasting (although probably, eventually, reversible) pathology in applied intelligence – such that what ought to be simple and obvious inferential reasoning becomes impossible. [emphasis Charles]

    I would add impossible not only in communication with others but equally impossible when alone and merely analyzing (rationalizing) information they find disagreeable.

    They are a waste of bandwidth. They could tell me the sky is blue and I wouldn’t believe them without checking, and knowing they will change their position and then deny their own conflicted words exactly quoted back to them, their “contributions” are needless and fruitless, and my (our) time is better spent in more productive and enlightening exchanges.

    As for ‘educating the onlookers’ about the fallacies of intellectually dishonest posters, I would reiterate my suggestion of a “heads on pikes” list of past intellectual attrocities committed by such, and simply link to that list rather than waste further bandwidth on their posts.

    It isn’t censorship, it’s clearing chaff.

  17. 17
    Box says:

    // Additional questions for Learned Hand //

    StephenB:
    Can you be absolutely certain that you are not Mount Everest? Can you be absolutely certain that anyone who says that you are is in error? Please explain your answers as clearly as you can.

    Learned Hand: No, and no.

    Learned Hand: Obviously I don’t think I’m Mount Everest, (…)

    Are you absolutely certain that you don’t think that you are Mount Everest?

    Learned Hand: (…) and if someone said that I was, it wouldn’t even cross my mind that they could be right.

    Are you absolutely certain that it wouldn’t cross your mind?
    Finally, are you absolutely certain that you are not totally convinced that you are Mount Everest?

  18. 18
    Carpathian says:

    William J Murray:

    “Torturing babies for fun = immoral” is as infallibly certain as “A=A”.

    They are not the same thing at all.

    Real life is analog and is experienced in “degrees”, not as a set of boolean statements.

    Babies are tortured for fun every day, it is the “degree” that is the problem.

    Watch videos on social sites and you will see babies being given lemons or limes while their parents film them.

    When the baby starts to cry the audience starts to laugh.

    As always, IDists tend to over-simplify debates.

    Babies being tortured for fun has nothing to do with A=A or self-evident truths.

  19. 19
    Andre says:

    Seriously torturing is a degree thing? God help us from these maniacs.

  20. 20
    Learned Hand says:

    We have been very patient with eigenstate, but enough is enough. He will be in moderation for a couple of days.

    The tiger will change its stripes before BA permits dissent at Uncommon Dissent.

    BA, there’s a difference between having a conversation and mining what I have to assume are hundreds of comments for out-of-context snippets, searching for any inconsistency that would support yet another jibe about lying and idiocy and so on. Of course you can make cuts that create the appearance of inconsistencies—and probably actual inconsistencies, although I don’t think you’ve got one here. How on earth could people have a rolling conversation about serious ideas and never write something that can’t be seen as an overextension of their position, or unclear, or badly interpreted? Screeching about it in order to score points is the furthest thing from actually engaging with ideas of your own. It’s yet another substitute for reasoned conversation. Building the wall to keep the focus on reviling them, rather than showing any stronger or better ideas on offer inside the wall.

    If people want to know what I think, they should read my comments at the linked threads. Eigenstate did a great job of exploring the ideas and drawing out greater clarity, when I was not writing with any careful attention to the difference between A=A measured only by its own definition and A=A as you use it, conflated with the physical world and moral notions.

    Eigenstate is right. Both on the question at hand and by identifying your preferred substitute for reasoned discussion: tell people what they really think, insult them for it, and move on. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you actually have a mature, serious conversation about ideas here. Have you? Can you link us to it?

    For example, you ask: “I do have one question for LH. How does he know the proposition is not fallible?”

    Even a casual reading of these conversations would show that I’ve answered this question many times. I don’t assert that my position is infallible. I assert only that you, SB, and others have failed to articulate any way that we can know a proposition infallibly. I think I posted a stronger statement at TSZ, suggesting that I could be certain only that I cannot be certain; that was an overstatement.

    So, how do you know that a proposition about the physical or moral world is infallible? People keep asking, and you keep banning and insulting. Why not try thinking instead? Are your conclusions based on ideas at all, or just things you want to believe?

