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Post 40

Monday, January 13, 2014 - 5:50pmSanction this postReply
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Having read your response and having reflected a bit more about the subject I will now throw out my conflicted ideas on it in the open:

In academic epistemology, a "justified" belief is a belief that you have an epistemological "right" to hold. It is thus a very broad term, including false beliefs that one nonetheless has legitimate reason to hold. I don't think this, as such, is a problem. The problem is that this opens the door to subjectivism. As a term directly imported from ethics, "justification" focuses on the status of the believer, not the truth or falsity of the belief. In epistemology, the primary question should always be "is X true?" not "is it okay for someone to believe X?"

Also,the standard meaning of "belief" carries with it unsavoury connotations of possible irrationality and subjectivity. Epistemologists can make statements such as "For the purposes of this discussion, we will define 'belief' as...", but that's an improper use of language. To have a belief is simply to be disposed to assert or assent to a proposition that has truth-conditions but to be disposed to assert the truth of a proposition is just another way of invoking whim. "Belief" is really a very useless concept in discussions of knowledge.

The JTB characterization is inaccurate as a statement of knowledge because it leaves open these wrong interpretations, and by choice of words denigrates the method of acquiring knowledge. The JTB position fails because it does not say what J and B are, and these are not just small details, these are the whole ball of wax, and using prejudicial words does not advance the cause of understanding knowledge. How is 'p' justified? Did it integrate without contradiction into the rest of his knowledge? Is 'p' grounded in observed fact? Is ‘p’ located properly in the hierarchy of knowledge? Is 'p' warranted by antecedent knowledge? The problem seems to stem from the desire to define things by giving 'necessary and sufficient conditions', even though this is not how, in my very humble opinion, human knowledge and conception works in practice.

Among academic philosophers in the past century or two, the move toward discussing "justification theory" was an attempt to avoid (or "bracket") the question of whether one's ideas actually correspond to reality, focusing instead on whether they are "justified." I think this is actually an offshoot of John Locke's rejection of intrinsicism and "innate ideas." Locke held that an idea could not be knowledge, nor even strictly speaking a belief, until it had stood trial in your own mind like a sinner on trial before God. It's a wonderful image, and one of many intriguing ways in which Protestant theology directly influenced the secular Enlightenment. Locke's argument is mostly correct on this topic, but once the battle against intrinsicism had been won, philosophers slid right over into subjectivism.
(Edited by Michael Philip on 1/13, 7:45pm)


Post 41

Monday, January 13, 2014 - 8:39pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

'Academic' epistemology has two basic schools, with many offshoots.

"Justificationism" means being able to offer evidence, or to show that a belief is based upon a more basic truth.

By contrast, "coherentism" means 'better with than without'.

A good coherentist strategy is to undermine the more basic truth upon which beliefs rest to the extent that no truths are justifiable.

The schools are said to be 'basic' in the sense that they correspond to normal doiscursive practice. In other words, when we debate an issue, we're either trying to offer/refute a suitable basis or denying that the basis for said belief even exists.

In the latter sense, the question then becomes, in the absence of certainty, how do we decide what 's best to accept as true?

eg, Does god exist?

Eva


Post 42

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 2:26amSanction this postReply
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Not sure if you guys are familiar with the Gettier problem, which involves finding counterexamples to the JTB definition. In my view, at least, many of these counterexamples are successful, but it's no problem, because knowledge shouldn't be defined as justified true belief in the first place. It's a primitive concept, close to being an axiomatic concept like "consciousness," and therefore close to needing no definition at all. (I say "close," because knowledge is one particular kind of consciousness, distinguished from others that are not retained over time.)

Interestingly Karl Popper viewed knowledge as objective, evolutionary and a social construct. He rejected the "justificationism" approach. I am not too sure about his alternative formulation though and I generally am not a big fan.

(Edited by Michael Philip on 1/14, 2:41am)


Post 43

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 3:49pmSanction this postReply
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As cited by Popper, his own approach was called 'Critical Rationalism'. This, of course follows Hume and, by consequence, Kant's 'awakening out of dogmatic slumber'.

In this scenario, inference is rejected in favor of falsification. In other words, while daily discourse accepts exceptions, science cannot (ie Russell's 'black swan' conundrum).

Historically, Popper's inquiry concerned why Marx and Freud are non-science, while the (then) revolutionary General Relativity was: Einstein provided grounds for proof, therefore falsafiability

Moreover scientific theories are said to prohibit events from happening in a certain way. For example, the Newtonian F=MA holds in all cases because all forces can be subsumed under the three terms. On the right, there are only two coefficients, the canonical statement prohibits a third.

