• Andrew M
    1.5k
    so shouldn’t it be taken for granted he means an answer to “what is truth?”, which must be a definition of it, to be just that? To repeat what he doesn’t mean would be disastrous.Mww

    Yes, agreed.

    On the other hand, perhaps one could reject that “truth is.....”, is technically sufficient as a definition, but is rather merely an exposition of the conditions which make all truths possible. But the rejoinder to that would be that’s precisely what a definition does, serves as the criterion for the validity of any conception.

    Personal choice, then?
    Mww

    Yes, or an open question (which we can investigate the truth of). ;-)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    But as I said, the findings of science are that the position of an electron isn't like the number of coins in the jar. The former is in a superposition, the latter is not. If you want to use science to support your position then you cannot pick and choose which bits you like.Michael

    You seem to be missing the point. In each case, there is no measure until the measurement is made. There is no number assigned to the supposed quantity within the jar, until the coins are counted, and there is no location of the electron until the measurement is made. "Superposition" is irrelevant, and something you just brought up as a distraction from the real issue, as if it had some relevance. It's really just a fancy word meaning that the position is undetermined, just like the number of coins is undetermined.

    I'm not even sure what you're asking. If you're asking if somebody has determined the number of coins before somebody has determined the number of coins, then of course not. If you're asking if there is some number of coins before somebody has determined the number of coins, then yes.Michael

    I think you are using dishonest language Michael, to avoid the question. "Some number" is a general reference, and it does not mean a particular number. When the coins are counted there is a particular number, a specific number, which is assigned to the quantity of coins in the jar, as "the number" of coins in the jar. That is what I have been arguing is a matter of judgement, the decision as to which specific number gets assigned to that quantity. If you really think that there is a particular number assigned to the quantity before it is counted, I'd like to hear your explanation as to how this occurs.

    We are not discussing whether there is a quantity of coins in the jar, in that most general sense, we can see that there is a quantity without counting them. We are discussing whether there is a particular number assigned to that quantity, prior to being counted, whether or not the coins in the jar have a specific number. Do the coins in the jar have a number? So the question is, do you honestly believe that there is a particular number which has already been assigned to the quantity of coins in the jar, prior to them being counted?

    Your argument seems to commit a fallacy of equivocation.Michael

    No, I think it is you who is equivocating, now saying that "the number" of coins in the jar is "some number". See, you have moved from your assertion that the coins in the jar have "a number" to the claim of "some number", where "some number" now means any one of an infinite number of possibilities. Do you see the difference in predication? The quantity has a number, or, the quantity has many possible numbers. The latter is the reality, because the number is determinable, not determined.

    If the procedure terminates, then the number we have reached is the number of coins that were in the jar before we started counting.Srap Tasmaner

    Yes, that is a logical conclusion, which validates the act of counting. Counting the coins in the jar justifies the claim that the number of coins in the jar is determinable. Retroactively, after counting, we can now employ a premise about temporal continuity, to conclude that this was the number before counting. But notice, that this number is not produced until after counting, and is applied retroactively. So we still cannot truthfully say that we could have said, that before counting, the coins had that number. The number is produced from the counting and applied retroactively.

    This would be the same sort of faulty temporal argument that some determinists try to employ against free will. After a person acts in a specific way, it is claimed that the person acted this way, so it is impossible that the person could have acted otherwise. But it's really just a faulty application of retroactive logic. Yes, after the fact, it is impossible that the fact can be otherwise, but prior to the fact there is a multitude of possibilities. The same sort of thing is the case with the coins. After counting, it is impossible that the count could be otherwise. But prior to counting, we have to admit numerous possibilities. The retroactive application of logic, after the act of counting, to say that there was X number of coins before the counting, does not negate the fact that prior to the counting there was no such thing as the number of coins, only a multitude of possibilities.