  21. 21
    Learned Hand says:

    We can reliably and conclusively determine that the standard “torturing babies for fun is immoral” is infallibly true (true in all possible worlds and situations) because it is self-evidently true (whereas morality would be absurd if the statement were false in any situation). “Torturing babies for fun = immoral” is as infallibly certain as “A=A”.

    How do you determine whether morality is “absurd”? This seems like an “I know it when I see it” standard. If so, how do you distinguish “It’s incompatible with the standards by which I was raised and/or my biological biases” from “It’s incompatible with a transcendent moral standard”?

  22. 22
    Learned Hand says:

    Carpathian had an interesting comment on another thread:

    I believe that my experience in life suggests that when one side of a debate starts to lose, they start attacking the messengers instead of the message.

    I believe this has happened with IDists as their arguments are the first to change into emotional statements and posts like this one.

    It’s interesting how much time BA spends attacking messengers, and how assiduously he avoids any conversation that would require stating and discussing his own beliefs.

    I went to a fight night over the weekend. I observed some people getting in the ring, exposing themselves to hard knocks. I observed some people talking tough and howling abuse from the stands. Both sorts got what they wanted out of it, because each wanted very different things. I know which sort I’d rather be.

  23. 23
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    Defining A as equal to A is defining A as equal to A; the proposition is not fallible if the only metric is its own definition.

    I will repeat my question from comment 1. How do you know the proposition is not fallible?

  24. 24
    Barry Arrington says:

    Learned Hand wants to quote Carpathian from the other thread. Well let’s test that. The proposition that Carpathian was defending was that eigenstate was correct when he said LH meant the same thing by these two statements:

    LH1: “I cannot . . . be . . . certain of anything”

    LH2: “the proposition is not fallible”

    You tell us LH. Is Carpathian correct when he says you meant the same thing when you said you could not be certain of anything and when you said you were certain the proposition was true?

  25. 25
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    How do you determine whether morality is “absurd”?

    Yes, yes LH. We understand that you want to hold out the possibility that it might not be evil under some circumstances to (1) torture infants for pleasure; or (2) kill little boys and girls, chop their tiny bodies into pieces and sell the pieces like meat.

    Oh, wait a minute; you actually do think (2) is not evil.

    Hmmm. Do you think the first might have something to do with the second? I do.

  26. 26
    StephenB says:

    LH

    I assert only that you, SB, and others have failed to articulate any way that we can know a proposition infallibly.

    Are you absolutely certain that I didn’t articulate such a way? That’s funny. I am absolutely certain that I did articulate such a way. Are you absolutely certain that one of us is wrong? Please explain your answer.

    Remember onlookers, this man is not certain that he is not George Washington. This man is not certain that he is not Napoleon. This man is not certain that a slice of pizza weighs less than the whole pie.

    This same person was once certain that he couldn’t be certain of anything, but now he is uncertain. I think he means that he is certain that he can’t be certain, until pressed, at which time he becomes uncertain.

  27. 27
    Learned Hand says:

    I will repeat my question from comment 1. How do you know the proposition is not fallible?

    Because the proposition exists in an artificially constructed environment: we define it as having no metric other than the definition itself. Since the proposition is limited to its own truth, I think it’s fair to say that the question of fallibility doesn’t apply.

    Which, as I said elsewhere, isolates human infallibility to the most trivial exercises. If we define it to be true, and our definition is the only metric, it’s true. But what about external truths? What about the moral truths that underlie this line of discussion? How can they be known infallibly? You don’t seem to know; you spit at the messenger whenever the question arises. See your comment at 25, for example: a simple question. What’s the answer? Shut up! Shut the conversation down! Make it about the questioner! Personalize it! Why, KF might say it was downright Alinskyite.

    Where are your ideas, BA? Where’s the reasoning behind your purportedly unassailable conclusions?

  28. 28
    Learned Hand says:

    Are you absolutely certain that I didn’t articulate such a way? That’s funny. I am absolutely certain that I did articulate such a way. Are you absolutely certain that one of us is wrong? Please explain your answer.

