Category Archives: Epistemology

Some Logical Advice …

For some reason, some folks think that logic couldn’t exist without God. They say that the laws of logic are absolute. Often, they cite some as examples yet obviously know nothing about them.

For instance, some will invoke the law of non contradiction yet have no idea what an antinomy is. Some will appeal to the law of the excluded middle yet fail to realize folks like Bruuwer, a logician, created maths that exclude the concept all together. Weisäcker, yet another logician, uses ternary rather than binary states of propositions; as this is mandatory given that maths and logic must account for the quantum. Some, not very often any more since it’s not low hanging fruit for a layman, refer to the law of sufficient ground or decidability while forgetting Gödel’s proof that no, for any proposition, we cannot say that it is valid conditional to it being able to be proved or disproved. By far the most referenced law is that of identity. If we meant something other than “A is the same thing as A”, we wouldn’t know exactly what we meant. This is a tautology, and as such, only has necessity in a formal system such as math or logic but it in itself cannot tell us anything about the world; that’s contingent to the formal system itself but only coincidentally; as both logician and mathematician admit.

Logic is a formal description of how folks think. Logic does not entail truth. Logic was entirely created by reasoning about reasoning. Of course then it’s going to make sense! Logic is not absolute in any sense but that we have to ourselves hold its axioms and tautological relationships and expressions thus, but not on account of gods or logic being ontologically objective in the world. Like English or any other language, logic simply must be stable; that is all, a fortiori.

Dear apologist, if you don’t know the topic you’re trying to elucidate, then don’t speak to it; that’s unethical and just plain dumb!

Thank you for playing.

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I know, I know …

Ayer once said that knowledge is a claim to the right to be sure. Folks scratch their heads when I have likewise said that knowledge is not more than legitimate certainty. The difference between belief and knowledge is ultimately justfication irrespective of various theories of knowledge. That is, to claim such a right entails a social endeavor and this entails explaining convincingly that everyone, not just myself, should commit to some proposition. Bewilderment here isn’t from a difficulty understanding what’s being said but is instead from the realization that one may have to give up certain other hopes one has about what they expected knowledge to be.

Just a thought.

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To Will Or Won’t …

I’ll repeat a problem I’ve posed to other philosophers and theologians before. The problem is in agency and what gods folks ought to invent.

If God is love by nature and God cannot act against his nature, God cannot do anything but love. If loving perfectly entails to an optimal response given some particulars, then God has no choice in how His love will be expressed given any particulars; it will always be optimal. In that case, as for any essential characteristic of God, there’s no difference that makes a difference between a God with a will and a God without a will … save the simplicity in the idea that God is not a being with a will, and thus the parsimonious metaphysical view one should have of God.

To say God has a will as evidenced by his suboptimal choice to love makes no sense in what one would hope to mean by the term “God”, as is true in suggesting God can act “uncharacteristically”.

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The only legitimate statement we can make about belief — given the fact that we cannot know why we believe something and given the fact that we are wired to produce reliable beliefs — is to say that each and every belief we have has warrant until there is more reason to doubt the belief than continue to accept it, and, the only reason we can give as to why we believe anything at all, in any case, is that it seems to be the case.
We are slaves to belief. We cannot choose them, cannot tell why we have the ones we do, are driven by them to act one way versus another.
The only measure of will we have over belief is doubt, and that is by exposing our beliefs to honesty, to experience, to others, to ourselves in reflection.
To change one’s mind is an act of insurrection, of defiance to automata!
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An Implication Of Involuntarism

On many fronts from epistemology, psychology, and neuroscience, we are geared to form reliable beliefs and these processes through the wonders of evolution, are themselves reliable.

It is true that some have the ability to more often produce more beneficial beliefs and that some have disabilities.

On the whole, these don’t describe anything at issue here.

There is then a sense in saying there are “default positions” but not as hoped by those using the term. Our initial beliefs are the only beliefs warranted until some greater reason to doubt them exists. Since the sciences suggest no one chooses what to believe or how our beliefs will form, there’s no other sense to the application of such a term.

That our beliefs may be mistaken or that we may not be able to account for what we believe or why we believe is irrelevant to being ethical, responsible, and diligent with our beliefs. On this view, the only mistake we can make is not being open to having our minds changed. The only other fault we may have is again ethical in, knowing all of this, suggesting someone ought to be human in a way we are not and suggesting they should doubt their beliefs merely on our sayso.

One must have warrant for every belief and every doubt, and having no good reason to believe is likewise no good reason to doubt, just as having no good reason to doubt is no good reason to believe.

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“Be Objective, Be-ee Objective!” They Cheered.

Often, Christian apologist, philosopher, and theologian, William Lane Craig, will say “objective moral duties, obligations, and values exist”. What he means is that there exist facts which are independent of what human beings make of them, and these facts are what “make” something moral, immoral, or amoral. He supposes that if objective moral duties, obligations, and values didn’t exist, then morality would be subjective and relative. In this, he either ignores or denies “epistimic objectivity”. That is, he requires more than morality being objective in the sense of creating goals and judging progress; he requires, built into his argument already, that something other than human beings legitimizes the objectives and activities humans have. He applies this not only to morality but to his notions of truth as well.

The difference?

Epistemological objectivity is about our rights to confidence in some proposition and its assertability; so, it’s about arriving at a conclusion in “the right sort of way”.