    But if we do agree what to count as a coin and which coins to count, we know there is a procedure available, and that we will be able to determine the number of coins currently in the jar, even if we have not yet made that determination.Srap Tasmaner

    I agree, that prior to counting, we can truthfully say that we might count the coins, apply logic, and say how many coins are in the jar now. But that does not mean that the coins in the jar have a number now. The coins in the jar now, prior to being counted have no number, and even though we might apply logic at a later time to say how many coins were in the jar at this earlier time, that still doesn't change the fact that the coins in the jar at this earlier time have no number, because the count, and the logic haven't been applied yet.

    It's a very simple principle. After the fact, we can make all sorts of conclusions about what happened, and why it happened, causation etc.. But this does not imply that we could have made the same conclusion before the occurrence of the event. So, after counting, we can make conclusions concerning the quantity of coins in the jar, which we could not make before counting.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    The flat-earther is not claiming it is. He will point to what he regards as evidence for a flat earth. Is his claim thereby justified?Andrew M

    I cannot answer this. I cannot judge a justification without seeing the specifics of the justification.

    Let me put it differently: Cartesian certainty is not a condition of knowledge, as ordinarily defined and used.Andrew M

    Sorry, I'm not familiar with "Cartesian certainty". Maybe you could explain how it's relevant.

    The issue is not about what language one uses to refer to a kettle. It's that someone can conceivably, and honestly, mistake something for being a kettle that is not, or for not being a kettle when it is.Andrew M

    I don't see how such an honest mistake is an issue. The person is simply wrong, by the norms of word use. Therefore calling the thing a kettle will create disagreement requiring justification.

    That's exactly the point. Someone might be mistaken about whether the object before them is a kettle. Similarly someone might be mistaken about whether they have knowledge. People can make honest mistakes. They thought it was a kettle when it wasn't. They thought they knew something when they didn't.Andrew M

    I don't agree with this at all. First, knowledge is not the same type of thing that a kettle is. A person has knowledge prior to knowing that one has knowledge. And, a person may learn how to use the word "kettle" prior to knowing what a kettle is. That's simply the way we learn as children. We learn things before we learn how to describe what it is that we have learned. We learn how before we learn that. Therefore by the time that a person learns that oneself has knowledge, it is impossible that the person does not have knowledge.

    So such a mistake, as thinking oneself to have knowledge when one does not, is impossible. And so it is also impossible that the person thought they knew something when they didn't. It seems like it would be more of a case that the knowledge which one had was not quite what the person thought it was. They really did know something, it just wasn't exactly what they thought they knew.
  • Joshs
    3.9k
    One supposes that this counting as is the result of neural processes yet need not be located in any particular process. There need be nothing in common, perhaps, in the neural patterns that enable one to make a cup of tea and the neural process that enables one to order quality Russian Caravan from an online supplier. Yet both are to do with tea.Banno

    Priming experiments show that there is a great deal
    of overlap among neural patterns that are involved in semantically related items. If shown a word to ‘prime’ one’s memory for semantically related meanings, the reaction time to recognize the primed for meanings is much quicker than without the priming. If no such overlap exist between the pattens that are involved in the meanings associated with making a cup
    of tea and the ordering of Russian Caravan, then this suggests that we are dealing with only distantly related categories of meaning. If we are actively thinking of both examples as to do with tea, then there will
    likely be certain words that act as primings from the one situation to the other, and certain words that will not.
    In contrast, the latter thinks that Davidsonian "physical properties" and "the micro-structural level" are just theoretical suppositions that are meaningful only within a description or vocabulary.
    — Joshs
    would be to claim that neural science is imaginary...
    Banno

    not that neural science is imaginary, but that if it is claiming to offer an account that includes the organization of semantic meaning, then it will reveal in its patterning such effects as the ability to prime for overlapping senses of meaning. It doesn’t have to , of course. Older neural models couldn’t account for priming results because they were the wrong sorts of descriptions. Similarly , a molecular or sun-atomic description of neural nets would fail to make sense of priming , since they are the wrong vocabulary for the task. The most adequate sort of neural description of
    linguistic behavior should ENRICH the vocabulary of propositional structures, not make it disappear. This is precisely what the Husserlian bracketing of the naively experienced everyday world via the phenomenological reduction achieves.
  • Andrew M
    1.5k
    Sorry, I'm not familiar with "Cartesian certainty". Maybe you could explain how it's relevant.Metaphysician Undercover

