Intelligent Design

More Insane Denial

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If a man tells you he cannot know the truth, you can be sure he will probably act as if he has no obligation to tell the truth.

At this point our readers may be asking, why is Barry so focused on the issue of the materialist tactic of insane denial? It is a fair question. And the answer is I have a (possibly perverse) curiosity about whether there is any limit to how many times they will deny a truth in bad faith all the while knowing that everyone knows exactly what they are doing. Is there any limit to the earth they are willing to scorch? Will they go on saying the red pen is a flower pot forever?

I have to admit that I find the spectacle simultaneously revolting and fascinating. Like a train wreck one just can’t look away from. Here is yet another example:

For weeks Learned Hand insisted on a radical falliblism that denied the possibility of certainty about even the most basic truths. Finally, under the crushing weight of rationality, he budged just a tiny bit. Whereas, before he said, “I cannot therefore be logically, absolutely certain of anything—not even that A=A,” he finally had to admit that was not true. He grudgingly conceded, “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.”

Amazingly, LH, Carpathian and eigenstate immediately turned around and said that LH had been right all along! They said the second statement was not a change in position but a clarification of his initial position. HeKS responded:

It’s plain as day that first holding the position that there is absolutely nothing we can know for certain and then holding the position that there’s at least one thing we can know for certain, however supposedly trivial, constitutes a change of position.

In response they went into full bore “insane denial” mode.

LH:

To take one sentence, cut it out of context and hold it up as a complete and total summary of my position is absurd.

Notice what LH is doing here. He is suggesting that HeKS misrepresented his prior argument by quoting him out of context when he previously denied that he could be certain A=A. The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite. Far from being a distortion of LH’s argument, the radical falliblism on display in that quote WAS HIS ARGUMENT for weeks, as is easily demonstrated by several more quotes:

I think that in practice I’m perfectly safe making some assumptions, and that I can’t really do much of anything without making assumptions like “A=A.” But I don’t know how I can be infallibly certain in the abstract.

And I have no way to check whether a slice can be greater than the whole other than by testing it, which can never prove absolutely as a logical matter that the proposition is true.

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

I think the trickiest question here is whether I can be certain that “I think, therefore I am.” But even there, is the fact that I cannot imagine any reason to doubt it because it’s perfectly true, or because I have an imperfect and limited mind?

I reiterate that in practice I’d never doubt the basic mathematical principles at issue. The possibility of error is a logical formality

I cannot be certain about anything other than uncertainty.

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

That doesn’t mean that I expect future physicists to upset the “A=A” cart. But what’s the objective, infallible principle dividing “A=A” from “particle=particle”

I take the formal position that one cannot be logically certain of anything without an infallible perspective from which to assess it

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.

You can’t measure all cases, to see whether A is literally always A

What we’re really talking about here are whether things like “A=A” are proven concepts or axioms that we just assume are true. I think most people take the latter approach, stymied by the obvious impossibility of a human being logically proving themselves to be infallible

I’ve never doubted that A=A in the real world, and I would never expect to find (nor can I conceive of) a counter-example. But to say that I’m infallibly certain would require taking the position that I’m infallible, and I can’t do that.

[LOI, LNC and LEM] are very effective axioms. . . .we assume they are true because we cannot imagine any way in which they could be false. But to say that our failure to imagine a counterexample means there cannot be a counterexample is to arrogate to ourselves infallibility.

Now that we’ve dispensed with that attempted misdirection, on to LH’s change of position. After all of the above, he finally grudgingly admitted:

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.

The bottom line is that HeKS’s summary is perfectly apt. There really is no debate. That the speaker changed his position is not in question. The only issue is whether they will continue their insane denial indefinitely.

In response Carpathian wrote:

Barry Arrington:
There really is no debate. That the speaker changed his position is not in question.

Of course it’s in question.

Are you taking the position that I haven’t been arguing with you about it?

I don’t think I have ever seen a more pristine example of the phenomenon Robert L. Kocher described when he wrote:

But, observable basic reality does not make a dent in countering the psychotic arguments underwriting the chaotic consequences which are occurring. No matter how airtight the refutation, the talk continues. No matter how inane the talk, the issue is still considered unresolved. Capacity to continue speaking has become looked upon as a form of refutation of absolute real-world evidence.

Earth to Carpathian: The ability to keep typing is NOT the same as the ability to make a rational argument.

UPDATE

In comment 72 below, HeKS makes a very cogent observation:

Barry & LH,

The thing I don’t get about this conflict is expressed in my original comment in the other thread, partially quoted in this OP. I went on to say:

LH should be commended for simply recognizing that he had overlooked something in his initial formulation of his position. The problem stems from the subsequent fact that everyone wants to insist that the positions are identical

Again, it’s plain as day that there was an adjustment to LH’s position, and precisely the one Barry has identified. As far as I can tell, Barry highlighted it simply because it took so long to get LH to recognize that the adjustment, however minor some may think it is, was quite obviously necessary. But the fact is, sometimes obvious stuff can elude us. It could elude us just because we don’t understand the ultimate point the other person is making and when we do, then it becomes obvious. It’s not shameful to adjust or reformulate your position when you realize it’s necessary, and LH could have just been commended for making the adjustment if the issue had been left there so the overall discussion could continue. The big problem is that it wasn’t left there. Instead, there has been a push from those more or less on LH’s side of the debate to insist that the two formulations of LH’s position are identical, when they quite plainly are not. This is made all the more noteworthy by the fact that the people claiming the formulations are identical are precisely the people who insist we don’t know that the Laws of Identity or Non-Contradiction actually apply to the external world. On the one hand, then, they are merely being consistent by refusing to acknowledge the distinct identities of the formulations. On the other hand, however, they are showing precisely what happens to rational discussion in the real world once you refuse to accept that it is necessarily consistent with the Laws of Identity, Non-Contradiction and the Excluded Middle.

123 Replies to “More Insane Denial

  1. 1
    StephenB says:

    First, let’s bury this dishonest attempt to rewrite history. Clearly, the old position (“I cannot be absolutely certain about anything,”) is different from the new position, (“I can be absolutely certain that A = A”). There is no possibility that it cannot be the case.

    Moving ahead, I agree with Barry that this is progress, or sorts. To say that A = A means that we can be absolutely certain that A is not B. Hopefully, LH and Co. finally get it (but you never know). If so, it would be a notable improvement. Still, the most important step is in front of us.

    The real question is this: To what does the law of identity refer? It isn’t solely about definitions or analytical propositions. Under those circumstances, it would be a completely useless idea. We already have the law of contradiction to tell us about which propositions can and cannot be true.

    The law of identity is, as the very word proclaims, about identities, or more precisely, it is about existent beings with identities in the real world. The purpose of the law of identity is to enable us to think and be certain about what is, what is not, and what cannot be.

    Our critics still fail to understand (or refuse to accept) the key point: “A = A” means that identity A is not identity B. That is just another way of saying this: “Learned Hand = Learned Hand means that he is not Mount Everest. This is the bridge we must cross in order to help our friends become rational.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    SB, I agree that LH has made a tiny step toward the truth. I am mindful that this means his insane denial is not absolute, as opposed to say eigenstate, who has never backed off a position no matter how insane (e.g., “I believe I have no beliefs”).

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    LH attempts to radically circumscribe his infallible knowledge. He says that he can only be infallibly certain that A=A in the context of a definition.

    This leads to at least two questions:

    1. When was LH elected as the arbiter of the boundary between fallible and infallible knowledge. I don’t recall getting a vote.

    2. Isn’t his attempt to limit the reach of infallible knowledge obviously arbitrary? Once he opened the door for one infallibly known truth, why does he believe he gets to slam the door on the next one?

  4. 4
    Popperian says:

    Barry,

    Is the truth manifest?

    To quote Popper from his lecture “On The Sources Of Knowledge And Ignorance”

    In examining the optimistic epistemology inherent in certain ideas of liberalism, I found a cluster of doctrines which, although often accepted implicitly, have not, to my knowledge, been explicitly discussed or even noticed by philosophers or historians. The most fundamental of them is one which I have already mentioned-the doctrine that truth is mani­fest. The strangest of them is the conspiracy theory of ignorance, which is a curious outgrowth from the doctrine of manifest truth.

    By the doctrine that truth is manifest I mean, you will recall, the optimistic view that truth, if put before us naked, is always recogniz­able as truth. Thus truth, if it does not reveal itself, has only to be unveiled, or dis-covered. Once this is done, there is no need for further argument. We have been given eyes to see the truth, and the ‘natural light’ of reason to see it by.

    This doctrine is at the heart of the teaching of both Descartes and Bacon. Descartes based his optimistic epistemology on the important theory of the veracitas deL

    What we clearly and distinctly see to be true must indeed be true; for otherwise God would be deceiving us. Thus the truthfulness of God must make truth manifest.

    In Bacon we have a similar doctrine. It might be described as the doctrine of the veracitas naturae, the truthfulness of Nature. Nature is an open book. He who reads it with a pure mind cannot misread it. Only if his mind is poisoned by prejudice can he fall into error.

    This last remark shows that the doctrine that truth is manifest creates the need to explain falsehood. Knowledge, the possession of truth, need not be explained. But how can we ever fall into error if truth is manifest? The answer is: through our own sinful refusal to see the manifest truth; or because our minds harbour prejudices inculcated by education and tradition, or other evil influences which have perverted our originally pure and innocent minds. Ignorance may be the work of powers conspiring to keep us in ignorance, to poison our minds by filling them with falsehood, and to blind our eyes so that they cannot see the manifest truth. Such prejudices and such powers, then, are sources of ignorance.

    The conspiracy theory of ignorance is fairly well known in its Marxian form as the conspiracy of a capitalist press that perverts and suppresses truth and fills the workers’ minds with false ideologies. Prominent among these, of course, are the doctrines of religion. It is surprising to find how unoriginal this Marxist theory is. The wicked and fraudulent priest who keeps the people in ignorance was a stock figure of the eighteenth century and, I am afraid, one of the inspir­ations of liberalism. It can be traced back to the protestant belief in the conspiracy of the Roman Church, and also to the beliefs of those dissenters who held similar views about the Established Church. (Elsewhere I have traced the pre-history of this belief back to Plato’s uncle Critias; see chapter 8, section ii, of my Open Society.)

    This curious belief in a conspiracy is the almost inevitable con­sequence of the optimistic belief that truth, and therefore goodness, must prevail if only truth is given a fair chance. ‘Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?’ (Areopagitica. Compare the French proverb, La verite triomphe toujours.) So when Milton’s Truth was put to the worse, the necessary inference was that the encounter had not been free and open: if the manifest truth does not prevail, it must have been maliciously sup­pressed. One can see that an attitude of tolerance which is based upon an optimistic faith in the victory of truth may easily be shaken. (See ]. W N. Watkins on Milton in The Listener, Und January 1959.) For it is liable to turn into a conspiracy theory which would be hard to reconcile with an attitude of tolerance.

    I do not assert that there was never a grain of truth in this conspiracy theory. But in the main it was a myth, just as the theory of manifest truth from which it grew was a myth.

    For the simple truth is that truth is often hard to come by, and that once found it may easily be lost again. Erroneous beliefs may have an astonishing power to survive, for thousands of years, in defiance of experience, with or without the aid of any conspiracy. The history of science, and especially of medicine, could furnish us with a number of good examples. One example is, indeed, the general conspiracy theory itself I mean the erroneous view that whenever something evil hap­pens it must be due to the evil will of an evil power. Various forms of this view have survived down to our own day.

  5. 5
    Popperian says:

    Barry:

    SB, I agree that LH has made a tiny step toward the truth. I am mindful that this means his insane denial is not absolute, as opposed to say eigenstate, who has never backed off a position no matter how insane (e.g., “I believe I have no beliefs”).

