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RDF/AIG as a case of the incoherence and rhetorical agenda of evolutionary materialist thought and/or its fellow- traveller ideologies

For the past several weeks, there has been an exchange that developed in the eduction vs persuasion thread (put up May 9th by AndyJones), on first principles of right reason and related matters.  Commenter RDF . . .   has championed some popular talking points in today’s intellectual culture.

We can therefore pick up from a citation and comment by Vivid, at 619 in the thread (June 12th), for record and possible further discussion.

Accordingly, I clip comment 742 from the thread (overnight) and headline it:

_____________

>>. . . let us remind ourselves of the context for the just above exchanges, by going back to Vivid at 619:

[RDF/AIG:] And once again I must remind you that you are mistaken. We cannot be absolutely certain of anything, and you will see that I have never said that we could be absolutely certain of anything. I don’t think this is a very difficult point, but you keep misquoting me.

[Vivid, replying:} I apologize I did not intend to misquote you I now understand your position better. You are not absolutely certain that there is no such thing as absolute certainty but you want Stephen[B] to concede to that which you are not absolutely certain about. Got it.

Notice, this is what RDF has to defend, cited from his own mouth:

[RDF:] We cannot be absolutely certain of anything . . .

This absolute declaration of certainty that we cannot be certain of anything, aptly exposes the underlying incoherence of what RDF has been arguing.

"Turtles, all the way down . . . " vs a root cause

“Turtles, all the way down . . . ” vs a root cause

He has spent much time trying to ignore a sound worldviews foundation approach, and has sought to undermine first principles of right reason in order to advance an agenda that from its roots on up, is incoherent.

So, let it be understood that when reason was in the balance, he was found wanting, decisively wanting. Again and again.

In particular, observe his willful unresponsiveness to and “passive” resistance by that unresponsiveness, to the basic point that by direct case, Royce’s Error exists, we can show that there are truths that are generally recognised, are accessible to our experiences, are factually grounded, and can be shown to be undeniably true and self evident, constituting certain knowledge of the world of things in themselves accessible to humans.

Thus, his whole project of want of grounding for reasoning and building worldviews collapses from the foundations.

In particular, observe as well that he has for hundreds of comments, waged an ideological talking point war against cause and effect, trying to poison the atmosphere to disguise the want of a good basis for rejecting it.

For instance, observe how he has never seriously engaged the point that once a thing A exists, following Schopenhauer, we may freely ask, why and expect to find a reasonable, intelligible answer. (This is in part a major basis for science, and also for philosophy.)

This principle, sufficient reason, is patently reasonable and self-evident: that if A is, there is a good explanatory reason for it.

First, that A’s attributes, unlike those of a square circle, are coherent. So, from this point on, the law of non-contradiction is inextricably entangled int he possibility of being. Consequently we see the antithesis: possibility vs impossibility of being.

Next, by virtue of possible worlds analysis, we can distinguish another antithesis: contingent vs non-contingent (i.e. NECESSARY) beings.

A unicorn, a possible being (HT: Baggins Book Blogger, Blogspot)

A unicorn, a possible being (HT: Baggins Book Blogger, Blogspot)

That is, we can have possible worlds in which certain things — contingent beings, C — could exist and others in which C does not exist. For instance, a horned horse is obviously a possible being but happens not to exist as of yet in the actual world we inhabit. But it is conceivable that within a century, through genetic engineering, one may well exist. (I am not so sure that they will be able to make a pink one, but a white one is very conceivable.)

We are of course just such members of class C.

(And this wider class C further opens the way to significant choice by humans, by which we can imagine possible futures, and by rational evaluation of the consequences of our ideas, models and plans, decide which to implement, e.g. by choosing a design of the building to replace the WTC buildings in NYC knocked down by Bin Laden and co on Sept 11, 2001 — a date chosen by him on the probable grounds that it was the 318th anniversary less one day, from the great cavalry attack led by Jan III Sobieski of Poland and Lithuania, which broke the final Turkish siege of Vienna under the Caliph at that time in 1683. That is, by choosing the day, UBL was making a message to his fellow radicalised Muslims that he was taking over from the previous high-water mark of IslamIST expansionism. And that he was doing so in the general area of Khorasan would also be of significance to such Muslims, who would immediately recognise the significance and relevance of black flag armies from that general area. I give these examples, to underscore the significance of contingency and intelligent, willed choice in humans, something that RDF/AIG also wishes to undermine. He does not see the fatal self-referential incoherence that stems from that, and doubtless would dismiss the significance of incoherence as well. The circle of ideological irrationality driven by a priori evolutionary materialism and its fellow traveller ideas and agendas, closes.)

But C has its antithesis in a world partition, class NOT-C; let us call it N.

Necessary beings, such as the number two, 2 or the true proposition 2 + 3 = 5, etc.

Fire_tetrahedron

The fire tetrahedron, showing the cluster of enabling factors that are each necessary and jointly sufficient for a fire to begin (Wiki)

Members of C are marked by dependence on ON/OFF enabling factors, e.g. as we have frequently discussed, how a match flame depends on each of: heat, fuel, oxidiser and chain reaction. Such enabling factors are necessary causal factors, all of which must be present for a member of class C to be actualised. A sufficient condition for such a member will have at least all of the factors like this, met.

We naturally and reasonably say that such a member of C is CAUSED when its conditions to exist are met by a sufficient cluster of factors, and that E is an effect; the cluster of factors being causes. So, even if we do not know the full set of causal factors for C, we can be confident that a contingent being, that has a beginning and may end or could conceivably not have been at all, is caused.

However, not all things are like that. Some things have no such dependence on causal factors, and are possible beings. These beings will be actual in all possible worlds, i.e. they are necessary beings.

One and the same object cannot be circular and square in the same sense and place at the same time

One and the same object
cannot be circular and
square in the same
sense and place at the same time

A serious candidate necessary being will be either impossible (blocked by having incoherent proposed attributes such as a square circle), or it will be possible and actual. As noted, S5, in modal logic, captures part of why. {Cf. here.} In effect we can see that such a being just is, inevitably, and its absence would be impossible.

For example the number 2 just is. Even in an empty world, one can see that we have the empty set { } –> 0. Thence, we may form a set which collects the empty set: {0} –> 1. Then, in the next step, we simply collect both: {0, 1} –> 2. For modern set theory, we simply continue the process to get 3, 4, 5 . . . , but this is enough for our purposes. Doing this abstract analytical exercise does not create 2, it simply recognises how inevitable it is. It is impossible for 2 not to exist. Similarly, the true proposition 2 + 3 = 5 is like that, and much more besides.

We thus see that necessary beings exist and are knowable, even familiar in some cases.

We see further that such beings are without beginning, or end. They are not caused, they hold being by necessity, which its their sufficient reason for existing. They have no dependence on external enabling causal factors.

A flying spaghetti monster knitted doll, showing how this is used to mockt eh idea of God as necessary being (note the words on the chalk board)

A flying spaghetti monster knitted doll, showing how this is used to mock the idea of God as necessary being (note the words on the chalk board)

A serious candidate to be a necessary being will be independent of enabling factors, likewise (flying spaghetti monsters need not apply) and will not be composed of material parts. The abstract, thought-nature of cases like 2, 2 + 3 = 5 etc shows that such beings point to mind, and one way of accounting for such beings is that they are eternally contemplated by God. Where also God is regarded as an eternal, necessary, spiritual being who is minded and the root of all being in our world, the ultimate enabling factor for reality.

BTW, this means that those who would dismiss God’s existence do not merely need to establish that in their view God is improbable, but that God is impossible, as God is a serious candidate to be a necessary being.

That is, since RDF is so hot to undermine the intellectual credibility of the existence of God, it is worth pausing to highlight a few points on this matter, connected to the logic of necessary beings and other relevant points. For, even before we run into other things that point like compass needles to God: the evident design of a fine tuned cosmos set up for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life that makes an extra cosmic, intelligent agent with power to create a cosmos the explanation to beat, the significance of our being minded and characterised by reason, as well as the existence of a world of life in that context, the fact that we inescapably find ourselves under moral government by implanted law, and of course the direct encounter with God that millions report as having positively transformed their lives, and more.

Nope, unlike the pretence of too many skeptics would lead us to naively believe, the acceptance of God’s reality is a very reasonable position to hold. (Scroll back up and observe the studious silence of RDF et al on such matters.)

So, never mind the ink-clouds of distractive or dismissive or confusing talking-points, we are back to the worldview level significance of first principles of right reason and pivotal first, self-evident truths.

{Let us add, an illustrative diagram, on how naturally these principles arise from a world-partition, e.g. by having a bright red ball on a table:}

Laws_of_logic

{And,we may clip Wikipedia’s article on laws of thought:

The law of non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle are not separate laws per se, but correlates of the law of identity. That is to say, they are two interdependent and complementary principles that inhere naturally (implicitly) within the law of identity, as its essential nature . . .   whenever we ‘identify’ a thing as belonging to a certain class or instance of a class, we intellectually set that thing apart from all the other things in existence which are ‘not’ of that same class or instance of a class. In other words, the proposition, “A is A and A is not ~A” (law of identity) intellectually partitions a universe of discourse (the domain of all things) into exactly two subsets, A and ~A, and thus gives rise to a dichotomy. As with all dichotomies, A and ~A must then be ‘mutually exclusive’ and ‘jointly exhaustive’ with respect to that universe of discourse. In other words, ‘no one thing can simultaneously be a member of both A and ~A’ (law of non-contradiction), whilst ‘every single thing must be a member of either A or ~A’ (law of excluded middle).

What’s more . . .  thinking entails the manipulation and amalgamation of simpler concepts in order to form more complex ones, and therefore, we must have a means of distinguishing these different concepts. It follows then that the first principle of language (law of identity) is also rightfully called the first principle of thought, and by extension, the first principle reason (rational thought) . . .

Another illustration shows how world view roots arise:}

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way

Prediction (do, prove me wrong RDF et al): this too will be studiously ignored in haste to push along with the talking point agenda. The price tag for such apparently habitual tactics, is willful neglect of duties of care to be reasonable, to seek and face truth, and to be fair in discussion.

That is, it is “without excuse.”

(And yes, the allusion to Rom 1:19 – 25 and vv. 28 – 32 is quite deliberate.)  >>

____________

A squid ink cloud escape tactic

A squid ink cloud escape tactic (Google)

So, we face the issue of worldview foundations, in light of first principles of right reason.

(One that — per fair comment, for weeks now, RDF/AIG has studiously ducked, behind a cloud of talking points.)

How will we respond?

On what basis of reasoning?

With what level of certainty?

Why? END

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130 Responses to RDF/AIG as a case of the incoherence and rhetorical agenda of evolutionary materialist thought and/or its fellow- traveller ideologies

  1. I thought RDFish was correct and I’m not an evolutionary materialist.

  2. OT: Why Some Scientists Embrace the ‘Multiverse’ – Dennis Prager

    Last week, in Nice, France, I was privileged to participate along with 30 scholars, mostly scientists and mathematicians, in a conference on the question of whether the universe was designed, or at least fine-tuned, to make life, especially intelligent life. Participants — from Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Berkeley, and Columbia, among other American and European universities — included believers in God, agonistics, and atheists.

    It was clear that the scientific consensus was that, at the very least, the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to allow for the possibility of life. It appears that we live in a “Goldilocks universe,” in which both the arrangement of matter at the cosmic beginning and the values of various physical parameters — such as the speed of light, the strength of gravitational attraction, and the expansion rate of the universe — are just right for life. And unless one is frightened of the term, it also appears the universe is designed for biogenesis and human life.

  3. SC: Agree on what? That it is certain (such is the form of the clip) that we cannot be certain about anything? That Error exists is not self evidently, undeniably true? That once a distinct thing exists, A, it is not the case that LOI, LNC and LEM immediately follow per the illustration? That it is dubious that we are significantly free, responsible agents? What? Do explain. KF

  4. I thought RDFish was correct and I’m not an evolutionary materialist either.

    And RDFish was not “hot to undermine the intellectual credibility of the existence of God”. On the contrary, RDFish explicitly stated: “I don’t believe there is any reason not to hold strong beliefs about the Big Questions [including the existence of God], and there are likely benefits to doing so.”

  5. it is certain (such is the form of the clip) that we cannot be certain about anything?

    No, but it is a believable statement. Faith and belief are different from certainty. :-)

    I believe I exist, I believe I’ve felt pain, whether I’m absolutely certain about it seems a rather pointless and irrelevant question in the scheme of things.

    And if God is the ultimate truth, Gödel showed ultimate truths are not provable, therefore uncertain. Therefore ultimate truth is received and accepted by reasonable faith, not by formal proof.

    Absolute certainty implies absolute knowledge, and only God has that. It’s arrogant to suggest human reason has that level of certainty.

    I accept logic, I accept reason, I accept non-contradiction, I accept that I exist, I accept that I can feel pain, but these are all unprovable concepts in the formal sense.

    Because we are finite, some degree of faith must precede all knowledge. To quote Charles Townes who quoted someone else, “I believe in order that I may know.”

    Abraham was not pleasing to God because he had certainty, he was pleasing to God because he had faith.

    Being reasonably certain is not the same as being absolutely certain. Therefore, RDFish and I were on the same side of the discussion in Andy Jones thread.

    Finally, I think it is arrogant to suppose we can prove God exists. To do so we would have to be all knowing, and omnipresent and all powerful thus by definition would have to be God. I’d rather admit, I know very little, and like a little child I simply accept by reasonable faith that He is there.

  6. C:

    Please look again at the thread. That weak people in his estimation may need an emotional crutch or the like, has nothing to do with warrant. And it is warrant he set out to undermine and at least twice listed as a motive.

    SC:

    A self referentially incoherent positive assertion denying the possibility of the same class refutes itself.

    Similarly, I cited specific cases of self evident, certainly knowable truths, starting with Royce’s Error exists and moving to the immediate consequences of a world partition, W = { A | NOT-A }.

    KF

    PS: At no point have I said that I or anyone has provided a proof of the existence of God. Warrant per a cumulative case of evidence in the world and in our consciences, hearts and minds — cf Rom 1:19 – 25 — sufficient to be responsible for rejecting it or ignoring it is utterly different from the equivalent of a mathematical-like proof. Cf on ropes vs chains. Also, I note that responsible trust in God is in light of the sort of evidence alluded to in the referred, and also Heb 11:1 – 6. Notice:

    Hebrews 11 Amplified Bible (AMP)

    11 Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof [--> sound conviction] of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

    2 For by [faith—[b]trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report.

    3 By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.

    4 [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.

    5 Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God.

    6 But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. [Cf. Rom 1:19 - 25 on the grounds for that.]

  7. Scientists themselves must hold a degree of faith when studying in their fields. After all, they have to have faith that the physical laws they are studying will continue to exist as they have over the centuries. But scientists cannot be absolutely sure of this; they are reasonably sure based on inductive reasoning.

  8. scordova:

    I believe I exist, I believe I’ve felt pain, whether I’m absolutely certain about it seems a rather pointless and irrelevant question in the scheme of things.

    If all important matters must be taken on faith, and if reason cannot pass judgment on them, then one religious faith is a good as another. How would you answer a suicide bomber who says that he believes Allah told him to commit murder and that he is justified on that basis? What is your argument for saying that he shouldn’t do that? It certainly cannot be on the basis of your belief in Christianity because you have already conceded that there is no rational reason to say that your belief is any better than his?

    I thought RDFish was correct and I’m not an evolutionary materialist.

    Do you agree with RDF/AIG’s central theme that a universe “from nothing” (an uncaused universe) is exactly that same thing as a universe created out of nothing (a caused universe)?

  9. Thank you Sal and Clavdivs. I have always held that religious beliefs are rational and reasonable and healthy.

    Stephen you never fail to misrepresent my beliefs.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  10. scordova

    And if God is the ultimate truth, Gödel showed ultimate truths are not provable, therefore uncertain. Therefore ultimate truth is received and accepted by reasonable faith, not by formal proof.

    You are conflating many things with that statement. The ultimate truth (God) is not even close to being the same thing as a self-evident truth or a law of thought, such as the law of non-Contradiction.

    By definition the latter cannot be proven since it is the means by which we prove other things. If it could be proven, it couldn’t be the basis by which we prove other things.

    With respect to Godel, I gather that you don’t know that he had his own “proof” for the existence of God. In effect, you are using Godel to argue against Godel.

    I also gather that you are not familiar with the difference between the ontological proofs for God’s existence (Anselm, Godel) and the observation-based proofs for God’s existence (Aquinas, Paley)

  11. RDFish:

    Stephen you never fail to misrepresent my beliefs.

    You have stated many times that a universe “from nothing” (an uncaused universe) is exactly that same thing as a universe created out of nothing (a caused universe).

    Are you not going to deny it?

  12. And by the way, I’m not an evolutionary materialist either!!
    :-)

  13. kairosfocus @ 6

    C: And RDFish was not “hot to undermine the intellectual credibility of the existence of God”. On the contrary, RDFish explicitly stated: “I don’t believe there is any reason not to hold strong beliefs about the Big Questions [including the existence of God], and there are likely benefits to doing so.”
    kf: Please look again at the thread. That weak people in his estimation may need an emotional crutch or the like, has nothing to do with warrant. And it is warrant he set out to undermine and at least twice listed as a motive.

    I already looked at the thread, and posted from the thread a quote that disproved your original false assertion about RDFish being hot to undermine belief in God.

    Instead of correcting yourself, you’ve now changed the assertion to a different one about “warrant”, which is also false. RDFish objected only to claims of certainty, not warrant.

    Please try to do better next time.

  14. Barb: Thanks for thoughts. Indeed, inductive reasoning is inherently provisional. And as a whole a worldview will indeed embed faith. However, we are here talking about some specific and rather narrow points that are self evident, undeniably true on pain of absurdity. They serve as yardsticks and plumblines for reasoning: once we have a red ball sitting on a table, it is itself and not something else as well, it cannot be the ball and not the ball at the same time and in the same sense, and the distinction between ball and not ball means that nothing can be both ball and not ball or neither ball nor not ball. Similarly, we can ask and expect a reasonable answer as to why the ball exists. Third, it is not only generally accepted fact but undeniably true that error exists. Believe it or not, that bit of glorified common sense — in essence — is what the past month of drawn out debates has been about. I fail to see how questions (or even accusations) of character such as humility or arrogance and intolerance can legitimately arise, when we look at what is really on the table. KF

  15. KF:

    SC:

    A self referentially incoherent positive assertion denying the possibility of the same class refutes itself.

    I said I believe, I didn’t say I was certain, hence you mischaracterize what I said, and hence your rebuttal rebuts an argument I didn’t make.

    What I said:

    it [RDFish's claim] is a believable statement

    I didn’t say I was certain of it. Hence, your rebuttal rebuts a claim I didn’t make.

  16. Sal, do you agree with this statement by RDF:

    RDF:

    I said “To say “something coming from nothing” is called creation ex nihilo.

  17. ‘Finally, I think it is arrogant to suppose we can prove God exists. To do so we would have to be all knowing, and omnipresent and all powerful thus by definition would have to be God.’

    That sounds like a non sequitur to me, Sal. To understand God, as David mused in one of his psalms, we would have to be eternal, like Him. However, to know that He exists, insofar as it’s possible to know anything, is very far from requiring that we should, in effect, be God.