    Let's return to the beginning of this exchange:

    If anything which may turn out to be false in the future cannot be correctly called knowledge, then there is no such thing as knowledge, because we cannot exclude the possibility of mistake.Metaphysician Undercover

    That we "exclude the possibility of mistake" is not a condition of knowledge, as ordinarily defined and used.

    For example, Alice claims it's raining outside as a result of looking out the window. We can conceive of ways that her claim can be false (say, Bob is hosing the window), and thus not knowledge. But if it is raining outside, then she has knowledge.

    The issue is not about what language one uses to refer to a kettle. It's that someone can conceivably, and honestly, mistake something for being a kettle that is not, or for not being a kettle when it is.
    — Andrew M

    I don't see how such an honest mistake is an issue. The person is simply wrong, by the norms of word use. Therefore calling the thing a kettle will create disagreement requiring justification.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    If they were wrong that the object was a kettle, then they didn't know that the object was a kettle, by the norms of word use.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k
    Retroactively, after counting, we can now employ a premise about temporal continuity, to conclude that this was the number before counting.Metaphysician Undercover

    The temporal continuity of what? I don't understand the point you're making here.

    prior to counting, we have to admit numerous possibilities.Metaphysician Undercover

    The procedure I described, if it terminates at all, yields a unique value. It cannot do otherwise unless the procedure is undermined by other premises. Did you have such a premise in mind?

    I agree, that prior to counting, we can truthfully say that we might count the coins, apply logic, and say how many coins are in the jar now. But that does not mean that the coins in the jar have a number now.Metaphysician Undercover

    Suppose a jar contains some coins, but for no natural number n is it the case that the jar contains n coins. Then for no natural number n is it the case that removing exactly n coins from the jar would leave the jar empty. If the number of coins in the jar could be determined by counting to be some natural number k, then removing exactly k coins from the jar would leave the jar empty; therefore the number of coins in the jar cannot be determined by counting to be any natural number k.
  • Michael
    11.8k
    There is no number assigned to the supposed quantity within the jar, until the coins are countedMetaphysician Undercover

    What do you mean by a number being assigned?

    If you're saying that nobody has said that there are 66 coins in the jar then my responses are that a) someone can say that there are 66 coins in the jar without counting, b) there cannot be both 66 and 67 coins in the jar, and so two different assignments cannot both be true, and c) there can be 66 coins in the jar even if nobody says so.

    The reasoning for (c) is that it is a parsimonious explanation for why we count the number of coins that we do. Your reasoning appears to be that there are 66 coins in the jar because we have counted 66 coins, whereas my reasoning is that we have counted 66 coins because there are 66 coins in the jar. The problem with your reasoning is that it doesn't explain why it is that we counted 66 coins (and not, say, 666), and also that it can lead to the contradiction which I reject in (b).
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    Let's return to the beginning of this exchange:Andrew M

    That's not the beginning. Prior to this, you were insisting that if something which is thought to be "known" turns out to be incorrect, then we must conclude that at the time when it was thought to be known, it really was not known.

    That we "exclude the possibility of mistake" is not a condition of knowledge, as ordinarily defined and used.Andrew M

    I know that excluding the possibility of mistake is not a condition of "knowledge", as commonly used. But according to your assertions, excluding the possibility of mistake is very clearly a condition of "knowledge". That's why I am saying you are wrong.

    You say that when something which is thought to be known, turns out to be mistaken, then it is not "knowledge". So anything mistaken cannot be called "knowledge". Therefore anything which we can truthfully call "knowledge" must exclude the possibility of mistake, according to what you are asserting.