    I can’t think of any answer you offered that did not assume infallibility in order to demonstrate that you have infallible faculties. If you disagree, I’d appreciate a reference to where you offered such reasoning.

    Remember onlookers, this man is not certain that he is not George Washington. This man is not certain that he is not Napoleon. This man is not certain that a slice of pizza weighs less than the whole pie.

    That’s not reasoning. That’s substituting jeers for reasoning. It’s a lot easier, isn’t it?

    What’s the process for being certain that a slice of pizza weighs less than the whole that excludes any possible error? BA has retreated into the dark little hole of analytic propositions that are self-referentially defined to be true… but this is a proposition about the physical world. Neither one of you seems to have much to say here other than that you’re so obviously right there’s no need to explain why you’re right.

    There are only two ways to escape criticism of your ideas: be infallible, and hide them from sight. I think you have only achieved one.

  29. 29
    Learned Hand says:

    Bedtime for LH, and I’m travelling tomorrow. I’ll try to show up for scheduled abuse and invective on Friday. Perhaps by then BA will have found time to stand up some ideas of his own for discussion. I would wager not.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    LH

    It’s interesting how much time BA spends attacking messengers, and how assiduously he avoids any conversation that would require stating and discussing his own beliefs.

    Lying messengers deserve to be attacked.

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH:

    BA . . .assiduously . . . avoids any conversation that would require stating and discussing his own beliefs.

    LH’s comment prompted me to check my stats.

    In the nearly 10 years since March 2, 2006 I have published 730 original articles and posted 3,462 comments here at UD. I don’t know what the real numbers are, but assuming an average of 100 words per article (it is probably higher) and 25 words per comment, that is about 160,000 words.

    I am awfully garrulous for a person who assiduously avoids conversations that would require me to state and discuss my beliefs.

  32. 32
    Barry Arrington says:

    SB:

    Remember onlookers, this man is not certain that he is not George Washington. This man is not certain that he is not Napoleon. This man is not certain that a slice of pizza weighs less than the whole pie.

    LH:

    That’s not reasoning. That’s substituting jeers for reasoning.

    Wait a minute. Simply re-stating some of the positions you have taken is a “jeer”? If someone restated any of the positions I’ve taken I am pretty sure I would not think they are jeering at me.

    What does it say about your positions that you consider merely accurately restating them to be a jeer?

  33. 33
    Andre says:

    Learned Hand

    How do you know that you don’t know?

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    LH

    I can’t think of any answer you offered that did not assume infallibility in order to demonstrate that you have infallible faculties. If you disagree, I’d appreciate a reference to where you offered such reasoning.

    So much deception in two sentences. First, you lied and said that I offered no ideas. Second, after being caught in the lie, you said that my ideas (the ones I allegedly didn’t have) “assumed” infallibility. That too, is a false statement, though it may simply be a product of your ignorance, since you don’t know the difference between assuming infallibility and knowing infallibly.

    In the context of all that mendacity, you managed to avoid the substance of the question: You falsely claim that I didn’t demonstrate infallible knowledge. I truthfully claim that I did demonstrate infallible knowledge. Are you absolutely certain that we are not both right? Please explain your answer.

    In keeping with that point, I say you are lying when you claim not to be certain that you are not Napoleon, or George Washington, or Moses. You say you are telling the truth. Are you absolutely certain that we cannot both be right?

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand

    Because the proposition (A = A) exists in an artificially constructed environment: we define it as having no metric other than the definition itself. Since the proposition is limited to its own truth, I think it’s fair to say that the question of fallibility doesn’t apply.

    So this is your position: The proposition A = A is infallibly true only in the context of the definition itself. But if A represents Learned Hand and B represents Moses, you are no longer certain that A = A. The proposition is infallibly true, in your judgment, only if it is not applied for its intended purpose, namely to show that identities and things in the real world are what they are and nothing else.

    Just so that you will know, the purpose of saying that A = A is to show that any A is equal to A, which means that you (A) must be who you are (Learned Hand), and cannot be (B) Moses. But your position is that you can be certain that A = A only if A doesn’t represent anything, which defeats the purpose of saying A = A.