    The Apostles knew beyond all peradventure that God existed, after Christ’s Resurrection – if not before, when, for example, he raised the putrefying body of Lazarus from the grave, fully restored to life, checked the wind and the waves, and so on.

    The only question that remained for them was how much they were prepared to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Knowledge of God comes at a price (Christian faith and knowledge constitute a continuum, just as secular faith and knowledge do), and people instinctively know that.

    Hence the voluntarism underpinning the scriptures. We know what we want to know. Christ never ever indicated that we would be judged on our intelligence or indeed our gullibility.

    Hence also the mismatch between the aptitude for worldly analytical thinking, and the aptitude for growing in wisdom. God chose the poor, as James wrote in his epistle, to be rich in faith; in a human being, all the stronger and more real for being instinctive and subliminal; in Christian terms, faith ultimately meaning self-giving love, a commitment to love, more than credence, as the description of the Last Judgment in Matthew 23 makes clear.

  18. I fail to see…

    Indeed! Your failure to see that people can have different views and hold them honestly and legitimately is a huge failure of character.

  19. Your failure to see that people can have different views and hold them honestly and legitimately is a huge failure of character.

    When those “different views” are shown to be strawmen or just bald assertions and the people still cling to them, we can doubt their honesty and legitimacy.

  20. 20

    @Joe:
    Nice to see you again. I’ve found your blog! :-)

    keiths Still Proud to be an Ignorant [SNIP -- Joe, JWT . . . !]:

    Let A = all non-negative positive even integers

    Let B = all positive odd integers

    Let C = all non-negative integers

    It is obvious that A + B = C

    It is also obvious that neither A nor B = 0. And the equation proves that a does not = C and B does not = C. Yet Cantor sez A=B=C, and you morons bought it!

    If cardinality refers to the number of elements in a set, and we add elements to a set, how can the cardinality stay the same?

    Do you still not understand what it means for a set to have the same cardinality as another set? I’ve pointed you to the wiki article… Have you read it?

    we can doubt their honesty and legitimacy.

    Well, I DON’T doubt your honesty and legitimacy, despite the things you claim about Cantor. Am I wrong to do so?

  21. CLAVDIVS, Pardon, did you read what RDF actually stated as was cited in the OP above? He committed a self referential incoherence, which he has duly been corrected for. Namely: “We cannot be absolutely certain of anything which is patently self referential and an absolute claim, so inconsistent with itself. Such errors are deeply and broadly pernicious in effect, and urgently need to be corrected. KF

  22. Joe:

    I know it seems you disagree with Cantor and math that has followed him on the way to define a transfinite, that a proper subset can be put into one to one correspondence with the set. 1 –> 2, 2 –> 4, 3 –> 6, etc without limit.

    You are doubtless sincere in your view, but this is one where I think you are in error.

    I do ask as well that you refrain in your language, here and elsewhere, that just opens doors for accusations.

    KF

  23. Do you still not understand what it means for a set to have the same cardinality as another set?

    Given 2 sets, A and B, if A contains all of the members of B AND has members B does not, A’s cardinality has to be greater than B’s.

  24. Axel:

    Yes, there are many things where indeed love is much more important than smarts [and true wisdom is always far more than mere smarts and certificates . . . ], and indeed God knows and welcomes those who are forever innocent, the most vulnerable among us.

    The relevance of the subject under scrutiny, however, is not for those, it is that this is an area where to come to certain views, one has to more or less willfully and actively suppress relevant and accessible evidence, the truth that is innate or self evident.

    Or else, things that you know or SHOULD know.

    To see a recent example, cf. a previous UD post here, which unfortunately happened AFTER Dr Dawkins had had to publicly concede to correction in a debate with Dr Lennox.

    Similarly, let us take up one of the examples I have been using for weeks now, Royce’s Error exists.

    This is a generally admitted fact, but it can be easily shown that it is more, it is undeniably true — and thus self evident. As I have done here all along. This, is just one click away, and in summary has been presented several times across the past several weeks.

    So, when someone in this context of discourse refuses to attend to such a demonstration and its consequences, and insistently asserts that which is contrary to what s/he SHOULD know, that is not innocent ignorance.

    That sort of ignorance — never mind protests to the contrary and distractions of one sort or another — is (with all due respect and I must speak out of duty to warn and to counsel soundly, never mind how unwelcome this may be) cannot be justified.

    And that is what I am saying, needs to be fixed.

    KF

  25. Joe: When we move into transfinite sets, what seems obvious from finite cases breaks down. By a simple member-by-member transformation, the set of natural numbers can be converted into the set of evens, or the set of odds. They thus MUST have the same cardinality. KF

  26. I know it seems you disagree with Cantor and math that has followed him on the way to define a transfinite, that a proper subset can be put into one to one correspondence with the set. 1 –> 2, 2 –> 4, 3 –> 6, etc without limit.

    Cantor’s alignment is abitrary.

    Given 2 sets, A and B, if A contains all of the members of B AND has members B does not, A’s cardinality has to be greater than B’s.

    And obvioulsy the set of all non-negative integers contains all of the members of the set of all non-negative even integers AND has members that set does not.

    It has nothing to do with being sincere.

    And BTW, Cantor is not “God”, he can be wrong ya know…
    ______
    Joe, pardon, while this is off topic, it is sufficiently relevant that I will point out the transformations. Take n in N, and transform n –> 2n. Do so for each member. You move from naturals to evens. Similarly, take n –> (2n – 1) for each n in N in succession . . . 1 –> 1, 2 –> 3, 3 –> 5, etc . . . and you get the odds. This is not an arbitrary transformation, it is a functional transformation and shows the point that they are fundamentally the same. I trust this is enough on this side-topic. KF

  27. When we move into transfinite sets, what seems obvious from finite cases breaks down.

    That’s it? THAT is your “answer”?

    By a simple member-by-member transformation,…

    Otherwise known as “hocus pocus” or “abracadabra”.

    Yes, if you “transform” the elements such that both sets now have the same members, then no duh, they will have the same cardinality.

    And if you buy that then it would be best to just leave it alone.

  28. So yes, given sets of infinite transformers, we might as well just say the cardinality is the same.

    Just don’t say that you are comparing the set of non-negative integers to the set of non-negative even integers.

  29. Hi KF,

    We cannot be absolutely certain of anything“ which is patently self referential and an absolute claim, so inconsistent with itself. Such errors are deeply and broadly pernicious in effect, and urgently need to be corrected.

    First, you are mistaken about that statement being contradictory. I did not say “We are absolutely certain that we cannot be absolutely certain”. You are off an a very silly tangent with this “self-referential incoherence” thing. Why not actually address the issue instead, which is the limits to epistemic justification.

    Second, it is simply weird that you talk about “correcting” people. You sould like some shrill schoolmarm rapping people’s knuckles. Besides which, you are almost always incorrect.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  30. I don’t doubt the truth of any of your #24, KF. Nor – though it might seem that way – did I mean to disparage the analytical intelligence. I just want to clarify that.

  31. Axel, poor us, I am sure our views pretty much align. Let’s hope some folks out there wake up. KF

  32. RDF,Please cf the meaning of CANNOT. That is as absolute as it gets. And in addition, there were direct cases in point to the contrary that certain few self evident things, we can be certain of. Error exists is one of them and it mows a wide swath across the field of too much of current thought. I notice, you have tried the usual personalisation-, demonisation- and- dismissal Alinskyite rhetorical tactics while failing to even take up case no 1 (after a month or so . . . ): Error exists is undeniably true. That bluster not backed up by substance is quite revealing to the astute onlooker. KF

  33. kairosfocus @ 21

    1. You claimed RDFish was “hot to undermine the intellectual credibility of the existence of God”. This was demonstrated to be a false claim. You have not acknowledged this or corrected yourself.

    {–> Kindly cf 38 below. KF}

    2. You next claimed “it is warrant [RDFish] set out to undermine”. This is a different and also false claim: RDFish objected to certainty, not warrant. Again you have not acknowledged this or corrected yourself.

    {–> It is the case that without certainty on some few first principles of right reason, warrant evaporates even as reason evaporates. Without distinct identity, non-confusion of A with NOT-A and so forth, there is nothing but confusion. KF.}

    3. You’ve moved on to the claim RDFish “committed a self referential incoherence” – yet again a different claim; at least this is arguable.

    { –> Nope, this is patent, cf. OP and the particular assertion grounds the rest of my concerns. KF}

    My point is that moving from one false claim to another without acknowledgement on demonstrated correction comes across as poisoning the well and does not make for productive discourse. Do you want productive discourse?

    { –> C, on evidence it is in fact you who have not accurately perceived the situation, as I have shown in outline. There is not well poisoning on my part, but warranted correction of material and pernicious error. Nor am I particularly singling out RDF, this is simply one of many, many cases in point. KF}

    Personally I think the “Failure to Educate?” thread is one of the most important on UD in recent times and deserves follow up discussion. I therefore applaud you starting this follow up thread but I object to the rhetorical approach in some areas as I hope I have made clear.

  34. I liked how Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism (EAAN) fits into all this:

    Alvin Plantinga – Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8

    In which Plantinga shows that naturalism is self defeating as to establishing certainty about anything:

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    Throw in Boltzmann’s Brain on top of Plantinga’s EAAN, which I’ve already referenced elsewhere today, where being a brain in a vat is more likely than the fact you really exist,,

    Michael Behe has a profound answer to the infinite multiverse argument in “Edge of Evolution”. If there are infinite universes, then we couldn’t trust our senses, because it would be just as likely that our universe might only consist of a human brain that pops into existence which has the neurons configured just right to only give the appearance of past memories. It would also be just as likely that we are floating brains in a lab, with some scientist feeding us fake experiences. Those scenarios would be just as likely as the one we appear to be in now (one universe with all of our experiences being “real”). Bottom line is, if there really are an infinite number of universes out there, then we can’t trust anything we perceive to be true, which means there is no point in seeking any truth whatsoever.

    ,,,Then perhaps, after seeing those two devastating arguments against naturalism, some of us can start to finally get the notion that naturalism may have some pretty severe discrepancies against it.,,, But to offer more than the usual presuppositional apologetics against naturalism:

    The Great Debate: Does God Exist? – Justin Holcomb – audio of the 1985 debate available on the site
    Excerpt: The transcendental proof for God’s existence is that without Him it is impossible to prove anything. The atheist worldview is irrational and cannot consistently provide the preconditions of intelligible experience, science, logic, or morality. The atheist worldview cannot allow for laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, the ability for the mind to understand the world, and moral absolutes. In that sense the atheist worldview cannot account for our debate tonight.,,,
    http://theresurgence.com/2012/.....-god-exist

    ,, instead of pointing to presuppositional apologetics and leaving it there, I would like to, as I ponted out in another thread this morning,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-458050
    ,,, focus in on the most real thing, the most ‘certain’ thing, we can know about ourselves. i.e. It is interesting to note that there is a very strong tradition in philosophy that holds that the most concrete thing that you can know about reality is the fact that you are indeed conscious, i.e. that you have a mind. But to go one step further than I did in the other thread this morning in talking about the surety of our consciousness above all else as to establishing certainty about reality, I would also like to point out this interesting study, that was conducted by atheists, on Near Death Experiences that recently came out. They found:

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Also of note:

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    - Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    It is interesting to note in the atheists’ study in which they found evidence directly contradicting what they had expected to find (i.e. that NDEs are illusory), that they themselves were/are so wedded to the materialistic/naturalistic view of reality, the view of “I’ am my body”, that it seems sadly impossible for them to even conceive of the fact that they may be wrong in their naturalistic presuppositions, and to even admit to the possibility of the reality/truth of the soul, i.e. to the “I’ am a soul distinct from my body” view of reality. i.e. They denied the conclusion of their own experiments because of their a-priori beliefs! Unscientific to put it mildly! Whereas from a Theistic perspective, or even a common sense perspective, one would readily expect that the closer one’s mind was to the source of all reality then one’s mind would ‘naturally’ feel as if their experiences were ‘more real’ than if one were more separated from the source of all reality. i.e. it’s not rocket science!

    Supplemental notes:

    Near-Death Experiences: Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test – Dr. Michael Egnor – October 15, 2012
    Excerpt: Indeed, about 20 percent of NDE’s are corroborated, which means that there are independent ways of checking about the veracity of the experience. The patients knew of things that they could not have known except by extraordinary perception — such as describing details of surgery that they watched while their heart was stopped, etc. Additionally, many NDE’s have a vividness and a sense of intense reality that one does not generally encounter in dreams or hallucinations.,,,
    The most “parsimonious” explanation — the simplest scientific explanation — is that the (Near Death) experience was real. Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species (or origin of life), which is never.,,,
    The materialist reaction, in short, is unscientific and close-minded. NDE’s show fellows like Coyne at their sneering unscientific irrational worst. Somebody finds a crushed fragment of a fossil and it’s earth-shaking evidence. Tens of million of people have life-changing spiritual experiences and it’s all a big yawn.
    Note: Dr. Egnor is professor and vice-chairman of neurosurgery at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....65301.html

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.,,
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....79741.html

    Verse and Music:

    Deuteronomy 31:6
    Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    What Are You Waiting For – Shawn McDonald
    http://myktis.com/songs/what-a.....ing-for-2/

  35. Hi KF,

    RDF,Please cf the meaning of CANNOT. That is as absolute as it gets.

    No, to get as absolute as it gets, one would say “absolutely cannot” of course.

    Just stop for one second and see how ridiculous is your attempt to disprove my simple point. What I am saying isn’t contradictory or illogical or paradoxical in the least, nor is it controversial among most epistemologists I’ve read (including Christian ones). I am simply saying that there is no way to prove anything beyond all possible doubt.

    Just stop the nonsense about “self-referential incoherence” and realize that it is a perfectly consistent position to say that nothing is beyond all possible doubt. (And no, it won’t help you to assert that my very claim is not beyond all possible doubt – I freely concede that of course it is).

    Interestingly, I notice ba77 has mentioned Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism here. This argument talks about the likelihood of our mental faculties being reliable given different assumptions. But no matter what you assume, you cannot remove all doubt that our mental faculties are reliable. And if our mental faculties were indeed not reliable, then we would not necessarily be capable of knowing that fact!

    More important than the point about epistemic limits, however, is another point I made in the previous thread: Existential questions regarding mind/body ontology, free will, and origins have no certain answers at all.

    That bluster not backed up by substance is quite revealing to the astute onlooker.

    So far every astute onlooker who has weighed in on this thread and the last one has pretty much agreed with me :-)

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  36. RDF: Sorry, cannot is an absolute term, period. Basic English. You don’t get to play games with language like that. If you mean to say that your assertion previously was not what you meant to say, then say that; kindly. Meanwhile, I need to reconstruct a comment to Claudius, so back to that. KF

  37. as to “But no matter what you assume, you cannot remove all doubt that our mental faculties are reliable.”

    Are you absolutely sure about that? If so then you defeat your argument, and if not you defeat your argument again. :)

    Dog, tail, chase, circle!

  38. Claudius:

    Pardon, yesterday was busy so there were things that just had to wait. And, I just lost a comment I was constructing. So, here goes — and I am composing in WordGraph this time.

    First, remember, the above OP was a promoted thread comment. I need to document the problem that RDF has, that I was responding to (and note to you that he has a pattern of saying one thing,then if it is strongly objected to, he will say something else on the other hand, leaving an ambiguity that allows the original point to still work its way through).

    So, let me document several points of concern from the previous thread, some of them just above where I commented:

    EXHB I: RDF, 737, cited KF,740: >> (2) is a matter of “We have been trying to figure out how to show that God exists (or libertarianism is true, or…) for thousands of years, and we still can’t”. >>

    EXHB II: RDF, 675, cited KF,719 : >> I just argue that religious beliefs aren’t knowledge. This doesn’t mean they are false or wrong; it just means we can’t ever reach any sort of consensus on them because there is no way of telling who might be right. >>

    EXHB III: RDF, 636, cited KF, 642: >> My main impetus here has been to show you [SB] that your idea that you could take self-evident axioms and the Rules of Reason and proceed to prove things like a “First Cause” started the universe. My demonstration(s) that you cannot derive a Law of Causality from the self-evident Law of Non-contradiction is one powerful way to show you that it is impossible to do prove your religious beliefs with logic, and your that certainty in these matters is grossly misplaced. >>

    It should be clear from the above that RDF has in fact argued in ways that make it patent that a major motive for and focus of his commentary is to undermine the intellectual credibility of accepting the reality of God as a well grounded, intellectually credible belief.

    Just as, the above should suffice to show that he also has both tried to assert that we CANNOT know anything with undiluted certainty, and has then on objection tried to change the meaning of his words into something else. The effect of which is the first stands and if you object the naive onlooker will think you are wrong.

    Now, too, the above cluster needs to be corrected, so that it will not mislead the naive onlooker, along the lines of the OP above.

    1 –> A major reason why people are confident that hey know that God is real (not merely believe or hold an opinion) is that millions over the ages and today have met God in life transforming power, and have come to know him as they know any other person. For such, e.g. prayer is really conversation with God, not saying words into the air to the caricatured imaginary invisible “friend” in the sky of too many sophomoric skeptics.

    2 –> If so widespread an experience were delusional, first it would have disintegrative effects, which is the opposite to the life transformation that we do see. Similarly, if it were, it would bring the general credibility of the mind as a means of reliable knowledge under serious question, as in what else would be delusional.

    3 –> Moreover, I am one of the millions. Quite literally, apart from a joint encounter with the power of God after a prayer of surrender at the point of desperation on my Mom’s part, leading to a miracle of guidance to the doctor who saved my life, I simply would not be here to comment. After a life experience like that, I don’t care who may think differently and may insist that as there is no consensus there can be no knowledge, I know the reality of God. We are here, by the millions, and we are not going away despite the unworthy, too common attempts to poison the atmosphere and to pretend and accuse us that we are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

    4 –> And I know the resistance to and denial of even patent reality by the unwilling, somehow threatened mind too: a mind convinced against its will is of the same opinion still. (Just look at the resistance to direct demonstration of self-evident, absolutely knowable truth, above and in the previous thread. Start with: Error exists, and 2 + 3 = 5 . . . more directly, || + ||| –> |||||. After that, can you kindly explain — on the plain meaning of “cannot”: RDF, >> We cannot be absolutely certain of anything . . . >>)

    5 –> There is also a major strawman distortion at work. I will start with the contrast, ropes vs chains. A chain notoriously is only as string as its weakest link and the connexion between links. That is a deductive argument. A rope is different: it works by cumulative effect of interwoven strands, so that the length and the strength is in aggregate far more than that of the individual strand. That is as strand grips strand in long threads we gain length, and as strands are multiplied in a balanced pattern of twists, counter-twists and possibly braiding, we have a long, string rope.

    6 –> Just so, from coherent and cumulative strands of reasoning, we can have a worldview case that is cumulatively very strong, built up from strands that individually do not and cannot do the whole job. This is yet another illustration that warrant in light of cumulative inference to best explanation is not equal to demonstrative, deductive proof. It is also far more stable, as it does not depend critically on any one link. You have to cut a material fraction of a rope and/or throw its strands into unravelling and loss of coherence for it to break.

