Jump to content
Reg Prescott

Science, truth, and knowledge

Recommended Posts

19 hours ago, studiot said:

You missed  at least one.

Any worthwhile listing of such  possibilities will automatically include "some combination of these"

 

Once again pigeonholing fails.

 

:)

Let's dispense with this nonsense for once and for all. Skepticism, obviously, doesn't pair with any of the other methods. One cannot say, "I'm skeptical that God exists, yet God is the source of all knowledge and through reading the Bible we can know His truth." Ditto for skepticism and empiricism.

Can theism be reconciled with empiricism? Perhaps, but I'm somewhat skeptical. Yes, we can say that Einstein believed in God and Max Planck too. However, I have yet to hear of a situation in which someone was reading the Bible, came up with a new physics concept and tested it out in the lab.

Can rationalism be reconciled with empiricism? No. Rationalists quickly point out all the logical flaws of science. Scientists don't like that very much.

Perhaps theism and rationalism can be reconciled. I hadn't really given it much thought.

17 hours ago, beecee said:

Philosophers are always maintaining something or other, including that all other philosophers are jackasses [to use the terminology of another philoospher] 

An example of an absurdity as I see it. Everyone of us needs to at times gather or check on knowledge, and all that is required is that we check reputable sources. For example, to compare a book called the bible, against the writings/recordings etc of a reputable science book is dumb. The writings and myths of the bible, written in an obscure manner, by obscure men, in an obscure age, is not comparable with the writings/claims etc of a reputable scientific journal, whose claims can mostly be repeated and verified if necessary. One can be put down to unsupported myth and story telling....the other is verifiable.

Nothing is verifiable. Even if we choose something as simple as "Donald Trump is flying back to Washington tomorrow" we will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to verify this. One might say, "Well, I read it on MSNBC.com" — but that requires you to ask "How do you know it was MSNBC.com and not just someone who spoofed their website?" It also requires you to ask "How does MSNBC know that this is true?" Assuming we ignore the first question, we would have to contact MSNBC directly to find out. Assuming that they heard it from the White House Press Secretary, we must then ask how that person knew it? The more we try to verify the more we find that we have to verify and eventually we run into an infinite regress problem.

The second objection I will make is this: Most Published Research Findings Are False. In short: If you believe in science, then you shouldn't believe in science.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

The assumption is that all knowledge comes from scientists. It is never examined nor is any challenge brooked. It is an article of faith.

 

Art, it only takes one to show you're wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Reg Prescott said:

@ Zosimus

It was a pleasure to read through your thoughtful and intelligent post -- just when I'd almost abandoned all hope of such things in these precincts! (Where did Eise go?) You've provided us with a great deal to consider; parts of which I heartily endorse myself, other parts of which strike me as less compelling. I'd like to say a few things in reply for your consideration and criticism. But first of all, a warm "thank you" for inspiring me to re-acquaint index finger and keyboard.
 

The kind of concern you raise over examples such as "Mary is sitting at her computer" is adequately dealt with, in my opinion, by appeal to what are commonly called "indexicals", i.e., terms such as "I", "you", "here", now", etc. whose referent varies with context.


The statement "I am in Taiwan now" may indeed express various propositions depending on the time, place and person of utterance -- a true proposition if uttered by myself today; false (presumably) if uttered by you -- nonetheless each proposition thereby expressed is "indexed" to a particular person, time and place.


The proposition expressed by my statement "I am in Taiwan now" is true when uttered here and now, and will still be true a hundred years from today. It will never be false that I was in Taiwan right here and right now. Properly indexed, the proposition thereby expressed would look something like "The utterer of the statement [Reg Prescott] is in Taiwan at the time of utterance [11/11/2018]". The truth value of the statement does indeed change; the truth value of the proposition expressed by the statement does not.

 

If you'd just said "truth" I'd be in agreement. Once again, though, the addition of "absolute" seems to add nothing, with the exception of circularity (Cf. "One cannot consistently maintain it is super-duper true that there is no such thing as super-duper truth").

 

Yes. And see Note 1 below where I address accusations of my forcing an idiosyncratic definition on the downtrodden masses.
 

Your (1) makes a substantive claim that can be argued -- as we will below. Your (2), on the other hand, seems viciously circular. In effect you're telling us science does not provide knowledge because science does not provide knowledge. Consider:

(a) science is unable to provide us knowledge because we cannot know that the things science tells us to believe are actually true   [Your words verbatim]
= (b) science is unable to provide us knowledge because the things science tells us cannot be known
= (c) science is unable to provide us knowledge because science cannot provide us with knowledge

Granting the circularity of (2), if you do, we need now only focus on your first claim, namely: Science does not give us good reasons to believe in something.
 