    At this point, I am tempted to say that you are the most irrational person ever to post at this site. However, that would be a reckless statement because eigenstate, Zachriel, and all the other eliminative materialists are equally irrational and dishonest.

    And, of course, the big question remains: How do you know that A = A even in the limited context of the definition itself. Where is the rational argument to support your only claim to absolute certainty? How can you prove that you know the one thing you claim to know for sure?

  36. 36
    Popperian says:

    Remember onlookers, this man is not certain that he is not George Washington. This man is not certain that he is not Napoleon.

    How is anyone certain they are not George Washington? Can someone explain to me how that works, in practice?

    For example, couldn’t some advanced alien civilization have abducted George Washington, replaced him with a clone, put him in stasis for 200 odd years, abducted LH made GW look like LH and replaced his memories of that of LH, put him in LH’s place?

    What I will get from Barry and company is “that’s crazy”. But we can be more specific than that.

    Why GW, why LH, why the swap at all? Why swap now, etc. It’s not just “Crazy”, it’s a bad explanation.

    Another example?

    I’m not a Solipsist merly because it disagrees with my intuition or because it sounds “crazy”.

    Should we attempt to take it seriously, in that it’s true in reality and that all observations should conform to it, Solipsism presents an implicit theory that there are dream-like aspects of myself that act like autonomous conscious beings which surprise me, have different personalities and even disagree with me on Solipsism. And there object-like facets of myself that obey laws of physics like facets even though, as a non-physicist, I can’t do the math that describes their behavior. Not to mention that these supposed people-like facets of myself discover new things about myself (physics like facets) all the time, which I wasn’t aware of previously.

    However, observations still fit this theory, which means they would still “support” solipsism. So, why shouldn’t we be Solipsists?

    The key difference is that Solipsism makes no attempt to explain *why* object-like facets of one’s self would obey laws of physics-like facets of one’s self, etc. No explanation is presented at all. Instead, the claim is based on a supposed philosophical limitation that we cannot know anything exists outside of our own minds.

    In other words, Solipsism consists of the theory of realty with the added exception of it all being elaborate facets of the internal self. It merely attempts to explain away the currently tenable theory of reality. Despite portraying itself as anti-reality, solipsism is actually a convoluted elaboration of reality, which can be discarded.

    It’s a bad explanation, which I discard.

  37. 37
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian:

    How is anyone certain they are not George Washington? Can someone explain to me how that works, in practice?

    Pop, do you think of yourself as all super-duper smart, intellectual and sophisticated when you ask idiotic questions like that? You shouldn’t.

  38. 38
    Popperian says:

    So, when press with you you know, you’re not actually certain either. Check.

    And we’re” liars”?

  39. 39
    Popperian says:

    Pop, do you think of yourself as all super-duper smart, intellectual and sophisticated when you ask idiotic questions like that? You shouldn’t.

    Should have wrote:

    So, when [pressed] with [how] you know, you’re not actually certain either. Check.

    And we’re ”liars”?

    Also, you’re confusing good criticism with criticism that came from an authoritative source. Criticism is either good or bad, regardless of where it comes from. I could be an idiot and still come up with a good criticism that stands on its own for being, well, good criticism.

    This is possible because ideas start out as guesses, including what might be a good criticism of an idea.

    IOW whether I’m “super-duper smart” or “intellectual and sophisticated” isn’t really relevant. What is relevant is whether this is a good criticism. Everything else is a distraction.

    So, Are you saying it’s not a good criticism? if not, why?

  40. 40
    StephenB says:

    popperian

    So, Are you saying it’s not a good criticism? if not, why?

    Do you mean this one:

    For example, couldn’t some advanced alien civilization have abducted George Washington, replaced him with a clone, put him in stasis for 200 odd years, abducted LH made GW look like LH and replaced his memories of that of LH, put him in LH’s place?

    What I will get from Barry and company is “that’s crazy”….. So, Are you saying it’s not a good criticism? if not, why?

    Just because I didn’t happen to include you on LH’s collection of wackos doesn’t mean that you don’t belong there.