    That we "exclude the possibility of mistake" is not a condition of knowledge, as ordinarily defined and used.

    For example, Alice claims it's raining outside as a result of looking out the window. We can conceive of ways that her claim can be false (say, Bob is hosing the window), and thus not knowledge. But if it is raining outside, then she has knowledge.
    Andrew M

    I don't see how this is an example of anything relevant.

    The temporal continuity of what? I don't understand the point you're making here.Srap Tasmaner

    We must premise a temporal continuity of the quantity in order to conclude that the quantity at the time prior to being counted was the same as the quantity at the later time of being counted

    The procedure I described, if it terminates at all, yields a unique value. It cannot do otherwise unless the procedure is undermined by other premises. Did you have such a premise in mind?Srap Tasmaner

    Yes, I agree that the procedure if carried out according to standards of what qualifies to be counted, as you described, will turn out a unique value. The point though is that the unique value does not exist prior to the procedure being carried out. The issue is not whether the coins can be counted, I have no problem with that. The issue is whether or not there is "a count", "a measure", 'a number", which corresponds with the quantity, prior to being counted.

    Suppose a jar contains some coins, but for no natural number n is it the case that the jar contains n coins. Then for no natural number n is it the case that removing exactly n coins from the jar would leave the jar empty. If the number of coins in the jar could be determined by counting to be some natural number k, then removing exactly k coins from the jar would leave the jar empty; therefore the number of coins in the jar cannot be determined by counting to be any natural number k.Srap Tasmaner

    I can't understand this example. I agree that when we say that there is a quantity of coins in the jar, we assume that they can be counted. And, this assumption implies that there is necessarily one of an infinite number of possible numbers which will be the unique value. But to say that there will be one number, after being counted, out of a present infinite number of possibilities, is not the same as saying that there is one number presently.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    One supposes that this counting as is the result of neural processes yet need not be located in any particular process. There need be nothing in common, perhaps, in the neural patterns that enable one to make a cup of tea and the neural process that enables one to order quality Russian Caravan from an online supplier. Yet both are to do with tea.Banno

    Yes, that's how I see it. The outcomes are 'put together' by an entirely different process ('social construction' in old money), so we'd have no reason at all to think they'd be the same neural networks associating all 'tea-related' things as would be the ones involved in carrying out tea-related interventions to their environment. The curation of 'tea-related' things after-the-facts, tends to be much more stable (even to the point of some researchers showing indications of specific neurons), whereas the the tea-related interventions are less discretely distributed. A classic example is snipping the dorsal and ventral perception streams. Subjects (baboons usually) will be able to manipulate objects functionally without problems, but may well have trouble in identification tasks. To use your example, they'd know how to make tea, but wouldn't be able to say such an activity might take place in tea-shop. The latter being something of a post hoc story, but stored quite discretely in specialised neural clusters, the former being more an 'anything that gets the job done' sort of system.
  • Mww
    3.4k
    an open question (which we can investigate the truth of).Andrew M

    Gotta love a 3500yo tradition, huh?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k
    We must premise a temporal continuity of the quantity in order to conclude that the quantity at the time prior to being counted was the same as the quantity at the later time of being countedMetaphysician Undercover

    I see. No, we needn't take that as a premise. We can argue for it.

    But to say that there will be one number, after being counted, out of a present infinite number of possibilities, is not the same as saying that there is one number presently.Metaphysician Undercover

    Suppose a jar containing some coins at a time t0. We agree that we can count the coins by removing them one at a time, and that doing so would result in a unique natural number m, at some time tm, after t0.

    If we remove a coin from the jar, then there is some time t1, after t0 and after we have removed one coin but before we have removed another. If the jar is empty at t1, then the initial state of the jar at t0 was that it contained 1 coin, and 1 is a natural number. If the jar is not empty at t1, we go again. If we remove another coin, then there is a time t2, after t1 and after we have removed another coin but before removing any others (if there are any). If the jar is empty at t2, then it contained 1 coin at t1, and 2 coins at t0, and 2 is a natural number. If the jar is not empty at t2, we go again.