    7 –> Now, back to the first principles of right reason, via that bright red cricket ball sitting next to a white one in the shop show case over in Davy Hill, some miles from where I am now typing this. Let us mentally tag it A, as a distinct, recognisable thing in the world, and let us partition the world: W = { A | NOT-A }. As the OP outlines and illustrates, immediately the identity cluster of principles follows: LOI, LNC, LEM. They are self evident and certain, once any distinct thing A exists. Which is undeniable.

    8 –> Similarly, we follow Schopenhauer, and ask Why A; expecting a reasonable and adequate answer.

    9 –> This brings to bear a second cluster of principles, through the principle of sufficient reason (PSR), which is self-evidently in order as a step of reasoning. This leads to possible vs impossible beings, first of all: possible beings are such that their attributes are consistent with one another, unlike the case of a square circle. This immediately and inextricably embeds the identity cluster in the possibility of being. As I have noted, such principles are interwoven in all of reasoning, they are absolutely foundational.

    10 –> So, while I do not solely derive contingency vs non contingency of being (the next pair of alternatives) from LNC alone, it is inextricably entangled in that next point. RDF’s attempt to sever causality etc from LNC etc, fails, fails at the point of asking, what is responsible for the possibility of a being A.

    11 –> Now, our cricket ball exists, so is obviously possible. And yet it is possible that instead of being red, it could have been white, or the factory could have made a baseball instead, which is of quite similar construction. It is a contingent being, dependent on a suffiicent cluster of factors, including all of its enabling, on-off factors that make its possibility move to actuality. We have frequently discussed the lighting of a match and the dependency on heat, fuel, oxidiser, and a heat generating rapid, oxidising chain reaction.

    12 –> But there are non-contingent beings, such as the number 2, that exists even in an empty possible world. Just move from the empty set forward as follows: { } –> 0, then the set that collects that set { 0 } –> 1, collect these two { 0, 1 } –> 2. It is impossible for there to be a possible world in which 2 is not present, it is a necessary being. The same holds for the proposition, 2 + 3 = 5. The number 2 is a necessary being, one that exists such that it is possible and has no dependence on external enabling factors, so that it has no beginning, no possibility of ending [we cannot turn off enabling factors], it is eternal.

    13 –> So as a direct corollary of the PSR in the context of the identity cluster, we can see possibility/ impossibility of being, and contingency/ non-contingency of possible beings. Contingent beings, of course are not self-explaining, and so point to ultimately necessary ones as their roots.

    14 –> CAUSE relates to possible, and contingent beings. Such are actualised when a sufficient cluster of factors are present, including at least their ON/OFF enabling ones. (It is a little sad that I have to keep hammering away at what should be a 101 well known to all, but the state of our intellectual culture is such that this is needed.) The factors that trigger or influence the beginning and/or sustain such a being are termed causes, and it is termed their effect. So, the explanation of our cricket ball is a factory, in say Pakistan, or India or Australia or England. (Those are the main sources. Top quality balls take a lot of skilled hand work and characteristics seem to be sensitive even to the dyeing process used on the leather, white balls claimed to be of the same manufacturing process reportedly play differently, and different red ones from different manufacturers have noticeably different characteristics. Swing and seam bowling make advantageous use of subtle differences, and at peak levels seem to be just one step short of black magic. To the repeated sorrow of today’s Windies teams.)

    15 –> With these under our belt, we can then examine the context of our world. Which is patently a contingent being, e.g. atomic matter is known per atomic and nuclear physics to be contingent and the familiar objects around us and in the sky are composed of such. In addition, we have the red shift cosmological expansion evidence and the cosmic microwave background that point to a finitely remote beginning. Commonly estimated at 13.7 BYA.

    16 –> The best explanation for such a cosmos level contingency is a necessary being, even through a speculated multiverse. Such a necessary being is the root of all existence. Of what particular character is not as yet explicated.

    17 –> Multiply such by the evidence of cosmological fine tuning that sets up a world in which C-Chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based, digital code and executing molecular nanomachine using life is possible and actual. (Cf. here for a 101.)

    18 –> Again, on inference to best explanation, we are looking at a necessary being with power, intent and skill to design and build a cosmos.

    19 –> Where also the global consensus that we are under moral governance and accountability ["you unfair me . . ., " "you are a hypocrite . . ." etc.] also strongly points to the character of that designer. This already leads us to the seriously and reasonably argued point that the best explanation for our observed and experienced world, is an intelligent designer who is a necessary (thus, eternal) being of awesome power, knowledge and skill, who is also a moral governor. God, in one word. (Obviously, this is a worldview level case.)

    20 –> Where also a little bit of the logic of possible and non-contingent beings applies to such: a serious necessary being candidate (YouTube skeptics: FYI, flying spaghetti monsters, pink unicorns and red dragons need not apply . . . ) will either be impossible or actual. Thus, once one recognises that the essential nature of God is as long described — the greatest possible being (including eternality), the issue is not so much whether one doubts the reality of God, but whether one considers that God is impossible and why. (Where also, things like 2, and propositions like 2 + 3 = 5 — inherently mental abstractions — are often considered as eternally contemplated by the Divine mind.)

    21 –> Now, it is to be noted that the above is not a chain of deductions but explicitly an inference to best explanation on cumulative evidence and argument.

    KF

  39. RDF:

    I note:

    every astute onlooker who has weighed in on this thread and the last one has pretty much agreed with me

    This is not accurate to the discussion as by no means do all onlookers who have weighed in agree with you. In addition, the matter is not one to be settled by opinion. (That you think it can be settled by appeal to the authority of a reference group who agree says a lot.)

    Indeed, your original assertion — recall: “We cannot be absolutely certain of anything” — doubly fails, as:

    1 –> first, it is an absolute claim that denies the possibility of such being correct and is thus self referentially incoherent and so reduces to absurdity,

    2 –> It also fails the direct test of a case such as “Error exists,” where we can see this is not only generally conceded as true but is undeniably so.

    What is lending you support is the conflation between (a) that for many things, we do have limits in our ability to warrant, and (b) the cases of actually self evident truths that are undeniably so. Error exists — the case that for a month you have ducked and dodged, is a good example of the latter.

    KF

  40. F/N: I should note the consequences of that first self-evident, undeniable truth, that error exists. Let me clip the discussion that for a month RDF has managed not to read and has tried to dismiss:

    ____________

    >> consider Josiah Royce’s subtle but simple claim: error exists.

    To try to deny it only ends up giving an instance of its truth; it is undeniably true.

    Let’s zoom in a bit (using mostly glorified common sense “deduction” and a light dusting of symbols), as this will help us understand the roots of reasoning and reasonableness. As we have stressed, this is back to roots, back to sources, back to foundations. So, in steps of thought:

    1: Let us take up, Royce’s Error exists, and symbolise it: E. (Where the denial would be NOT-E, ~E. Error does not exist, in plain English.)

    2: Attempt a conjunction: { E AND ~E }

    3: We have here mutually exclusive, opposed and exhaustive claims that address the real world joined together in a way that tries to say both are so.

    4: Common sense, based on wide experience and our sense of how things are and can or cannot be — to be further analysed below, yielding three key first principles of right reason — tells us that, instead:

    (a) this conjunction { E AND ~E } must be false (so that the CONJUNCTION is a definite case of an error), and that

    (b) its falsity being relevant to one of the claims,

    (c) we may readily identify that the false one is ~E. Which means:

    _________________________________

    (d) E is true and is undeniably true. (On pain of a breach of common sense.)

    5: So, E is true, is known to be true once we understand it and is undeniably true on pain of patent — obvious, hard to deny — self contradiction.

    6: It is therefore self evident.

    7: It is warranted as reliably true, indeed to demonstrative certainty.

    8: Where, E refers to the real world of things as such.

    9: It is a case of absolute, objective, certainly known truth; a case of certain knowledge. “Justified, true belief,” nothing less.

    10: It is also a matter of widely observed fact — starting with our first school exercises with sums and visions of red X’s — confirming the accuracy of a particular consensus of experience.

    11: So, here we have a certainly known case of truth existing as that which accurately refers to reality.

    12: Also, a case of knowledge existing as warranted, credibly true beliefs, in this case to certainty.

    13: Our ability to access truth and knowledge about the real, extra-mental world by experience, reasoning and observation is confirmed in at least one pivotal case.

    14: Contemporary worldviews — their name is Legion — that would deny, deride or dismiss such [including the point that there are such things as self evident truths that relate to the real world], are thence shown to be factually inadequate and incoherent. They are unable to explain reality.

    15: Such worldviews are, as a bloc, falsified by this one key point. They are unreasonable.

    16: Of course the truth in question is particularly humbling and a warning on the limits of knowledge and the gap between belief and truth or even ability to formulate a logical assertion and truth.

    17: So, we need to be humble, and — contrary to assertions about how insisting on objectivity manifests “arrogance” and potentially oppressive “intolerance” – the principles of right reason (implicit in the above, to be drawn out below) allow us to humbly, honestly test our views so that we can identify when we have gone off the rails and to in at least some cases confirm when our confidence is well grounded.

    So — while we can be mistaken about it — truth exists and we can in some cases confidently know it on pain of absurdity if we try to deny it. It is warranted and credibly true that error exists. Truth therefore exists, and knowledge — i.e. the set of warranted, credibly true [and reliable] claims — also exists. (As noted already, but it bears repeating as it is hard for some to accept: this cuts a wide swath across many commonly encountered worldview ideas of our time; such as, the idea that there is no truth beyond what seems true to you or me, or that we cannot know the truth on important matters beyond conflicting opinions.) >>
    ___________

    In short, the Royce proposition, Error exists, is pivotal, and decisive.

    KF

    PS: I forgot earlier to comment on the claim that RDF is declaratively not an evolutionary materialist. It will be evident that I have often spoken of evolutionary materialists and their fellow travellers. In response to the dominance of this system that flies the flag of science (improperly), many other systems that are not strictly materialistic have accommodated themselves to it, and end up int eh same errors. Many modernist theologies are a classic case in point. So is much of what would be called Ultra- or post- modernism. Neopaganism (a manifestation of post modernism), too.

  41. F/N: I should add (for record) that in stating the principle of sufficient reason as a question joined to an expectation, I am giving in effect a weak form, one that asserts an epistemic right to ask and to expect a reasonable answer. This, strictly speaking, leaves open whether that attempt will succeed. However, that is adequate to investigate possibility/impossibility of being, contingency/ non contingency and even non-being, thus leading to the corollaries that have been highlighted. KF

  42. …I have often spoken of evolutionary materialists and their fellow travellers.

    Do cruise ships full of evolutionists and fellow travellers call in at Montserrat? What I really wonder is if you ever pause for breath in correcting them and listen for a second or two.

  43. RDF”

    No, to get as absolute as it gets, one would say “absolutely cannot” of course.

    Actually, it depends on which day of the week RDF is commenting:

    RDF on Monday:

    We can be absolutely certain that such a thing [brick wall coming from out of nowhere] can not happen, but our knowledge is empirically rather than logically based.

    RDF on Tuesday:

    You’re right I did mispeak: I should not have said “absolutely certain”, but rather I should have said “certain” or “extremely certain”.

    On Wednesday:

    I am utterly certain that nobody understands how human beings reason (i.e. how we think), and I will say that is one of the least controversial statements I can imagine.

    RDF on Thursday,

    It’s a total mystery to me, and I’m quite certain that nobody understands it.

    Of course, we mustn’t forget that, on Friday, RDF is certain (relatively?, quite?, absolutely?, almost?, utterly?, extremely?) that there is no such thing as certainty. If I left out any adverbs or adjectives that RFD uses to obfuscate his position, I apologize to them. There is no way I can give public credit to all of them.

    When RDF is challenging realistic epistemology, he is utterly certain that he is right, but when he is reminded that he just said he was utterly certain about something he simply walks it back, chooses another adjective, and continues on as sleek as ever. The idea is to say that he is certain and not certain at the same time without doing so explicitly. Thus, he evades, obfuscates, and distorts. If that doesn’t work, he starts misrepresenting his comments and those of others as he did on this thread when he denied his own irrational words to the effect that “something from nothing means ex-nilio creation.”

  44. Alan Fox:

    Do cruise ships full of evolutionists and fellow travellers call in at Montserrat? What I really wonder is if you ever pause for breath in correcting them and listen for a second or two.

    I am quite certain that kairosfocus could do a far better job of summarizing your position than you could ever do in summarizing his position. I am also quite certain that if you had to characterize the nature of his correctives and the rationale behind them, you would be unable to do it.

  45. This is not accurate to the discussion as by no means do all onlookers who have weighed in agree with you.

    Hi KF,

    Well he did put the qualifier “astute” so I guess anyone that does not agree is “non astute”

    It does appear that “cannot” is an absolutist qualifier.

    Although there are many things we seem to be in agreement there are also areas of disagreement.

    Unlike RDF I am absolutely certain that I am “experiencing”. I am absolutely certain that something cannot “pop into existence”,I want to say from nothing, but that would be giving “nothing” and making it a something.But nothing cannot even be concieved its like a square circle. Actually it is easier to concieve of a square circle that to concieve “of” (as if there is an of in nothing) than nothing. I think I have read that in some theoretical extra dimension you can turn a basketball inside out without breaking the plane of its surface but there is at least a basketball and a surface.There is no from, no there, no was, etc, etc. Even the term “pop INTO existence” assumes its not coming from nothing.

    To go “into” something means it is moving from somewhere else. When I walk “into” my house, I am moving out of something else. From where does something ( existence) move when it moves “into” existence? You are left with “nothing something” not “into” since there is no moving from somewhere else because there is no somewhere or there there when one speaks of nothing.

    Vivid

  46. StephenB,

    When RDF is challenging realistic epistemology,…

    You have never presented anything that can be called “realistic epistemology”! If you wish to argue that we can know things with absolute certainty, simply tell us how to remove all doubt about our beliefs! We are all waiting!

    The fact of the matter is this: I agree with the vast majority of epistemologists, including Christian ones, who understand that there are limits to our ability to rigorously prove our beliefs outside of formal math and logic. You very clearly have no understanding of the classic problems of epistemology at all.

    Furthermore, everyone on this forum who has commented on our debate has agreed with me about this, not you – and that includes Christian ID proponents.

    You have lost this point (and all the others, by the way) very, very badly, and it would save you further embarassment if you let it drop now.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  47. All,

    I am surprised to see the resistance here to the simple observation that we have no way of establishing our beliefs beyond all doubt.

    When I provide good reasons for saying this, my detractors ignore the points. For example, I ask “How can we be guaranteed that our minds are reliable?”… and nobody answers that fundamental question. I ask “If you have such very certain answers to these questions of origins, mind/body ontology, free will, and so on, why does everybody disagree on these issues so radically after millenia of research and debate?. Nobody answers this question.

    Instead of addressing this straightforward issue and answering these questions, people here have tried to play word games, tried to catch me in silly traps (oooh! self-referential inconsistency! hah!), or changed the subject.

    It is fascinating to watch people who are afraid that they might be wrong about metaphysics! I have no such fear whatsoever, so these things take me by surprise. I am perfectly comfortable with the obvious facts: Nobody knows the answer to these questions!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  48. I am quite certain that kairosfocus could do a far better job of summarizing your position than you could ever do in summarizing his position. I am also quite certain that if you had to characterize the nature of his correctives and the rationale behind them, you would be unable to do it.

    Why not try dialogue? It could be fun! It does involve communication but you never know where that might lead!

  49. RD

    every astute onlooker who has weighed in on this thread and the last one has pretty much agreed with me

    LOL: RDF defines as “astute” those who agree with him. By his definition, Axel, kairosfocus, Barb, Joe, Bornagain77, bb, and, oh yes, your’s truly, are not astute because we don’t agree with him.

  50. RDF defines as “astute” those who agree with him. By his definition, Axel, kairosfocus, Barb, Joe, Bornagain77, bb, and, oh yes, your’s truly, are not astute because we don’t agree with him.

    We could always have a vote, Stephen. I’m sure there is some way of conducting a poll.

  51. …quite certain…

    To be serious for a moment, it is interesting to observe how the meaning of “quite” has morphed over time and continents. Rich territory for those more interested in obfuscation than communication.

  52. AF:

    Pardon, but I do listen to such.

    For instance, here is Sir Francis Crick, in The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994:

    “You”, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll’s Alice might have phrased: “You’re nothing but a pack of neurons.” This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

    No wonder, ID thinker Philip Johnson aptly replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: “I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” Johnson then acidly commented: “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

    Next, let us hear the well known remark by Richard Lewontin in his NYRB review of January 1997:

    the problem is to get them [people] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[--> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[--> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [[--> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. {If you imagine this is “quote-mining” kindly read the fuller excerpt and notes here.]

    No wonder Philip Johnson’s reply in First Things, November that same year, ran in key part:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]

    William Provine, in his well-known Darwin Day address of 1998 at U of Tenn, is actually inadvertently sobering in his comment:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .

    See the problems?

    Let me summarise what happens if our responsible freedom and the principles that should guide it are undermined. Reason goes, crash as mind reduces to some version of Crick’s neural networks created, and controlled by forces utterly irrelevant to truth, right, soundness or validity. Genes, cellular machines giving effect to genes and psycho-social conditioning are in the driver seat.

    That is why my longstanding view (first shaped while I was a university student confronting a campus- dominant openly materialist ideology, Marxism . . . and in the aftermath of a mini civil war with that ideology a material factor) has been:

    a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity.

    b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.

    (This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or “supervenes” on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure — the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of — in their view — an “obviously” imaginary “ghost” in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. "It works" does not warrant the inference to "it is true."] )

    c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture. So, we rapidly arrive at Crick’s claim in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as “thoughts,” “reasoning” and “conclusions” can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies.

    d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds — notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! — is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised “mouth-noises” that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.

    (Save, insofar as such “mouth noises” somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin -- i.e by design -- tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])

    e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways? Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And — as we saw above — would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?

    f: For further instance, we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion. Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent “delusion” is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it “must” — by the principles of evolution — somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.

    g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.

    h: That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, “must” also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this “meme” in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence. Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the “internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop” view:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [[Emphases added. Also cf. Reppert's summary of Barefoot's argument here.]

    i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the “thoughts” we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the “conclusions” and “choices” (a.k.a. “decisions”) we reach — without residue — must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to “mere” ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity.

    (NB: The conclusions of such “arguments” may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or “warranted” them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.)

    k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that — as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows — empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one’s beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)

    l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity . . . .

    o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists’ theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited.

    p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion. But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”

    q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.

    r: So, while materialists — just like the rest of us — in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)

    That is why, when I found Plato’s remarks in the Laws Bk X, made c 360 BC, thousands of years ahead of the events of the past 100+ years, they resonated so deeply with a sobering ring of truth:

    Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that . . . The elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors: (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

    [[Thus, they hold that t]he Gods exist not by nature, but by art, and by the laws of states, which are different in different places, according to the agreement of those who make them; and that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT.] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.

    KF

  53. Dear kairosfocus

    I’m sorry to hear you lost a post; I think we all know how irritating that is, all the more so for you because of your extraordinary prolixity.

    If it’s of any interest at all I myself have fond memories of sitting on “The Hill” at the Sydney Cricket Ground (now sadly replaced with steel and concrete seating) watching Joel Garner and Viv Richards (not to mention our Lillee, Marsh and Thomson) when the Windies were at their apogee.