    First, George Washington’s clone isn’t George Washington. Second, giving LH’s mug to George Washington’s clone doesn’t affect LH’s identity or the clone’s identity. Third, George Washington’s clone is no longer GW’s clone if it has LH’s memories. Fourth, If LH has been replaced, then he doesn’t exist, which means that he no longer has an identity to merge.

  41. 41
    Popperian says:

    StephanB:

    Do you mean this one:

    First, my criticism is that it’s unclear how anyhow can be certain that they are not George Washington. I’ve yet to hear an explanation of how they could, in practice.

    Second, the explanation I gave was a bad criticism of the idea that Learned Hand was not actually Learned Hand. You can’t be certain, but it’s a bad explanation, so I discard it. But that’s not my criticism. See above.

    I wrote:

    What I will get from Barry and company is “that’s crazy”…..

    StephanB:

    Just because I didn’t happen to include you on LH’s collection of wackos doesn’t mean that you don’t belong there.

    You’re making my point for me.

    First, George Washington’s clone isn’t George Washington. Second, giving LH’s mug to George Washington’s clone doesn’t affect LH’s identity or the clone’s identity.

    George Washington was abducted and replaced by a clone. The real GW goes into stasis, while his clone, with GW’s memories, lives out the rest of this life thinking he is the original GW. He is mistaken as well.

    Third, George Washington’s clone is no longer GW’s clone if it has LH’s memories.

    First, the clone has George Washington’s memories, not LH. Are you suggesting that would make him really GW? Second, a clone created from the DNA of GW wouldn’t have anyone’s memories, yet would still be his clone. Perhaps you mean replicating an exact copy in what is typically portrayed in a transporter accident in science fiction? Even then, their experiences would start to diverge after the replication took place.

    Fourth, If LH has been replaced, then he doesn’t exist, which means that he no longer has an identity to merge.

    Nothing I’ve described indicates that the original LH doesn’t exist. Perhaps he just went into stasis so he could receive the appearance and memories of someone else?

    Again, it’s unclear how LH or any one else, can be certain that this did not occur. However, it’s a bad explanation, which we discard.

    But, by all means, anyone can chime in to explain how they could be certain this it did not occur, in practice. Anyone?

    Barry? You’re not a “Liar” are you?

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    Popperian, your response is insane. I should not have even bothered to critique your first response. I certainly am not going to clean up your follow up.

  43. 43
    Popperian says:

    So, when pressed with how you know, your not actually certain either. Check.

    I’m merely “insane”. Check.

    Apparently, no one can explain how they are certain. And we’re “liars”?

  44. 44
    Barry Arrington says:

    StephenB,

    Popperian, your response is insane. I should not have even bothered to critique your first response.

    I thought the same thing and even started to write a comment suggesting as much, but decided not to.

    “But shun profane and vain babblings.” II Tim. 2:16.

    The line between genuine argument and profane and vain babblings is one we must watch for constantly on these pages, especially when we are dealing with such as Popperian, who fancies himself an intellectual of the first order but who in reality is a babbling idiot.

    And responding to his more insane spewings only dignifies that which deserves only derision. And, as his comment at 43 demonstrates, it leads to the “pig effect”: Never try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn’t do a bit of good. And it annoys the pig.

  45. 45
    StephenB says:

    popperian

    Apparently, no one can explain how they are certain. And we’re “liars”?

    Again, you prove that you not even in the game. My comment isn't about my attempt to explain how I am certain. It is about your attempt to show how you are not certain. Your attempt to make LH the same person as GW is flat out insane, just as I said. It doesn't even come close to working, precisely because the law of identity will not permit it.

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    Barry

    And responding to his more insane spewings only dignifies that which deserves only derision. And, as his comment at 43 demonstrates, it leads to the “pig effect”: Never try to teach a pig to sing. It doesn’t do a bit of good. And it annoys the pig.

    Barry, popperian’s response had to set some kind of record for deluded denialism (a little alliteration there). These people will say anything–and I mean–anything.

  47. 47
    Popperian says:

    StephanB

    My point is, and always has been, that you’re deferring to an authoritative source of some sort, such as experience, or God, etc. Namely, it’s unclear how you can infallibly identify anything as an A, in practice. So it’s unclear how the law of identity can get you where you want to go, in practice.