You describe David Hume's original problem of induction very nicely, Zosimus. As you've probably discovered yourself, the problem is often downplayed, or even ridiculed, by those who fail to grasp its significance. For example, a typical response is "Pfft! Only some damn fool philosopher would doubt that the Sun will rise tomorrow. I'll bet you everything I own that it does".


Well, I'd bet everything I own that it does too, though this is to miss the gravamen of Hume's skeptical assault. The concern is not that the Sun will not rise tomorrow, but, as you correctly observe, that we have no non-circular justification for our belief that it will. It seems the only justification we can adduce for our inductive inferences (e.g. "the sun will rise tomorrow") is by appeal to induction itself.


If the problem is not evident to all, consider being told by Gypsy Rose of reading in her crystal ball that certain catastrophic events are about to befall you; a three-day suspension from SFN perhaps. "And why should I believe what your crystal ball says?" you snort indignantly.


"Because my crystal ball told me that crystal ball readings are reliable"!!


In response, Zosimus, I'd just accept as a brute fact -- without justification (on faith, if you will) -- that in certain cases at least, our inductive inferences are reliable, though a whole panoply of qualifications must be added. After all, surely no newbie here infers from the fact that the first three members she encounters all have 7-letter names to the conclusion that all SFN members have 7-letter names. 


A "good" induction, then, would be a conclusion derived from a large and varied sample, taken under divergent circumstances in different times and places, and so on and so forth. And the conclusion thereby derived, needless to say, would be probable at best; never certain. This does not, however, preclude us possessing knowledge of propositions derived through induction, as I see things anyway.


Having said all that, Nelson Goodman's gruesome "new riddle of induction" still grins at us mischievously from the murky depths. Are you familiar with it? 


In conclusion, then, I think we just have to accept the reliability -- in some cases -- of our inductive inferences, even if they cannot be justified in a non-circular manner. After all, no one seems to consider it devastating that our deductive inferences are in the same logical boat: justifiable by nothing holier and higher than deduction itself.


We might look on induction the same way we regard Zeno's paradoxes: as more of a puzzle than a sentence to irremedial skepticism. Zeno tells us it would take an infinite number of increments to travel from here to the door. But surely none of us concludes, "Damn! That's it! I'll never reach the door now".

 

Here you raise an excellent point. We're often told, somewhat naively, that if we don't trust what scientists are telling us, we can roll up our sleeves and verify for ourselves. On pages 1 & 2, another member (Sensei) says almost exactly this.

Even 400 years ago or so such a claim would have been implausible: telescopes and air pumps were the property of a select elite; hard to obtain, construct and maintain. In our present age of "big science" the claim is even less defensible, as you correctly point out. The knowledge of the vast majority of us, then, assuming we have any scientific knowledge to boast of at all, is knowledge derived from the testimony of experts. The question then can be posed as: Is the testimony of scientific experts a reliable source of knowledge

Your own conclusion is that of a rather radical skepticism: science does not yield knowledge. It's a position I wouldn't want to have to defend myself, and you now must face the challenge of Ghideon in his response to you. Looking forward to it!

I'd prefer to frame the question, instead, as: How much of what scientists tell us is worthy of belief? The answer "none of it" seems to me as preposterous as "all of it". And that, in a nutshell, is the central problem of the epistemology and philosophy of science.

In particular, given the rather dismal historical record of abandoned theories, failed hypotheses, laws that turned out not to be laws, wildly inaccurate estimates (e.g. the age of the Earth) in science, one would be well advised to adopt a position of extreme caution in the appraisal of scientific claims to knowledge. Though I'm sympathetic to your shrewd circumspection, Zosimus, "Don't believe a word of it" might be a bit over the top, don't you think?

Thanks again for an intelligent and thought provoking contribution.

 

 

Note 1
----------
"Re belief and knowledge. Given the standard definition (justified true belief) we can first of all say that one cannot know what one does not believe: if you know something you believe it, too." - me

"The problem here is that you are trying to confine the conversation by defining things according to your own 'beliefs'.  All this 'Do you agree that....' biases any conversation." - DrP in response (page 2)

 

Various comments throughout the thread, typified by DrP's remark above, suggest that I've been guilty of a form of linguistic tyranny, attempting to impose on others my own idiosyncratic definitions, with the result that the conversation is "biased".