    For any step of the counting process, there is a time tk, after we have removed k coins from the jar but before we have removed another (if we can), and at tk the jar is empty or the jar still has some coins in it. If the jar is empty, then the initial state of the jar at t0 was that it had k coins in it, k a natural number. (If the jar is empty at tk, then at t1, the jar had k - 1 coins in it; at t2, it had k - 2 coins in it; and so on, up to time tk.)

    If there is no natural number n such that the jar is empty at time tn, then the process never terminates and the coins in the jar cannot be counted (except by Zeus).
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k
    That we "exclude the possibility of mistake" is not a condition of knowledge, as ordinarily defined and used.Andrew M

    I think this is just too vague.

    If S knows that p, then S is incapable of knowing that ~p. But S is still capable of mistakenly believing that ~p in various ways: S may have forgotten for the moment that they know that p and have reason at the time to believe that ~p; there may be some subtlety they have failed to reason through, may believe some q that would support ~p without realizing that p excludes q, and so on. Our knowledge must be consistent, but our beliefs show no such discipline. I think.

    The trouble is not our knowledge, but our beliefs, and around here it's our beliefs that we know that p, which clearly can be mistaken even though our knowledge cannot.

    And I think there are at least two senses of "fallibility." One is when you hold only partial belief, so you can consistently say "I think he's in the office, but he could be elsewhere." The other is when you are willing to endorse your individual beliefs taken singly, in sensu diviso, but hold something like partial belief with regard to your total beliefs, taken altogether, in sensu composito, that is, when you hold that some subset of your beliefs may be mistaken -- which you are also willing to say of many individual beliefs -- or that some subset of your beliefs is mistaken.

    That latter is a little paradoxical, but defensible. (Your belief in sensu composito doesn't entail the corresponding set of beliefs in sensu diviso. You can fall to make an inference, be lacking some connective knowledge, etc.)

    It's also possible that generally people only believe that they're probably wrong about something, and that's as much "fallibility" as they're committed to.

    ++++

    One more note: I think people sometimes reason *from* what they take to be reasonable doubt that they're right about *everything*, *to* the conclusion that they should treat each of their beliefs with a certain amount of suspicion. The thinking is, if I'm probably wrong in at least one of my beliefs, some small part of that probability should attach to each and every one of my beliefs. Even though the original claim was that my beliefs are overwhelmingly right, I have the epistemic problem of not knowing which are the good ones and which the bad. (But attaching a modicum of doubt to all your beliefs is so ham-fisted, I don't think anyone actually does it or can do it.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    Your reasoning appears to be that there are 66 coins in the jar because we have counted 66 coins, whereas my reasoning is that we have counted 66 coins because there are 66 coins in the jar.Michael

    Yes! This, I believe is the situation. And I think that to coming up with this is a very good example of philosophizing on your part. The use of the term "because" signifies that you recognize that this is a matter of a difference in opinion concerning causation.

    What is the cause of this specific numeral, "66" being related to the coins in the jar. I say that it is an act of human will, the act of counting, which causes "66" to be related to the coins in the jar. You seem to be saying that the numeral "66" is already related to the coins, prior to being counted, and this causes the person to count "66". So, I say that the freely willed act of counting causes the person to say "66", and establish this relation between "66" and the quantity, while you say that the relation between "66" and the quantity is already established, and this established relation causes the person to say "66".

    Notice that I say the act is freely willed. This is because the difference between your perspective and mine, as a matter of causation, manifests in the difference between determinism and free will. The issue is that I believe we freely choose "66" to represent the quantity of coins in the jar, and we are not caused by the coins in the jar to represent them with "66", as you seem to believe.

    The problem with your reasoning is that it doesn't explain why it is that we counted 66 coins (and not, say, 666), and also that it can lead to the contradiction which I reject in (b).Michael

    You never asked me to explain this, but I will say that it is simply a matter of how we as human beings created the numbering system. That we count the coins as "66" is a feature of the system we have devised for measuring quantities.