Okay, if my irony hasn't sunk in, I'll offer you a real example as to why Popper might be criticized...Neptune.

The orbit of Uranus cannot be explained by classical inertia and gravity unless there was a rather large, hidden planet pulling it in another direction. So 'Neptune' was hypothesized prior to its discovery.

So what if it had not been discovered? Would that have invalidated Newton, as a clear reading of Popper would require?

Now this is not a trivial suggestion in the light of dark matter--nature unknown-- accounting for the requiste mass to permit galaxies to 'spin'!

From the Uranus/Neptune conundrum, seemed to have revised a strongly-stated 'falsfiability into a weaker 'verificationist' position,which involves 'background'.

In the ensuing debate, Putnam labeled these 'bridge statements'. The further persuit of bridge-ism is another story; suffice to say that many contemporary philosophers of science are bridge-ologists (thereby altering the paradigm of the debate!).

One in particular, Quine, claims that bridge statments, when sufficiently strong, can validate nearly any statement...

Eva

(Edited by Matthews on 1/14, 3:53pm)


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Post 44

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 11:22pmSanction this postReply
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ah yep

The black swan is such a trite example. Peikoff (or was it Binswanger?) goes one better on the swan example, taking the color as a distinguishing characteristic is a result of a failure to integrate your knowledge of swans with other animals and to note that color is not a particularly stable characteristic. Induction really isn't about having predictions about the future. That's how it's understood now (e.g. "will the next swan be white?"), but that's because of the "enumerative induction" framework that discussions of induction are fit into, a framework that we need to rid ourselves of. Reading Francis Bacon, his inductions resemble nothing of what is done today.

Popper thought science did not employ induction at all (leads to infinite regress, no cognitive status) but instead issued conjectures and refutations. He substituted assessments of evidence for integration. I don't think we need falsification, but it's good to have the ability to generate ways to falsify an idea. That sweeps up the cobwebs in people's mind. By cobwebs, I mean cobwebs of rationalism.

Pseudo-science is arbitrary and so there is something to the claim that it can't be falsified.

Personally I think Hume has been given way too much airtime. his epistemology is incredibly crude. he has no theory of abstraction. his view of causality is nonsensical and he played sophomoric questions with induction. Hume was far from the only one with issues, but was evidently the first one to draw all the conclusions that nominalism leads to. Having said all that, he is an excellent example of what the world looks like, from the inside out, to a concrete bound human being.

(Edited by Michael Philip on 1/14, 11:47pm)


Post 45

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 9:35amSanction this postReply
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Yep, indeed.

 

You seem to be far better at adjective- slinging than offering up examples from science. After all, we’re discussing philosophy of ‘science’, yes?

 

‘Black swan’ is still commonly cited as a refutation of induction within both procedural science and ‘academia’…however trite that might sound.

 

For example, dad might say, ‘An induction of BCS experiments would offer the general principle that photons cannot pass through an electron screen’. Or, ‘We can induce that because measured radiation always equals input, ‘thermodynamics is a general principle.”

 

Or from genetics: ‘Because Mendelian probabilities always obtain, all genotypes are based upon a singular dominant/recessive predictor. Moreover, the environmental influence that leads to phenotypical variation is always a mutation’’.

 

Hume, crude, sophomoric, and nonsensensical as he was as he is, indeed is given contemporary ‘air-time’: ‘Humean’ cause means that while empirical observation is sensible, the attachment of cause lies within the imagination. To be ‘Humean’ is to indulge in factors that guide our processes in assigning cause.

 

And yes, ‘induction’ means ‘having predictions about the future’ because that’s how the term has been used since…Bacon.

 

The word is in current use because that’s what scientists try to do: ‘induction’ as a problematic says that accurate predictions about the future are really not made that way,

 

“Falsification’ was the salient method that demonstrated all four of my examples to be inaccurate, hence ‘induction does not hold.

 

So if you have a better method that can be demonstrated with real examples from scienceworld, I’m all ears. If not, then any future orgy of  invective or unfounded personal opinions will be met, most assuredly, with contemptible silence.

 

EM


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Post 46

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 10:49amSanction this postReply
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Eva,
...future orgy of invective or unfounded personal opinions will be met, most assuredly, with contemptible silence.
I have missed something here. Either this was you just being funny - making a joke. Or you must see something in Michael's post that I missed. Where is that invective you mention? Personal opinions are certainly allowed in a post... and sometimes they are also defended, and sometimes not, sometimes logically, and sometimes not. I've always taken that as part of the normal landscape on this forum. Kind of like, "Express any personal opinion you want... and then be ready to defend it, take it back, or look bad." But maybe that's just me.