    One can be fallible about fallibilism, which means being fallible as to whether one is infallible about knowledge in some spheres. I don’t see this as any sort of smoking gun. Nor does being a fallibilist mean one must be a skepticist or that there can be no knowledge.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    StephenB: This is the bridge we must cross in order to help our friends become rational.

    Exactly. Their position is unreasonable. Irrational. Incoherent. Self-refuring. In a word, Nonsense.

    These things are the basis of rational discourse and argument.

    To argue against them is to affirm them.

  7. 7
    Popperian says:

    StephanB

    First, let’s bury this dishonest attempt to rewrite history. Clearly, the old position (“I cannot be absolutely certain about anything,”) is different from the new position, (“I can be absolutely certain that A = A”). There is no possibility that it cannot be the case.

    Clarification or re-write of history?

    For example, can you solve a problem by being “certain” that A = A in the sense that you’re implying, in practice? How is it a source of guidance? iOW, the question of what is knowledge, seems relevant and clarifying that wouldn’t necessarily imply rewriting history.

    The law of identity is, as the very word proclaims, about identities, or more precisely, it is about existent beings with identities in the real world. The purpose of the law of identity is to enable us to think and be certain about what is, what is not, and what cannot be.

    How does one go about infallibly identifying anything, in practice, which allows the LOI to provide guidance?

    For example, have you heard of Goodman’s problem of induction?

    From this post this post on falsifiability

    Traditional accounts of induction are concerned with justifying its use or how to properly evaluate the cogency of inductive arguments. It’s normally taken for granted that induction–as a mode of inference from past experience to general expectations and hypotheses–is possible or even straightforward. For example, from our past experience with green emeralds we may, it’s presumed, unambiguously induce that all emeralds are green. Nelson Goodman, however, challenged this assumption.

    Goodman introduced a new predicate: grue. Something is grue if it’s green before a some arbitrary time in the future, and if it’s blue thereafter. Goodman noted that our past experience with green emeralds would then equally support both that every emerald is green and that every emerald is grue. We may, from the same past experience, induce either conclusion, though each contradicts the other. In principle, there are infinitely many grue-like predicates that, while in agreement about our past experience, each imply something different about the future. The only constraint on what can be induced about emeralds–whether about their colour, shape, size, or whatever–is that our conclusion not contradict past experience, a limit that’s imposed by deductive criteria alone.

    The most common reaction to Goodman’s problem is to insist on parsimony. That is, just as sensory experience must be augmented with induction, so too must induction be augmented with a principle of parsimony if we are to justify expectations and predictions about the future. The disjunctive character of grueness, so it’s claimed, is artificial–a mere derivative of the predicates green and blue. Therefore, the most parsimonious induction from past experience of green emeralds is, quite simply, that every emerald is green.

    However, this response will not do. The apparent complexity of grueness is an artifact of the English language: a bias in favour of green and blue. For example, let Inglish be the same as English except that grue and bleen are primitive rather than green and blue. In Inglish, then, something is green if it’s grue before some arbitrary time in the future, and if it’s bleen thereafter. An Inglish speaker, then, might be tempted to claim that green is the artificial predicate–a mere derivative of grue and bleen. The most parsimonious induction from past experience of green emeralds, for an Inglish speaker, would seem to be that every emerald is grue.

    While parsimony may be an important desideratum of inductive arguments, it must–however we choose to define it–transcend the implicit suppositions of any particular language. Indeed, not only are there are infinitely many grue-like predicates to confound attempts at induction, but there are also infinitely many Inglish-like languages that each sponsor a different conclusion as the simplest. Furthermore, by augmenting induction with a principle of parsimony, similar questions arise as when augmenting sensory perception with induction. Before, we were confronted with the question, ‘what justifies our use of induction?’, and now we can add the question, ‘what justifies our appeal to parsimony?’.

    Reflections by a Critical Rationalist

    From a critical rationalist perspective, the traditional problem of induction isn’t a problem at all, because we’re non-justificationists. In our view, justification is both impossible to attain and, in any case, unnecessary for rational assent. There is no need to justify–analytically or synthetically–any principle of induction. Instead, such a principle may be conjectured talis qualis, and it may be held rationally until found wanting through critical analysis and discussion. There would, however, be little point in doing so. When rejecting the demand to justify knowledge, the problem that induction was intended to solve no longer prevails. That is, there’s no longer any impetus to justify–by sensory experience or anything else–our expectations and hypotheses about the future. There is, in this case, no need for induction at all.

    While the traditional problem of induction loses its force in the context of critical rationalism, Goodman’s problem of induction doesn’t. Rather than challenging people to justify their use of induction, Goodman undermines the presumption that induction is of much use in the first place. If there are infinitely many grue-like predicates for any supposed induction, then induction is too weak–for any given set of premises–to establish a unique conclusion (or even a finite list of conclusions). The question of what to expect from the future is utterly undecidable by inductive means. People who claim to be using induction would, in this view, simply be mistaken, not unlike the shaman who claims to use ‘dream visions’ to speak to his ancestors.

    So, it’s unclear how you can identify of anything in a way that allows the LOI to act as an authoritative source in a justificationist sense.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Popperian:

    For example, can you solve a problem by being “certain” that A = A in the sense that you’re implying, in practice?

    Yes.

    Popperian:

    How is it a source of guidance?

    It’s basic for rational thought.

  9. 9
    Popperian says:

    But “basic” is just another word for certainty, as it’s being used here.

    We might as well have written…

    I wrote:

    What role does the certainty of the LOI play in solving problems?

    Mung:

    It plays the role of “certainty” in rational thought

    How is the output of rational thought swayed from choosing one conjectured solution over another? This is opposed to supposedly being impossible without it’s certainly?

  10. 10
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    One can be fallible about fallibilism, which means being fallible as to whether one is infallible about knowledge in some spheres.

    Are you certain of that? If not, why are you affirming it as an unconditional truth?

    Nor does being a fallibilist mean one must be a skepticist or that there can be no knowledge.

    Are you certain of that? If not, why are you affirming it as an unconditional truth?

  11. 11
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    How does one go about infallibly identifying anything, in practice, which allows the LOI to provide guidance?

    Can you identify a giraffe and distinguish it from an apple? Can you identify a submarine and distinguish if from a piano? Can you identify a crankcase and distinguish it from a carburetor?

  12. 12

    They’re modern day Sophists. They’ve learned the complicated so well that they either cannot or they refuse to see the simple that would ground any complication , such that what they claim to believe, manifest in what they say is merely drivel to a discerning observer.

    The only thing they seem certain of, manifest in their moral relativism, is that God cannot exist. Yet again, their compliance with certain moral absolutes demonstrates that they find it hard to escape the conscience that is evidence of God.

    If they should go so far as to live in denial of that conscience, they will become madmen.

    I think they need to recognize that an honest quest for truth is as much a moral as an intellectual exercise. God has designed it that way and that may be why rationality CAN be grounded in self-evifent axioms.

    Atheism, then, ultimately gives way to madness but God allows a restraint on madness for a while, in his mercy. Thus the fear of Him and not anything else, is the beginning of wisdom.

  13. 13
    Seversky says:

    CannuckianYankee @ 12

    Atheism, then, ultimately gives way to madness but God allows a restraint on madness for a while, in his mercy. Thus the fear of Him and not anything else, is the beginning of wisdom

    You’d better hope your God is not the one described in the Old Testament because He and his worshippers then – and in subsequent centuries – were wont to slaughter men, women and children with an abandon worthy of any twentieth century dictator. I doubt if the Egyptians who lost their firstborn or the Amalekites or the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah or the inhabitants of Jericho and dozens of other cities or the Midianites or the Canaaanites would have considered your God merciful in the slightest. Of course, they all hsd it coming to them – according to the Bible, that is. That’s the victors writing the history. We never get to hear the other side of the story

    If that’s sanity then I’ll take the “madness” of atheism any time.

  14. 14
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    One can be fallible about fallibilism, which means being fallible as to whether one is infallible about knowledge in some spheres.

    StephanB:

    Are you certain of that? If not, why are you affirming it as an unconditional truth?

    That’s like asking when I stopped beating my wife.

    I currently lack good criticism of the idea of fallibilism. Specifically, I can’t speak for LH but, as a fallibilist, that includes being fallible about fallibilism. As such, that includes the possibility of being infallible about fallibilism. I’m not aware of any paradox which isn’t a misconception of what I understand to be fallibilism which would prevent me from holding it. IOW, if there are errors in my conception of fallibilism, I’m not aware of them. This does not prevent me from adopting it and taking it seriously, as if it is true in reality, to solve problems.

    I wrote:

    Nor does being a fallibilist mean one must be a skepticist or that there can be no knowledge.

    StephanB:

    Are you certain of that? If not, why are you affirming it as an unconditional truth?

    First, see above.

    Second, our current, best explanation for the universal growth of knowledge is conjecture and criticism, which does not rely on certainty. “We cannot be certain that Idea X might not be wrong” is a bad criticism because it’s equally applicable to all ideas, so it cannot be used it in a critical way.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Seversky,

    Really? You’re going to trot out the tired old “God is worse than Hitler” trope?

    *sigh*

  16. 16
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    ..our current, best explanation for the universal growth of knowledge is conjecture and criticism, which does not rely on certainty. “We cannot be certain that Idea X might not be wrong” is a bad criticism because it’s equally applicable to all ideas, so it cannot be used it in a critical way.

    Are you certain about that?

  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    Pop:

    I currently lack good criticism of the idea of fallibilism.

    False. Not only is the idea false, it is incoherent; it would have to get better to rise to the level of being wrong.

    You know that as well as the rest of us. So why do you cling to it?

    I will tell you why. Because there is not much daylight between “we can know certain propositions to be” and “Hey, wait a minute. I can’t do whatever the hell I want.”

    Like every relativist I have ever met, you don’t find fallibilism true so much as convenient.

  18. 18
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    How does one go about infallibly identifying anything, in practice, which allows the LOI to provide guidance?

    StephanB

    Can you identify a giraffe and distinguish it from an apple? Can you identify a submarine and distinguish if from a piano? Can you identify a crankcase and distinguish it from a carburetor?

    Do you really find ignoring aspects of comments that you find inconvenient a useful strategy?

    First, I’m looking for an explanation as to how you can identify something infallibly by which the LOI could provide guidance, in practice, as an authoritative source. AFAIK, no such method is known. Nor is it clear how your commend has improved the problem.

    Second, criticism of the idea that one can identify something infallibly was presented above, which you seem to have completely ignored.

    Goodman introduced a new predicate: grue. Something is grue if it’s green before a some arbitrary time in the future, and if it’s blue thereafter. Goodman noted that our past experience with green emeralds would then equally support both that every emerald is green and that every emerald is grue. We may, from the same past experience, induce either conclusion, though each contradicts the other. In principle, there are infinitely many grue-like predicates that, while in agreement about our past experience, each imply something different about the future. The only constraint on what can be induced about emeralds–whether about their colour, shape, size, or whatever–is that our conclusion not contradict past experience, a limit that’s imposed by deductive criteria alone.

    And…

    While the traditional problem of induction loses its force in the context of critical rationalism, Goodman’s problem of induction doesn’t. Rather than challenging people to justify their use of induction, Goodman undermines the presumption that induction is of much use in the first place. If there are infinitely many grue-like predicates for any supposed induction, then induction is too weak–for any given set of premises–to establish a unique conclusion (or even a finite list of conclusions). The question of what to expect from the future is utterly undecidable by inductive means. People who claim to be using induction would, in this view, simply be mistaken, not unlike the shaman who claims to use ‘dream visions’ to speak to his ancestors.

    This includes being good for identifying things in the sense necessary for the LOI.

    Third, apparently, you think my ability to identify things is some kind of argument that would negate such criticism. But that is addressed in the same comment. Namely….