    Regarding my chiding you @ 33, I truly believe you should tone down your rhetoric by removing the barbs and didactic patronising if you wish to contribute to the success of ID. ID appears to me to be stuck in a rut right now and some openness to new ideas and new ways of thinking may be the only way forward.

    I do not believe either myself or RDFish are “fellow travellers” of materialism. Neither of us accept a materialist account of biology, in particular because of the mysteries of consciousness, free will, etc. that arise from biological beings like ourselves but do not appear to admit of a reductionist/physicalist explanation. But because from time-to-time we challenge what we see as poor ID arguments, we are not treated as contructive critics but as enemies.

    Yet on the other hand, all sorts of craziness is tolerated on the ID side that surely you can see debases the intellectual standing of ID. I mean, seriously, YEC and disputing set theory? In recent times, to your credit, I’ve noticed that even you have lost patience with the dogmatic defence of such ideas.

    I’ll visit your post @ 38 later, when I have time to read all of it.

    Kind regards
    CLAVDIVS

  54. RDF:

    I cannot but note on this strawman caricature, multiplied by an artfully ambiguous term I will highlight:

    I am surprised to see the resistance here to the simple observation that we have no way of establishing our beliefs beyond all doubt.

    Our beliefs invites the general interpretation, all or effectively all our beliefs or at least all or effectively all our core beliefs.

    Had you — over the past month — spent five minutes to read what I had to say on worldview foundations, you would have found this (which I have good reason to believe SB will agree with in essence):

    First, we must accept that all worldviews have foundational or core “first plausible” basic — foundational — beliefs that are not subject to further proof: they are where our proofs must start from. For, to warrant a claim, A, as worthy of trust and acceptance — i.e. as credible, or even as knowledge — we need B, and B would need C, and so on. It would help us to see this, by briefly defining the key term, worldview:

    world·view (wûrldvy)
    n. In both senses also called Weltanschauung.
    1. The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
    2. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.
    [Translation of German Weltanschauung.]

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    The terms “perspective” and “beliefs” point to the implications of the chain of warrant challenge just outlined. For, in the end we face the proverbial “turtles all the way down” forever; or else circularity; or else, if we are to be logically coherent and rational, we must stop at “first plausibles” that are reasonable . . . .

    Now, a vicious infinite regress is absurdly impossible for finite, fallible thinkers such as we are: we would never get far back enough to get started with proving, nor could we trust ourselves to be right all along the chain.

    Looping back through “turtles in a circle” is little better: it ends up assuming what should be shown.

    That is, the last turtle has to stand somewhere. We are thus forced to stop at some set of first plausibles or other — that is, a “faith-point” (yes, we ALL must live by some faith or another, given our finitude and fallibility) — and then we need to compare alternatives and see which “somewhere” — which worldview foundation — is least difficult . . . .

    (NB: At this level, all sets of alternative first plausibles bristle with difficulties. Indeed, the fundamental, generic method of philosophy is therefore that of comparative difficulties.)

    John Locke aptly summed up our resulting humbling dilemma in section 5 of his introduction to his famous essay on human understanding:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 - 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 - 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 - 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 - 21, Eph 4:17 - 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 - 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 - 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 - 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Emphases added. Text references also added, to document the sources of Locke's biblical allusions and citations.]

    So, we must make the best of the candle-light we have. At worldview choice foundational level, a good way to do that is to look at three major comparative difficulties tests:

    (1) factual adequacy relative to what we credibly know about the world and ourselves,

    (2) coherence, by which the pieces of our worldview must fit together logically and work together harmoniously,

    (3) explanatory relevance and simplicity: our view needs to explain reality (including our experience of ourselves in our common world) elegantly, simply and powerfully, being neither simplistic nor a patchwork where we are forever adding after-the-fact patches to fix leak after leak.

    Now, let us not lose sight of what we are doing: something truly radical, that cuts across what the avant garde and their wanna-be hangers on really want: to discuss the newest ideas and issues within their comfortable world- system. As a rule, they are NOT really interested in an upending foundational critique that is going to start from exposing the rottenness of roots or the fatal cracks in foundations, or worse, looming icebergs in the path of the Titanic. However, when a system (even one that imagines itself to be the radical, progressive replacement of old fashioned outdated “religious” thought — notice how “God,” “religion,” “Christianity,” “The Scriptures” and “faith” are practically dirty words in many quarters today . . . ) is fatally flawed, that is necessary. And in this case, we are going after an assessment of foundations of worldviews from the roots up. Just as Jesus did and just as Paul did. The aim being, to create a sounder — saner — system to build thought, hopes and lives on.

    Two key components of this process of foundation level comparative difficulties in pursuit of a worldview that is a reasonable faith, are: (i) first principles of right reason, and (ii) warranted, credible (self-evident) truths . . .

    this is in fact the context where I immediately launched into Royce’s error exists, as a first case of a limited circle of key self-evident truths warranted to be undeniable on pain of patent absurdity. Then, I explored what happens when we have the now familiar red ball on the table, leading to world-partition discussed in the OP above: W = { A | NOT-A } has as immediate corollaries LOI, LNC and LEM.

    Then, for A, we may ask, why it is, seeking and expecting a reasonable answer — weak form sufficient reason. From this we can see possible vs impossible being, and the requirement that possible being has coherent attributes, unlike a square circle. As a side-light, we have a proper definition of nothing — non-being. Also, we can see contingent vs non-contingent being. Thus, on/off enabling factors and the principle of cause and effect for contingent beings.

    But notice: the overarching structure of a worldview is that it is elaborated on core first plausibles, most of which are not self evident but are accepted as plausible and lending coherence to the whole. Thence, one chooses as an informed person in light of comparative difficulties on a sort of grand inference to best world-explanation across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    at no point is there any claim that all or all core beliefs or even most are certain. But, it is pointed out that certain pivotal beliefs properly are certain beyond reasonable doubt (selective hyperskepticism is perfectly capable of clinging to absurdity if that is the price of rejecting that which one desperately wishes not to be so). Error exists and the identity and sufficient reason clusters are cases in point. Cases that are being studiously avoided.

    but of course, the ambiguity in the assertion leaves open a rhetorical out: no, no, it was not intended that ALL or all core beliefs were meant! Tut, tut!

    Sorry, I do not buy such a squid ink cloud tactic.

    Certain specific, named principles have been repeatedly shown as self-evident and certain. If you, RDF or another thinks that Error Exists etc are not, kindly show specifically why.

    In default of a substantial confutation, we have every good reason to conclude that your objection is not well grounded.

    KF

  55. Claudius:

    I await your further remarks.

    The Windies, are simply not what they were. For nigh on 20 years now.

    As for the notion that ID is in a rut, I doubt that. The recently published conference proceedings say not.

    As to views of individuals, I suggest that above, one person’s concerns on the theory of transfinite sets were answered by another design thinker. The design issue is on whether reliable signs of design exist — patently yes. So we need the courage to follow the inductive logic of such signs in the world of life and the physics of the cosmos.

    Age of earth or cosmos has nothing to do with that. And just now there is a side discussion on merits on why some take one view or another. My own, in a nutshell, is that we should not project a false aura of neatly absolute certainty.

    On the matters in this thread, they respond to a month long dispute that started with accusations up to and including motivation by greed, to avoid reading the materials I have ended up clipping this evening. Then, when that was highlighted as out of order, it was passed off as jesting. Nope I don’t buy that.

    And subsequently, there have been too many textbook examples of rhetorical tactics, fallacies and outright absurdities crying out for correction.

    I suggest, look at Error exists, vs the clip in the OP that is highlighted as self referentially incoherent.

    and, too many patterns in the above reflect evolutionary materialism, or fellow-traveller ideologies and characteristic talking points and positions.

    I think time for some serious rethinking in light of the impact of Royce’s Error exists, has come.

    KF

  56. Hi CLAVDIVS,

    I do not believe either myself or RDFish are “fellow travellers” of materialism. Neither of us accept a materialist account of biology, in particular because of the mysteries of consciousness, free will, etc. that arise from biological beings like ourselves but do not appear to admit of a reductionist/physicalist explanation. But because from time-to-time we challenge what we see as poor ID arguments, we are not treated as contructive critics but as enemies.

    I am stunned to hear your perfect description of my views and find someone who shares them – thank you!

    Time after time, unless one buys into each of the approved metaphysical views here (roughly including theism, libertarianism, dualist interactionism, divine command theory, and this weird notion that pure logic yields objective truths about the experienced world) one is placed in the enemy camp, which is described as necessarily holding to atheism, determinism, materialism, moral relativism, and nihilism (and perhaps Marxism, anarchism, facism, post-modernism and progressivism as well).

    Once you are placed in the enemy camp, the object becomes to halt communication and drown you in personal attacks. The arguments degenerate into trying to find the least likely interpretation of everything you say to prove that you are stupid and ridiculous.

    Come on – let’s debate like smart people instead of insane fanatics!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  57. KF, I have to agree with you about the Windies, but you should try being a NZ supporter. They have been in a rut my whole life…

  58. When I provide good reasons for saying this, my detractors ignore the points. For example, I ask “How can we be guaranteed that our minds are reliable?”… and nobody answers that fundamental question.

    First, why have we suddenly moved to needing a guarantee? Can we not merely be certain or quite certain? It would help greatly if we settled on consistent goal posts for our skepticism.

    “How can we be guaranteed that our minds are reliable?”

    The degree of certainty about anything can be no greater than the degree of reliability of the mind behind the certainty. I make this argument while assuming that my mind is reliable enough to do so. You make the very same assumption with each of your arguments. Any argument against this assumption can only ever undermine itself.

    For me, whether or not we can be guaranteed that our minds are reliable is an open question. (How could it not be, unless I first possess a reliable mind?) However, I feel quite certain that we can never be guaranteed that our minds are unreliable. Further, from a very practical standpoint, we all act and argue as though we are quite certain that our minds are reliable. Any argument against this certainty will be made while relying on exactly what it opposes. This is unavoidable (he said with certainty).

    You dismissed this point earlier, but I will make it again. If we were created by an omniscient and omnipotent God, He might very well be able to Reveal to us all sorts of things, including the reliability of our own minds. Even if we assumed there was no positive evidence whatsoever for God’s existence and labeled the above as purely speculative, at least it is a step up from the self-referential incoherence of the radical skepticism that puts all things in doubt while never doubting itself.

    I ask “If you have such very certain answers to these questions of origins, mind/body ontology, free will, and so on, why does everybody disagree on these issues so radically after millenia of research and debate?. Nobody answers this question.

    I have no problem answering this question. You just won’t like my answer. :) Everybody disagrees on these issues because we have the ability to choose what we believe, and some choose to believe what is false.

  59. Alan Fox:

    We could always have a vote, Stephen. I’m sure there is some way of conducting a poll.

    As usual, you miss the point.

  60. Hi Phinehas,

    First, why have we suddenly moved to needing a guarantee? Can we not merely be certain or quite certain? It would help greatly if we settled on consistent goal posts for our skepticism.

    Much of the noise and confusion in this debate has arisen because we have not been careful with our vocabulary (how odd for a philosophical debate, right? :-))

    In my view, certainty is not a step function – it is not binary – but rather it is a continuum. I’ve described a spectrum where we have “Very Certain” on one end and “No Clue” on the other, trying to point out that there are no absolutes but only a gradient of justification for our beliefs.

    The degree of certainty about anything can be no greater than the degree of reliability of the mind behind the certainty.

    Yes, indeed!!

    I make this argument while assuming that my mind is reliable enough to do so. You make the very same assumption with each of your arguments. Any argument against this assumption can only ever undermine itself.

    Plantinga’s famous argument against naturalism does exactly this, but his arguments do not undermine themselves (just as mine do not). We simply acknowledge that there is a finite chance that our minds are unreliable, and that modus ponens and LNC and other self-evident truths are actually false. If that is the case, then all of our arguments are unreliable, and that is all that can be said about it.

    Still and yet, it is one reason why epistemologists like Plantinga concede that there is no such thing as 100% absolute certainty about anything.

    All of this is, of course, not the interesting part of my point. The point I’m interested in is how the answers to the Big Questions are so much less certain than the vast amounts of common-sense and scientific knowledge that each of us have.

    You dismissed this point earlier, but I will make it again. If we were created by an omniscient and omnipotent God, He might very well be able to Reveal to us all sorts of things, including the reliability of our own minds.

    Yes, that conditional makes perfect sense.

    Even if we assumed there was no positive evidence whatsoever for God’s existence and labeled the above as purely speculative, at least it is a step up from the self-referential incoherence of the radical skepticism that puts all things in doubt while never doubting itself.

    There is no self-referential incoherence involved – that is a mistake that you make because you do not understand that uncertainty about uncertainty simply produces uncertainty, rather than somehow cancelling out.

    RDF: I ask “If you have such very certain answers to these questions of origins, mind/body ontology, free will, and so on, why does everybody disagree on these issues so radically after millenia of research and debate?. Nobody answers this question.
    PH: I have no problem answering this question. You just won’t like my answer. Everybody disagrees on these issues because we have the ability to choose what we believe, and some choose to believe what is false.

    Well, people who choose different answers than yours don’t believe their answers are false, just as you don’t. And as opposed to all of the things that we are all certain about (e.g. much of common sense and scientific knowledge), nobody has any way of demonstrating the truth of what they think based on our uniform and repeated experience.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  61. I mean, seriously, YEC and disputing set theory?

    Seriously, some parts of set theory appear totally bogus and should be disputed.

    For example if set A = {0,1,2,3,4,…} and set B = {0,2,4,6,8,…}, is set B a proper subset of set A because it’s 2 corresponds to set A’s 1, it’s 4 corresponds to A’s 2, it’s 6 corresponds to A’s 3? Or is it a proper subset of set A because it’s 2 corresponds to set A’s 2, it’s 4 corresponds to set A’s 4- IOW we have an exact match and that is how proper subsets are aligned and identified?

    Those are both still infinite sets and we have an exact match correspondence.

    And yet we throw all of that out of the window when comparing the cardinality of each set. For whatever reason set B’s 2 now corresponds to set A’s 1.

    There’s plenty to dispute. And wrt evolutionism, even more to dispute.

  62. Plantinga’s famous argument against naturalism does exactly this, but his arguments do not undermine themselves (just as mine do not).

    While I admit to not being intimately familiar with Plantinga’s argument against naturalism, my understanding is that the argument hinges on the self-referential incoherence in depending upon a mind randomly generated and culled for survival in order to discern what is true about naturalism. His arguments do not undermine themselves because he is not a naturalist. I’m pretty sure his argument is nothing at all like yours.

    There is no self-referential incoherence involved – that is a mistake that you make because you do not understand that uncertainty about uncertainty simply produces uncertainty, rather than somehow cancelling out.

    You’ve got that exactly backwards. I’m the one who has been trying to point out that uncertainty about uncertainty can only ever produce uncertainty. You are the one who claims you can take uncertainty about uncertainty and suddenly become “very certain.” My position is that, once you invoke uncertainty, you can’t somehow get back to certainty on the other side. You’ve already sawed off the branch you need to sit on.

  63. Is this entire discussion not about the difference between belief and knowledge?

    I think most would agree that, as RDFish says, there is a continuum that goes from not knowing at all, via intuition, suspicion, belief, knowledge to certainty and eventually absolute certainty. The argument why there is no such thing as absolute certainty has already been laid out – does anyone here disagree with it?

    The rest of the disagreement seems to hinge around deciding when a paticular conviction is a belief and when it is knowledge. Why not share viewpoints on this? Is this just a semantic difference or are belief and knowledge fundamentally different categories? What are the criteria for one and the other?

    fG

  64. Hi Phinehas,

    You are the one who claims you can take uncertainty about uncertainty and suddenly become “very certain.” My position is that, once you invoke uncertainty, you can’t somehow get back to certainty on the other side. You’ve already sawed off the branch you need to sit on.

    This is actually getting to be a comedy of miscommunication. It is so simple – let’s just start over.

    1) Think of a continuum reflecting the strength of justification (or “warrant”) accruing to any particular claim
    2) On one end of this continuum claims with a tremendous amount of justification, and we label this end “Highly Certain Knowledge”
    3) On the other end of this continuum are claims with little or no justification, and we label this end “Very Speculative Beliefs”

    My point is that any particular answer to any of the foundational existential questions (or metaphysical) I’ve mentioned will lie toward the “Very Speculative Beliefs” end of the spectrum.

    In contrast to a vast catalogue of common sense and scientific knowledge, the answers to metaphysical questions cannot be clearly derived from our uniform and repeated experience. As a result, despite millenia of concerted effort, no single answer to these metaphysical questions has been demonstrated definitively enough to gain general acceptance.

    Now, what I’ve just said is a straightforward comment about the relative certainty of various knowledge claims. It does not entail any sort of paradox at all.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  65. 5For: Now, that’s a thought. At least the All Blacks are doing something, and it is NZ that has the Victoria Cross record for courage in battle in the Commonwealth. Not a mean achievement for a territory with what is it, 4 1/2 millions all told? (That’s the population of Jamaica in the Caribbean — we overseas J’cans add maybe another 6 mn. Trinidad + Jamaics = NZ, population-wise. And there was a rumour some years back that Cuba — with its formidable sports and medicine base — wanted in on Cricket. But maybe it is also database expertise we need. Batting against database-trained bowlers and swing magicians is no fun.) KF

  66. Hi FG,

    I didn’t see your post until I’d posted my last one…

    Is this entire discussion not about the difference between belief and knowledge?

    I would say so, yes – the strength of justification for various beliefs.

    I think most would agree that, as RDFish says, there is a continuum that goes from not knowing at all, via intuition, suspicion, belief, knowledge to certainty and eventually absolute certainty. The argument why there is no such thing as absolute certainty has already been laid out – does anyone here disagree with it?

    Very good question, to which I’ve not yet received an answer. People are apparently too busy looking for self-referential incoherence :-)

    The rest of the disagreement seems to hinge around deciding when a paticular conviction is a belief and when it is knowledge. Why not share viewpoints on this? Is this just a semantic difference or are belief and knowledge fundamentally different categories? What are the criteria for one and the other?

    I’ve made my position clear on this: I define “knowledge” as “justified true belief”, and the amount of justification can vary continuously from “no apparent reason” to “a mountain of good evidence”.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  67. Joe: The problem is not merely that 1, 2, 3, . . . can be matched to 2, 4, 6 . . . or 1, 3, 5 . . . but that it can be transformed into them. So, once we hit a transfinite set and are addressing cardinality — scale — Houston, we have a problem. Cf. discussion here, observing the problem of the supertask of counting (and there are uncountable transfinite sets too), leading to the rendering that two sets have the same cardinality iff there is a bijective function between them. A bijective function will transform one to one both ways without omissions of any members of the two sets. That is there is a 1:1 match that can be turned into a little algorithm that we can see would map A to B and back-ways, no left overs, and each element in a set will match just one element of the other. Such a seemingly simple, common-sense definition has in it all the consequences that Cantor has described. KF

  68. fG (and RDF):

    The problem is, that knowledge is not merely about degree of certitude or strength of adherence to opinion.

    Knowledge is about warrant and accuracy to reality, and we can discern two distinct degrees, one that is provisional but reliable enough for practise (e.g. in science, court rooms etc) and another that goes beyond, to certainty. Certainty in the sense that there is no question of provisionality, the matter is final.