    The same problem comes into play in regards to some objective source of moral knowledge. No one has explained how they can actually infallibly identify or infallibly interpret any such source, so they could apply in in practice. One must first use reason to determine if they will defer to the supposedly infallible source, which is what one would do even if they did not believe in it in the first place.

    What alternative do we have? From the same article….

    Fallibilism has practical consequences for the methodology and administration of science, and in government, law, education, and every aspect of public life. The philosopher Karl Popper elaborated on many of these. He wrote:5

    The question about the sources of our knowledge . . . has always been asked in the spirit of: ‘What are the best sources of our knowledge—the most reliable ones, those which will not lead us into error, and those to which we can and must turn, in case of doubt, as the last court of appeal?’ I propose to assume, instead, that no such ideal sources exist—no more than ideal rulers—and that all ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into error at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’

    It’s all about error. We used to think that there was a way to organize ourselves that would minimize errors. This is an infallibilist chimera that has been part of every tyranny since time immemorial, from the “divine right of kings” to centralized economic planning. And it is implemented by many patterns of thought that protect misconceptions in individual minds, making someone blind to evidence that he isn’t Napoleon, or making the scientific crank reinterpret peer review as a conspiracy to keep falsehoods in place.

    The law of identity is not a source that we “can and must turn to, in case of doubt, as the last court of appeal” Is simply an extremely hard to vary explanation. There is nothing special about it in comparison with any other ideas, because it is not an ideal source.

  48. 48
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    It’s all about error.

    How do you know that an error is an error?

  49. 49
    Learned Hand says:

    SB,

    First, you lied and said that I offered no ideas.

    Did I say that you offered no ideas? I don’t see that comment in this thread, but maybe I missed something. If so I apologize. You have offered ideas, and I appreciate the effort. I think they were not very good ones, and you don’t seem to have found them worth developing.

    Second, after being caught in the lie, you said that my ideas (the ones I allegedly didn’t have) “assumed” infallibility. That too, is a false statement, though it may simply be a product of your ignorance, since you don’t know the difference between assuming infallibility and knowing infallibly.

    I meant that your arguments for how you could know that you are infallible only prove that proposition if you could know those arguments were not in error. The argument you were making was circular. I can’t find the comment in question, though, so maybe my memory is in error. Do you mean here that you weren’t assuming infallibility because you know that you’re infallible? That doesn’t escape the problem of circularity.

    You falsely claim that I didn’t demonstrate infallible knowledge. I truthfully claim that I did demonstrate infallible knowledge. Are you absolutely certain that we are not both right? Please explain your answer.

    I deny that you demonstrated a basis for knowing that your reasoning is infallible. No, I’m not absolutely certain of that, because of course I could be in error. Obviously.

    In keeping with that point, I say you are lying when you claim not to be certain that you are not Napoleon, or George Washington, or Moses.

    And you do so without explaining how it’s possible to be infallibly certain; for example, as I’ve said before, there are those who assert that all existence is an illusion and that we are all one consciousness, blah blah blah. I think it’s a silly philosophy, but how do we establish infallibly that it’s wrong? (This specific example may fall under cogito ergo sum, which as I’ve said is something I’m not certain I can’t be certain about.)

    The proposition A = A is infallibly true only in the context of the definition itself. But if A represents Learned Hand and B represents Moses, you are no longer certain that A = A.

    Yes. Because once we’re outside of the tautology, we can’t just define the proposition to be true. We have to rely on senses and reasoning that we know can be flawed, even if neither of us thinks they actually are flawed in this example. How, for example, do I infallibly establish that Hypothetical Hippie #1 is wrong when he says that we’re all one person, dude, and like, that means you’re me and I’m you and we’re all Moses?

    If the answer is that we apply these “principles of right reason,” then we’re assuming the conclusion. If the answer is that we can’t escape that circularity because there’s no possible external proof of the principles, then we’ve got axioms: things we treat as true, without needing to (or being able to) claim that we have infallibly knowledge of their truth.