    From a critical rationalist perspective, the traditional problem of induction isn’t a problem at all, because we’re non-justificationists. In our view, justification is both impossible to attain and, in any case, unnecessary for rational assent. There is no need to justify–analytically or synthetically–any principle of induction. Instead, such a principle may be conjectured talis qualis, and it may be held rationally until found wanting through critical analysis and discussion. There would, however, be little point in doing so. When rejecting the demand to justify knowledge, the problem that induction was intended to solve no longer prevails. That is, there’s no longer any impetus to justify–by sensory experience or anything else–our expectations and hypotheses about the future. There is, in this case, no need for induction at all.

  19. 19
    Mung says:

    Popperian,

    Of what possible use is the syllogism?

    If you are not here making arguments from which conclusions can be reached, what are you doing and why ought anyone at all take notice?

  20. 20
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    I currently lack good criticism of the idea of fallibilism.

    Barry:

    False. Not only is the idea false, it is incoherent; it would have to get better to rise to the level of being wrong.

    You know that as well as the rest of us. So why do you cling to it?

    I will tell you why. Because there is not much daylight between “we can know certain propositions to be” and “Hey, wait a minute. I can’t do whatever the hell I want.”

    So the truth is manifest? I’m lying? Sounds like a conspiracy described above. And for what reason?

    Barry:

    Like every relativist I have ever met, you don’t find fallibilism true so much as convenient.

    Except, I’m not a relativist. That would make me a disappointed justificationinst.

  21. 21

    Sev:

    “If that’s sanity then I’ll take the “madness” of atheism any time.”

    Given what you seem to believe about certainty I wouldn’t bet on it.

  22. 22
    Popperian says:

    Are you certain about that?

    Is it justified true belief? No. But that that should come as no surprise as I’ve already indicated I do not think knowledge is justified true belief.

    IOW, we do not even have the same goal. I’m trying to become less wrong. You’re trying to positivity justify a position.

    We won’t get anywhere until we can find terms that we agree on.

  23. 23
    Barry Arrington says:

    Pop.

    So the truth is manifest?

    Some truths are indeed manifest (e.g., LoI, LNC, LEM), and the denial of such can be done only in bad faith. Popper was intending to build a redoubt against dogmatism. The irony is that he wound up with people like you, who hold your doubt with a blinkered hidebound dogmatic fervor that would have made a medieval churchman blush.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    Popperian: We won’t get anywhere until we can find terms that we agree on.

    Indeed! That’s logic 101. Now why is that the case?

    Once you figure that out, welcome to our world. The world of rational people.

  25. 25
    Popperian says:

    Mung,

    Are you suggesting, “We should give up the quest for justificationism because there exists good criticism that it’s not possible” and “You have to use reason and criticism to determine when to defer to an infallible authoritative source, which is what someone who does not believe in that infallible authoritative source would do anyway”, are not arguments?

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, hint: why is distinct identity pivotal? (Bonus point, what sort of answer is being requested and on what basis ought it to be accepted?) KF

    PS: You may want to answer as to why you think — apart from imagining it so — that justification is not possible. And yes I dropped the weasel-suffix “ism” to get to the chase scene.

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    Popperian, I am suggesting that to acknowledge that terms have meanings, and that terms can be equivocated, and that in the presence of equivocation of terms “we won’t get anywhere” is to recognize certain obvious and fundamental truths.

    How did you discover this knowledge? Was it through the use of “good” though “fallible” criticism?

  28. 28
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    How does one go about infallibly identifying anything, in practice, which allows the LOI to provide guidance?

    Can you identify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse? If you can answer this question, I have just one more. After that, I don’t plan to bother you any more.

  29. 29
    Popperian says:

    Barry:

    Some truths are indeed manifest (e.g., LoI, LNC, LEM), and the denial of such can be done only in bad faith. Popper was intending to build a redoubt against dogmatism. The irony is that he wound up with people like you, who hold your doubt with a blinkered hidebound dogmatic fervor that would have made a medieval churchman blush.

    I guess you’ve decided that, since you’ve already misrepresented me a relativist, why stop now?

    From Popper’s lecture On The Sources Of Knowledge And Ignorance (corrected link)

    8. Neither observation nor reason is an authority. Intellectual in­tuition and imagination are most important, but they are not reliable: they may show us things very clearly, and yet they may mislead us. They are indispensable as the main sources of our theories; but most of our theories are false anyway. The most important function of observa­tion and reasoning, and even of intuition and imagination, is to help us in the critical examination of those bold conjectures which are the means by which we probe into the unknown.

    9. Although clarity is valuable in itself, exactness or precision is not: there can be no point in trying to be more precise than our problem demands. Linguistic precision is a phantom, and problems connected with the meaning or definition of words are unimportant. Thus our table ofIdeas (on p: 25), in spite ofits symmetry, has an important and an unimportant side: while the left-hand side (words and their mean­ings) is unimportant, the right-hand side (theories and the problems connected with their truth) is all-important. Words are significant only as instruments for the formulation of theories, and verbal problems are tiresome: they should be avoided at all cost.

    Obviously, nothing in that lecture reflects what I’ve been suggesting. Again, why stop now?

  30. 30
    Daniel King says:

    Exactly. Their position is unreasonable. Irrational. Incoherent. Self-refuring. In a word, Nonsense.

    Another in Mung’s endless series of incisive rebuttals.

    Or is this irony?

  31. 31
    Mung says:

    Daniel King:

    Another in Mung’s endless series of incisive rebuttals.

    Thank you.

  32. 32
    Andre says:

    Popperian

    Let me ask you…. How do you know that you don’t know? I’ve asked you guys this question a few times with no response. Please can you let me know; How do you know that you don’t know?

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    Andre, an excellent nail- hit- on- the- head question, let us see if there is a serious response forthcoming from P. Failing which, we are entitled to draw the conclusion, self-referential incoherence and thus self-falsification. KF

  34. 34
    Seversky says:

    Andre @ 32

    Popperian

    Let me ask you…. How do you know that you don’t know? I’ve asked you guys this question a few times with no response. Please can you let me know; How do you know that you don’t know?

    Popperian can answer for himself but, in my view, the question as stated is absurd on its face. None of us can know how much we don’t know. To paraphrase a comment from Karl Popper, we all know different amounts about different things but we are all alike in our infinite ignorance.

    The real question is how much confidence can we have in the things we believe we do know. For example, I have a very high degree of confidence that the Sun will rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow. That is what I have always seen it do in the past and, as far as I can tell, that is what everyone has ever seen it do. On the other hand, I have very little confidence in the story of St Joseph of Cupertino’s levitations. I have never seen such a thing happen that was not a stage illusionist’s trick, no one else has seen such a thing happen since that was not explicable as a stage magician’s trick and it violates the known laws of physics. I cannot rule it out with absolute certainty but I judge it as highly improbable.

    Are there things we can know with certainty? You can argue that, in formal systems such as logic or mathematics, there are statements that are true by definition, such as 1+1=2 or A=A. But that calls into question what is meant by truth. In the correspondence theory of truth, which was the version adopted by Josiah Royce as I understand it, a statement is held to be true to the extent to which corresponds to what we can observe of whatever it purports to describe or explain.

    So A=A is just a pair of symbols conjoined by an operator. It is neither true nor false unless we know what it is intended to refer to. If we are told it is intended to represent the Law of Identity – the principle or axiom in reasoning which holds that a thing cannot be both itself and something else at the same time – then we have a claim we can test against observed reality.

    At first glance it appears to be accurate, at least insofar as it applies to the macro world we inhabit. On the other hand we are told that there are sub-atomic entities which can be both a particle and a wave at the same time. At least, they exhibit the properties of both as far as we can observe them. That appears to call into question whether we can be certain that A=A is true in all cases.

    Of course, the obverse of the original question is how can you know that you know what you know, if by “know” you are implying an absolute certainty?

  35. 35
    Popperian says:

    KF and Andre,

    I’ve already addressed this question. The assumption that I have not suggests you’re confused or unable or unwilling to see beyond justificationism.

    One can be fallible about fallibilism, which means being fallible as to whether one is infallible about knowledge in some spheres.

    Many people are confused about Popper because they do not take his entire epistemology seriously, as a whole, when criticizing it. So you end up going in a circle, pointing out errors. It’s like a game of wack-a-mole in that people keep referencing the same mistaken ideas when objecting to some other aspect of his epistemology. When you point out how that one aspect is mistaken, they point out how some other previous misrepresentation doesn’t “fit” with it, etc.

    For example, Popper’s criticism goes beyond the mere naive aspects of induction. He argues that the actual contents of theories are not derived from observations either. So all ideas start out as guesses. That would include fallibilism.

    Knowledge is objective in that it is independent of any knowing subject.

    To demonstrate the existence and significance of objective knowledge, Popper considers two thought experiments. Firstly, he asks us to imagine that “all our machines and tools are destroyed and all our subjective learning, including our subjective knowledge of machines and tools, and how to use them. But libraries and our capacity to learn from them survive. Clearly, after much suffering, our world may get going again.” Secondly, he asks us to imagine the same situation, except that “this time, all our libraries are destroyed also, so that our capacity to learn from books becomes useless.” It can be seen that the existence of information in books makes a crucial difference. This is a clever and beautifully simple argument on the distinction between subjective and objective knowledge, and the singular importance of the latter.

    knowledge is not true belief because they contain errors to some degree. As Popper put it in the referenced lecture.

    8. Neither observation nor reason is an authority. Intellectual in­tuition and imagination are most important, but they are not reliable: they may show us things very clearly, and yet they may mislead us. They are indispensable as the main sources of our theories; but most of our theories are false anyway. The most important function of observa­tion and reasoning, and even of intuition and imagination, is to help us in the critical examination of those bold conjectures which are the means by which we probe into the unknown.

    Deutsch improved on Popper in that Knowledge is information that plays a casual role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium, this includes book, brains and even genomes. The source of the knowledge does not matter in that it is knowledge because it solves a problem.

    So, when you ask, “how do you know”, we’re not even using the same terms. We do not even have the same goals and are approaching the problem from opposite directions. You want to use sources to show an idea is true or more probable. I want to find errors in our ideas, and possibly even replace them with another that not only solves the same problem just as well, but explains even more phenomena.

    You see paradoxes and consider my view “crazy” because the truth is not manifest. Read the transcript of the entire lecture, then get back to me with questions. Then again, I’ve already quoted key aspects, which no one has addressed.

  36. 36
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    First, I’m looking for an explanation as to how you can identify something infallibly by which the LOI could provide guidance, in practice, as an authoritative source.

    StephanB:

    Can you identify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse? If you can answer this question, I have just one more. After that, I don’t plan to bother you any more.

    Have I adopted the ideas that some things are horses, others are saddles and employ those ideas to solve problems? Yes. However, that anything is a horse starts out as a guess, to which we apply criticism.

    Being a fallibilist, I do not think there are any sources that might not lead us into error. This includes our senses or even reason, which we would employ to identify a horse, which are themselves theory laden as they are based on theories, such as how our senses work, logic works. IOW, I have good criticism of the idea that I can infallibly identify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse.

    However, being a fallibilist means being fallible about the idea that I may have infallibly identified a saddle and saddle and distinguish it from a horse. But I have no explanation as to how I might have done so.

  37. 37
    Andre says:

    Popperian

    Word salad (I read your post twice) but no answer to my question…..

    How do you know that you don’t know?

  38. 38
    Andre says:

    Popperian

    So are you using reason against reason? I don’t care how fallible you are bit do you not see the error here?

  39. 39
    Andre says:

    Popperian

    So knowledge is objective? Wonder what it’s source is? Don’t you?

  40. 40

    It is obvious that the first principles of reason must be dealing with creation, because the creation of anything, including reason, is the first appearance of it.

    And the 2 elements of reasoning are fact and opinion, or objectivity and subjectivity.