What I'll attempt to show here, then, is that the accusation is unwarranted. When philosophers provide a definition, such as "justified true belief" for knowledge, they are engaging in conceptual analysis, with an aim to clarifying the way competent language employ our repository of terms and concepts, perhaps making explicit what was hitherto only implicit. A philosophical definition may or may not align with the less rigorous definitions typically found in dictionaries.

The final tribunal on such definitional matters is not any supreme court judge, legislative body, lexicographers, or even yours truly, as DrP's charge suggests, but the language users themselves, including you, me, and all other adept speakers of English. If our own linguistic intuitions conflict with what Noah Webster says, so much the worse for Noah Webster.

It's taken for granted, except in certain deviant cases (e.g. stipulative redefinition of vernacular concepts -- "fitness", say -- in science), that competent speakers use concepts in much the same way as one another. If or when it comes to light that a particular speaker is using a word or concept in an unorthodox manner, the assumption is that an error or misunderstanding is in play, and it is generally expected that the deviant usage will be corrected so as to conform to linguistic norms. Otherwise we're all just making noises.

Take, for example, the child who asserts to an assembled adult audience that her nine-year old brother Johnny is pregnant. The grown-ups presumably do not thereby rush Johnny off to the nearest obstetrician; rather the child is corrected:


"Sally, you're not using the word 'pregnant' correctly".


Sally will be expected to, and in time almost certainly will, conform to standard usage. The adults, meanwhile, are unlikely to be accused of linguistic tyranny; i.e., "defining things according to their own beliefs" (see DrP above).

 

Take, as another example, the Japanese exchange student in New York who declares, "I know that George Washington was the first president, but it's not true". Or similarly, "I know that George Washington was the first president, but I don't believe it".

Once again, the normal response would be to inform Yukie that she is misusing one or more of the terms/concepts involved. Her native speaker friends might, for example, point out:


"Yukie, it makes no sense to say you know something but that it's not true. If you really do know it, then it must be true",   or
"Yukie, it makes no sense to say you know something but that you don't believe it. If you know it, then you must also believe it. How can you know something you don't believe?"


A charge of ex cathedra linguistic legislation would be bizarre. In all likelihood Yukie will issue a polite 'thank you', correct herself, and go on her way.

 

Or, as a third and final example, what do you say yourself to the religious poster who asserts, "The evidence for God's existence is admittedly scant, nonetheless I know he exists. Furthermore, not only do I know it, but I'm certain of it" ?


Need I say more?

 

By and large, there are two kinds of people who hold that truth and knowledge extend only as far as our methods of verification: (1) philosophers of an anti-realist or pragmatic persuasion who know exactly what they mean, e.g. Michael Dummett, C. S. Peirce, and (2) the befuddled.


Consider, for example, this profoundly confused quote posted by another member:


"Knowledge is the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Truth is defined as “the true or actual state of a matter.’ It is generally considered to be the same as fact or reality. Many people may not have knowledge of the truth, while knowing something does not necessarily make it true".


In other words, on this account, some people may have knowledge, but that knowledge is not necessarily of what is true. Well, what do you say to the fellah who announces: "Jim has lots of knowledge... but none of it is true" ?
 

You have said a lot, and I don't know how to divide it into parts so that I can reply to each part individually. So I will simply be brief and gloss over some points. Should you wish for more clarification, bring them up again.

The statement "I am sitting at my desk" may be true at one moment in time. However, it will not necessarily be true in 5 minutes. However, if you said "At 6:06 AM on 11/11/2018 I was sitting at my desk" you have constructed a statement that will always be true regardless of time and place. This is the difference between a simple truth and an absolute truth.

There are three basic philosophies of science: scientific realism, scientific antirealism, and scientific pragmatism. A scientific realist holds that science talks about electrons because electrons actually exist. A scientific antirealist holds that science talks about electrons even though they don't exist because they are useful as a metaphor for understanding atoms. Scientific pragmatists claim that it doesn't matter whether electrons exist as long as we can use this concept to invent working technology. Too often scientific apologists adopt scientific realism and insist that others do so too. I am not a scientific realist.