    And the case of Error exists pivots on the fact that our beliefs or findings or conclusions etc are indeed sometimes unreliable, but this highlights that the belief that errors exists is true beyond reasonable doubt. Then, we can symbolise and process, E AND NOT-E must be false as mutually opposed and exhaustive, thence, we have a certain case of error, implying that NOT-E is false.

    Yes, error exists — the proposition crops up again, as factually indisputable by the reasonable — and we can often make mistakes, but this is not at all the same as every opinion or act of mind we have, is erroneous.

    Our minds are sufficiently reliable to see this, or else we are in chaos.

    What is still needed, if you dispute this, is to address it on specific terms and show why it is an error.

    OOPS . . . that would be self-referential wouldn’t it?

    This is part of why Error exists can be said to be undeniably true — the very attempt to deny it self-refers and affirms it instead.

    Which is as much of a guarantee as we will ever see: self evident to the point of undeniability, indeed the very attempt to deny or undermine affirms.

    That is what you really need to address, a very special and pivotal case of self-evident truth, championed by Josiah Royce long ago now and again highlighted by Elton Trueblood decades ago as pivotal in addressing the influence of radical relativism and fallibilism or Plato’s Cave/ The Matrix/ Brains in vats/ Boltzmann brains across the board delusionism. (Which all so fatally undermine sense of trust in senses and rationality that they self-undermine. We may confidently lay such aside as entailing the chaos that nothing makes sense. Until there is positive evidence of mass delusion, and there is good reason to see that our senses, reasoning and common sense are utterly delusional — another self-referential problem lurks there — we have no reason to see such as anything more than entertaining bits of speculation. But also, each of these implies one thing: error exists. Oops, that same point is underscored again. It is hard to get rid of indeed. And that is what you are dancing around with. Dance with the one that brung ya.)

    I have put on the table the challenge you need to meet.

    Let’s see if you can.

    KF

  69. P:

    Good point:

    [RDF:] There is no self-referential incoherence involved – that is a mistake that you make because you do not understand that uncertainty about uncertainty simply produces uncertainty, rather than somehow cancelling out.

    [P:] You’ve got that exactly backwards. I’m the one who has been trying to point out that uncertainty about uncertainty can only ever produce uncertainty. You are the one who claims you can take uncertainty about uncertainty and suddenly become “very certain.” My position is that, once you invoke uncertainty, you can’t somehow get back to certainty on the other side. You’ve already sawed off the branch you need to sit on.

    This is of course yet another example of RDF’s on the other hand shielding the original point he has just qualified into nothing, but allowing it to proceed rhetorically.

    Let’s refresh our memory from the clip in the OP, on the exchange with Vivid a week ago:

    [RDF/AIG:] And once again I must remind you that you are mistaken. We cannot be absolutely certain of anything, and you will see that I have never said that we could be absolutely certain of anything. I don’t think this is a very difficult point, but you keep misquoting me.

    [Vivid, replying:} I apologize I did not intend to misquote you I now understand your position better. You are not absolutely certain that there is no such thing as absolute certainty but you want Stephen[B] to concede to that which you are not absolutely certain about. Got it.

    Poof, ink-cloud fails.

    KF

    PS: Your summary of Plantinga’s point is pretty good for a rough in a nutshell.

  70. Hi fg good to see you again.

    The argument why there is no such thing as absolute certainty has already been laid out – does anyone here disagree with it?

    In certain respects I do and I laid them out in #45.

    Vivid

  71. The rest of the disagreement seems to hinge around deciding when a paticular conviction is a belief and when it is knowledge. Why not share viewpoints on this?

    They do get intertwined and warranted belief is woven through the tapestry of knowledge. There has been a noticable shift over the last 100 years or so where faith has been morphed into fideism, blind faith or faith in spite of the facts. Blind faith ie fideism is not the same as faith because of the reasons.

    Most of us are familiar with Gould’s “Rock of Ages” and his various magestariums which defined what I label the faith fact distinction. Facts are those things that we can demonstrate empericaly. Facts are what many would claim constitute objective knowlege. So objective knowledge resides within the sphere of scientific inquiry. Anything that cannot be empericaly demonstrated are non factual,subjective and do not qualfy as knowledge.

    The result is predictable wherein faith has now been redefined as fideism and takes a back seat to what is objectively true. However there is one problem, if “only that which can be empericaly demonstrated is fact/knowledge and everything else is subjective, non factual fideism.” Since the statement itself cannot be empericaly demonstrated and confirmed then per its own criteria it is non factual and subjective.

    I will end with this. When it comes to beliefs in the end we all end up believing what we want.

    Vivid

  72. Vivid:

    Good to see you still intervening. Useful point, too. My thought is, that the root of this sort of thinking is a few hundred years old, and we too often fall into its patterns.

    Indeed, we see people too often trying to make virtue out of blindness in faith.

    I think we need to take the word back, and stand on the understanding that it primarily denotes trust, often based on good warrant but extending through hope to what is not seen but confidently expected.

    Secondarily, it reflects the pattern of the chain of warrant and the implications of our finitude, fallibilityand more.

    Start with A, why accept it?

    Because of some warrant, B.

    But we can ask, why B?

    C.

    Thus, infinite regress — turtles all the way down — or circularity, or taking a stand on a faith point, F, arrived at by collective or individual comparative difficulties, that is partly self evident, partly enfolds matters that one has moral certainty regarding, and certain elements that are either axiomatic and successful (such as systems in Mathematics) or help make sense per inference to best and most coherent, useful explanation (e.g. many key scientific postulates and invisible constructs).

    What removes such from the province of circularity is the openness to comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power.

    What removes it from the infinite regress of challenges to warrant, is that we are willing to take a stand on faith, on trustworthy ground, in light of experience, and are open to change as more evidence comes in. But, understanding our finitude and fallibility, we do not accept a need for self-defeating, hopeless infinite regress.

    Mere selective or universal skepticism and the sort of Plato’s Cave world models already mentioned need not apply, as they radically undermine rationality.

    I forget: we all live by faith, the issue is in what, why.

    KF

  73. RDF:

    Re:

    60:Plantinga’s famous argument against naturalism does exactly this, but his arguments do not undermine themselves (just as mine do not). We simply acknowledge that there is a finite chance that our minds are unreliable, and that modus ponens and LNC and other self-evident truths are actually false. If that is the case, then all of our arguments are unreliable, and that is all that can be said about it.

    Still and yet, it is one reason why epistemologists like Plantinga concede that there is no such thing as 100% absolute certainty about anything.

    All of this is, of course, not the interesting part of my point. The point I’m interested in is how the answers to the Big Questions are so much less certain than the vast amounts of common-sense and scientific knowledge that each of us have.

    64: let’s just start over.

    1) Think of a continuum reflecting the strength of justification (or “warrant”) accruing to any particular claim
    2) On one end of this continuum claims with a tremendous amount of justification, and we label this end “Highly Certain Knowledge”
    3) On the other end of this continuum are claims with little or no justification, and we label this end “Very Speculative Beliefs”

    My point is that any particular answer to any of the foundational existential questions (or metaphysical) I’ve mentioned will lie toward the “Very Speculative Beliefs” end of the spectrum.

    1 –> Are you here walking back your claim headlined in the OP: We cannot be absolutely certain of anything?

    2 –> You actually managed to repeat the self-referential incoherence at 60: epistemologists like Plantinga concede that there is no such thing as 100% absolute certainty about anything.

    3 –> Including this?

    4 –> I doubt this, what is the case is that for systems as a whole there will be areas of greater and lesser certainty, the probability of errors in the whole and more. But on narrow, specific points such as Error exists or || + ||| –> ||||| (2 + 3 = 5), we can indeed find certainty, self-evident, undeniable certainty. If you dispute this, take on Error exists specifically, and show how it fails of certainty.

    5 –> The point being, that it is impossible to show Error exists is an error, as the attempt will end up sustaining it.

    6 –> The further implication being that this sweeps a wide cut across the current worldviews scene, showing that objective and even absolute truth do exist, that such are capable in certain cases of warrant to undeniable certainty per self-evidence, and reduction to absurdity on attempted denial. Thus, knowledge as fully justified, absolutely true belief. Thence, falsification of entire systems of thought dedicated to the proposition that such is impossible.

    7 –> Humility would be not to deride, divert from and dismiss this, but to acknowledge it, and recognise this most humbling of all truths: our fallibility.

    8 –> So also, this ought to motivate finding reliable tools to test our beliefs and systems of belief, such as the also self-evident laws of thought. After all, distinct realities such as red cricket balls on tables are undeniable, and the act of using symbolic language (the vehicle of abstract, verbal thought and communication) itself pivots on such.

    9 –> So, the world partition: W = {A | NOT-A} is real and consequential. LOI, LNC, LEM are self-evident, as direct corollaries of world partition on existence of a distinct thing. Our thoughts and language, thence reasoning, reflect this, for instance observe: {S |NOT-S} + {o | NOT-o} –> { So | NOT-So} — I recall you had a visceral reaction to this case of textual words earlier, but that does not make it any less valid. (And that is what is at stake here in the end, rationality itself and reasonable communication itself.)

    10 –> So also, we may apply PSR, weak form: Why A, expecting a reasonable answer.

    11 –> From which, interwoven with the identity cluster pivoting on distinction, we see possibility/impossibility of being, nothing as non-being, contingency/non-contingency, thus cause in light of on/off enabling factors [think, struck match here], necessity of being which has no beginning, no end, is eternal. Case a: the number 2, case b: proposition 2 + 3 = 5.

    12 –> Onward, we see that serious candidate necessary beings (spaghetti monsters, pink unicorns and red dragons need not apply) will be either impossible due to incoherence of attributes (a circular square for instance) or will be possible and actual in all possible worlds. Which raises sobering questions on God as serious candidate Necessary Being and on the views and rhetorical approaches of objectors to the reality of God.

    13 –> I would think that truth exists, knowable truth exists even to certainty, etc and that God as a serious candidate to be a necessary being will be ether impossible per contradictory attributes (as was formerly commonly thought among skeptics, on the problem of evil) or possible and — as independent of on/off enabling factors — actual, would all be serious cases of big questions.

    14 –> So, again, I invite a serious examination of the Royce proposition, Error exists.

    15 –> Is this true, is it undeniably true? Why or why not? (My answer is clipped at 40 above.) Where does this lead us?

    KF

  74. Greetings RDFish,

    In all honesty, I did not follow your discussion all through with StephenB. I only followed what caught my attention, like what KF is pointing out.

    To me, if anyone says to me “We cannot be absolutely certain of anything”, I always think of absolute.

    The word “anything” could mean “anything” (if I decide to take it in the context this was used). To me, that statement could mean I cannot be absolutely sure I am making a contribution here.

    But reading a bit your defenses, it was better if you typed “We cannot be absolutely certain of everything”. At least, this statement clearly takes into account human limitations.

  75. F/N: I should add that some of the above hints at the idea that there is an ugly gulch between our inner phenomenal world and the external world of things in themselves. F H Bradley’s self referential objection holds, that to so hold is to claim to know something about the external world, leading to self referential incoherence. Better, to accept the possibility of error, and to see that even that is something we do know and is true about the external world.

  76. Seventrees:

    You seem to be new to commenting, so let me issue a welcome.

    I note your:

    “We cannot be absolutely certain of everything”.

    I agree to this statement, noting room in it that there are some specific things we can be sure of, and room that there are many others we can be highly or sufficiently confident of that we can take them as reliable bases for action.

    Let’s see if this can move the ball forward.

    KF

  77. (Copied from the old thread so that we don’t have to keep returning to it.)

    RDF:

    PHINEHAS: Some people might know the answers to the Big Questions and others might not.
    RDFISH: If anyone had figured out these answers with sufficiently compelling justification, then there would be a general acceptance of the answers.

    It is interesting that we keep coming back to this. Failure to justify? Or failure to persuade? I don’t think your assertion above has been supported in the least. (I think the “sufficiently compelling” part could be seen as begging the question, so I’m going to ignore it.) I believe folks can choose to not be persuaded despite justification.

    And that is why I say no one answer should be considered certain knowledge.

    Except for the answer that says no one answer should be considered certain knowledge. It is with this exception that I take issue, since it purports to arrive at certainty through uncertainty. You’ve basically claimed that uncertainty about uncertainty cashes out to certainty about uncertainty, and I keep saying that, no, uncertainty about uncertainty is still just uncertainty about uncertainty.

  78. 78

    Vivid,

    Nice to see you too, I hope all is well.

    I actually also think there is one thing we can be absolutely certain about, and that is that ‘something exist’. What I am less sure about is what that something actually is – is it the I (and what exactly is the I?), or reality (what is reality?), or what? But there has to be something or else, well, my head would explode!

    About things popping into existence, I don’t know if that exists or not. I don’t think it is logically impossible because I can imagine a situation where one moment there isn’t anything and the next moment there is. Now, for sure, that doesn’t mean that I think for instance Stephen’s brick wall will suddenly appear out of nothing. That would violate some fundamental laws of physics, and of course such a thing has never been observed to happen so there is no empirical support whatsoever to think it can happen. But purely logically speaking, I don’t see why it would be impossible. The thing wouldn’t have to appear from ‘somewhere’. Simply, one moment it isn’t there, the next moment it is. Weird, for sure, never observed as far as I know, violating physical law, but logically impossible? I’m not convinced. And maybe it has been observed at quantum level, smarter minds than mine have suggested this, I don’t know.

    Knowledge and belief is a thorny subject. I hope think we can probably all agree on empirical knowledge, the kind of knowledge we get through our senses plus our reasoning abilities, and in principle repeatable for different persons. The interesting question is if there is other knowledge than that. ‘True justified belief’ is one oft mentioned set of criteria but I always wonder how we can come to agree on this? We won’t dispute if someone claims to have a belief, but we can argue about the strength of the justification, and even if we were to agree on that, how do we know that the justified belief is actually true, thereby fulfilling all the criteria? That seems to require an independent arbiter who can inform us if our belief is true or not, which to me makes the argument circular because how does the arbiter herself know if the belief is true? It comes full circle.

    So I tend to be wary about knowledge claims that are non-empirical (or that are not logical extensions of empirical knowledge). I’m not suggesting that I ‘know’ better than the person expressing the claim, but surely a degree of skepticism is in order. How else would we deal with numerous conflicting non-empirical beliefs that we are exposed to on a daily basis? We can’t all consider them true, therefore knowledge, but what are the criteria to decide between them? If someone maintains that they have been abducted by aliens who subsequently removed all physical evidence for their dastardly act, surely there is justification to be skeptical?

    fG

  79. FG:

    The argument why there is no such thing as absolute certainty has already been laid out – does anyone here disagree with it?

    Absolutely.

    ;)

  80. RDF:

    In contrast to a vast catalogue of common sense and scientific knowledge, the answers to metaphysical questions cannot be clearly derived from our uniform and repeated experience. As a result, despite millenia of concerted effort, no single answer to these metaphysical questions has been demonstrated definitively enough to gain general acceptance.

    As an aside, I would argue (not necessarily with you, since I don’t know your views on such things) that common sense leads rather unambiguously to the conclusion that life is designed. This is why Dawkins has to warn us all to continually remind ourselves that the design our common sense readily discerns in life and its organized structures is only apparent.

    More to the point, what does and does not qualify as “scientific knowledge” is itself a metaphysical question. Every bit of uniform and repeated experience must be filtered and interpreted by a consciousness that is also the subject of many metaphysical questions. The house cannot be any more certain than its foundation. Further, metaphysical questions tend to have some built-in conclusions with which many are uncomfortable, leading to a much greater likelihood that they will choose to believe what they will. Where science approaches these same conclusions, you will see just as much debate and disagreement despite any claims to science’s transcendency.

  81. RDF:

    In addition, as I’ve pointed out before, our uniform and repeated experience in this forum and elsewhere, is one in which all parties assume certainty regarding the validity of their thinking and the reliability of their logic, even when they are arguing in favor of uncertainty.

  82. Hi Seventrees,

    In all honesty, I did not follow your discussion all through with StephenB.

    I understand completely: It is a very long discussion :-)

    At least, this statement clearly takes into account human limitations.

    What I’m saying is that nobody has successfully placed epistemology on a rock-solid footing. We begin with the fact that we cannot remove all doubt that our own minds are reliable. If our minds are reliable, we might be able to rely on principles of math and logic that appear self-evidently true, but that does not allow one to speak about things in the real world with the same sort of certainty available in formal systems. In other words, we cannot prove things to be true about the world the way we prove things to be true in systems of math and formal logic.

    Most importantly, I was pointing out that the answers to questions that arise often on forums like this – such as the relationship between mind and matter, the nature of mental causation, the origin of the universe and life, the nature of moral imperatives, and so on – are far less certain than much of our knowledge about other things. We have a vast amount of common-sense and scientific knowledge that is very certain, and consequently virtually everyone agrees about it. However, despite thousands of years of concerted effort by great thinkers, the answers to these metaphysical questions remain in dispute and nothing approaching general acceptance of any particular set of answers has ever been achieved.

    I thought these observations would be uncontroversial – they seem very obvious to me!

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  83. Hi Phinehas,

    (Copied from the old thread so that we don’t have to keep returning to it.)

    Thank you!!!

    RDFISH: If anyone had figured out these answers with sufficiently compelling justification, then there would be a general acceptance of the answers.
    PH: It is interesting that we keep coming back to this. Failure to justify? Or failure to persuade? I don’t think your assertion above has been supported in the least.

    Huh? I keep coming back to this because you ignore it of course! What assertion is it you think is unsupported? That there is no consensus regarding metaphysics?

    (I think the “sufficiently compelling” part could be seen as begging the question, so I’m going to ignore it.) I believe folks can choose to not be persuaded despite justification.

    People born into religions that believe in reincarnation usually believe in reincarnation; people born into religions that believe in an afterlife in heaven or hell usually believe that, and so on. But there is no good reason to believe any of these things. Some people believe in contra-causal free will and some people don’t, but nobody has a way to demonstrate what is true about the matter. Same with how life got started, or why the universe exists…

    In some cases the evidence is so compelling that virtually everyone does adopt a particular position on one of these questions. For example, while there was great disagreement and resistance to the idea of the Big Bang, the evidence mounted to the point where pretty much every reasonable person agreed that the universe did indeed have a beginning 13+BYO. The same thing happened with heliocentrism, etc.

    Except for the answer that says no one answer should be considered certain knowledge. It is with this exception that I take issue, since it purports to arrive at certainty through uncertainty.

    I’ve explained this many times. Some things fall toward the highly certain end of the spectrum, some toward the highly uncertain end. The metaphysical questions we’ve listed fall to the “highly uncertain” end of the spectrum.

    You’ve basically claimed that uncertainty about uncertainty cashes out to certainty about uncertainty, and I keep saying that, no, uncertainty about uncertainty is still just uncertainty about uncertainty.

    Here is what I said:

    If we do not know whether or not we can know X, then we do not know X.

    And

    [U]ncertainty about uncertainty simply produces uncertainty, rather than somehow cancelling out.

    We are highly uncertain about these metaphysical questions. Saying that we are highly uncertain if we are highly uncertain does not help at all – it just says nobody knows.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  84. Hi Phinehas,

    As an aside, I would argue (not necessarily with you, since I don’t know your views on such things) that common sense leads rather unambiguously to the conclusion that life is designed.