    What do you mean by a number being assigned?Michael

    Assignment in this case is a matter of judgement, and it must be an honest or true judgement, or it's not a true assignment.

    If, as in the example of (a), a person randomly guesses "66", this would not produce a true statement, because "true" as I've defined it requires the person to state what one honestly believes, to the best of their ability. "There are 66 coins in the jar" would not be a statement of one's honest belief, if the person is just guessing, and therefore is not true under those circumstances.

    In the case of (b), it is very common to have contradiction in true statements, "true" meaning a statement of one's honest belief. If one counts "66" and another counts "67", then they both make true statements which conflict, and require justification. In this case, another counting is required. It is also possible that two different people could use two different systems. That's why knowledge requires both, truth and justification. Truth alone cannot resolve contradictions, because two people will both insist on knowing "the truth", even though they contradict each other.

    And (c) is simply wrong. For there to be "66 coins in the jar", it is necessary that "66" is the symbol which has been associated with the quantity of coins in the jar. You seem to think that the symbol "66" is somehow magically associated with the coins in the jar, without anyone making that association. How do you believe that this comes about, that the symbol "66" is related to the coins in the jar, without someone making that relation? Doesn't meaning require intent in your understanding of the use of symbols?

    Suppose we say that the meaning of "66" is already related to the coins in the jar, prior to them being counted. How could we interpret this? What is that meaning, and where is it if independent from human minds?

    No, we needn't take that as a premise. We can argue for it.Srap Tasmaner

    The point was that to make the logical conclusion that there was the same number of coins at an earlier time, as there is at the later time, when counted, we need some sort of premise of temporal continuity. You can argue for it, saying that the jar was watched for the entire time and no coins disappeared out of it, etc., but in the end all possibilities for change must be covered. If there is no temporal continuity of existence, then the quantity can change randomly from one moment to the next. If the quantity can change randomly, then we cannot say that it was necessarily the same at the earlier time as the later time. Therefore we need a premise of temporal continuity.

    If we remove a coin from the jar, then there is some time t1, after t0 and after we have removed one coin but before we have removed another. If the jar is empty at t1, then the initial state of the jar at t0 was that it contained 1 coin, and 1 is a natural number. If the jar is not empty at t1, we go again. If we remove another coin, then there is a time t2, after t1 and after we have removed another coin but before removing any others (if there are any). If the jar is empty at t2, then it contained 1 coin at t1, and 2 coins at t0, and 2 is a natural number. If the jar is not empty at t2, we go again.Srap Tasmaner

    As I said, I do not deny that we can make these logical conclusions, so long as we recognize the required premise of temporal continuity. And the problem with the premise of temporal continuity is that we really do not understand temporal continuity, it's just something we take for granted. Newton's first law of motion is an example of a law concerning a temporal continuity which we take for granted.
  • Andrew M
    1.5k
    Prior to this, you were insisting that if something which is thought to be "known" turns out to be incorrect, then we must conclude that at the time when it was thought to be known, it really was not known.Metaphysician Undercover

    That's correct.

    That we "exclude the possibility of mistake" is not a condition of knowledge, as ordinarily defined and used.

    For example, Alice claims it's raining outside as a result of looking out the window. We can conceive of ways that her claim can be false (say, Bob is hosing the window), and thus not knowledge. But if it is raining outside, then she has knowledge.
    — Andrew M

    I don't see how this is an example of anything relevant.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    As a result of looking out the window, Alice justifiably believes that it is raining outside. For Alice to know that it is raining outside, her justifiable belief also has to be true. Those are the conditions for knowledge. Let's look at two different scenarios:

    (1) If it is raining outside, then Alice knows that it is raining outside. She knows that even though she didn't exclude the possibility that it was not raining and that Bob was hosing the window. She knows it is raining because her belief is both justifiable and true. Alice has satisfied the conditions for knowledge.