Regarding the question of induction, it's not a matter of whether some inductions are valid. The point is whether we can distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' inductive conclusions. Imagine that we get on a plane and ask the first three people where they are flying to. All three are flying to Chicago. Most people would say that it's a good induction to think that the 4th person we ask will also be flying to Chicago. However, if we ask those same people their birth month and they are all born in March, most people would say that we cannot use this to conclude that the 4th person is also born in March. The question, then, is not whether some inductive conclusions can be true but rather whether we can distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' inductive conclusions.

Your claim is that "a conclusion derived from a large and varied sample, taken under divergent circumstances in different times and places..." is a good one. I rebut that a person born in Peru may reason thus: My mother speaks Spanish as does my father. All the people at my school speak Spanish as well. Every time I go into a new shop, the proprietor speaks Spanish. Even when I encounter someone speaking a different language, it turns out that that person also speaks Spanish. In short, the only people I have found who do not speak Spanish are newborn babies, but they quickly pick up Spanish and are soon speaking it along with the rest of us. Accordingly, I can conclude that everyone 2+ years old speaks Spanish.

Obviously, we know that this inductive conclusion is wrong. Yet, science feels free to make similar inductive statements and rarely if ever does it get called on them. At one point I was arguing with someone who assured me that the solar system (and by extension the Earth) was 4.5 billion years old (give or take a few million years here or there). When I challenged him on that point, he became irate, accused me of being a stealth Christian, and assured me that the half-life of uranium was well known because we had been studying it for 70+ years. My response to him was this:

Imagine that we have a large room. In this room are vats. The vat closest to us is believed to contain 4.5 billion balls (give or take). We have taken 70 of those balls off the top -- not randomly throughout the vat, and we have discovered that all those balls are a specific shade of blue. In addition, we have taken 1 or 2 balls from some of the nearby vats, and said balls have also been blue. We have reason to believe that there are one sextillion vats in this room. What are the chances that ALL the balls in ALL the vats are blue, and how did you calculate the chance? I never got an answer.

Finally, I will address the point you made when you said that a theist might say "The evidence for God's existence is admittedly scant, nonetheless, I know he exists." The unspoken assumption you are making is that evidence is required to believe/know something. A similar idea is expressed when someone says "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." Yet, this statement is self-refuting because no evidence has been advanced to support it. If we assume that evidence is required to believe something, then we must ask ourselves: What evidence do we have that evidence is required to believe something?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

What evidence do we have that evidence is required to believe something?

 

Me.

I believe the shop is at the end of my walk.

28 minutes ago, Zosimus said:

You have said a lot,

Lol, pot etc...:cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Zosimus said:

The assumption is that all knowledge comes from scientists. It is never examined nor is any challenge to it brooked. It is an article of faith.

 

7 hours ago, Reg Prescott said:

Why are scientists liable to endorse hypothesis (1) and pooh-pooh hypothesis (2)? Because, pace what the methodologists may claim, they're using good old fashioned common sense; not following a method.

"There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it": Cicero, Marcus Tullius : 

Now that I have that out of the way......The problem as I see it with regards to our philosophical inebriated friends, is twofold, in that they see the years spent at Uni studying philosophy, as slipping into oblivion when compared to the practical institution of science. This in my opinion has prompted this seemingly derision of science and the scientific method by one in particular. The other problem of course is underlying agendas despite denials. As a non philosopher and a non scientist, I believe I can approach this continuing saga with some even handiness. 

Despite the many derisive quotes re philosophy I have posted in reply to the many examples of philosophical ramblings that have taken place of late, philosophy is certainly an underlying part of the foundation of science and the scientific method. It forms most of the framework in fact with regards to the practical discipline of science. But as  Laurence Krauss' adequately explained, it now seems to have had its day. Even some of the great philosophers of bygone eras have alluded to that observation, and whose quotes I have used in reply to some of the philosophical ramblings that have occurred.

The more amateurish philosophers that we have seen on this forum and whose outlandish claims and thoughts are sprinkled through threads [some closed for obvious reasons] continue with ramblings of invalid and limited analogies, metaphors, and supposed similes, that go on and on and on and on......all dealing with the hairy fairy, or the pedantic, or invalid attempts to somehow misconstrue science.

Science will continue unabated. It will continue with the search for explanations of the universe around us......It has advanced now to such a stage, that it now legitimately broaches and asks and has explanations to questions that were at one time, just philosophical....questions like how did the universe arise from nothing....or what is this nothing? https://www.astrosociety.org/publication/a-universe-from-nothing/ Certainly science as yet has no evidence or knowledge to answer these questions with any real degree of confidence, but what answers are we left with ignoring of course the unscientific mythical ID explanations.