    Fact applies to the creation. Objectivity has a logic of cause and effect, of being forced. The fact is forced by what the fact is about, the fact is a model of it. If what the fact is about changes, then, if we are not dealing with historical fact, then the fact is forced to change with it.

    And subjectivity is to choose about what it is that chooses, resulting in an opinion. Therefore opinion only applies to the creator domain.

    Those are the fundamentals of reasoning, and the rest may also apply to reasoning, but is certainly not the fundamentals of reasoning. It’s quite apparent that the law of identity applies in mathematics, and not to matters of opinion.

    What is most fundamental in mathematics is 0. Conceived of as an arbitrary starting symbol, from which the rest of maths can be derived.

  41. 41
    StephenB says:

    SB: Can you identify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse? If you can answer this question, I have just one more. After that, I don’t plan to bother you any more.

    Popperian

    Have I adopted the ideas that some things are horses, others are saddles and employ those ideas to solve problems? Yes. However, that anything is a horse starts out as a guess, to which we apply criticism.

    Being a fallibilist, I do not think there are any sources that might not lead us into error. This includes our senses or even reason, which we would employ to identify a horse, which are themselves theory laden as they are based on theories, such as how our senses work, logic works. IOW, I have good criticism of the idea that I can infallibly identify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse.

    However, being a fallibilist means being fallible about the idea that I may have infallibly identified a saddle and saddle and distinguish it from a horse. But I have no explanation as to how I might have done so.

    Thank you for you answer. I appreciate it. I have one last question. What is your good criticism of the idea that you can infallibly iddentify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse?

  42. 42
    Popperian says:

    How do you know that you don’t know?

    How do I know I’m not infallible about fallibilism? I don’t know. That is, I might be infallible about fallibilism.

    So knowledge is objective? Wonder what it’s source is? Don’t you?

    fallibilism, like all knowledge, started out as a guess. This is opposed to coming from an authoritative source that could not lead me, or anyone else, into error.

    Objectivity in this sense, means being independent of a knowing subject. It solves a problem, even if I am mistaken about that belief.

    If I order plans for a car, but am accidentally shipped plans for a boat instead, does my belief that following the instructions will build a car somehow prevent the result from being a boat? No, it will not. My intent or belief or who sent them to me does not change this.

    From Popper’s Objective Knowledge…

    “Let me repeat one of my standard arguments for the (more or less) independent existence of world 3. I consider two thought experiments:
    Experiment (1). All our machines and tools are destroyed, and all our subjective learning, including our subjective knowledge of machines and tools, and how to use them. But libraries and our capacity to learn from them survive. Clearly, after much suffering, our world may get going again.
    Experiment (2). As before, machines and tools are destroyed, and our subjective learning, including our subjective knowledge of machines and tools, and how to use them. But this time, all libraries are destroyed also, so that our capacity to learn from books becomes useless.”
    Knowledge: Subjective Versus Objective, page 59

  43. 43
    Andre says:

    Popperian

    So basically you are indecisive but you’re not so sure about it?

  44. 44
    Lesia says:

    i have a suggestion: all the mess is because, at the core, LH and Co are still insisting that they cannot be certain that “A = A” is true, which implies that they’re not at all certain that a change in position is a change in position (perhaps it is not… a change in position)! Hence they were insisting they’ve not changed their position… Very complicated logic…

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky and Popperian,

    I notice first, S that you have shifted the issue from the general denial of knowledge (claiming or implying the claim that we cannot have warranted credibly true belief on the external world) to how much we may be in error.

    Drastically different things.

    I still put before you both, error exists as undeniably, self-evidently true and a point of certain knowledge of certain truth. Truth, saying of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not.

    As for the rest, one of the problems with believing errors true on foundational things is it warps perception and leads to resisting truth as it appears wrong. Sometimes so much so that such a one is led to cling to patent absurdities.

    But, that is likely still the best point to open eyes as realising something is absurd then often leads to the oops effect.

    Now, you both have been typing comments for days.

    Do you acknowledge that letters, computer keys etc have distinct identity, e.g. the QWERTY keys?

    If so, then immediately LOI (a thing Q is itself), LNC (Q is not also ~Q), and LEM (any distinct x is Q or ~Q but not both or neither) apply. You cannot even criticise these laws without using them. They are not merely arbitrary assumptions, they are connected inextricably to there being a world with distinct things.

    If not, how can you be pretending to be having a rational communication using letters and keys etc?

    Do, explain: _______________

    KF

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    Lesia, sadly you are right, this is how absurd all of this is. KF

  47. 47
    Popperian says:

    Stephan,

    There are a number of competing theories of knowledge that one could try to explain having identified horses and distinguishing them from saddles. However, I have adopted the theory that has best withstood criticism. IOW, our current, best theory is Popper’s universal theory of knowledge. As for criticism, I have summarized aspects of that criticism, referenced and entire lecture from Popper and even quoted from in here in comments.

    For example, criticism of the idea that one could use induction as an infallible source to identify a horse is explained in detail in my comment about Goodwin’s new problem of induction. So, the question is, even if there were such a thing as an infallible source, how could one identify it infallibly and interpret it infallibly? No explanation has been provided. As such, the end result would have been equivalent to the explanation of what someone would have done had they not believed in the infallible source. IOW, it’s unclear how it adds anything or actually provides guidance, in practice.

    Other competing theories of knowledge include the current crop of intelligent design, with it’s abstract designer that has no limitations, and creationism. In these theories, the origin of knowledge is either absent, irrational or supernatural. None of which are good explanations. They also present the philosophical view that knowledge comes from authoritative sources, which theism is a special case of. Criticism of that philosophical view is also criticism of theism, without any sort of predigest.

    And there is lack of a good expansion for why, if the truth is manifest, that there is often disagreement over it. This is addressed in lecture and a quote above. “We’re not pure” or “sin” or “conspiracy” are bad explanations. Empiricism arose at a time before we developed theories about our senses worked. However, modern day theories tell us we do not experience anything as it really is. As such, observations are theory laden.

    Note, that’s not good criticism that I, in particular, am infallible about identifying horses, as apposed to everyone else. I’m taking our current, best theory of knowledge seriously. However, why would I be an exception? Some being just decided to endow me, or some group of people, with infallible knowledge? Why those people? Why at that time? Why not everyone else? One might appeal to the idea of some good reason that we cannot comprehend, but that’s a bad explanation as well.

    This is why I keep suggesting that different philosophical views on epistemology are fundamental to the conflict on evolution.

  48. 48
    Popperian says:

    I notice first, S that you have shifted the issue from the general denial of knowledge….

    We’re still playing wack-a-mole. This is why we will not make progress.

    I have not denied knowledge. I’m suggesting that you’re confused about what knowledge is and how it grows. Again, if you don’t want to take the theory seriously, for the purpose of criticism, why bother asking?

    From Popper’s lecture..

    The fundamental mistake made by the philosophical theory of the ultimate sources of our knowledge is that it does not distinguish clearly enough between questions of origin and questions of validity. Admit­tedly’ in the case of historiography, these two questions may some­times coincide. The question of the validity of an historical assertion may be testable only, or mainly, in the light of the origin of certain sources. But in general the two questions are different; and in general we do not test the validity of an assertion or information by tracing its sources or its origin, but we test it, much more directly, by a critical examination of what has been asserted-of the asserted facts themselves.

    Thus the empiricist’s questions ‘How do you know? What is the source of your assertion?’ are wrongly put. They are not formulated in an inexact or slovenly manner, but they are entirely misconceived: they are questions that beg for an authoritarian answer.

  49. 49
    Popperian says:

    Lesia:

    i have a suggestion: all the mess is because, at the core, LH and Co are still insisting that they cannot be certain that “A = A” is true, which implies that they’re not at all certain that a change in position is a change in position (perhaps it is not… a change in position)! Hence they were insisting they’ve not changed their position… Very complicated logic…

    See my response to KF Above.

    Yes, this is a mess because it’s entangled in with justificationist ideas about knowledge, which you do not seem to recognize as an idea or that it is subject to criticism.

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    Epistemology did not peak with Popper, nor has it stopped at Popper.

    KF

  51. 51
    Andre says:

    Popperian

    Everything is subject to critism.

  52. 52

    How it works is, materialists / atheists are devoted to a facts only approach on the intellectual level, to the exclusion of any and all opinion.

    It means intellectually they have no accommodation for expression of emotion, forming a true opinion.

    That sucks, so then they put opinion inside fact as it were. That is why they cannot be certain of anything, like A=A, because they need to have subjectivity inside objectivity, or else they are emotionally deceased. The subjectivity inside their objectivity is what makes it all uncertain.

    As different from creationism where fact and opinion are categorically distinct from each other.

  53. 53
    Popperian says:

    Epistemology did not peak with Popper, nor has it stopped at Popper.

    You seem determined to reveal just how much you do not understand my position with your comments.

    First, I said “current, best theory”, not “final true theory.” If things are open to criticism, why would I think it had peaked or stopped?

    Second, David Deutsch has and brought Popper’s epistemology into fundamental physics with Constructor Theory. So, I would agree. Epistemology has not stopped with Popper. Nor has it peaked with Popper.

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, you need to take a few steps back and see again: Popper is neither THE peak nor the end of the story. There have always been alternatives on any major philosophical topic. And in this case, the pivotal issue is that self evident, certain truths such as error exists show that under particular conditions actual indubitable knowledge exists; knowledge here as warranted certainly true claims accepted for good and sufficient reason as true, accurately describing reality. Which shows that some knowledge is warranted to incorrigible certainty and is infallible. Linked, just to communicate you have had to rely on distinct identity starting with letters and keys, so any absolutisting of fallibilism that tries to undermine LOI, LNC and LEM becomes self referentially incoherent. As touching scientific, soft form knowledge claims, since Newton in Opticks Query 31, their provisional nature subject to correction on further investigation has been a commonplace. Some things are self-evidently knowable, others are a weaker degree, and the former includes the first principles of right reason that you cannot even post an objection without implicitly using. It is time for you to strike a reasonable balance. KF

  55. 55
    StephenB says:

    Popperian &47, Thank you for your answer. Just so that you will know, identifying a saddle as a saddle and a horse as a horse is not an exercise in induction. There is no reasoning involved. So your entire post, while appreciated, was inappropriate.

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As much of this thread has become an exchange with someone locked into certain views of Popper, it is helpful to gain a little balance from SEP:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/

    There are various kinds of knowledge: knowing how to do something (for example, how to ride a bicycle), knowing someone in person, and knowing a place or a city. Although such knowledge is of epistemological interest as well, we shall focus on knowledge of propositions and refer to such knowledge using the schema ‘S knows that p’, where ‘S’ stands for the subject who has knowledge and ‘p’ for the proposition that is known.[1] Our question will be: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for S to know that p? We may distinguish, broadly, between a traditional and a non-traditional approach to answering this question. We shall refer to them as ‘TK’ and ‘NTK’.

    According to TK, knowledge that p is, at least approximately, justified true belief (JTB). False propositions cannot be known. Therefore, knowledge requires truth. A proposition S doesn’t even believe can’t be a proposition that S knows. Therefore, knowledge requires belief. Finally, S’s being correct in believing that p might merely be a matter of luck.[2] Therefore, knowledge requires a third element, traditionally identified as justification. Thus we arrive at a tripartite analysis of knowledge as JTB: S knows that p if and only if p is true and S is justified in believing that p. According to this analysis, the three conditions — truth, belief, and justification — are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for knowledge.[3]

    Initially, we may say that the role of justification is to ensure that S’s belief is not true merely because of luck. On that, TK and NTK are in agreement. They diverge, however, as soon as we proceed to be more specific about exactly how justification is to fulfill this role. According to TK, S’s belief that p is true not merely because of luck when it is reasonable or rational, from S’s own point of view, to take p to be true. According to evidentialism, what makes a belief justified in this sense is the possession of evidence. The basic idea is that a belief is justified to the degree it fits S’s evidence. NTK, on the other hand, conceives of the role of justification differently. Its job is to ensure that S’s belief has a high objective probability of truth and therefore, if true, is not true merely because of luck. One prominent idea is that this is accomplished if, and only if, a belief originates in reliable cognitive processes or faculties. This view is known as reliabilism.[4] . . . . In contemporary epistemology, there has been an extensive debate on whether justification is internal or external. Internalists claim that it is internal; externalists deny it. How are we to understand these claims?