    (2) If it is not raining outside (say, Bob was hosing the window which Alice mistakenly thought was rain), then Alice's belief is false. Thus she doesn't know that it is raining, she only thinks that it is. Alice has not satisfied the conditions for knowledge.
  • Andrew M
    1.5k
    an open question (which we can investigate the truth of).
    — Andrew M

    Gotta love a 3500yo tradition, huh?
    Mww

    :-)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    (1) If it is raining outside, then Alice knows that it is raining outside. She knows that even though she didn't exclude the possibility that it was not raining and that Bob was hosing the window. She knows it is raining because her belief is both justifiable and true. Alice has satisfied the conditions for knowledge.Andrew M

    OK, but someone has to judge "if it is raining outside", in order for us to call what Alice has "knowledge". We need to know the answer to this. And if we know the answer to this, then we have excluded the possibility of mistake. So we cannot say whether Alice has "knowledge", unless we determine that it is raining and there is no possibility that it is not raining, thereby excluding the possibility of mistake.
  • Andrew M
    1.5k
    I think this is just too vague.Srap Tasmaner

    Just trying to capture the essential idea here! Apparently not successfully...

    The trouble is not our knowledge, but our beliefs, and around here it's our beliefs that we know that p, which clearly can be mistaken even though our knowledge cannot.Srap Tasmaner

    Indeed.

    It's also possible that generally people only believe that they're probably wrong about something, and that's as much "fallibility" as they're committed to.Srap Tasmaner

    Yes, I think it's a bit abstract otherwise. I think the other issue is that standards can vary according to context. For example, Alice might know that it's raining outside, having looked. But when challenged with the possibility of Bob hosing the window, making that possibility salient, she might doubt it and go and look more carefully. Or when challenged by a philosophical skeptic, conclude that she doesn't know very much at all.

    Even though the original claim was that my beliefs are overwhelmingly right, I have the epistemic problem of not knowing which are the good ones and which the bad. (But attaching a modicum of doubt to all your beliefs is so ham-fisted, I don't think anyone actually does it or can do it.)Srap Tasmaner

    Yes, I think the reality is that we're pragmatic about it. If a problem arises, then we investigate further.
  • Andrew M
    1.5k
    (1) If it is raining outside, then Alice knows that it is raining outside. She knows that even though she didn't exclude the possibility that it was not raining and that Bob was hosing the window. She knows it is raining because her belief is both justifiable and true. Alice has satisfied the conditions for knowledge.
    — Andrew M

    OK, but someone has to judge "if it is raining outside", in order for us to call what Alice has "knowledge". We need to know the answer to this. And if we know the answer to this, then we have excluded the possibility of mistake. So we cannot say whether Alice has "knowledge", unless we determine that it is raining and there is no possibility that it is not raining, thereby excluding the possibility of mistake.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    In the first scenario it is raining, in the second scenario it is not. According to knowledge as justified, true belief, do you judge that Alice has knowledge in either or both of those scenarios?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k


    I addressed in my posts a single issue you raised: must the coins in a jar actually be counted, by you, me, God, or anyone, to know that there is a specific number of coins in such a jar?

    That question I answered as clearly as I could, and even provided informal proofs to support my position.

    If you have no rebuttal besides "maybe coins spontaneously appear and disappear," then we're done here.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k
    I think this is just too vague.
    — Srap Tasmaner

    Just trying to capture the essential idea here! Apparently not successfully...
    Andrew M

    Wasn't trying to lay that at your feet!

    I think the other issue is that standards can vary according to context. For example, Alice might know that it's raining outside, having looked. But when challenged with the possibility of Bob hosing the window, making that possibility salient, she might doubt it and go and look more carefully.Andrew M

    I'll have to read the rest of Lewis paper to see what he was getting up to. I think I get the intent of this example, but it feels like we're screwing around with justification and I don't know why anyone would think that road leads to knowledge. It leads to high-quality beliefs, that's it. Maybe Lewis has something up his sleeve...
  • Andrew M
    1.5k
    ↪Metaphysician Undercover

    I addressed in my posts a single issue you raised: must the coins in a jar actually be counted, by you, me, God, or anyone, to know that there is a specific number of coins in such a jar?
    Srap Tasmaner

    Physicist Asher Peres once said, "unperformed experiments have no results". Which is to say, he rejected counterfactual definiteness.