I see somewhere [can't find it now, possibly another thread] some comment about scientific realism and the existence of electrons, compared to other scientists who prefer to see electrons simply as an explanation on the observed. This in my opinion is "splitting hairs"  and pedantic in the extreme...Do electrons actually exist? Does a magnetic field actually exist? Is space real? Is time real? is spacetime real? Myself I as a lay person say yes, they all exist...they all are needed to explain what we see...we don't really need to touch, or feel something to be real....it does not need to be physical. Am I in conflict with some other scientists that prefer looking at such, as  merely explanations? I say no. To use an analogy much as our philosophical friends often like to use...some say tomato, some say tomato, if you get my drift.

Science at any one time, is as close to any supposed truth that we can get...We go to reputable science books for knowledge re a particular scientific subject...we don't go to some rambling philosopher, or go to the fairy tale section of a children's library...or pick up some mythical obscure book by some obscure person in an obscure age.

I must now finish off as this is getting to be more like a philosophical ramble similar to those so called philosophers that I am actually criticising.  While I have offered many quotes critical of philosophy, I have yet to offer any quotes that are praise worthy of the scientific discipline. Let me now change that....

"There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance": Hippocrates:

"Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully understand the process of digestion?": Oliver Heaviside 

"Science is organized knowledge".Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) English philosopher. Education.

 

"Science is facts; just as houses are made of stone, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house, and a collection of facts is not necessarily science". Jules Henri Poincaré 

"Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition".Adam Smith (1723-90) Scottish economist. 

7 hours ago, Zosimus said:

Nothing is verifiable. Even if we choose something as simple as "Donald Trump is flying back to Washington tomorrow" we will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to verify this.

A poor analogy and obviously false. Can we verify the Earth is round? Not sure how any philosophy can be actually interpreted to mean what you say...absurd again comes to mind.

 

Quote

The second objection I will make is this: Most Published Research Findings Are False. In short: If you believe in science, then you shouldn't believe in science.

I accept science, because I accept logic, evidence, facts, and the scientific method.

Edited by beecee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi again,
 

11 hours ago, Zosimus said:

The statement "I am sitting at my desk" may be true at one moment in time. However, it will not necessarily be true in 5 minutes. However, if you said "At 6:06 AM on 11/11/2018 I was sitting at my desk" you have constructed a statement that will always be true regardless of time and place. This is the difference between a simple truth and an absolute truth.

If you read through my last reply to you again, I think you'll see I'm saying pretty much the same thing, except eschewing that abominable term "absolute truth". What you call an absolute truth is what I call a true proposition. Thus:

 

Quote

"The proposition expressed by my statement "I am in Taiwan now" is true when uttered here and now, and will still be true a hundred years from today. It will never be false that I was in Taiwan right here and right now. Properly indexed, the proposition thereby expressed would look something like "The utterer of the statement [Reg Prescott] is in Taiwan at the time of utterance [11/11/2018]". The truth value of the statement does indeed change; the truth value of the proposition expressed by the statement does not."

- me, yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

 

 

11 hours ago, Zosimus said:

There are three basic philosophies of science: scientific realism, scientific antirealism, and scientific pragmatism. A scientific realist holds that science talks about electrons because electrons actually exist. A scientific antirealist holds that science talks about electrons even though they don't exist because they are useful as a metaphor for understanding atoms. Scientific pragmatists claim that it doesn't matter whether electrons exist as long as we can use this concept to invent working technology. Too often scientific apologists adopt scientific realism and insist that others do so too. I am not a scientific realist.

Well, these guys are an eclectic bunch. Some antirealists of an instrumentalist persuasion would say pretty much what you just did, viz., talk about unobservables (e.g. electrons) in scientific theories is not to be taken literally. Antirealism of this kind is based on semantic concerns: terms such as "electron" are not meant to refer, thus statements about electrons are not truth evaluable at all.


Bas van Fraassen, on the other hand, whose constructive empiricism I'm sympathetic to myself, holds that talk of unobservables is to be read literally; the term "electron", for example, is not a metaphor. His particular form of antirealism is epistemic in nature. That is to say, the term "electron" (and all their brethren) is meant to refer, thus statements about electrons are truth evaluable, but the epistemic warrant -- on his account -- is insufficient for us to claim any knowledge of unobservables.

 

11 hours ago, Zosimus said:

The question, then, is not whether some inductive conclusions can be true but rather whether we can distinguish between 'good' and 'bad' inductive conclusions.