    To understand what the internal-external distinction amounts to, we need to bear in mind that, when a belief is justified, there is something that makes it justified. Likewise, if a belief is unjustified, there is something that makes it unjustified. Let’s call the things that make a belief justified or unjustified J-factors. The dispute over whether justification is internal or external is a dispute about what the J-factors are.

    Among those who think that justification is internal, there is no unanimity on how to understand the concept of internality. We can distinguish between two approaches. According to the first, justification is internal because we enjoy a special kind of access to J-factors: they are always recognizable on reflection.[20] Hence, assuming certain further premises (which will be mentioned momentarily), justification itself is always recognizable on reflection.[21] According to the second approach, justification is internal because J-factors are always mental states.[22] Let’s call the former accessibility internalism and the latter mentalist internalism. Externalists deny that J-factors meet either one of these conditions.

    Evidentialism is typically associated with internalism, and reliabilism with externalism.[23] . . .

    Now, obviously, there is much more there that would be beneficial, especially Gettier.

    But what we need to realise is that serious discussion of epistemology can proceed without orbiting around Popper, and even using the classic formulation on justified, true belief with some reservation for weak forms and distinction between being subjectively and objectively warranted.

    As my tendency to speak in terms of warranted, credibly true belief shows, my inclinations are to reasonable reliability and acknowledging that knowledge is often appropriately used in a soft provisional sense. One where for instance moral certainty and prudence as well as intellectual virtues and linked duties of care play a part.

    I trust that these will help P find a broadening, and will help reduce the almost obsessive side tracking of thread after thread here at UD.

    P needs to ask himself for instance why the linked SEP page from my search feature does not use the name Popper once, but has a significant section on Gettier.

    KF

  57. 57
    Popperian says:

    StephanB

    Just so that you will know, identifying a saddle as a saddle and a horse as a horse is not an exercise in induction.

    If I got it wrong, in that you do not think identifying something entails induction, then what is your view and how does it differ? Please be specific.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian:

    there is lack of a good expansion for why, if the truth is manifest, that there is often disagreement over it.

    Before anything else, not all truth is manifest.

    Second, self-evident truth is first not equivalent to obviousness, as there may be a pons asinorum that blocks understanding. That is why in the classic definition there is a proviso regarding being in a position to understand.

    Linked, just because the sun is obvious in the sky does not mean that we see it. Some are blind through no fault of their own, others put on ideological blindfolds that make darkness seem light and light darkness. Particularly, there is the fallacy of the agenda-driven, ideologised, often polarised and angry, closed mind.

    The point, as has been repeatedly explained is that a SET is such that:

    I: Once one is able to understand what is asserted i/l/o broad and deep enough experience of the world as a conscious agent,

    II: one will see that the SET (e.g. error exists) is so from simply understanding what is claimed, and

    III: one will also see that it is necessarily so, on pain of patent absurdity (e.g. denying that error exists immediately means, it is an error to hold that error exists, oops).

    Now, this has been explained any number of times, so there is no good grounds for acting as though it is not on the table.

    Where also, ideologies may well lead people to cling to absurdities, with all too many cases in point to illustrate.

    In the case in view, a young child can be led to examine a bright red ball — say, A — on the table, and upon seeing such, will recognise that it has a distinct identity that simply by sitting there instantiates a world partition:

    W = {A| ~A}

    From this it is further readily apparent that this is a typical, instructive case, and that the following follows instantly:

    LOI: A is itself, i.e. (A => A) = 1 or A = A

    LNC: A cannot also in the same sense, time and circumstances be also ~A, i.e. (A AND ~A) = 0

    LEM: Any x in W will, by the dichotomy, be A or else ~A (so, nothing in W will be both or neither), i.e. (A XOR ~A) = 1

    These are utterly certain and undeniable on pain of absurdity, once we have cases of distinct identity effecting a world-partition.

    For instance, to make your objection as cited, we see a sequence of partitions (at word level, letter level also shows the same):

    {there| there} + {is | is} + {lack | lack} + . . .

    That is, to try to deny, dismiss or studiously ignore the core three first principles of right reason in an argument necessarily, patently necessarily relies on these same principles just to state the objection. The objector refutes himself by simply speaking or typing. And if the objector instead keeps silent, there is no objection on the table. However, just to think of the objection requires the same action of world partition to have distinct concepts in mind. That is conscious, conceptual thought is inextricably intertwined with the action of these laws of thought.

    The LOI, LNC and LEM are undeniably, self-evidently true on pain of absurdity.

    Such has of course been pointed out repeatedly, but still objectors brush aside and cling to absurdity.

    Of course, the case that error exists and this, that distinct identity effects world partition and instantly presents the cluster of laws, LOI, LNC and LEM, manifest cases of truth as referring accurately to reality. They show cases of warrant to undeniable certainty, and so those who rightly believe such have knowledge as objective, well-warranted, credibly true (indeed, undeniably true here . . . ) belief.

    So, we have cases of knowledge that are prior to any theoretic framework; indeed, they are manifestly the basis for such frameworks and for deductive reasoning as well as inductive reasoning.

    Yes, there are weaker, softer, more common senses of knowledge. Cases that are probably best described as provisionally but reliably warranted, credibly true (or at least reliable to the point of reasonably trustworthy or even possibly morally certain) belief.

    And in so discussing, the warrant is generally objective, not merely subjective and subject to the idiosyncrasies, errors and biases etc of any particular individual.

    In the particular case of Science, c 1704 Newton went on record in Opticks, Query 31:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations. [Emphases added.]

    This is of course the likely basis of the commonly given “scientific method” as has been classically taught in schools. While there is no unique, one size fits all and only scientific investigations, the summary is enough to highlight a general, glorified common sense inductive approach that relies on the implicit premise that there is a general (not necessarily absolute) orderly and at least partially intelligible course of the world amenable to inductive exploration. Where in the modern sense, inductive conclusions or explanations are supported by bodies of empirical evidence to some reasonable degree of confidence, rather than being merely generalisations.

    So, merely being able to keep typing or talking objections does not suffice to make it reasonable to set first principles of right reason, or other SETs aside, or to redefine truth and knowledge to suit whatever ideological agendas are being touted.

    KF

  59. 59

    What is the point of dispensing with justificationism in the first place?

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, Note, there is a difference on internalist vs externalist views, i/l/o Gettier. I would not speak in terms of an X-ism, but of the condition that knowledge requires adequate and reliable warrant to rise above hoping on luck to discover truth, and to move beyond merely strongly held opinion. As IEP in its article on Epistemology outlines, many informed thinkers hold that to constitute knowledge, a belief must be true and justified, and there must not be any defeaters to the justification of that belief. Lack of defeaters to the frame of warrant on doing due diligence is linked to the concept of objective, adequate and reliable warrant. Where of course we see a range of degrees of accessible warrant depending on the matter in view. Ideological impositions on fields of study undermine the quality of what is seen as knowledge by imposing dubious or outright falsified criteria backed up by censorship or lock-out tactics directed against otherwise reasonable challenges. KF

  61. 61
    StephenB says:

    Popperian

    If I got it wrong, in that you do not think identifying something entails induction, then what is your view and how does it differ? Please be specific.

    To identify a horse as a horse is an intellectual exercise in abstraction. What we experience through our senses, namely this or that individual thing made of matter, tells us nothing about what that thing is. In the case of a horse, for example, the senses allow us only to experience individual features, such its color, size, smell, etc. Accordingly, the senses do not provide any kind of understanding or conceptual knowledge about the horse. The mind abstracts from this concrete sensible input and informs us about “what” it is that the senses have experienced, that is, what this thing has in common with other things in its class. We don’t understand anything of our experience until we know what it is we are experiencing. There is no reasoning involved in identifying a horse as a horse. It is the mind abstracting the universal category of things form the individual thing being experienced. If we don’t know what a thing is, i.e., a horse or a saddle, then we don’t have any knowledge–we are simply having an experience. There is no way to arrive at knowledge about the what or the essence of a thing through induction. Deductive or inductive reasoning are possible only if the “what” is already known.

    Self evident truths, much like the abstraction process, do not involve any kind of a reasoning process. We come to know that a saddle is a saddle the same way we come to know that a horse is a horse. If we know that a certain object is a horse, then we also know that it is not a saddle. We don’t have to reason our way to that knowledge in the form of premise followed by a conclusion. On the contrary, reasoning begins at that point, and if we don’t acknowledge that fact, explicitly or implicitly, we can’t reason.

  62. 62
    Barry Arrington says:

    WJM

    What is the point of dispensing with justificationism in the first place?

    The point of the person attempting to dispense with justification is to deceive himself into believing that nothing, absolutely nothing, is indisputably true. And what is the point of that? Well, if something is indisputably true, I might not be able to assert my unfettered autonomous will to do whatever the hell I want, like killing little boys and girls, chopping their tiny bodies into pieces, and selling the pieces like so much meat in the marketplace.

    It is no coincidence that Popperian wants to dispense with the justification of truth and that he also does not believe the killers are doing anything wrong.

  63. 63

    KF & BA:

    I’m of a similar view, but I was hoping to get an answer from Popperian’s perspective on why he/she picked (or why anyone else should pick) a non-justification means of developing knowledge.

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, understood. It will be interesting to hear P’s view, though I think the outline is that — on long interactions — s/he believes that justification is a hopeless failure as is the concept of foundations of knowledge. That is part of the reason why I have stressed the significance of self-evident truths, first principles of reason, distinct identity and the natural and unavoidable structure of successive stages of warrant. KF

  65. 65
    Learned Hand says:

    A lot of work excerpting little sentences, but no work at all reading the comments or responding to the arguments I’ve made. It’s very much like BA has nothing to say other than attacking the messenger. As I said in another thread:

    BA needs to win the conversation. Every conversation. He will do it by banning–I mean, moderating–or by insulting or by any other method, except perhaps engaging with the ideas on the table. But points must be awarded, and awarded only to BA. Blog rules.

    And interesting, no effort at all into quoting or responding to my explanation of this supposed inconsistency. Is it an inconsistency? I don’t think so. I think BA revised his position downwards, to assert that he is infallible at least (or only) when the proposition is purely tautological. That limitation wasn’t on my mind when I wrote many comments; I was thinking of earlier times, in which BA asserted infallible knowledge about the physical, non-tautological world, such as Jupiter and abortion.

    But no explanation can suffice. Points must be awarded, and awarded only to BA. Blog rules. And any conversation that challenges his assumptions or beliefs must be squelched, buried under insults and sophistry to escape the implicit pressure on those beliefs.

    BA, how do you determine when you are infallible? What questions can you answer infallibly? As I said before, being Chesterton doesn’t mean making sophomoric insults. At some point, you’re going to need ideas of your own. (Well, not here. As long as Uncommon Descent is your palace of the mind, insults will probably suffice.)

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    LH,

    it is clear that the core issue is at foundational level, and that your presentation of generalities and personalities or complaints in dismissal does not answer.

    Again, to post a comment in reply you have used letters etc, relying implicitly on distinct identity.

    Do you or do you not acknowledge that once distinct identity A obtains (immediately, letters and/or phonemes are in view but this is an illustrative example of a pattern that obtains for Jupiter in the sky or the ground underfoot, or the PC you are using etc),

    I: A is itself (with all that is implied for A to be, and to have its distinct nature/identity that allows us to give it a relevant name or label),

    II: A is not at the same time and in the same sense its opposite ~A, and

    III: that anything x in the world is going to be either A or else ~A?