    Two things:

    1) Not all common sense is very certain (I’ve made this clear in my wording). The gambler’s fallacy is common sense… and wrong. Much of our common sense regarding probabilities, physical motion, and other things have turned out to be wrong when studied scientifically. There is still a vast amount of common sense that is certain, but like everything else – open to revision in the face of compelling evidence.

    2) Common sense tells people to attribute things they don’t understand to invisible human-like beings (gods, demons, ghosts, trolls, elves, fairies, poltergeists) but historically many of these explanations have been abandoned in the face of other explanations.

    This is why Dawkins has to warn us all to continually remind ourselves that the design our common sense readily discerns in life and its organized structures is only apparent.

    Dawkins is fighting a losing battle. Nobody knows how biological complexity came to exist, and saying it is “designed” does not, per se, tell us anything at all.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  85. fg

    I actually also think there is one thing we can be absolutely certain about, and that is that ‘something exist’. What I am less sure about is what that something actually is – is it the I (and what exactly is the I?), or reality (what is reality?),

    It is possible that we are caught in some kind of matrix or experiencing an illusion but I am absolutely certain that I think I am writing this.

    But there has to be something or else, well, my head would explode!

    I call it a charley horse between the ears.

    But purely logically speaking, I don’t see why it would be impossible.

    As RDF correctly observed we can imagine such a thing happening but speaking for myself I am absolutely certain that something cannot “pop into existence” from nothing. Others disagree. To speak of nothing we have to use language and thus we are forced to speak in nonsensical terms. If there is not a reason for its “popping into existence” ( of course into and from cannot be applied to nothing) then it would not be reasonable for me to accept such a thing. Of course this will not preclude someone from arguing that, something/nothing, using reason to argue for that that is unreasonable. To use reason in order to convince me why I should accept something not reasonable.

    So I tend to be wary about knowledge claims that are non-empirical (or that are not logical extensions of empirical knowledge).

    Each and everyone of us start with empiricaly unprovable presuppositions thats just the way it is.

    Vivid

  86. RDF:

    Here is what I said:

    If we do not know whether or not we can know X, then we do not know X.

    And here is what I responded:

    Of course! Provided the set of entities described by “we” is exactly the same in both places. But you keep wanting to make the second “we” universal while the first “we” may well be limited in scope. While it may be readily apparent that anyone who doesn’t know whether or not they can know X will also not know X (else they would know that X can be known), it does not follow that the set described by either formulation must be universal. You can only imply otherwise by equivocating on “we.”

    To recap…

    Granted: Nobody who doesn’t know whether or not they can know X knows X.

    Unsupported: Nobody knows X.

  87. RDF: Simply take up the case Error exists. Show how it is uncertain, and let’s see from there. Apart from that by now it should be utterly plain that the consistent problems you have circle around self-referential incoherence and conflating knowledge with the consensus of come reference group. The statement in the OP is self refuting and the attempts to rescue it fail. If it were instead that you spoke about a lack of certainty about everything, that is no problem. But that has room for special cases like: Error exists. As for consensus, given our commonplace willfulness, that is not a safe base. Bitter enders will ride their scheme down in flames, sometimes literally. KF

  88. P, just now: well said. KF

  89. 89
    Kantian Naturalist

    RDFish,

    If you really want to get your views across, I think you’d be better off clarifying the criteria by which you would distinguish (1) formal truths (logic, mathematics, the analytic and/or a priori; (2) common-sense experience, empirical knowledge, and science; (3) metaphysics and epistemology.

    With regard to (3), there’s got to be some rough distinction to be drawn between (a) what must be presupposed in order for there to empirical knowledge at all and (b) what is the case (or not the case) beyond all (possible?) empirical knowledge.

    I would assume — though I don’t know this for sure — that you would only counsel agnosticism about (3b). (There are countless arguments in favor of agnosticism about those items, most of them inspired by Hume or Kant.) If that is indeed your view, then I would recommend being much clearer about that — doing so could permit more productive conversations than the ones you’ve been having here so far.

  90. RDFISH: If anyone had figured out these answers with sufficiently compelling justification, then there would be a general acceptance of the answers.
    PH: It is interesting that we keep coming back to this. Failure to justify? Or failure to persuade? I don’t think your assertion above has been supported in the least.

    RDF: Huh? I keep coming back to this because you ignore it of course! What assertion is it you think is unsupported? That there is no consensus regarding metaphysics?

    No, the part where there would be a general acceptance of the answers. Again, this could easily be turned back on your own claim that nobody knows these answers. If you had a sufficiently compelling justification, then there would be general acceptance, but there isn’t, so your claim must be false.

    I don’t think the “there would be general acceptance” is a valid argument. It belongs in the trash bin right alongside consensus science in my view.

  91. Greetings, KF

    Yes, I am a new commenter. As you said, I hope with this, these confusions can be resolved.

  92. Hi RDFish

    I started following the discussion from when it started. Some things I did not understand, so, I stopped at some point.

    “What I’m saying is that nobody has successfully placed epistemology on a rock-solid footing.” — “Nobody”? I beg to differ here, if at all we consider at face value the claims made by some people. If you said “In my opinion, nobody has successfully placed epistemology on a rock-solid footing”, then no disagreement here. Everyone has his reasons to disbelieve or be skeptical of certain claims.

    An example: The beliefs of at least the Christians of old was the certainty that Jesus was dead and resurrected. Vivid at post 71 was at least trying to point out this your claim is not true. Anyway, I repeat again: I disagree with you if we consider their claims at face value.

    I cannot adequately deal with your other points, considering who I am at this stage of my life. But from what I can tell, the systems of formal logic, in philosophical terms, are necessary but not sufficient to know what is true and what is not true. So I tend to agree with you when you say, “…we might be able to rely on principles of math and logic that appear self-evidently true, but that does not allow one to speak about things in the real world with the same sort of certainty available in formal systems.”

    Anyway, after reading your points now, I see where you’re coming from. And it still shows that it was better if you typed “We cannot be absolutely certain of everything”. And error and non-error exists (but I doubt you disagree with that).

    P.S: As I told you before, some things caught my attention. This is just one of them, which to me is satisfactorily resolved.

  93. Hi Kantian Naturalist – AND Phinehas

    If you really want to get your views across, I think you’d be better off clarifying the criteria by which you would distinguish (1) formal truths (logic, mathematics, the analytic and/or a priori; (2) common-sense experience, empirical knowledge, and science; (3) metaphysics and epistemology.

    Really? I don’t see anyone arguing against me regarding the distinctions among these things. Rather, Phinehas here is claiming that there are (or at least might be) some people who have good justifications for their beliefs regarding what we’ve been calling The Big Questions, despite the fact that there is a huge and non-converging plurality of beliefs about these questions in general. And that is his reason for denying my observation that the answers to these questions are highly uncertain.

    My counter-argument is that if these people did have such good justifications for particular beliefs, why wouldn’t these beliefs gain general acceptance, the way so many other beliefs have?

    Phinehas’ counter-argument was that the people choose to believe in things that are false.

    My counter-argument was that people believe in things that are shown to be true by a large amount of good evidence. I provided the example of the belief in the Big Bang, which gained general acceptance because of the strength of the evidence – even with those who were ideologically predisposed to disbelieve it.

    Phinehas had no other counter-argument, but rather repeated his insistence that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge, and all other groups of people who disagree with them are wrong. Presumably the group of people who have the right answer are those who agree with Phinehas, and all other people are choosing to believe the wrong thing because they want to.

    I would hold that my explanation of the plurality of views on these questions is more plausible: Nobody knows the right answer, and so nobody can demonstrate the truth about these things in any convincing fashion, and so people continue to believe all sorts of things about these questions, just as they have for thousands of years.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  94. Hi seventrees,

    “What I’m saying is that nobody has successfully placed epistemology on a rock-solid footing.” — “Nobody”? I beg to differ here, if at all we consider at face value the claims made by some people

    I understand that many people claim to have absolute knowledge regarding all sorts of things. In my opinion, we needn’t accept their claims at face value, but rather it behooves us to require good reason to believe that they are correct. In any event, you could not choose to believe all of the various things that other people are certain of even if you tried!

    But from what I can tell, the systems of formal logic, in philosophical terms, are necessary but not sufficient to know what is true and what is not true.

    I think you are correct about this.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  95. Just in case someone might misunderstand me, what I understood as systems of formal logic are things like LNC, LEM, LOI and logical fallacies.

    “In any event, you could not choose to believe all of the various things that other people are certain of even if you tried!” — Why cannot I choose? I’m curious to understand what you mean.

  96. To any commenter here,

    I find it difficult to use the HTML tags and attributes. I need some help.

    To anyone who does, thanks for his/her patience in advance.

  97. seventrees,

    To quote some text, if you type this:
    &ltblockquote&gtyour text goes here&lt/blockquote&gt

    It will look like this:

    your text goes here

    Replace “blockquote” in these tags with “i” to use italics, “b” to use bold.

  98. Arrgh! Ok, that didn’t work. The “&lt” should be typed as a less-than sign (left angle bracket) and the “&gt” should be typed as a greater-than sign (right angle bracket).

  99. Hi seventrees,

    In any event, you could not choose to believe all of the various things that other people are certain of even if you tried!” — Why cannot I choose? I’m curious to understand what you mean.

    Many people believe they have been abducted by aliens into spaceships and given invasive medical examinations. Do you believe this?

    Many people believe that when you die, you may become the God of a new universe. Do you believe this?

    Many people believe that inside each of us is the soul of a dead alien life form. Do you believe this?

    So first, pick a claim that you do not currently believe. If you actually find that you believe all of these claims I just listed, then try to think of something you really do not believe at all. Ok, got it?

    Now, choose to believe this claim. Ok, done?

    Now introspect: Do you actually believe this claim that you just chose to believe, even though you previously disbelieved it? I think not. I think you don’t believe it any more than you did a few moments ago – because we can’t choose our beliefs.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  100. 100

    Just for practice:

    To quote some text, if you type this…

    Thanks a lot, once more, RDFish. Ahhh!! Writing codes again. I really have something against them.

    Back to the discussion
    Honestly, the last two examples made me laugh. But the word “choose” is my issue. I wonder if these people did not choose to believe them. What made them choose is a different matter.

    You stated:

    In my opinion, we needn’t accept their claims at face value, but rather it behooves us to require good reason to believe that they are correct.

    A question: If you have good reasons to believe a claim which was patently absurd to you, and let us say hypothetically, there is 100% certainty that the claim is true, and let us say this claim can change your life. Are you telling me that being a new believer of this claim did not involve any will yours? Just not to misunderstand you.

    Throwing back that same question at me, I might be resistant to believe for a while, but I will have to choose, especially that I know it can affect my life. If it did not, I might not even think about the claim. (I think this should answer in part the questions you just asked me).

    So, to answer you fully, I have to make a choice to believe some things, depending on the situation. Some beliefs, I cannot choose to believe them, simply because I might not have adequate reasons to do so (or because I do not think I have adequate evidence to believe such).

  101. RDF:

    Phinehas had no other counter-argument, but rather repeated his insistence that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge, and all other groups of people who disagree with them are wrong. Presumably the group of people who have the right answer are those who agree with Phinehas, and all other people are choosing to believe the wrong thing because they want to.

    Seriously? After patiently explaining my position again and again, the best you can do is to deliberately misrepresent it?

    1. I’ve never insisted that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge. I’ve merely pointed out that you have no warrant for continued insistence that nobody does.

    2. If there are those who have well-justified knowledge, then they certainly are not going to agree with your insistence that they cannot. So yes, I suppose, on this issue at least, they are pretty much going to agree with me.

    3. I’ve also never claimed that all people who believe otherwise are choosing to believe the wrong thing because they want to. Whereas I am open to the idea that we can and often do choose to believe what we want and then filter evidence and muster arguments to support that choice, you apparently are not. I am also open to the idea that many people simply do not know.

    Again, the main area with which I take issue is that I don’t believe you can build certainty on top of uncertainty. I believe it is incoherent to be certain that everything is uncertain. I believe that certainty can only come from certainty, and uncertainty can only lead to more uncertainty.

  102. Hi seventrees,

    Honestly, the last two examples made me laugh.

    They are beliefs that are solemnly held by many millions of people who adhere to the religions of Mormonism and Scientology, respectively. How would you like it if people laughed at the thought that there is a god who had a son with a human woman and the son died and then came back to life?

    I wonder if these people did not choose to believe them. What made them choose is a different matter.

    Could you choose to believe these things if you tried?

    A question: If you have good reasons to believe a claim which was patently absurd to you, and let us say hypothetically, there is 100% certainty that the claim is true, and let us say this claim can change your life. Are you telling me that being a new believer of this claim did not involve any will yours? Just not to misunderstand you.

    If I was told that an absurd claim was true with “100% certainty”, then I would not simply believe it – I would need to be convinced of it. This is not a process of choosing; it is a process of being convinced by evidence.

    Throwing back that same question at me, I might be resistant to believe for a while, but I will have to choose, especially that I know it can affect my life.

    I could not believe these things if my life depended on it, any more than I could believe that 2+2=5. I don’t think you could either.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  103. Hi Phinehas

    Seriously? After patiently explaining my position again and again, the best you can do is to deliberately misrepresent it?

    I never deliberately mispresent people’s position. Either you haven’t made yourself clear, or I misunderstood you, or both – just like when you get me wrong.

    1. I’ve never insisted that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge. I’ve merely pointed out that you have no warrant for continued insistence that nobody does.

    I said just that! Here is what I said, emphasis added to show how you twist my words!

    RDF:
    Rather, Phinehas here is claiming that there are (or at least might be) some people who have good justifications for their beliefs regarding what we’ve been calling The Big Questions,…

    So get off your high horse and stop accusing me of deliberately misrepresenting your views. Nobody has been more mispresented than me here, and I am very, very, very patient with my detractors.

    2. If there are those who have well-justified knowledge, then they certainly are not going to agree with your insistence that they cannot. So yes, I suppose, on this issue at least, they are pretty much going to agree with me.

    Uh, yes, of course there are plenty of people who think their answers to the Big Questions are justified. I don’t think that was in question – I meet them all the time. I’m saying they are mistaken about that, because they can’t demonstrate that to me or anyone else that their answers are correct. In contrast, other questions (such as “How long ago did the universe begin?”) have been answered with very good justifications.

    3. I’ve also never claimed that all people who believe otherwise are choosing to believe the wrong thing because they want to.

    ??? You said: Everybody disagrees on these issues because we have the ability to choose what we believe, and some choose to believe what is false..

    Whereas I am open to the idea that we can and often do choose to believe what we want and then filter evidence and muster arguments to support that choice, you apparently are not.

    I am open to the idea of course; I simply observe that it is false for myself. I cannot choose to believe things that I do not believe; rather, I either find that I have been convinced or not. I am open to the idea that other people can simply choose to believe whatever they want to for whatever reason or no reason at all. It is very foreign to me to be that way, and I do not think it is a good way to be, but I cannot deny that some people seem to be that way.

    I am also open to the idea that many people simply do not know.

    And I am arguing that nobody does of course, when it comes to the Big Questions.

    Again, the main area with which I take issue is that I don’t believe you can build certainty on top of uncertainty. I believe it is incoherent to be certain that everything is uncertain. I believe that certainty can only come from certainty, and uncertainty can only lead to more uncertainty.

    My point is that no particular answers to these questions (among others):
    1) Origin of life and the universe
    2) Mind/body ontology
    3) Causal nature of human volition
    … have good enough justifications to consider that we know the answer. Nobody knows the answers, and nobody can provide good enough justification to convince other people that they are right. This is not the case with many other questions, but it is the case with these.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  104. RDF:

    Pardon but this is a smoking gun:

    of course there are plenty of people who think their answers to the Big Questions are justified. I don’t think that was in question – I meet them all the time. I’m saying they are mistaken about that, because they can’t demonstrate that to me or anyone else that their answers are correct.

    In short, in your opinion you don’t need to even seriously check that YOU could be in error, you are so sure those who differ with you must be wrong.

    Hence, of course, refusal over the course of a solid month to actually address Royce’s proposition on the merits: Error exists (with implications that truth that is knowable even to certainty on at least some subjects exists — as big a question as they come).

    Which is a general consensus as fact, and which you can easily see — if you wanted to — just happens to be undeniably true on grounds that trying to deny it instantiates it.

    But, after for weeks, the onward tactic is predictable: willfully ignoring or evading what you should and can easily know.

    Sorry to have to be so direct, but that is the direct implication of what you just put on the table.

    After a month, I have no illusions that you will suddenly be willing to drop your ideological agenda and suddenly be concerned about such duties of care, but the matter needs to be highlighted on record.

    And just maybe, if enough people point it out, you may be forced to wake up from dogmatic slumbers.

    KF

  105. 105

    Hi RDFish

    They are beliefs that are solemnly held by many millions of people who adhere to the religions of Mormonism and Scientology, respectively.

    And I assumed those last two were hypothetical examples to help me see your point. If I knew, I wouldn’t have done so. (That’s why I didn’t do so for example 1). I’ll be more careful next time.

    Could you choose to believe these things if you tried?

    I answered that already. But to summarize, I have chosen to believe some things considered absurd by some people, as I think I have reasons to do so.

    If I was told that an absurd claim was true with “100% certainty”, then I would not simply believe it – I would need to be convinced of it. This is not a process of choosing; it is a process of being convinced by evidence (My emphasis).

    I could not believe these things if my life depended on it, any more than I could believe that 2+2=5. I don’t think you could either.

    My question was “If you have good reasons to believe a claim which was patently absurd to you…” To be clearer, I was not focusing on absurdities like 2+2 = 5, but on the things which cannot be proven with 100% certainty using solely the formal rules of logic.

    And as to what I emphasized, I will assume that you are honest. But, I doubt everyone wants to be convinced by evidence, even though they say they want to be. This is a reason why I had a difficulty understanding why you said we cannot choose what we believe.

    The difficulty is still there, but I see that it is possible to choose to believe.

  106. 106

    Sorry RDFish,

    You actually typed

    In any event, you could not choose to believe all of the various things that other people are certain of even if you tried!

    And I stated we. Sorry about that.

  107. Hi seventrees

    But to summarize, I have chosen to believe some things considered absurd by some people, as I think I have reasons to do so.

    If I evaluated the reasons for believing X, and found that the reasons were compelling, then I would believe X. But I would not call this a “choice”, since I could not simply choose to find the reasons compelling or not. Rather, I would discover if I found the reasons were good enough to make me believe in X.

    Now I do accept, after speaking with people here, that not everybody is the same in this regard. Some people simply make up their mind that they want to believe in X or Y or Z, and they do not need to have compelling reasons at all – they simply begin to believe whatever they want to. Frankly I find this upsetting, but apparently it happens.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  108. F/N: One of the most important things in reasoning is to understand what happens if one believes and reasons from that which is false, and then meets that which is actually true and cuts across it.

    Ex falso quodlibet: from that which is false, we may deduce anything, but of course, from the truth we may properly infer only that which is true. (Such is the nature of implication logic.)