Here you seem to imply that there are such things as good inductions. This being the case, is the production of true propositions, at least in some cases, not the result? 

 

11 hours ago, Zosimus said:

Your claim is that "a conclusion derived from a large and varied sample, taken under divergent circumstances in different times and places..." is a good one. I rebut that a person born in Peru may reason thus: My mother speaks Spanish as does my father. All the people at my school speak Spanish as well. Every time I go into a new shop, the proprietor speaks Spanish. Even when I encounter someone speaking a different language, it turns out that that person also speaks Spanish. In short, the only people I have found who do not speak Spanish are newborn babies, but they quickly pick up Spanish and are soon speaking it along with the rest of us. Accordingly, I can conclude that everyone 2+ years old speaks Spanish.

We can all agree your Peruvian buddy's conclusion ("everyone 2+ years old speaks Spanish") is false. One of two tacks could be taken here, though:


(i) Deny that his sample was large and varied enough. It was not a case of good induction. Or

(ii) Concede that the sample was adequately large and varied, thus it was a good induction. But, alas, it was one of these good inductions that resulted in a false conclusion. No one is claiming that good inductions invariably yield a true conclusion; just some of them.

 

Just to get clear here, Zosimus: Is your own position that induction never yields true conclusions? You did seem to imply earlier that there are such things as good inductions. Don't some of them, at least, yield true statements?
 

11 hours ago, Zosimus said:

Obviously, we know that this inductive conclusion is wrong. Yet, science feels free to make similar inductive statements and rarely if ever does it get called on them. At one point I was arguing with someone who assured me that the solar system (and by extension the Earth) was 4.5 billion years old (give or take a few million years here or there). When I challenged him on that point, he became irate, accused me of being a stealth Christian, and assured me that the half-life of uranium was well known because we had been studying it for 70+ years. My response to him was this:

Here I can certainly sympathize. Around these parts any attempt to correct grossly exaggerated or just plain false claims about scientific practice immediately incurs the wrath of Khan. One is liable to be accused of harboring some nefarious agenda, and in all likelihood will be labelled anti-science (an epithet thrown around as carelessly and irresponsibly as "anti-semite"), a Creationist luddite, a destroyer of rationality, and quite possibly the assassin of John F Kennedy to boot.


 

11 hours ago, Zosimus said:

Finally, I will address the point you made when you said that a theist might say "The evidence for God's existence is admittedly scant, nonetheless, I know he exists." The unspoken assumption you are making is that evidence is required to believe/know something. A similar idea is expressed when someone says "That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." Yet, this statement is self-refuting because no evidence has been advanced to support it. If we assume that evidence is required to believe something, then we must ask ourselves: What evidence do we have that evidence is required to believe something?

It is indeed a cause for concern that so many people pick up catchy slogans from the likes of Dawkins and Krauss, slogans that are manifestly and outrageously false, then, without subjecting them to the merest whiff of critical analysis which would reveal their falsity, repeat them ad nauseum, ad infinitum, ad vacca come hometh.


My own personal fave, from the sneering atheist to the Christian or Moslem, is "You're an atheist, too (with respect to Zeus, Thor, etc.). I just believe in one god fewer than you do".


Parallel "reasoning" makes me a virgin  ... with respect to Anne Hathaway.


 

Edited by Reg Prescott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Reg Prescott said:

It is indeed a cause for concern that so many people pick up catchy slogans from the likes of Dawkins and Krauss, slogans that are manifestly and outrageously false, then, without subjecting them to the merest whiff of critical analysis which would reveal their falsity, repeat them ad nauseum, ad infinitum, ad vacca come hometh.

It is far more of a concern that someone simply out to practise his 3, 4, 5 years of philosophical study on a science forums, continually ignores all evidence and situations given that falsify that ridiculous philosophical stance by both scientists and other far more attuned philosophers..

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10.11.2018 at 5:10 PM, Zosimus said:

2. God is the source of all truth.

So God, creator of the Universe, is saying that you are connected to Reg Prescott...

Do you agree or disagree with this statement.. ? ;)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Francis said:

"Well, if you believe it is (as per your assertion), and you have good reasons for believing so (I'd call 999/1000 a pretty good reason), and the chosen ball is indeed green, then I'd say you have knowledge, even before the grand denouement. Your belief is both justified and true.Therefore, you know the chosen ball is green" -- Reg
 

I wouldn't claim to know that the chosen ball is green.  