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Post 47

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 10:53amSanction this postReply
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Matthews, see here:
http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/Jetton/The_Problem_of_Induction.shtml

Here is an example from chemistry. Before the discovery of isotopes, empirically determined non-integer values of atomic mass of elements confounded scientists. Chlorine, with an average atomic mass of 35.45, was especially puzzling. Then it was discovered there were chlorine-35 and chlorine-37, i.e. isotopes. The induction was that isotopes could explain non-integer values for all elements. Try falsifying that! Also, it's not simple enumeration.
(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 1/15, 3:03pm)


Post 48

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 2:48pmSanction this postReply
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Steve,

If you have issues with Hume, or whomever, kindly state the specifics, using examples from science.

I'm simply not interested in ...'trite, sophomoric'... only the particular objections to particular philosophies as such.

In any case, I'm only speaking for my own interest in continuing the conversation. if others want to continue on otherwise, fine.

Eva


Post 49

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 3:10pmSanction this postReply
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Jetto:

Isotopes date to 1913, which obviously has a lot to do with the discovery of the nucleon as protons and neutrons.

Proton #  is given as Atomic # for reasons of chemical stability, equaling electrons.

Chlorine presented no particular difficulty; it was moreover used as a paradigm because Cl 35 & 37 were both easily seen to exist.

In 1919, Aston proposed his 'whole number principle' to demonstrate that partial- numbered isotopes cannot exist.

Partials (after the decimel) are therefore averages that give an atomic weight.

Is this statement refutable? Well, of course. Aston would be refuted IFF a partial numbered atom were found tto exist...


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Post 50

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 3:24pmSanction this postReply
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Is this statement refutable? Well, of course. Aston would be refuted IFF a partial numbered atom were found tto exist.
And what evidence do you have to support that one could be found? None, nada, zip. It's simply your unbounded imagination.

Post 51

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 4:47pmSanction this postReply
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I'm afraid you're on the wrong page.

In 1919 no one knew whether or not real atoms with partial atomic weights existed or not. In fact, many in the community of chemists said that they did.

Although Aston's experiments proved them wrong--demonstrating that every possible assay showed only whole weights for single chlorine atoms--his experiments were done in such away that partial measurements were possible.

Hence, satisfying the criterion for refutability. Now this is as simple as I can make it....


Post 52

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 4:58amSanction this postReply
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Matthews, I'm afraid you are on the wrong page. Evidence of isotopes existed before Francis Aston's work. My point (post 47) was about induction. It wasn't about determining precisely what the isotopes are for a given element or proving the reformulation of the whole number rule.
(Edited by Merlin Jetton on 1/17, 3:24am)


Post 53

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 7:33amSanction this postReply
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Again, isotopes were discovered as such in 1913.

It was empirically discovered that the atomic weight, when actually weighed, did not correspond to double the atomic number, as the theory said that it should.

The measurements of atomic weight in 1913 gave non-integers.

This means, that, inductively speaking, you take the massed atomic weight, divide by the number of atoms, and say that each atom is non-integer

 By 'induction' one could say many other things, as well: for example, because the average is consistent between the different piles of clorine, a closer measurement would lessen the variance between each particular atom.

Aston's rule dates to 1919. His 'induction', arguably, was that each atom has a whole-integer  weight. 

Yet to say that each and every measurement of each and every atom would give an integer is not self-evident, therefore not inductively  true.

Rather, it was Aston's 'hypotheses', which was proven true by closer measurement.


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Post 54

Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - 3:10amSanction this postReply
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What Is Philosophy?

 

My favorite from the definitions displayed is the one by David Papineau:

Philosophy is thinking hard about the most difficult problems that there are. And you might think scientists do that too, but there’s a certain kind of question whose difficulty can’t be resolved by getting more empirical evidence. It requires an untangling of presuppositions: figuring out that our thinking is being driven by ideas we didn’t even realize that we had. And that’s what philosophy is.



Post 55

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 5:40amSanction this postReply
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Follow-on to #14

 

“The Critique [1781] had been well received by the Jena theologians from the beginning, because it provided what they thought was a new, non-metaphysical foundation for their religious beliefs (Hinske 1995)” (di Giovanni and Harris 2000, xiv).

 

di Giovanni, G., and H. S. Harris 2000. Preface to second edition of Between Kant and Hegel. Hackett.

Hinske, N. 1995. The Starting Out of Kantianism: Early Kantianism at the University of Jena 1785–1800 and Its Prehistory. (In German). Fromann-Holzboog.



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Post 56

Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 10:30amSanction this postReply
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Rand opposed Kant’s conception of pure reason. She thought it not the mode of human consciousness, but a faculty appropriate to a robot. Kant’s pure reason, Rand held, was not reason properly defined (1960, 64).