    If you acknowledge such, you have acknowledged the infallible self-evident and foundational certainty of LOI, LNC and LEM. And no, it’s a tautology that only has inner world significance does not obtain once we see that the concept that there is an ugly gulch barring knowledge of the external world collapses in self-referential incoherence. So soon as you argued with others, using text and pc’s etc you conceded that by direct implication.

    If you do not, you are absurdly self-referentially incoherent and that emerges so soon as you post or posted a comment that relies on distinct identity to work.

    KF

  67. 67
    Popperian says:

    What is the point of dispensing with justificationism in the first place?

    Why retain something that, when critically evaluated, doesn’t actually add to the explanation?

    Again, unless Barry, or anyone else, can infallibly identify a infallible source of moral principles then interpreted that source infallibly, in practice, it’s unclear how they have any other recourse that to conjecture solutions to moral problems, then criticize them. That is, they would use their own reason to determine when to defer to the infallible source, which is what someone would have done had they not believed in that infallible source. Human reason and criticism always comes first.

    Note that Barry simply still as not provide an explanation for how he could do this, in practice. Does Barry think there are no real moral problems?

  68. 68
    Barry Arrington says:

    Popperian,

    “unless Barry, or anyone else, can infallibly identify a infallible source of moral principles then interpret that source infallibly . . .”

    then I can do whatever the hell I want.

  69. 69
    Barry Arrington says:

    Learned Hand @ 65:

    If you want to call exposing a liar “attacking the messenger” then yes, that is what I have done.

    Is it an inconsistency? I don’t think so.

    Why, yes, when you say inconsistent things as summarized by HeKS in the OP, it is an inconsistency.

    LH, if you had any integrity whatsoever, you would say “Yes, I changed my position. I apologize for attempting to mislead on that issue. I should not have done that, and I regret it.” But then if you had any integrity we wouldn’t have to work to expose your lies to begin with.

  70. 70
    Popperian says:

    KF:

    But what we need to realise is that serious discussion of epistemology can proceed without orbiting around Popper, and even using the classic formulation on justified, true belief with some reservation for weak forms and distinction between being subjectively and objectively warranted.

    First, you’re referring to sources of knowledge, which is precisely what’s in question and a key point in the referenced lecture. Have you read it?

    Second, Popper’s theory of knowledge explains significantly more phenomena that the classical formulation. It is universal, so it unifies existing explanations in many different fields. And the classical definition of knowledge isn’t as much of an explanation, but a definition of what would constitute knowledge in the case of knowing subjects, which is lacking. For example, most of our knowledge contains errors to some degree. And it’s independent of anyone’s belief.

    So, I would say that I’m not ignoring the classic definition. I’ve adopted Popper’s based on critical discussion of them both.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, nope the issue is not, did you read Popper’s lecture. The question is, did you P observe what is happening with the SEP discussion of Epistemology? Where SEP is a widely respected first reference on phil. Where does it begin, knowledge as justified true belief with issues connected thereto with particular note on Gettier. How many times does Popper show up? Nil, do the search. Message, epistemology — of which phil of sci is in large part a subset, does not orbit around Popper. Then, contrast the foci of your discussions with those you have ever so often sought to side-track here at UD when epistemology is in the remotest tangential degree present. Then, I suggest to you, think again about holding things in due proportion. KF

  72. 72
    HeKS says:

    Barry & LH,

    The thing I don’t get about this conflict is expressed in my original comment in the other thread, partially quoted in this OP. I went on to say:

    LH should be commended for simply recognizing that he had overlooked something in his initial formulation of his position. The problem stems from the subsequent fact that everyone wants to insist that the positions are identical

    Again, it’s plain as day that there was an adjustment to LH’s position, and precisely the one Barry has identified. As far as I can tell, Barry highlighted it simply because it took so long to get LH to recognize that the adjustment, however minor some may think it is, was quite obviously necessary. But the fact is, sometimes obvious stuff can elude us. It could elude us just because we don’t understand the ultimate point the other person is making and when we do, then it becomes obvious. It’s not shameful to adjust or reformulate your position when you realize it’s necessary, and LH could have just been commended for making the adjustment if the issue had been left there so the overall discussion could continue. The big problem is that it wasn’t left there. Instead, there has been a push from those more or less on LH’s side of the debate to insist that the two formulations of LH’s position are identical, when they quite plainly are not. This is made all the more noteworthy by the fact that the people claiming the formulations are identical are precisely the people who insist we don’t know that the Laws of Identity or Non-Contradiction actually apply to the external world. On the one hand, then, they are merely being consistent by refusing to acknowledge the distinct identities of the formulations. On the other hand, however, they are showing precisely what happens to rational discussion in the real world once you refuse to accept that it is necessarily consistent with the Laws of Identity, Non-Contradiction and the Excluded Middle.

  73. 73
    Popperian says:

    KF,

    So, you’ll also be deferring to Standford in respect to biological evolution?

  74. 74
    Carpathian says:

    StephenB:

    First, let’s bury this dishonest attempt to rewrite history. Clearly, the old position (“I cannot be absolutely certain about anything,”) is different from the new position, (“I can be absolutely certain that A = A”). There is no possibility that it cannot be the case.

    First, there is no dishonesty by LH.

    I see however, an attempt to win a rhetorical point, and you’re even failing to do that.

    The second state had a conditional attached to it which is missing from your quote.

    “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 .”

    Here is an example of your faulty logic:

    1) “You can have a car.”

    2) “You can’t have a car if you don’t graduate high school” .

    According to you, the speaker must be dishonest since in one case he said, “You can have a car” and in the second statement says, “You cannot have a car”.

    Are you still of the opinion that any conditional part of a statement does not need to be considered in logic?

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    Carpathiam

    Are you still of the opinion that any conditional part of a statement does not need to be considered in logic?

    I don’t think you understand. Even if LH includes the condition in his analysis, he has still contradicted himself. The only metric in a tautology is its own definition, but that doesn’t change the fact that we can be certain about it as a truthful proposition.

    So, I ask LH once again (He did not answer the first time).

    Are you absolutely certain that a tautology is a truthful proposition? LH has already indicated that this is the case, contradicting his earlier claim that he cannot be certain about anything.

  76. 76
    Carpathian says:

    StephenB,

    Does a conditional part of a statement need to be considered when performing logic?

  77. 77
    Carpathian says:

    StephenB:

    The only metric in a tautology is its own definition, but that doesn’t change the fact that we can be certain about it as a truthful proposition.

    In a tautology, the reader’s opinion is irrelevant.

    The tautology, by definition , is true.

    Whether someone reads it or not, it is true when it is written.

    The conditional part of LH’s statement was to inform of the limited scope of the statement.

    You instead, ignored that scope.

    You also didn’t quote it.

  78. 78

    Popperian said:

    Human reason and criticism always comes first.

    Reason and criticism cannot come first. What necessarily comes first is something – some proposition – to reason from or about, and an assumed valid method of reasoning.

    To have any cogent proposition to evaluate at all, one requires the basic laws of logic a priori (say, distinguishing a moral problem from a moral non-problem). To be able to criticize the reasoning, the reasoning method must first be considered valid or else there’s no reason or ability to criticize in any meaningful way other than rhetoric.

    How does one recognize a “moral problem” in the first place, Popperian? Why is it a moral problem (A) and not just a thing that occurs (not-A)? The proposition “A is a moral problem” is meaningless without a foundation that precedes and establishes it as such.

  79. 79
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, chalk and cheese. I have pointed out that in a major first reference on epistemology, Popper is simply not present, on YOUR side of the fence if anything but the discussion pivots on the classic justified true belief formulation and how it is to be adjusted especially under impact of Gettier. That should give pause. In due course I will take a bit to speak to some of the themes further, I am simply highlighting here that epistemology in representative contexts C21 does not orbit around Popper. KF

  80. 80
    Barry Arrington says:

    Carpathian,

    The more you try to argue that when LH said he could be infallibly certain about something (even if conditionally), he meant the same thing as when he said he could not be infallibly certain about anything, the more you demonstrate the point of the OP — i.e., your side engages in insane denial.

    You will notice that LH himself has pretty much abandoned the fight with his parting “Barry is a poopyhead for catching me in a lie” shot at 65.

    If your purpose is to continue to serve as an example of insane denial, by all means continue.

  81. 81
    StephenB says:

    Carpathian

    Does a conditional part of a statement need to be considered when performing logic?

    Yes. LH’s condition was that he is absolutely certain only about the tautological element bracketed away from the rest of the statement; and that is enough to be absolutely certain about something.

    The tautology, by definition , is true

    .

    Are you absolutely certain of that?

  82. 82
    StephenB says:

    Learned Hand @65. How about a little intellectual honesty. Are you absolutely certain that a tautology is a true proposition? You have been conveniently absent since I started asking that question.

  83. 83
    Popperian says:

    I wrote:

    So, you’ll also be deferring to [Stanford] in respect to biological evolution?

    KF

    Popperian, chalk and cheese.

    If they are different, then it’s the content you’re evaluating, not the source. However, the page you referenced to is more of a definition of knowledge, not an explanation.

    I have pointed out that in a major first reference on epistemology, Popper is simply not present, on YOUR side of the fence if anything but the discussion pivots on the classic justified true belief formulation and how it is to be adjusted especially under impact of Gettier.

    It’s unclear why you would expect Popper to be present at that page since it refers to the classic definition of justified true belief, sources of knowledge and is limited to knowing subjects. Popper’s epistemology is broader and deeper than that and is in direct opposition to sources, as the lecture indicates. Popper’s epistemology was only partialy adopted because it was commonly misunderstood.

    That should give pause.

    I should defer to a source, because a entry on the Stanford website says epistemology is about sources?

    In due course I will take a bit to speak to some of the themes further, I am simply highlighting here that epistemology in representative contexts C21 does not orbit around Popper. KF

    It’s unclear what “does not orbit around Popper” even means. I’m not appearing to Popper as a source. I’m referring to the content of his epistemology in comparison to other epistemologies. Had I ignored the classic definition I could not have considered one to had better withstood criticism than the other in respect to unification, explaining more phenomena, etc.

    “Popper is not listed on the main epistemology page on the Stanford website” is not a good criticism.

    Nor is quibbling over definitions beyond what is necessary for the problem at hand. What we call it is unimportant as long as we both agree on terms. Antically limiting the scope of the problem merely because all of our definitions are too limited artificially limits the progress we can make.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, your problem starts with, in order to communicate you must rely on the existence of distinct identity, which shows that LOI, LNC and LEM are self-evidently, undeniably true. This extends to ontology as for distinct identity to exist there have to be coherent core characteristics. Once you continually duck, dodge, slip and slide past that all else is commentary. Further to this, I have shown by concrete example that a major first reference current discussion of epistemology in presenting the matter starts from issues of knowledge as justified true belief and onward adjustments on Gettier leading to internal vs external issues thence warrant as providing objective but in many cases in principle defeasible but not defeated grounds for knowledge. Where, Popper simply does not come up for mention. That is sufficient to show that something has long been seriously wrong-headed in your continual attempts at UD to undermine the concept of knowledge as well warranted credibly true belief by using Popper, and generally suggesting that epistemology and linked issues of worldviews analysis should orbit Popper as the planets orbit the Sun. Until you cogently address this, irrelevancies on other subjects are just that, irrelevant. KF

  85. 85
    Popperian says:

    Popperian,

    “unless Barry, or anyone else, can infallibly identify a infallible source of moral principles then interpret that source infallibly . . .”

    then I can do whatever the hell I want.

    Note how Barry still hasn’t explained how this is possible. How is this not an example of what Barry himself indicated, where he just keeps typing? Where is the refutation?