I am a practising Catholic.  I  believe with all my heart, mind and soul that God exists, but do I know that God exists?  No, I don't know, because I can't demonstrate it empirically.  (I don't even know how I could demonstrate it empirically.  Even if I could present God in person to someone, God would then have to demonstrate that he is, in fact, God.  I don't even know how he would do that.)  So a belief that can't be demonstrated as factual is not knowledge.  Can anyone demonstrate that man evolved from a homind via a process of mutations and natural selection?  No, I don't think so.  So all we have is a theory or a belief, not a demonstrable fact, and therefore in this case we don't have knowledge.

Hi again,

Leaving God aside for now, I think these (bold) remarks are mistaken, Francis, though it's a mistake that has been echoed by many other members both here and in other threads; part of the reason I started this thread in the first place.


What you seem to be suggesting here is that, in the absence of demonstrative proof, one cannot claim or possess knowledge. Is that an accurate summary of your position?


Other members have said similar things with regards (putative) scientific knowledge, particularly that pertaining to unobservable entities, mechanisms, etc., postulated in theories. I paraphrase: "How can we ever KNOW that what the theory tells us about unobservable reality actually obtains? We're not able to lift up the veil and peek".


Yourself and other members seem to hold -- erroneously, in my opinion -- that lacking demonstrative proof, and thus certainty, knowledge is forever beyond our grasp.


Remember, given our standard definition, the three criteria for possessing knowledge of a particular proposition are:


(i) you believe that proposition
(ii) you have good reasons for believing that proposition
(iii) the proposition is true

 

Notice that supreme confidence (certainty!) or demonstrative proof do not feature in these criteria. Neither does the demand to lift up the veil and peek.


In a game of hide and seek, one may have very good reasons for believing Martha is hiding in the broom closet. Martha, for example, may not be very bright and always hides in the broom closet. Duh! (Ever seen "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"?)


Now, if it is indeed the case that Martha is nestled among the brooms as usual, then you know that's where she is. You may not enjoy certainty; you may harbor certain doubts (perhaps Martha has wised up), as any reasonable person would. Nonetheless, just so long as Martha is where you believe her to be, and your belief is justified, this constitutes knowledge on your part.


Opening up the broom closet door, in Martha's case, or adopting a God's-eye view to see what's going on under the veil, in the case of scientific theories, is not a necessary condition to possess knowledge.

 

And I'll bet you a pint of Fosters, mate, that when you do open up that broom closet, you'll exclaim, "I knew it!"

Edited by Reg Prescott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, beecee said:

It is far more of a concern that someone simply out to practise his 3, 4, 5 years of philosophical study on a science forums, continually ignores all evidence and situations given that falsify that ridiculous philosophical stance by both scientists and other far more attuned philosophers..

Well said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Reg Prescott said:

Yourself and other members seem to hold -- erroneously, in my opinion -- that lacking demonstrative proof, and thus certainty, knowledge is forever beyond our grasp.

You actually have an terrible understanding of what people are telling you...knowledge is science...we gain knowledge through observation, experiment and experience...truth and/or reality is what may be beyond our grasp, and obviously as has been shown to you, is not the object specifically of any scientific model or theory...if it falls into our lap, all well and good.

Again electrons like magnetic fields are certainly real, irrespective of how one observes or understands it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Reg Prescott said:

Well, these guys are an eclectic bunch. Some antirealists of an instrumentalist persuasion would say pretty much what you just did, viz., talk about unobservables (e.g. electrons) in scientific theories is not to be taken literally. Antirealism of this kind is based on semantic concerns: terms such as "electron" are not meant to refer, thus statements about electrons are not truth evaluable at all.


Bas van Fraassen, on the other hand, whose constructive empiricism I'm sympathetic to myself, holds that talk of unobservables is to be read literally; the term "electron", for example, is not a metaphor. His particular form of antirealism is epistemic in nature. That is to say, the term "electron" (and all their brethren) is meant to refer, thus statements about electrons are truth evaluable, but the epistemic warrant -- on his account -- is insufficient for us to claim any knowledge of unobservables.

Electron's traces are observable in e.g. Cloud Chamber..

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, Sensei said:

Electron's traces are observable in e.g. Cloud Chamber..

Yes, the trace is observable. The electron is not (at least as van Fraassen defines "observable").

And here, of course, we assume the trace that we do see is caused by an electron that we don't see.