    The proposition is infallibly true, in your judgment, only if it is not applied for its intended purpose, namely to show that identities and things in the real world are what they are and nothing else.

    Why does its purpose matter? What human beings want to use it for is irrelevant to whether we have infallible faculties or not.

    How do you know that A = A even in the limited context of the definition itself. Where is the rational argument to support your only claim to absolute certainty? How can you prove that you know the one thing you claim to know for sure?

    Because the statement is wholly self-contained. Once we’re operating in a universe that contains more than just A, and more metrics than just A, failures of reasoning and perception become relevant. They aren’t in the tautology because we define them away.

  50. 50
    Learned Hand says:

    Popperian,

    First, my criticism is that it’s unclear how anyhow can be certain that they are not George Washington. I’ve yet to hear an explanation of how they could, in practice.

    Isn’t that odd? And predictable? (In fact, something we actually predicted.)

    As much as they rely on infallible certainty being a trivial thing to establish, they are furiously reluctant to actually show how one might go about establishing it. My assumption is that they just don’t care very much; establishing it is not the goal. It’s not a conversation about ideas to BA; it’s a chance to award himself honors and heap abuse on outsiders. (SB is trying harder to have a discussion, but he also eventually chooses invective over actually presenting an argument.)

    I suspect also that at the end of the day, the answer is that they feel very certain (just as we do) that they aren’t George Washington. And since that feeling of certainty underlies beliefs that are very important to them, such as moral propositions, they aren’t going to start seriously questioning it. The results might be unacceptable. In particular, they might have to wonder if the dirty liar people weren’t right about infallibility being a hard thing to establish in the first place.

    Building the wall is a way to avoid ever confronting the basis of their belief in their own infallibility. It keeps the doubts out.

  51. 51
    Popperian says:

    How do you know that an error is an error?

    How do we detect errors? We attempt to take all of our current, best theories seriously, for the purpose of criticism. Do they solve problems purport solve? Do they conflict with each other, themselves or with observations?

    Criticism of Inductivism isn’t just limited to naive assumption that the future will resemble the past. That misses the more fundamental misconception that the content of theories are somehow mechanically derived or extrapolated from experience, which would be an authoritative source. No one has explained how it’s possible to extrapolate observations without first putting them into an explanatory framework. All observations are themselves theory laden.

    As such, we start out with a problem to solve, conjecture theories about how the world works, in reality, that would allow us to solve that problem, then criticize those theories and discard errors we find. So, we start out expecting them to contain errors, at least to some degree, because they start out as guesses.

    We find theories false, tentatively, because future observations could cause us to revise them. Not to mention those observations are themselves based on other theories, etc., which we might discover good criticisms of. Even then, we may keep theories around even when we know they contain errors to some degree. For example, the theory that “all swans are white”, which is false, is preferred to the theory that “all swans have a color” because it contains more content that can be found wrong.

    Again, being a fallibilist means being fallible about fallibilism. This means we might be infallible, at least in at least some spheres. But, fundamentally, criticism is more of a attitude, not a prescription. Specifics about how to find errors are themselves conjectured ideas that we criticize. We can make progress on how to detect errors.

  52. 52
    Popperian says:

    SB:

    My comment isn’t about my attempt to explain how I am certain. It is about your attempt to show how you are not certain. Your attempt to make LH the same person as GW is flat out insane, just as I said. It doesn’t even come close to working, precisely because the law of identity will not permit it.

    If none of this ends up providing some kind of guidance we can use to solve moral problems, in practice, then how can it prevent the supposedly downfall of society that is claimed tol occur in its absence?

    Most importantly, how does it represent an explanation for the growth of moral knowledge?

  53. 53
    StephenB says:

    SB: First, you lied and said that I offered no ideas.

    LH

    Did I say that you offered no ideas? I don’t see that comment in this thread, but maybe I missed something. If so I apologize. You have offered ideas, and I appreciate the effort. I think they were not very good ones, and you don’t seem to have found them worth developing.

    I take you back to this comment:

    I assert only that you, SB, and others have failed to articulate any way that we can know a proposition infallibly.

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