    The answer is obvious: believing the false true, we will too often hardly be able to see the actual truth as less than absurd. Hence, the difference we must make between seeming absurd and finding something an actual redutio ad absurdum, reducing to contradiction within itself, or to contradicting that which is credible and warranted separately as fact. Thus also, that finding something personally compelling or the opposite may say very little more than the state of one’s preferences and dispositions. It certainly has not said that one has done due diligence on duties of care to warrant. (Where also we must note that part of what is being disputed, mostly on the side opposed to design thought, is first principles of right reason. Reason itself is in the balance.)

    Thence, the value of what I have invited over and over again fruitlessly (in respect of RDF): actually examining that “Error exists” — let us symbolise as E again, and its denial NOT-E as ~E — is not just acknowledged fact but is in fact demonstrated to be undeniably true.

    To see the undeniability, in short steps of thought:

    a: Take E and ~ E and join them: (E AND ~E)

    b: These being mutually opposed and exhaustive of possible alternatives, the AND must be false.
    ___________________________________

    c: So, we know that E is true, as this conjunction is an error. The very attempt to deny that Error exists creates, by simply joining the two opposed claims, an example of error, showing that error indeed exists.)

    d: So also, we know that ~ E is false, an error.

    ===============

    e: Further, this is undeniable, is warranted to certainty, and is true. It is thus objectively and even absolutely certain knowledge [it is undenaiable], and it is on an obvious big question, as it speaks to the actuality of certainly knowable truth and knowledge.

    f: Hence, systems of thought that deny the possibility of certain knowledge of truth, especially on big questions, are shown to be erroneous.

    g: Hence, also, we can see that it is not being persuaded by an argument, or whether there is widespread agreement or acknowledgement of a truth. (In a world of deeply polarised and too often closed minded parties, multiplied by the sort of means of public manipulation offered by the major media etc, that appeal to the mass of the public or the learned, cannot be a reasonable test of truth or right. Appeal to the crowd is an obvious fallacy, and no authority, collective or individual, is better than its evidence, facts, reasoning and underlying assumptions. Ironically, it is design objectors who so commonly speak about appeal to personal incredulity, by way of dismissal. Nope, design thinkers are appealing to inductive inference to best explanation on observing the reality of FSCO/I especially dFSCI such as is found in a digital world and its known only known source, then are inferring that this is a reliable sign of design as cause. Thence, when we see the same in the world of life, design is the reasonable best explanation. If you object, kindly show us a case of such FSCO/I genuinely being produced by blind chance and mechanical necessity, in our observation, at or beyond the 500 – 1,000 bits threshold. This is not even close to being achieved. The inference to design as best causal explanation on seeing FSCO/I is highly reliable as an induction.)

    (Notice, that not once has RDF in a month actually deigned to actually look at this seriously. Instead, he has consistently followed the all too commonly met evil counsel classically found in Wilson’s The Arte of Rhetorique, to evade and pass by as though it were not there, that which is inconvenient to where one wishes to go. [This is diagnostic, sadly so, that we are really dealing with a rhetorical agenda here.])

    I again speak for record, for those who will consider it.

    Not that I fool myself that we are not in a perilous day where as the apostle warned, “men will not put up with sound instruction, but instead will gather to them those who will tickle their itching ears with what they want to hear.”

    Hence, too, we see Jesus’ grim warning about a debased mind:

    Jn 8: 43 Why don’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching . . . 45 But because I am telling you the truth, you do not believe me.

    If we are unduly committed to the false, it can shut our ears and eyes to the truth, and can incline us to hate that which cuts across what we want to hear. Ultimately, to the point of rage against any who would dare oppose — or even just question — what we mindlessly follow.

    Hence, the classic problem that democracy too easily falls into being mob-rule where the madness of crowds stirred up by agitators, leads to passionate actions that are utterly unwise and too often unjust.

    An example I recently saw, was a book lender- borrower matching service that then pointed people back to the ebook sales services that offered a one time only lending capacity. (That’s bad BTW, that an ebook can be lent legitimately just once is something that we need to address.)

    The word was spread among so-called indie authors that the site which offered loans and advertised purchases of the same books (hoping to eventually make commissions off sales) was a pirate site, that hosted copies of books for loan without permission.

    A Web mob attack ensued, leading to crashing the site, and through threatening letters, the closing of the site for a time. The owner’s reputation was trashed — apparently, an injured war veteran.

    All, based on passionately believed misinformation.

    Some few of the authors have subsequently tried to apologise, but damage has been done and now there is a retaliation of people going to ebook offering pages and doing the one-star review tactic.

    BTW, resemblance to what is happening just now with Darwin’s Dilemma and with the longstanding spreading of ever so many toxic claims about design theory and design thinkers, is NOT coincidental.

    That is why I am stressing the importance of due diligence on duties of care to truth, right, warrant, and fairness.

    And it is why I again challenge RDF et al to actually examine Royce’s proposition, Error exists, on the merits.

    Let’s pose some questions that it would be interesting to see responses to:

    1: Is this or is it not a case of a proposition that addresses “big questions” Y/N: ________ . Why or why not: ________________

    2: Is it generally acknowledged as a matter of experience and fact that error exists? (Say, starting from doing sums in school.) Y/N: ________. Why or why not: ______________

    3: Can it be shown (cf. the above or the like) that Error exists is UNDENIABLY true? Y/N: _______ . Why or why not: ______________

    4: Is Error exists, then, a case of certain, certainly known truth? Y/N: _______ . Why or why not: _______________

    5: What are the epistemological, logical and worldview consequences of your conclusions at 1, 2, 3, 4; why: __________________________

    KF

  109. RDF:

    Now I do accept, after speaking with people here, that not everybody is the same in this regard. Some people simply make up their mind that they want to believe in X or Y or Z, and they do not need to have compelling reasons at all – they simply begin to believe whatever they want to.

    And again you tear down a strawman. After repeated mischaracterizations, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that the pattern is not deliberate. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly apparent that you don’t trust the strength of your own arguments that you would need to resort to this sort of tactic.

    “Compelling” is another one of those words that is ripe for equivocation. Can the argument not stand without such qualifiers?

    I have not read anything that would make me believe that anyone here holds the position that they can simply make up their mind that they want to believe X without any reason at all. (Without quoting out of context, please either show that this is not true or drop the pretense of being forthcoming and sincere in your argument.)

    So that impartial readers may better see the nature of the strawman that has been laid out by RDF, here is the fleshed out version that he’d, evidently, rather not address:

    Many of us have pointed out that there are often competing reasons both to believe X or to not believe X. In addition, we are often presented with life decisions that are contingent upon what we believe about X so that, practically speaking, we cannot remain impartial or indifferent. In these cases, we will choose to believe X or not believe X, and our choice will be reflected in the actions that follow.

  110. Hi Phinehas:

    And again you tear down a strawman. After repeated mischaracterizations, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that the pattern is not deliberate. Furthermore, it becomes increasingly apparent that you don’t trust the strength of your own arguments that you would need to resort to this sort of tactic.

    Let’s take a good hard look at this, shall we?

    On your last post you accused me of deliberately misrepresenting your position.

    Here is what I said (adding emphasis):

    RDF: Rather, Phinehas here is claiming that there are (or at least might be) some people who have good justifications for their beliefs regarding what we’ve been calling The Big Questions,…

    Got that? I said that you claimed that THERE MIGHT BE some people with these justifications.

    Then you got all huffy and accused me of DELIBERATELY MISPRESENTING YOUR VIEWS:

    PHIN: I’ve never insisted that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge. I’ve merely pointed out that you have no warrant for continued insistence that nobody does.

    See? I never said that you insisted that some select group of people have these justifications. I said that you claimed there might be these people, just as you yourself were claiming! It’s all right here in black and white, Phinehas – everybody can read these things – I represented your views just as you said them.

    And then, when I pointed this out to you, did you acknowledge your false accusation and apologize to me? No, you didn’t – you ignored what I said, and then you double down and do the very same thing again. And you are completely wrong one again: I have not misrepresented anyone’s views, either deliberately or by mistake.

    This really is pathetic, my friend: If you want to debate, then by all means let’s continue. If you want to whine and cry and pretend that I’m misrepresenting you then we’re not going to get anywhere and you’re going to look really stupid.

    “Compelling” is another one of those words that is ripe for equivocation. Can the argument not stand without such qualifiers?

    OF COURSE my argument can stand without that word! Take it out! Use “good reasons” or “strong reasons” or “sufficient evidence” or whatever you would like to say. I’m not equivocating – you are wrong yet again.

    I have not read anything that would make me believe that anyone here holds the position that they can simply make up their mind that they want to believe X without any reason at all.

    HELLO? You were debating me in this thread:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....y-condemn/

    And you presumably read where PeterJ said exactly that (see @111 there) where he said this:

    PETERJ: Now I didn’t have any evidence that there was a God, or particularly believed everything that my parents told me (for good reason too), but for some reason chose to believe.

    I distinctly remember being asked that question and for some reason i changed my mind and decided that I no longer believed.

    No matter how rubbish my football team begin the season I choose to believe that they will win the league.

    Belief can be a matter of choice…

    So you are wrong again. I said that I encountered people on this forum who chose their beliefs without good reason and believed whatever they wanted to, and this is who I was thinking of.

    (Without quoting out of context, please either show that this is not true or drop the pretense of being forthcoming and sincere in your argument.)

    Now that I have shown you that you are wrong in every single accusation you’ve made, will you apologize and stop being such a loser and either try to mount an argument or concede that you are wrong about everything?

    Many of us have pointed out that there are often competing reasons both to believe X or to not believe X.

    Yes, obviously.

    In addition, we are often presented with life decisions that are contingent upon what we believe about X so that, practically speaking, we cannot remain impartial or indifferent. In these cases, we will choose to believe X or not believe X, and our choice will be reflected in the actions that follow.

    Some people (including me) come to their beliefs by good reasons and evidence. In that case, they are not choosing what they want to be true, but rather they discover what they find to be true.

    Other people (like our friend PeterJ) just choose what they want to be true and start believing it.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  111. RDF, I draw your attention to a specific challenge at 108 above; yes, the same that you have consistently pretended is not there, the better to drum out favourite talking points one more time:

    ____________

    >> I again challenge RDF et al to actually examine Royce’s proposition, Error exists, on the merits.

    Let’s pose some questions that it would be interesting to see responses to:

    1: Is this or is it not a case of a proposition that addresses “big questions” Y/N: ________ . Why or why not: ________________

    2: Is it generally acknowledged as a matter of experience and fact that error exists? (Say, starting from doing sums in school.) Y/N: ________. Why or why not: ______________

    3: Can it be shown (cf. the above or the like) that Error exists is UNDENIABLY true? Y/N: _______ . Why or why not: ______________

    4: Is Error exists, then, a case of certain, certainly known truth? Y/N: _______ . Why or why not: _______________

    5: What are the epistemological, logical and worldview consequences of your conclusions at 1, 2, 3, 4; why: __________________________ >>
    _____________

    When you show a cogent cluster of responses to the above, then we can take further remarks from you seriously.

    KF

  112. F/N: RDF, are you aware that PJ is a case of someone whose life was rescued and transformed by encounter with God? That I am someone who would have been dead decades ago apart from a miracle of guidance in answer to a prayer of desperate surrender by my Mom? That there are many, many, many more like us out there? Have you (given your evident rhetorical habit of studiously ignoring the other side) even bothered to seriously glance at relevant evidence — e.g. cf. 101 level summaries here on and here on (and there is much more at more sophisticated levels) — or are you just putting on skeptical and intellectual airs? Especially, given your evident views on logic and fundamental self-evident truth? I suggest, you need to think again, and treat people with a mite more of respect. KF

  113. KF,

    I suggest, you need to think again, and treat people with a mite more of respect.

    I’ve never disrespected Phinehas, nor have I ever disrespected anyone’s religious views. On the contrary, as has been pointed out by others here, I’ve said there is nothing irrational about holding religious beliefs, and there is likely personal benefits for many of those who do.

    You, on the other hand, have never been anything but disrespectful to me and my views. The last time I attempted to discuss anything with you I asked you to adhere to a few simple principles of common courtesy and refrain from personal attacks… and you immediately wrote a long screed attacking me personally. You are not capable of civil discourse, which is why I refuse to debate anything with you.

    In any event, there have been no counter-arguments to my simple point that in contrast to a vast amount of well-justified knowledge that we all share regarding the world, answers to the questions discussed in this forum (including questions regarding origins, mind/body ontology, and free will) have no certain answers at all.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  114. RDF: With all due respect your behaviour across more than one thread — do you recall it? — has led me (and others) to draw the conclusion, for cause, that you are pursuing an ideological talking point agenda (though it seems you have been blind to just how you have projected yourself attitudinally . . . ).

    Maybe I need to ask you to look at this with fresh eyes to see how it is going to look to others who have come to a different view, often after serious intellectual effort:

    Some people (including me) come to their beliefs by good reasons and evidence. In that case, they are not choosing what they want to be true, but rather they discover what they find to be true.

    Other people (like our friend PeterJ) just choose what they want to be true and start believing it.

    Do you begin to grasp how that comes across? ( I do not want to have to put it in words, but it is not favourably.)

    In addition, just above your discussion of PJ when he was not around to speak for himself was simply out of order. Which is what I have spoken to as part of my responsibilities in this thread.

    You know what you can do to revise that opinion.

    As for the matters on merits, I would suggest that the above list of questions would be a good start point. Also, that hose points would contain an answer to your often repeated assertion [which is one of your on the other hand distractive points, but has some substance on its own], and the assertion in the OP that you still need to address. However, you have been consistently evasive and clever in a way that does not commend itself. Good day. KF

  115. 115
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: RDFish @ 113:

    In any event, there have been no counter-arguments to my simple point that in contrast to a vast amount of well-justified knowledge that we all share regarding the world, answers to the questions discussed in this forum (including questions regarding origins, mind/body ontology, and free will) have no certain answers at all.

    I share RDFish’s shrug-of-the-shoulders attitude towards “traditional metaphysics” (what post-Kantian philosophers dismiss as “pre-critical metaphysics), including such areas as appearance/reality, accident/essence, mind/body, free will/determinism, and inner mind/outer world. That is not to say that metaphysics as such is bunk — far from it! — but rather that traditional metaphysics is, well, bunk.

    One way of getting a bit clearer on this point is to think about the criteria we employ for resolving disagreements. When it comes to disagreements about scientific theories, we have a rough-and-ready set of criteria to which we can appeal: simplicity; fecundity; how many ad hoc hypotheses are necessary to reconcile the central claims of the theory with anomalous evidence, and so on. And when it comes to logical and mathematical systems, we also have a fairly precise set of criteria to which we can appeal — though of course deductive proofs are quite different from empirical explanations.

    But, when it comes to metaphysics (those pesky “synthetic a priori” claims), we have neither: being ‘synthetic’ rather than ‘analytic’, formal or deductive logic is of little assistance, and being a priori rather than a posteriori, empirical evidence is also of little assistance. So the very criteria which make possible resolution of disagreement about logico-mathematical or empirical issues are missing when it comes to metaphysics (as traditionally construed).

    As I see it, the real issues are whether this means that all metaphysics is bunk (as the logical positivists thought) or whether there are good prospects for a critical and scientific metaphysics (as the pragmatists thought).

  116. RDF says:

    RDF: Phinehas had no other counter-argument, but rather repeated his insistence that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge, and all other groups of people who disagree with them are wrong. [emphasis mine]

    In my response, I quote him nearly word for word.

    PHIN: I’ve never insisted that some select group of people have well-justified knowledge. I’ve merely pointed out that you have no warrant for continued insistence that nobody does. [emphasis mine]

    RDF: See? I never said that you insisted that some select group of people have these justifications.

    Not only had RDF said exactly what I claimed he said, but he’d said that my insistence was repeated.

    RDF: I said that you claimed there might be these people, just as you yourself were claiming!

    While it is true that RDF added this qualifier elsewhere, I was obviously not correcting him about that statement, but about the one where he’d blatantly misrepresented my position. RDF has continued to act as though he never made the statement that I all but quoted word for word.

    RDF: It’s all right here in black and white, Phinehas – everybody can read these things – I represented your views just as you said them.

    Indeed it is. RDF said nearly word for word what I claimed was a gross misrepresentation, and instead of admitting this, has continued to act as though he never said it. But it is still there in black and white.

    And then, when I pointed this out to you, did you acknowledge your false accusation and apologize to me? No, you didn’t – you ignored what I said, and then you double down and do the very same thing again. And you are completely wrong one again: I have not misrepresented anyone’s views, either deliberately or by mistake.

    My accusation was not false. I did not continue to argue my point because I was going to just drop it. But when RDF then stepped right back into throwing up straw man arguments, I thought the continuing pattern deserved being exposed.

    This really is pathetic, my friend: If you want to debate, then by all means let’s continue. If you want to whine and cry and pretend that I’m misrepresenting you then we’re not going to get anywhere and you’re going to look really stupid.

    And again RDF is mischaracterizing. I am not whining and crying, but rather pointing out an ongoing pattern of behavior that is unbecoming for one who is searching for truth through fair debate. In the context of accusing me of whining and crying, RDF’s use of “my friend” appears a bit disingenuous.

    KF: I suggest, you need to think again, and treat people with a mite more of respect.

    RDF: I’ve never disrespected Phinehas…

    Thanks KF. We can let the impartial reader decide who is showing disrespect and who is not.

  117. RDF:

    PETERJ: Now I didn’t have any evidence that there was a God, or particularly believed everything that my parents told me (for good reason too), but for some reason chose to believe.

    I distinctly remember being asked that question and for some reason i changed my mind and decided that I no longer believed.

    No matter how rubbish my football team begin the season I choose to believe that they will win the league.

    Belief can be a matter of choice…

    RDF: So you are wrong again. I said that I encountered people on this forum who chose their beliefs without good reason and believed whatever they wanted to, and this is who I was thinking of.

    You know what, even though I still think you are misunderstanding Peter’s position on this, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not deliberately mischaracterizing in this particular instance. I retract my accusation that you were and apologize for making a false accusation.

    Having said that, I still believe that the following is a much better characterization of what is actually a pretty traditional belief, and of what we have been arguing (including Peter, though I don’t want to speak for him or anyone else, and would be happy to be corrected if they believe otherwise).

    Many of us have pointed out that there are often competing reasons both to believe X or to not believe X. In addition, we are often presented with life decisions that are contingent upon what we believe about X so that, practically speaking, we cannot remain impartial or indifferent. In these cases, we will choose to believe X or not believe X, and our choice will be reflected in the actions that follow.

    If you are sincere in wanting to avoid mischaracterizations and straw man arguments, feel free to reference the above as a traditional and reasonable belief that happens to be contrary to your own.

  118. 118
    Kantian Naturalist

    What the heck, I’ll play. I’m not getting any writing done today anyway.

    I again challenge RDF et al to actually examine Royce’s proposition, Error exists, on the merits.