    Apparently, this is an argument from perceived undesired consequence based on Barry’s particularity view of epistemology? Or has he attacking my motivation, as if it’s a sort of conspiracy?

    From the lecture….

    But I do not think that Bacon and Descartes succeeded in freeing their epistemologies from authority; not so much because they appealed to religious authority-to Nature or to God-but for an even deeper reason.

    In spite of their individualistic tendencies, they did not dare to appeal to our critical judgment-to your judgment, or to mine; perhaps because they felt that this might lead to subjectivism and to arbitrariness. Yet whatever the reason may have been, they certainly were unable to give up thinking in terms of authority, much as they wanted to do so. They could only replace one authority-that of Aristotle and the Bible-by another. Each of them appealed to a new authority; the one to the authority of the senses, and the other to the authority of the intellect.

    This means that they failed to solve the great problem: How can we admit that our knowledge is a human-an all too human-affair, without at the same time implying that it is all individual whim and arbitrariness?

    Yet this problem had been seen and solved long before; first, it appears, by Xenophanes, and then by Democritus, and by Socrates (the Socrates of the Apology rather than of the Meno). The solution lies in the realization that all of us may and often do err, singly and collectively, but that this very idea of error and human fallibility involves another one-the idea of objective truth: the standard which we may fall short of. Thus the doctrine of fallibility should not be regarded as part of a pessimistic epistemology. This doctrine implies that we may seek for truth, for objective truth, though more often than not we may miss it by a wide margin. And it implies that if we respect truth, we must search for it by persistently searching for our errors: by indefatigable rational criticism, and self-criticism.

    AFAIK, Barry hasn’t even acknowledge the criticism, that he uses his own human reason to determine when to differ to the supposedly infallible source, at all. Rather, he has played the motivation card over and over again.

    Again, the infallible objective source he is appealing to fails as an explanation for an objective morality that we could use, in practice. Then again, it’s not clear that Barry thinks there really are moral problems, in practice.

    Barry, are there moral problem to solve? It’s a simple question.

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: On foundations and plumb-line truths, with a dash of insight from Aquinas: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....m-aquinas/

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, what you seem unable to acknowledge is the implication of the existence of warrant and chains of warrant. Namely, the alternatives, infinite regress, circularity and finitely remote first plausibles, which as 2 is pointless and 1 infeasible means that our worldviews will always stand on finitely remote first plausibles sustained on comparative difficulties, with plumb-line SETs as key tests, known rationally compelling, undeniable truths and particularly those at the base of reasoning and communication connected to distinct identity. Which you imply but refuse to squarely face every time you begin to type a post. KF

    PS: Overturning of a line of thought by exposure of absurdity is not a fallacious appeal to mere bad consequences.

  88. 88
    kairosfocus says:

    Useful discussion: http://www.iep.utm.edu/found-ep/ — again, do a page search for “Popper.”

  89. 89
    Popperian says:

    Popperian, your problem starts with, in order to communicate you must rely on the existence of distinct identity, which shows that LOI, LNC and LEM are self-evidently, undeniably true. This extends to ontology as for distinct identity to exist there have to be coherent core characteristics. Once you continually duck, dodge, slip and slide past that all else is commentary.

    The mistake you keep making is in what you mean by “rely” on. Implicit in that statement is justificationism, in that the LOI must be a source that will not lead me into error. Nor is a tautology is a source of knowledge, as it refers to itself.

    Further to this, I have shown by concrete example that a major first reference current discussion of epistemology in presenting the matter starts from issues of knowledge as justified true belief and onward adjustments on Gettier leading to internal vs external issues thence warrant as providing objective but in many cases in principle defeasible but not defeated grounds for knowledge.

    Alternate views have been around just as long as the true justified belief position, such as those held by Xenophanes. See my quote above and the lecture for details.

    That is sufficient to show that something has long been seriously wrong-headed in your continual attempts at UD to undermine the concept of knowledge as well warranted credibly true belief by using Popper, and generally suggesting that epistemology and linked issues of worldviews analysis should orbit Popper as the planets orbit the Sun.

    First, when presented with concrete examples in regards to Evolution, are you suggesting you would defer to those as well, in that UD itself would be wrong headed in undermining Darwinism?

    Second, you’re trying to downplay specific criticism presented above as the vague notion that “worldviews analysis should orbit Popper as the planets orbit the Sun.”, which again is unclear what that means.

    More chalk and cheese?

  90. 90
    Popperian says:

    From http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....lutionary/

    Traditional epistemology has its roots in Plato and the ancient skeptics. One strand emerges from Plato’s interest in the problem of distinguishing between knowledge and true belief. His solution was to suggest that knowledge differs from true belief in being justified. Ancient skeptics complained that all attempts to provide any such justification were hopelessly flawed. Another strand emerges from the attempt to provide a reconstruction of human knowledge showing how the pieces of human knowledge fit together in a structure of mutual support. This project got its modern stamp from Descartes and comes in empiricist as well as rationalist versions which in turn can be given either a foundational or coherentist twist. The two strands are woven together by a common theme. The bonds that hold the reconstruction of human knowledge together are the justificational and evidential relations which enable us to distinguish knowledge from true belief.

    The traditional approach is predicated on the assumption that epistemological questions have to be answered in ways which do not presuppose any particular knowledge. The argument is that any such appeal would obviously be question begging. Such approaches may be appropriately labeled “transcendental.”

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, to further object you again were forced to implicitly rely on distinct identity starting with letters and keys on your keyboard. Crying but that requires “justificationism” (which you try to reject) simply underscores that you are relying on what you wish to deny. KF

  92. 92
    Carpathian says:

    StephenB:

    Carpathian: The tautology, by definition , is true

    StephenB: Are you absolutely certain of that?

    The context of A here..:

    #define A 1

    ..is different than it’s context here:

    if (A == 1) {};

    In the first case, A is defined by the statement.

    In the second, A is analyzed by running code.

    LH’s statement contains a conditional that relates to the context of a statement.

    The second statement is in a different context than the first, unless you ignore the conditional.

  93. 93
    StephenB says:

    Carpathian: “The tautology, by definition , is true.”

    StephenB: “Are you absolutely certain of that?”

    Carpathian

    The context of A here..:

    That is irrelevant to my question, which you went out of your way to evade. You have conceded that a tautology is true by definition–and that we can be certain about it. That is all that is needed to refute everything LH, you, and all the other hyperskeptics have been claiming.

    We now all agree that the statement, “We can be absolutely certain of nothing,” is a false claim and cannot be rationally justified. It’s over, Carpathian. LH knows it. Even Popperian knows it. That is why neither have responded. You need to catch up to the reality.

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, in order to communicate with text, you have again had to rely on the distinct identity of letters, words, keys, signals, etc. Thus, on the LOI, LEM and LNC which come with that. Just by acting, you have decisively undermined your general case. KF

  95. 95
    Mung says:

    Carpathian: if (A == 1) {};

    The consequences of running that code are the same regardless of the value of A. So what’s your point?

  96. 96
    Learned Hand says:

    SB

    You have conceded that a tautology is true by definition–and that we can be certain about it. That is all that is needed to refute everything LH, you, and all the other hyperskeptics have been claiming.

    Is it? That assumes that we’ve only been talking about tautologies. Is that all your comments have been about? Do you believe you can only be absolutely certain about tautological truths?

  97. 97
    Learned Hand says:

    You will notice that LH himself has pretty much abandoned the fight with his parting “Barry is a poopyhead for catching me in a lie” shot at 65.

    Well, isn’t this telling? Barry’s having a fight, not a conversation. That explains why he doesn’t engage with ideas, only relentlessly attacks those who criticize his claims to infallibility. Ideas don’t matter in a fight, winning does.

    And somehow BA now thinks that an insult is “abandoning” the fight. Not, presumably, when he does it. That’s when he’s being Chesterton, apparently, even though I don’t think Chesterton is best known for insulting people who doubted his unsupported proclamations.

    I don’t see any insults in 65, except my reference to BA’s sophomoric insults. (BA’s comment is the sort of thing that KF would breathlessly describe as a “turnabout argument,” if he were able to turn his scrutiny inwards.) I do see questions, that BA has yet again ignored, as well as Popperian’s interesting comments at 85 and elsewhere. But why not? It’s not a conversation to him, it’s a fight. And in a fight, it doesn’t matter if your ideas are well-supported, as long as you can out-shout the questions.

  98. 98
    Carpathian says:

    Mung:

    Mung: The consequences of running that code are the same regardless of the value of A. So what’s your point?

    Carpathian: The context of A here..:

    #define A 1

    ..is different than it’s context here:

    if (A == 1) {};

    In the first case, A is defined by the statement.

    In the second, A is analyzed by running code.

    LH’s statement contains a conditional that relates to the context of a statement.

    The second statement is in a different context than the first, unless you ignore the conditional.

    Even a non-programmer should have no problem understanding this.

  99. 99
    Andre says:

    And we do, but you just don’t seem to understand the law of identity or you are just dishonest.

  100. 100
    tgpeeler says:

    SB @ 1 “The law of identity is, as the very word proclaims, about identities, or more precisely, it is about existent beings with identities in the real world. The purpose of the law of identity is to enable us to think and be certain about what is, what is not, and what cannot be.”

    As SB has ably pointed out, the Law of Identity is foundational to all rational thought. In fact, I don’t believe one can even think irrationally without it. I haven’t read the entire thread so apologies if someone already noted what follows.

    We come to know the LID as we come to know all things, by the application of reasoned thought to sense experience. As I look around and see “things” I immediately and without confusion note that everything is what it is and is not something else (apart from the epistemological issue of what that may or may not be). Aha, I say. There is a pattern here. In fact, if I think about it more, I realize that I have stumbled upon the basis for the three rules of logic, which is the first rule of logic. No need to rehash that here.

    The second thing I note is that if I didn’t exist I couldn’t do anything. And then if I think about it some more, I realize that no one or no thing could do anything if it did not exist. Try to make a post with a non-existent keyboard. This abstracts to: Existence precedes creation and causality. This gives us the basis for further analyzing causality in terms of Aristotle’s four causes, the act/potency thinking of Aquinas, and so on.

    So, all of the “free thinkers” out there only need to understand three things to be fully rational. 1. I exist. 2. I am I. 3. Were it not for my existence I could do nothing. This may be too much for some people to sign up for but I highly recommend that they try it. Once you have grasped these all important truths, go back and rethink your materialism/naturalism. It may surprise you.

  101. 101
    tgpeeler says:

    p.s. This is also to note that we don’t use logic to prove logic. We start with sensation, in the real world, and go from there. We connect to what turns out to be an absolute truth upon the merest of reflection. The truth existed a priori but we came to know it in an a posteriori fashion.

  102. 102
    StephenB says:

    LH

    You have conceded that a tautology is true by definition–and that we can be certain about it. That is all that is needed to refute everything LH, you, and all the other hyperskeptics have been claiming.

    Is it? That assumes that we’ve only been talking about tautologies.

    No, it doesn’t. I recently raised the issue.

    Is that all your comments have been about?

    No, it is not what my comments have been about. It is what my comments are now about.

    Do you believe you can only be absolutely certain about tautological truths?

    No, I can be absolutely certain about all of reasons rules.
    However, that is not my point, and you know it.

    The issue is that you agree that a tautology is an infallibly true statement about which you can be certain, which refutes your earlier claim that we can be absolutely certain about nothing.

  103. 103
    StephenB says:

    tgoeeler,

    Thanks for your apt description of LOI. In passing, I should mention that we are dealing with one individual who isn’t sure that is not Mount Everest, another who claims that he cannot infallibly identify a saddle and distinguish it from a horse, and a third who isn’t sure that a whole pizza weighs more than any one of its slices. Indeed, all parties take all three positions.