A blip on a radar screen that we take to be caused an airplane may not be caused by an airplane. The salient difference here being we have independent means of directly verifying the existence of airplanes. We can see them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Reg Prescott said:

And here, of course, we assume the trace that we do see is caused by an electron that we don't see.

So are you saying that 'observable' means that 'it sends photons to your eye'?

That seems to be a very narrow definition.

On 31/10/2018 at 11:40 AM, Carrock said:

Euston station is six stops away from Kings Cross station"

It depends under which rule set you are playing.

In any case under, Trivetts Amendment, you cannot claim Mornington Crescent from a second line on the diagonal.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, NortonH said:

So are you saying that 'observable' means that 'it sends photons to your eye'?

That seems to be a very narrow definition.

No, I'm saying observable means "can be seen".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Reg Prescott said:

No, I'm saying observable means "can be seen".

OK. Well I would contend that there are other ways to observe.

Hearing for example.

Smell perhaps.

Some people dismiss ouija boards but I am preparing a short essay on that subject which I hope to post in the next few days.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Reg Prescott said:

And here, of course, we assume the trace that we do see is caused by an electron that we don't see.

A blip on a radar screen that we take to be caused an airplane may not be caused by an airplane. The salient difference here being we have independent means of directly verifying the existence of airplanes. We can see them. 

A blip on a radar screen is an invalid analogy to the verified electron. Do you accept the existence of magnetic fields? Obviously you can not answer to any true degree that will align with your poor predisposition of science as well as philosophy, so you will ignore. Guess what? Ignoring it will not make it go away, nor validate the general nonsense you post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, beecee said:

Ignoring it will not make it go away, nor validate the general nonsense you post.

That sort of comment seems a bit unnecessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Reg Prescott said:

Yes, the trace is observable. The electron is not (at least as van Fraassen defines "observable").

And here, of course, we assume the trace that we do see is caused by an electron that we don't see.

So? Do you need to see everything to believe it? What caused the trace? Does the trace align with what is known of the electron? Does it align with other data on the electron? Do you accept magnetic field lines which also can't be seen? Has it added to our scientific knowledge and explanations of other particle zoo observations? Do you now see how stupid some of your inferred philosophical nonsense and claims can be? Can you see why your continued invalid inferences, denigrating science and scientific knowledge in general, can only be explained by an agenda? 

3 minutes ago, NortonH said:

That sort of comment seems a bit unnecessary.

Does it? How about....

"There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it".:Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE) Roman statesman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, beecee said:

Does it? How about....

"There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it".:Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106-43 BCE) Roman statesman

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎11‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 8:59 PM, beecee said:

The only truth that matters is scientific truth

In that case, the meaning of life doesn't matter, since science has nothing to say in that regard.

On ‎11‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 8:59 PM, beecee said:

 

Science is the discipline of acquiring knowledge and is without doubt the best  method  that we have or can ever have  using the scientific method as its foundations. If I want to know how humans evolved, or how our solar system formed, or how the universe evolved, I don’t go to a philosopher, or any religious text.....I check it out in an appropriate science book with scientific truth and the relevant knowledge. That is knowledge...that is the only truth.

If science is the only truth, where does science say "Science is the only truth"?

Edited by Francis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Francis said:

In that case, the meaning of life doesn't matter, since science has nothing to say in that regard.

Science deals with quantitative questions and 'the meaning of life' is not one of those.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, NortonH said:

So are you saying that 'observable' means that 'it sends photons to your eye'?

That seems to be a very narrow definition.

It depends under which rule set you are playing.

In any case under, Trivetts Amendment, you cannot claim Mornington Crescent from a second line on the diagonal.

 

 Even though you're on my ignore list, I still get notified when you invent quotes of things I never said - see the referred post.

It's just possible it was accidental this time. Don't do it again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Science deals with quantitative questions and 'the meaning of life' is not one of those.

beecee seems to think there is no truth outside science.  In that case, the meaning of life isn't worth discussing.

On ‎11‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 8:59 PM, beecee said:

I check it out in an appropriate science book with scientific truth and the relevant knowledge. That is knowledge...that is the only truth.

If science is "the only truth", how can you claim, for example, that God is a "ridiculous myth", when science hasn't nothing to say on the matter?

If science is "the only truth", no one can claim it's wrong to steal, murder, rape and pillage, because science has nothing to say on the matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Carrock said:

It's just possible it was accidental this time. Don't do it again.

Don't do what again?

You seem to be the one making up quotes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.