Ontological objectivity is about a proposition’s truth-bearing attributes in a representative way; so rather than asking when and under what conditions something can be “called true”, the question is whether or not something “makes it true”.

Craig of course has no grounds to deny or ignore epistimic objectivity.

Just a thought.

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Foundational Mistake

It seems the idea of Foundationalism is far more rampant in American culture than merely Christianity. The idea that in order to know anything we have to know some things absolutely is an odd one at best, but many are keen on not thinking it through. Alvin Plantinga, for instance, champions the idea that knowledge rests on “properly basic beliefs”. These are beliefs we come by naturally, through direct experience; these cannot be justified through other beliefs.
The problem, however, is that Foundationalism is about justification. There must exist justification for believing something is true. The question then is what justification is sufficient. A second, equally important question is how things like brute facts, direct experience, perceptual statements, and other entitlements do not require justification in order for us to believe what we do about them.
Foundationalism may be summarily dismissed in the light of common sense. If justification is the means to suggest belief is warranted, then it may be fully achieved well before any interlocutor would dream of tracing an immediate belief with its descent down the proverbial tree of life to the roots in common ancestry with “properly basic beliefs”. If warrant is about ethical confidence in what we believe, then justification rather than notions of foundations, or claims of foundations and their necessity, is what provides warrant to truth claims and ultimately, knowledge claims.
It is with great pleasure then that when I correct laymen about poor thinking, it’s not the Christian alone that I correct here; it’s much of Western culture it seems.
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What Logic Is Not

About logical validity … we all realize logic doesn’t entail truth when logic doesn’t tell us if premises or conclusions are true, and that all we know is that premises are false if the conclusion is false, right?

All dogs are cats.
All spaniels are cats.
All spaniels are dogs.

Here above is the last problem. We can’t even say that a conclusion is false even though we know for certain that the premises are false! All spaniels are dogs after all.

It is entirely up to some other enterprise to determine the truth of some statement about the world.

About logical soundness …

1) Logic is axiomatic.
2) Logical arguments are tautological.
3) Sound arguments are those
a) with valid form and
b) with true premises
4) If a sound argument turns out to actually have a false conclusion, we only know that at least one premise is false and that only by definition is the argument no longer sound.
5) We may be wrong about the truth of the premises of sound arguments.
6) Because an argument can have a valid form and the appearance of true premises, the purpose of saying an argument is “sound” isn’t to say its conclusions are in reality actually true; just that there’s no way around such a conclusion except by faulting a premise or conclusion in reality rather than logic.
7) Therefore in practical terms:
a) sound arguments don’t entail truth, as all counter-examples simply cause us to take a once “sound” argument and by definition alone, declare it no longer is sound, and
b) have no guaranteed certainty between necessary conclusions and the real world, and
c) Trivial if 7.a and 7.b are not the expectations of sound arguments.

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Words, Words, Words!

You cannot hope to make any point by appealing to the meaning of a word as if there is only one or that definitions are static and unchanging.
At best, one can only say “Here’s what I mean by x, and given that meaning, doesn’t x apply?”
For example, we cannot argue that “Belief is conviction” because one may be persuaded that something is true without at all being convinced it is actually true; so counter to “Belief is conviction”, some beliefs are convictions and some are simply dispositions to think something is the case even though conviction is entirely absent in our thinking it is so.
Another example is saying “Belief is an attitudinal disposition toward a state of affairs”, which makes affirming and doubting and refraining, dispositions and as such “beliefs”. In that case, Atheism is a belief and no one can be an “Apistivist” given everyone thinks something about any state of affairs they’re considering. Being careful and even-handed here then, does this mean that Atheists and Apistivists are mistaken, or do they themselves have their own definition of belief that we may or may not find useful in the way they do?
When making arguments, do not appeal to “This is what this word means”. That leads nowhere. Instead, explain only that “This is what I mean by this word, and, doesn’t it apply in this case?”
Just a thought.
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“I don’t have enough …” patience

If belief is our draw to think something is or isn’t the case, then an atheist certainly is drawn to think gods are not the case.

Atheists get accused of having faith. This is absurd. Faith is the opposite of belief. Faith is the admission that the state of affairs hoped for isn’t the current state of affairs. Belief, again, is thinking something is true about current states of affairs.

Faith is a choice.

Beliefs cannot be chosen.

Faith is from commitment, desire, hope, trust, confidence into the unknown future or in some object, person, process, etc. likewise cast into the future; it may sometimes be warranted or unwarranted.

Belief is always “here and now” about past or present matters of fact, states of affairs.

While an atheist may indeed have faith in the methodological success and reliability of science for example, it isn’t a religious, blind faith as it is justified in “enumeration”; the process itself tested each time it is applied.

What counts and what’s at stake here isn’t justified belief or justified faith. What is at stake is the apologist’s claim that there is an actual past or present state of affairs that is the case, but there’s no reason , no justification for thinking so. The unethical use of the idea of blind faith being grounds to believe is the issue.

I have yet to meet an atheist whose atheism is so grounded.

Atheism is exactly justified in the fact that the theist continually fails to show that there is warrant to believe that there are gods is the case.

Frank Turek simply didn’t take the time or care to do his homework before writing an entire book dedicated to equivocation and conflation.

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