    Let’s pose some questions that it would be interesting to see responses to:

    1: Is this or is it not a case of a proposition that addresses “big questions” Y/N: ________ . Why or why not: ________________

    2: Is it generally acknowledged as a matter of experience and fact that error exists? (Say, starting from doing sums in school.) Y/N: ________. Why or why not: ______________

    3: Can it be shown (cf. the above or the like) that Error exists is UNDENIABLY true? Y/N: _______ . Why or why not: ______________

    4: Is Error exists, then, a case of certain, certainly known truth? Y/N: _______ . Why or why not: _______________

    5: What are the epistemological, logical and worldview consequences of your conclusions at 1, 2, 3, 4; why: __________________________ >>

    (1) The fact of human finitude (“error exists”) belongs to a different class of claims than ‘the Big Questions’ (e.g. free will/determinism, appearance/reality, accident/essence, mind/body, theism/atheism), hereafter ‘traditional metaphysics’. Traditional metaphysics is concerned with claims that (a) have semantic content that is not strictly logical (in the ‘formal’ sense of logic) nor strictly empirical; (b) refer to states of affairs that would obtain even if there were no human beings to take notice of them. In other words, traditional metaphysics attempts to describe the basic categories of reality, independent of everything that human beings bring to the table. But the fact of finitude is not a deep truth about the nature of reality; it is a deep truth about the nature of us. So it belongs to a different class of propositions than do ‘the Big Questions.’

    (2) Yes, though the fact of finitude is not something we know through experience — it is a fundamental presupposition for our being able to have the kinds of experiences that do have, as human beings. (I’ll take this as also answering (3).)

    (4) I would follow Peirce, Wittgenstein, and C. I. Lewis in distinguishing between ‘certainty’ and ‘knowledge.’ Wittgenstein puts this as a ‘grammatical’ (logical-semantic) point: that it only makes sense to talk about knowledge in cases where doubt is also intelligible. ‘Certainty’ is a pragmatic-transcendental; it’s a different category. The existence of error is certain, but just for that reason, it is not known. So the fallibile-but-corrigible picture of knowledge as a self-correcting enterprise in which any claim can be contested is one thing, and what is ‘certain’ — the facts of human embodiment and finitude — is another.

    (5) I’m not at all averse to Royce’s argument that begins with ‘error exists’ and then seeks the necessary conditions of possibility for error. But whereas Royce argues that only the existence of a higher, all-inclusive Mind can fully account for the existence of error, I think that error can be explained in terms of the continual process of adjustment between (i) ourselves and other people and (ii) ourselves and the world. (It cannot be explained in terms of (i) or (ii) alone.) In short, I think that Royce’s starting-point is no problem for the version of pragmatism that I accept.

  119. KN:

    Pardon, you have stepped in after a month of exchanges, and you need to realise the pattern of on one hand then a tangential subject-switching on the other that shields.

    This is the pivotal issue and concern highlighted in the OP and which is self-referentially incoherent:

    RDF: We cannot be absolutely certain of anything, and you will see that I have never said that we could be absolutely certain of anything . . .

    This is blatantly self referentially incoherent, but the distractions have obfuscated the fact that RDF has never admitted such and that something is deeply wrong here.

    Going further, I have pointed out the significance of the direct example, Royce’s: error exists; which RDF refuses to touch. There’s more, but just so you know where you have stepped in.

    KF

  120. PS: The significance of Error exists as knowable truth has wide consequences for worldviews — admittedly, pro grade philosophers are too sophisticated to make what Dr W used to call “one step too far” but such views are commonplace in a po mo world — that imply the opposite.

  121. PPS: Wittgenstein et al are using unusual terminology that is not helpful to our case. It is common to speak of knowledge that is not provisional, and when we, say, say we know ourselves to be aware or conscious, we are certain. Being appeared to redly is similar.

  122. F/N: For writers block, try first a good nature walk then come back and do a concept map type connected note. Then have a chat with a colleague or better yet an intelligent person from another discipline. If all else fails write bullet points and then edit into sentences, take an overnight and re-read then fix up.

  123. 123
    Kantian Naturalist

    I’ve been following the exchange, off and on. As I read RDFish’s view, he exaggerated his own view when he said “we can’t be certain of anything,” and that he has plenty of other statements in which he’s far more cautious. So I don’t consider “we can’t be certain of anything” to be his considered view.

    Thanks for the advice about writer’s block. If it works, I’ll refrain from frequent commenting, but I somehow suspect that you’ll all manage without me.

  124. Hi Kantian Naturalist,

    But, when it comes to metaphysics (those pesky “synthetic a priori” claims), we have neither: being ‘synthetic’ rather than ‘analytic’, formal or deductive logic is of little assistance, and being a priori rather than a posteriori, empirical evidence is also of little assistance. So the very criteria which make possible resolution of disagreement about logico-mathematical or empirical issues are missing when it comes to metaphysics (as traditionally construed).

    Well stated indeed!

    As I see it, the real issues are whether this means that all metaphysics is bunk (as the logical positivists thought) or whether there are good prospects for a critical and scientific metaphysics (as the pragmatists thought).

    I think there is always the chance that we push back the boundaries of metaphysics here and there with science, as we have in the past. That is why I often add the qualifier presently or currently when I lament the state of our metaphysical knowledge. Experiments like Libet’s or Wegner’s eventually could shed light on issues surrounding volition, for example. If there was ever any convincing evidence of psychic or paranormal phenomena, they might help rule out various metaphysical positions. And advances in machine intelligence could shed empirical light on what is currently philosophy of mind.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  125. Hi Phinehas,

    While it is true that RDF added this qualifier elsewhere, I was obviously not correcting him about that statement, but about the one where he’d blatantly misrepresented my position. RDF has continued to act as though he never made the statement that I all but quoted word for word.

    You are entirely correct here. I hadn’t found the other statement where I had omitted the qualifier – I had meant to say that you were insisting that there were possibly such people, not that there were necessarily such people. I hadn’t considered this to be a vitally important distinction so I wasn’t particularly careful in adding that qualifier. I still do not consider the omission of this qualifier as a gross mischaracterization of your position by any means. Still, my sincere apologies for missing the relevant quote from myself.

    You know what, even though I still think you are misunderstanding Peter’s position on this, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not deliberately mischaracterizing in this particular instance. I retract my accusation that you were and apologize for making a false accusation.

    No problem.

    If you are sincere in wanting to avoid mischaracterizations and straw man arguments,…

    I have no interest in building strawmen, and so I never do. If I get somebody’s position wrong, which I may do frequently, it is because we do not always use language concisely, and because we write these posts quickly and without editing (at least I do). When somebody gets my position wrong (which happens frequently), I do not jump to the conclusion that they are intentionally building strawmen.

    …feel free to reference the above as a traditional and reasonable belief that happens to be contrary to your own.

    Many of us have pointed out that there are often competing reasons both to believe X or to not believe X. In addition, we are often presented with life decisions that are contingent upon what we believe about X so that, practically speaking, we cannot remain impartial or indifferent. In these cases, we will choose to believe X or not believe X, and our choice will be reflected in the actions that follow.

    Everything you say here is obviously true except your choice of the word “choose” is, in my view, problematic. If instead you wrote “In these cases, we will come to believe X or not believe X, and our belief will be reflected in the actions that follow” then I would agree with everything you said. And even this is true: If we defined a “choice” as a “selection among alternatives” rather than an “uncaused selection among alternatives”, then I would agree with every word just as you wrote it.

    Cheers,
    RDFish

  126. 126
    Kantian Naturalist

    I think there is always the chance that we push back the boundaries of metaphysics here and there with science, as we have in the past. That is why I often add the qualifier presently or currently when I lament the state of our metaphysical knowledge. Experiments like Libet’s or Wegner’s eventually could shed light on issues surrounding volition, for example. If there was ever any convincing evidence of psychic or paranormal phenomena, they might help rule out various metaphysical positions. And advances in machine intelligence could shed empirical light on what is currently philosophy of mind.

    Further refinement in machine intelligence or in the neural correlates of voluntary action would be fascinating, but I’m not sure what they’d tell us about any traditional metaphysical issues. Then again, I’m not sure what else metaphysics is besides empirical inquiry + conceptual refinement.

  127. KN: The prob there is that per a pattern played out over a month, the “exaggerated” views are part of a one-two punch combination. They have to be pinned down and dealt with. Bobbing, weaving and rope a dope etc, only highlight that we are dealing with a co-ordinated strategy not someone going off the rails then acknowledging [that is consistently not happening . . . a key sign] and walking back to more reasonable territory. KF

    PS: The writers block advice is based on experience. Forcing yourself to do a concept map — a sales name is “mind map” — of the territory really works wonders, though it can at first be painful.

    PPS: While the broader metaphysics points are nice, the focal issue is that it is not just human finitude and fallibility as fact that are on the table. The pivotal point is that error objectively exists, yes as acknowledged fact but also as undeniable truth. Symbolising as E, we generate ~E and conjunct: E AND ~E, which being an AND of the mutually opposed and exhaustive, must be false. So, we have an undeniable case of error, and E is so, ~ E therefore is false. This then shows a case of undeniably certain knowledge, a case where the perception does correspond across the ugly gulch to empirical reality, and where we have knowable truth to patently undeniable certainty, i.e self evident truth. Systems of thought — their name is Legion — that are incompatible with such then fall victim to the reverse of implication: p => q entails that q is necessary for p to be true. So, we go ~q => ~p. That cuts a big swath across metaphysical territory. And indeed that was why Royce started from that point of consensus E in the first place. Solid knowledge that grounds a lot.

  128. F/N: Mortimer Adler has somewhat to say on synthetic a priori truth claims vs self-evidence that needs to be heard, per little errors in the beginning that then lead us on far and wide at the end:

    ___________

    >> The little error in the beginning, made by Locke and Leibniz, perpetuated by Kant, and leading to the repudiation of any non-verbal or non-tautological truth having incorrigible certitude, consists in starting with a dichotomy instead of a trichotomy — a twofold instead of a threefold distinction of types of truth. In addition to merely verbal statements which, as tautologies, are uninstructive and need no support beyond the rules of language, and in addition to instructive statements which need support and certification, either from experience or by reasoning, there is a third class of statements which are non-tautological or instructive, on the one hand, and are also indemonstrable or self-evidently true, on the other. These are the statements that Euclid called “common notions,” that Aristotle called “axioms” or “first principles,” and that mediaeval thinkers called “propositions per se nota.”

    One example will suffice to make this clear — the axiom or selfevident truth that a finite whole is greater than any of its parts. This proposition states our understanding of the relation between a finite whole and its parts. It is not a statement about the word “whole” or the word “part” but rather about our understanding of wholes and parts and their relation. All of the operative terms in the proposition are indefinable. We cannot express our understanding of a whole without reference to our understanding of its parts and our understanding that it is greater than any of its parts. We cannot express our understanding of parts without reference to our understanding of wholes and our understanding that a part is less than the whole of which it is a part.

    When our understanding of an object that is indefinable (e.g., a whole) involves our understanding of another object that is indefinable (e.g., a part), and of the relation between them, that understanding is expressed in a self-evident proposition which is not trifling, uninstructive, or analytic, in Locke’s sense or Kant’s, for no definitions are involved. Nor is it a synthetic a priori judgment in Kant’s sense, even though it has incorrigible certitude; and it is certainly not synthetic a posteriori since, being intrinsically indemonstrable, it cannot be supported by statements offering empirical evidence or reasons.

    The contemporary denial that there are any indisputable statements which are not merely verbal or tautological, together with the contemporary assertion that all non-tautological statements require extrinsic support or certification and that none has incorrigible certitude, is therefore falsified by the existence of a third type of statement, exemplified by the axiom or self-evident truth that a finite whole is greater than any of its parts, or that a part is less than the finite whole to which it belongs. It could as readily be exemplified by the self-evident truth that the good is the desirable, or that the desirable is the good — a statement that is known to be true entirely from an understanding of its terms, both of which are indefinables. One cannot say what the good is except by reference to desire, or what desire is except by reference to the good. The understanding of either involves the understanding of the other, and the understanding of both, each in relation to the other, is expressed in a proposition per se nota, i.e., self-evident or known to be true as soon as its terms are understood.

    Such propositions are neither analytic nor synthetic in the modern sense of that dichotomy; for the predicate is neither contained in the definition of the subject, nor does it lie entirely outside the meaning of the subject. Axioms or self-evident truths are, furthermore, truths about objects understood, objects that can have instantiation in reality, and so they are not merely verbal. They are not a priori because they are based on experience, as all our knowledge and understanding is; yet they are not empirical or a posteriori in the sense that they can be falsified by experience or require empirical investigation for their confirmation. The little error in the beginning, which consists in a non-exhaustive dichotomy mistakenly regarded as exhaustive, is corrected when we substitute for it a trichotomy that distinguishes (i) merely verbal tautologies, (ii) statements of fact that require empirical support and can be empirically falsified, (iii) axiomatic statements, expressing indemonstrable truths of understanding which, while based upon experience, do not require empirical support and cannot be empirically falsified.[6]>>
    ___________

    My own take on self evident truths, is that they will have two key characteristics: (i) once one properly understands on the common sense derived from being an experienced human being, one will see it to be true and to be necessarily true, and (ii) one will find that on rejecting it, one will end in PATENT — not subtle, hard to work out — self referential incoherence or contradictions to other patent facts of one sort or another.

    The case, that error exists as an objective matter, is an example, one that is more accessible and shows how undeniable it is. It is also freighted with major direct implications that overturn many popular po mo worldview notions in our day. That is, it answers to some pretty big questions.

    While I am at it, we should note that the man who would imagine that per our constitution we cannot know (or even know for sure) anything about the external world of things in themselves, is claiming such a case of knowledge, and self refutes. This F H Bradley pointed out long ago, in case someone wants to go down that particular tack again.

    KF

  129. PS: Some truths I hold to be evident and start-points for reasoning about the world and its meaning.

    WCT 1: Error exists, so we should recognise that truth exists as what is there that we may be in error about; truth saying of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.

    –> From this, we may immediately see that we can know that truth exists, so knowledge — warranted, credible truth — exists.

    –> Thus also, we may make mistakes about it so we need and OUGHT to be open to well-warranted correction.

    WCT 2: The first, intuitive principles of real-world logic:

    [a] A thing is what it is (the law of identity);

    [b] A thing cannot at once be and not-be (the law of non-contradiction);

    [c] A thing cannot neither be nor not-be (the law of the excluded middle). [Cf clarifications and rebuttals to challenges here. And, kindly note, we are specifically speaking with reference to the experienced real world of real things, so extensions to empty-set contexts in which issues over contrasted empty sets -- that is, quite literally: no-thing -- arise, are irrelevant.]

    –> In that context — and Aristotle was discussing the nature of truth in Metaphysics 1011b, when he said what follows — [d] the truth is that which says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not.

    –> It is worth the while to pause and read Aristotle’s own words; though this again is significantly technical. Highlighting will help:
    That the most certain of all beliefs is that opposite statements are not both true at the same time, and what follows for those who maintain that they are true, and why these thinkers maintain this, may be regarded as adequately stated. And since the contradiction of a statement cannot be true at the same time of the same thing, it is obvious that contraries cannot apply at the same time to the same thing . . . .

    Nor indeed can there be any intermediate between contrary statements, but of one thing we must either assert or deny one thing, whatever it may be. This will be plain if we first define truth and falsehood. To say that what is is not, or that what is not is, is false; but to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true; and therefore also he who says that a thing is or is not will say either what is true or what is false. But neither what is nor what is not is said not to be or to be. Further, an intermediate between contraries will be intermediate either as grey is between black and white, or as “neither man nor horse” is between man and horse. [Metaphysics, 1011b]

    WCT 3: We live in a real world that exists, and contains individual things that also have real existence. (Just try to deny that and see where it lands you!)

    WCT 4: That which exists has a good and logically sufficient reason/ explanation — notice the worldviews level application of abduction! — as to why: i.e.

    (i) if it begins to exist and/or may go out of existence, it has a cause; and

    (ii) it is logically possible for one or more necessary beings to exist which are the ultimate causal grounds for such contingent beings [as in (i)].
    (Also, since it is credible that we live in a contingent observed world and that we are contingent ourselves, both it and us require an adequate causal explanation in a non-contingent, self-existent order of existence. On this, the former Steady State Universe model proposed that a material cosmos was that necessary being, but the want of evidence has led to the collapse of this view. The evidence pointing to the beginning of the cosmos in which we live therefore points also beyond the observed cosmos; to an order of existence that grounds it. And to posit that it comes from nothing — not space, time or matter or energy — by nothing and for nothing, is therefore absurd on its face. [Indeed, that is why multiverse models are now a popular notion.])

    WCT 5: As reflecting on the familiar example of a fire will illuminate, causal — as opposed to merely logical — factors may be:

    (i) necessary [without which the result is blocked -- no fuel, no fire; if something has a beginning, it has at least one necessary causal factor, that was not "on" until it began, i.e. anything that has a beginning is caused and is contingent on external factors],

    (ii) sufficient [once present the result will always happen or exist, as the classic fire triangle illustrates: air + heat + fuel --> fire], or even
    (iii) necessary and sufficient [e.g. air, fuel and heat are each necessary for and are jointly sufficient to initiate and/or sustain a fire].

    (iv) contributory, though not necessary.

    WCT 6: Evil exists (NB: this is best understood as the objectionable, harmful and destructive privation and/or perversion of the good), so that governing moral truth, principle and obligation also objectively exist.

    –> Thus also, only a worldview that has a grounding IS that is a proper foundation for OUGHT is a reasonable faith. [This insight is actually one of decisive ones that Paul was alluding to.]

    WCT 7: We, our circumstances, challenges and our common world are at least in significant part intelligible (and so discuss-able) in light of reason, experience and credible first principles used with good inferential logic. (Try to deny it and see where this gets you!)

    KF

  130. 130
    Kantian Naturalist

    I’m much less comfortable than KF is in talking about “self-evident truths” or “first principles,” though I don’t believe I’ve done a good job of explaining why such talk leaves me uneasy.

    Firstly, I do think — and this is a rather important point, I believe — that each of the different dimensions of human discourse and thought has its own distinct constitutive principles. What those principles are, however, is just a metalinguistic expression of the underlying rules of that dimension. The principles are authoritative for that discourse. Thus, once we’ve committed ourselves to talking about objects, the Aristotelian laws are clearly the right principles. If we’d embraced a ‘metaphysics’ of Heraclitean flux or Buddhist co-dependent origination, instead of a ‘metaphysics’ of objects and properties, I don’t think we’d regard the Aristotelian laws as being so ‘self-evident’ as we do. The ‘self-evidence’ of the Aristotelian laws is an illusion produced by the fact that we in the West have been tacit, implicit Aristotelians for thousands of years.

    Secondly, while there are different constitutive principles for different dimensions of discourse, I hesitate to say that there are constitutive principles for all discourse. For one thing, we do not know what new ways of speaking, thinking, and feeling will be invented by subsequent generations. So who are we to prescribe for all times and places what will count as ‘rational discourse’? Does the intelligibility of rational discourse as such really depend on having one set of laws to rule them all?

    Thirdly, an ambiguity in the ‘firstness’ of ‘first principles’ must be noted — as first noticed by Aristotle, developed nicely by Hegel, and then by Sellars — priority in the order of understanding is not priority in the order of being. (That is Sellars’ formulation — Aristotle’s, if memory is accurate, goes something like “what is first in relation to us is not what is first in itself”.) That is, the most basic and fundamental categories of reality — or, as I would prefer, of discursively structured experience — since I do not think that reality has categorical structure — are disclosed to us through reflection and analysis, and are not apparent at the beginning of reflection.

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