Process, Provision, Or Purpose?
Why should we favor a process over forming conclusions?
Why should we favor any one process over another?
The answer is that processes serve a purpose. If we are interested in saying things that best describe some state of affairs, then the purpose of any means getting us there, or even getting us situated in order to get there, is judged according to the conclusions those processes bring us to.
Truths are justified beliefs. Beliefs are affirmed empirically. Processes, say the methods of Science for instance, are vindicated in that they do what we want them to do. The complaint is that we are only at best incomplete with any conclusion, so we ought to hold conclusions as provisional and focus more on processes.
The problem there has origami folds of difficulty and I’ll pick up just a few:
First is that one presumes various processes are reliable, but this seals the fate of process with that of its fruit, conclusion. A process is reliable if it produces sound conclusions. So, we cannot favor process any more than conclusion when we start with the admission that conclusions are sketchy. Both must be provisional then.
Second is that if we divorce processes from conclusions, we have nothing to attach it to; those processes no longer have an interest in anything relating to knowledge in any sense related to warrant. Without some purpose, process has no meaning.
Third is that as part of a feedback loop between experience and explanation, conclusions are mandatory but processes actually aren’t at all. Most people have a myriad of beliefs that they are entitled to and that are justified, yet they cannot themselves explain why they are justified. It is only the Epistemologist that would complain that unless a person can account for their beliefs, they’re at least not justified in believing whatever they do believe. And, we’re already admitting that conclusions are sketchy; processes are the cause. So we can’t hardly be so skeptical about conclusions yet demand these folks have any process at all. That is, unless justified beliefs, truth, is the aim of epistemological processes rather than process for process’ sake. However, their process of lacking processes only belies a strategy. Again we know these folks hold justified beliefs. Balking about lacking processes is only owning that we want processes in place to increase the volume of no less than justified beliefs, ie. better conclusions hinged on good reasons to assert rather than on any process at all. Warranted assertability being the purpose after all.
Fourth, if the aim is to have a multiplicity of explanations for some state of affairs, then we cannot hold that a single process can provide a diversity of explanations; the more reliable a process, necessarily, the more likely we are to have a single conclusion from it. Too, in wanting to have more than one explanation, we’re left asking why. At that point, we’re talking about a strategy. We are dually admitting that conclusion and processes are indeed best kept provisionally. That is, that because one requires the other, none guarantee warranted assertability.
Finally, the only process we can absolutely commit to is discarding processes that don’t work, but this is no different than discarding conclusions that don’t work either; the one is an extension of the o
Just a thought.