  104. 104
    tgpeeler says:

    Simply amazing. And they usually claim the intellectual high ground. I’ll have to go back and read it all now for entertainment value…

  105. 105
    StephenB says:

    tg, the most entertaining demonstrations can be found on 1 thread dated Sep 11 and two others on Sep 14. This thread is mostly a wrap up.

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    SB & TGP, when your a priori certainty that you cannot be certain leads you to cling to more and more patent absurdities that should be a double clue. First, that you are up against a self-evident truth; second, that you are being led into error because of ideology. Cf this other, wrap-up and move on thread: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....challenge/ KF

  107. 107
    Carpathian says:

    tgpeeler:

    As SB has ably pointed out, the Law of Identity is foundational to all rational thought. In fact, I don’t believe one can even think irrationally without it.

    One does not need to know about what is called the Law Of Identity in order to reason anymore than we need to have a basic understanding of thermodynamics in order to know when to put on a coat.

  108. 108
    Popperian says:

    KF:

    SB & TGP, when your a priori certainty that you cannot be certain leads you to cling to more and more patent absurdities that should be a double clue.

    I can only speak for myself, but I’ve already pointed out several times that I’m a fallibilist about fallibilism. I’ve even referenced an entire article on fallibilism that addresses this very topic. Yet, strangely, no one has actually presented any criticism of it.

    from this article on uncertainty.

    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?

    What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

    We start out not knowing what things are identical to another. From there, you cannot prove any idea you might have about being identical because the conclusion of an argument might be false if any of it’s premises are false. Since you don’t start out knowing the truth, any of your premises might be wrong. As such, our only recourse is to propose conjectures and test them against each other.

    You can’t make anything in to an A, in practice, by merely declaring it to be so. The fact that everything is self identical doesn’t tell us anything. What we really appeal to is that everything has a unique identity (which even then is problematic, such as with caterpillars and butterflies) and the unique and individual names of things is not based on guidance from the tautology that A=A. Rather, they are concrete, practical problems to solve. IOW, the problem is not negated by the law of identity.

  109. 109
    Popperian says:

    I would again point to comment 7, which expands on this further. AFAIK, no one has yet to address the issue. Namely…

    Goodman introduced a new predicate: grue. Something is grue if it’s green before a some arbitrary time in the future, and if it’s blue thereafter. Goodman noted that our past experience with green emeralds would then equally support both that every emerald is green and that every emerald is grue. We may, from the same past experience, induce either conclusion, though each contradicts the other. In principle, there are infinitely many grue-like predicates that, while in agreement about our past experience, each imply something different about the future. The only constraint on what can be induced about emeralds–whether about their colour, shape, size, or whatever–is that our conclusion not contradict past experience, a limit that’s imposed by deductive criteria alone.

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, apart from the world partition, distinct identity inherent in typing a textual response or speaking in a language, you have an infinite regress of fallibilities or potential fallibilities. KF

  111. 111
    Popperian says:

    First, from a practical perspective, the tautology that A=A provides no guidance as to how to solve the problem of getting a “T” to appear in the comment box.

    Second, you’re projecting your problem to me. I’m not a justificationist.

    What I’m looking for is a way to reduce errors, not positively justify things. Even then, errors are tentative as our ideas and observations that led us to those those errors are theory laden.

  112. 112
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian,

    Recall, there is a dimension of time.

    That a “grue” entity will be, say:

    . . . –> 0 –> t_b, green

    then:

    –> t_b + –> . . . , blue (and perhaps changing again)

    simply would mean that it changes colour, it has not negated that it was green up to t_b.

    (Think the proverbial Chameleon, or colour-changing fish etc.)

    That at some point t_x, before t_b, we do not know this property has not changed it.

    The entity, say A that was green at x and up to b, is still a distinct thing, say a Chameleon.

    KF

    PS: To then insert switching grue to bleen at t_b, is functionally equivalent to saying A remains green. One has manufactured a distinction without a difference. Including, that in A there is a colour switching potential that was not exercised. That a Chameleon keeps one colour has not made its distinct identity disappear.

  113. 113
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, the clinging to absurdities effect is now multiplied by a tangential irrelevancy. That a T exists and that a T key exists suffices to show a world partition, W = {T | ~T}, not just the logical statement reduction {A => A} = 1, that is, A is itself. Once distinct identity exists, and you must use it to type text, the partition exists. Thence instantly, LOI, LNC, LEM. And the partition is literally undeniable as to type or say a denial necessarily relies on what it would deny. KF

  114. 114
    Popperian says:

    Emerald are identified by the property of always being green. Something that has the property of being bleen is not an emerald, which would be a case of mistaken identity.

    Rather than challenging people to justify their use of induction, Goodman undermines the presumption that induction is of much use in the first place. If there are infinitely many grue-like predicates for any supposed induction, then induction is too weak–for any given set of premises–to establish a unique conclusion (or even a finite list of conclusions). The question of what to expect from the future is utterly undecidable by inductive means.

    The set of premises that induction is too weak to establish includes identifying something with certainty. A tautology does not help solve this problem.

    As is foundationalism. Even if we assume the basic beliefs you mentioned, they are to limited to construct our common-sense view if the world.

    From the link you provided above…

    a. The Problem of Arbitrariness

    As noted above the regress argument figures prominently in arguing for foundationalism. The regress argument supports the conclusion that some beliefs must be justified independently of receiving warrant from other beliefs. However, some philosophers judge that this claim amounts to accepting some beliefs as true for no reason at all, that is, epistemically arbitrary beliefs. This objection has significant bite against a doxastic form of foundationalism (the language of ‘doxastic’ comes from the Greek word ‘doxa’ meaning belief). Doxastic foundationalism is the view that the justification of one’s beliefs is exclusively a matter of what other beliefs one holds. Regarding the basic beliefs, a doxastic foundationalist holds that these beliefs are ‘self-justified’ (see Pollock & Cruz (1999), 22-23). The content of the basic beliefs are typically perceptual reports but importantly a doxastic foundationalist does not conceive of one’s corresponding perceptual state as a reason for the belief. Doxastic foundationalists hold that one is justified in accepting a perceptual report simply because one has the belief. However, given the fallibility of perceptual reports, it is epistemically arbitrary to accept a perceptual report for no reason at all.

    The arbitrariness objection against non-doxastic theories must proceed with more care. A non-doxastic form of foundationalism denies that justification is exclusively a matter of relations between one’s beliefs. Consider a non-doxastic foundationalist that attempts to stop the regress with non-doxastic states like experiences. This foundationalist claims that, for example, the belief that there is a red disk before one is properly basic. This belief is not justified on the basis of any other beliefs but instead justified by the character of one’s sense experience. Because one can tell by reflection alone that one’s experience has a certain character, the experience itself provides one with an excellent reason for the belief. The critic of non-doxastic foundationalism argues that stopping with this experience is arbitrary. After all, there are scenarios in which this experience is misleading. If, for example, the disk is white but illuminated with red light then one’s experience will misled one to think that the disk is really red.Unless one has a reason to think that these scenarios fail to obtain then it’s improper to stop the regress of reasons here.

    One foundationalist solution to the arbitrariness problem is to move to epistemically certain foundations. Epistemically certain foundations are beliefs that cannot be misleading and so cannot provide a foothold for arbitrariness concerns. If, for instance, one’s experience is of a red disk and one believes just that one’s experience has this character, it is difficult to see how one’s belief could be mistaken in this specific context. Consequently, it is hard to make sense of how one’s belief about the character of one’s experience could be epistemically arbitrary. In general, many foundationalists want to resist this move. First, relative to the large number of beliefs we have, there are few epistemically certain beliefs. Second, even if one locates a few epistemically certain beliefs, it is very difficult to reconstruct our common-sense view of the world from those beliefs. If the ultimate premises of one’s view include only beliefs about the current character of one’s sense experience it’s near impossible to figure out how to justify beliefs about the external world or the past.

    Another foundationalist response to the arbitrariness argument is to note that it is merely required that a properly basic belief possess some feature in virtue of which the belief is likely to be true. It is not required that a subject believe her belief possesses that feature. This response has the virtue of allowing for modest forms of foundationalism in which the basic beliefs are less than certain. Critics of foundationalism continue to insist that unless the subject is aware that the belief possesses this feature, her belief is an improper stopping point in the regress of reasons. For a defense of the arbitrariness objection against foundationalism see Klein (1999) & (2004), and for responses to Klein see Bergmann (2004), Howard-Snyder & Coffman (2006), Howard-Snyder (2005), and Huemer (2003).

  115. 115
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, if what we learned of as a precious stone we labelled emerald turned out to have colour-shift properties, the label would remain as we adjusted our understanding of the properties. Which is an example of inductive reasoning, recognising patterns i/l/o experience and using what is empirically reliable s.t. revision on future warrant. Mebbe it’s grue not green without actual empirical warrant is simply posing empty speculation as though it overturned the matter. And it is easy to show that as finite beings our warranting frameworks will be finite, with chains going to start points. The issue is to be factually adequate coherent and explanatorily simple but not simplistic, with comparative difficulties across serious alternatives removing the issue of undue question-begging. Grue without empirical warrant fails the test. Last but not least, dismissiveness about inductive reasoning in a world where we depend on being able to recognise stable patterns is indeed insane denialism. Far better, to simply accept the provisional nature of induction, as Newton and Locke did 300+ years ago. Don’t forget, post Godel, mathematics is also inherently provisional. KF

  116. 116
    Popperian says:

    How does that help you identify something with certainty before you learn about it or before time t?

  117. 117
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, strongly grounded inductions are morally certain not absolutely certain. That is, you are willing to make decisions with serious consequences on what you have in hand because the credible evidence is that ignoring such carries a stiffer cost. As in let grue be suddenly you can flap hands and fly. Willing to jump off roofs on that speculative possibility? Then you don’t really believe in the magic of grue and apart from armchair hyperskeptical games will use induction when it is convenient. Game over. KF

    PS: Inductive knowledge, patently, is not in the same class as recognising distinct identity and the import of world partition etc, which is undeniably true.

  118. 118
    Popperian says:

    KF:

    Then you don’t really believe in the magic of grue and apart from armchair hyperskeptical games will use induction when it is convenient. Game over. KFB

    You missed the rest of the comment….

    From a critical rationalist perspective, the traditional problem of induction isn’t a problem at all, because we’re non-justificationists. In our view, justification is both impossible to attain and, in any case, unnecessary for rational assent. There is no need to justify–analytically or synthetically–any principle of induction. Instead, such a principle may be conjectured talis qualis, and it may be held rationally until found wanting through critical analysis and discussion. There would, however, be little point in doing so. When rejecting the demand to justify knowledge, the problem that induction was intended to solve no longer prevails. That is, there’s no longer any impetus to justify–by sensory experience or anything else–our expectations and hypotheses about the future. There is, in this case, no need for induction at all.

    KF:

    Inductive knowledge, patently, is not in the same class as recognising distinct identity and the import of world partition etc, which is undeniably true.

    If the Stanford website doesn’t agree, then you’ll change your mind?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity/

    It doesn’t seem so undeniable there, including criticism from Quine and others.

  119. 119
    kairosfocus says:

    Popperian, more than enough has been said for the onlooker. At this stage, that is enough. KF

  120. 120
    Mung says:

    Popperian, if you want a ‘T’ to appear on the screen, don’t hit the ‘A’ key. No better way of reducing errors than abiding by the law of identity.

  121. 121
    StephenB says:

    Mung, Popperian isn’t certain that A key and the T key are not the same key.

  122. 122
    kairosfocus says:

    SB. then how do we get intelligible text in English from him? He has to implicitly trust what he professes to doubt. KF

    PS: Lunar eclipse about 1/3 way in as I type.

  123. 123
    Popperian says:

    Because I’ve given up the quest for justification. Apparently, that is something you cannot or refuse to comprehend.

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