 

In her estimation, philosophers after Kant accepted his false concept of reason and “while they cried that reason had been invalidated, they did not notice that reason had been pushed of the philosophic scene altogether and that the faculty they were arguing about was not reason. / If you trace the roots of all our current philosophies—Pragmatism, Logical Positivism, . . .—you will find they all grew out of Kant” (ibid).

 

Human reason, in Rand’s conception of it, is a faculty of consciousness. It is the faculty that “identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses” (1961, 20). “Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions, thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach” (1960, 62).

 

Schopenhauer:

That all these so manifold and such far-reaching expressions originate from a common principle, from that particular spiritual power that puts human beings ahead of animals and has been called reason, . . . is the unanimous opinion of all ages and peoples. And all human beings are well able indeed to recognize expressions of this capacity, and to tell what is rational, what irrational, where reason comes in as opposed to other human capacities and properties, and, finally, what is never to be expected of even the most clever animals on account of their lack of it. Philosophers of all times also speak on the whole in accord with this general knowledge of reason, and in addition emphasize some of its particularly important expressions, such as mastery of the emotions and passions, the capacity to draw inferences and formulate general principles . . . . Nonetheless, all their explanations of the real essence of reason are vacillating, imprecisely defined, vague, without unity and focus, sometimes emphasizing this or that other of its expressions, thus often divergent. . . . . It is most striking that no philosopher has as yet rigorously traced all the manifold expressions of reason to a simple function to be recognized in all of them, on the basis of which they are all to be explained, and that would accordingly constitute the real inner essence of reason. . . . As for how badly, however, Kant confused and falsified the concept of the essence of reason, I have spoken of this in detail in the Appendix.* But whoever takes the trouble to peruse in this respect the mass of philosophical works appearing since Kant will see that, just as entire peoples have to pay for the mistakes of their princes, the errors of great minds spread their deleterious influence over entire generations and even centuries. Indeed it grows and propagates, degenerating in the end into monstrosities. All of which goes back to what Berkeley said: “Few men think; yet all will have opinions.”

 

Just as the understanding has only one function, immediate cognizance of the relation between cause and effect and perception of the actual world, . . . so reason as well has one function: concept-formation. And on the basis of this single function it is most easy and altogether self-evident how to explain all the phenomena that have been cited as distinguishing human from animal life, and it is to the application or failure of application of that function that absolutely everything points that has anywhere, at any time, been denominated rational or irrational. (1859, 45–46)

 

*[Kant had it that] cognizance of an object [is] first added on by thought as distinct from perception. I on the other hand say: objects are first of all objects of perception, not of thought, and all cognizance of objects is originally and in itself perception. The latter, however, is in no way mere sensation; but rather, already here, the understanding shows itself to be active. The thought that is an added element in human beings, but not in animals, is a mere abstraction from perception, yields no fundamentally new cognizance, does not posit objects that previously never existed, but merely changes the form of cognizance already won by perception, namely, converts it into abstract cognizance in concepts; perceptibility is lost thereby, but on the other hand, combinations of cognizance become possible that immeasurably broaden its applicability. The material of our thought, by contrast, is nothing other than our perceptions themselves, and not something that, not contained in perception, would first be bought to it by thought. Therefore too, the material for everything that transpires in our thought has to allow of perceptual demonstration . . . . Although this material is indeed multifariously processed and transformed by thought, it must yet be possible to recover it from there and lead thought back to it. (564)

 

Rand, A. 1960. Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World. In Philosophy: Who Needs It.

——. 1961. The Objectivist Ethics. In The Virtue of Selfishness.

 

Schopenhauer, A. 1859 [1819]. The World as Will and Presentation. (Vol. 1.) R. E. Aquila, translator. 2008. Pearson Longman.

 

(Edited by Stephen Boydstun on 7/30, 10:31am)



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Post 57

Sunday, April 17 - 1:48amSanction this postReply
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A recent statement from Robert Audi, of Notre Dame, on the positive role of academic philosophy today:

I see philosophy as having a unique and essential role in education, in strengthening democracy, and in advancing human knowledge. We have distinctive ways of approaching reasoning, definition, explanation, and theory building. We frame and appraise moral positions in ways no other discipline does. We examine worldviews in a unique and systematic way. As teachers, we require critical writing and practice in formula­ting and solving intellectual problems. We teach the appraisal of arguments, introduce standards of evidence important in any field whatever, and heighten students’ capacity to articulate their own views. There is no realm of human existence we do not explore, no difficult question we are afraid to face, no serious idea we will not consider. Philosophy is essential for the education of citizens, uniquely rewarding for anyone who cares about ideas, and a distinctive contributor to the growth of knowledge.



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