    In quantum mechanics, counterfactual definiteness (CFD) is the ability to speak "meaningfully" of the definiteness of the results of measurements that have not been performed (i.e., the ability to assume the existence of objects, and properties of objects, even when they have not been measured).Counterfactual definiteness - Wikipedia

    Consider also Aristotle's future sea battle scenario. Regarding whether there would or would not be a future sea battle, he says:

    One of the two propositions in such instances must be true and the other false, but we cannot say determinately that this or that is false, but must leave the alternative undecided. One may indeed be more likely to be true than the other, but it cannot be either actually true or actually false. It is therefore plain that it is not necessary that of an affirmation and a denial, one should be true and the other false. For in the case of that which exists potentially, but not actually, the rule which applies to that which exists actually does not hold good.On Interpretation, §9 - Aristotle (Problem of future contingents - Wikipedia)

    If these ideas applied to regular coin jars then prior to the coins being counted, their number would not merely be unknown, but also not able to be meaningfully talked about. So, for the agent, there would be a potential (but not actual) number of coins in the jar that is only actualized in the counting of the coins.
  • Michael
    11.8k
    You seem to be saying that the numeral "66" is already related to the coins, prior to being countedMetaphysician Undercover

    In the sense that the numeral refers to a number and that number is the number of coins prior to being counted.

    For there to be "66 coins in the jar", it is necessary that "66" is the symbol which has been associated with the quantity of coins in the jar. You seem to think that the symbol "66" is somehow magically associated with the coins in the jar, without anyone making that association. How do you believe that this comes about, that the symbol "66" is related to the coins in the jar, without someone making that relation?Metaphysician Undercover

    It's not magic. We agree to use the word "triangle" to refer to the shape of some object that we have seen. Now every object with that shape -- even objects we haven't seen -- are triangles, even though we haven't explicitly used the word "triangle" to refer to each of those objects individually. They are triangles by virtue of having the same shape as an object that we have referred to as having a shape named "triangle".

    The same is true for the numeral "66". We've already agreed that the numeral "66" refers to a specific number, and so any jar containing that number of coins, even jars of coins we've never counted, have 66 coins.

    You make the mistake of saying that because we need to explicitly assign a particular word or numeral to a particular kind that we need to explicitly assign that particular word or numeral to every individual of that kind. This is false. We need to do the former to establish meaning, but we don't need to do the latter.

    Truth alone cannot resolve contradictions, because two people will both insist on knowing "the truth", even though they contradict each other.Metaphysician Undercover

    They can insist anything they like. They'd just be wrong. At least one of them doesn't know the truth. It's really quite simple.

    The T-schema is useful here. There are 66 coins iff "there are 66 coins" is true, there are 67 coins iff "there are 67 coins" is true, there cannot be both 66 and 67 coins, therefore "there are 66 coins" and "there are 67 coins" cannot both be true.

    This is consistent with how we actually understand the meaning of the word "true". I don't know why you're trying to make it mean "honest belief". What evidence or reasoning is there for that?
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.9k
    for the agent, there would be a potential (but not actual) number of coins in the jar that is only actualized in the counting of the coins.Andrew M

    I think the mathematical vocabulary is clearer: if they can be counted, then the cardinality of the set of coins in the jar exists and is unique, though we do not know its value until we count.

    If that's what's meant by "potential but not actual," then cool. MU's position is that there is no number "associated with" the cardinality of the set of coins in the jar until they have been counted, because no one has made a judgment assigning a number to the set; my position is that if they can be counted, then there must be a specific number of them, though we do not know that number. If the counting procedure can be followed, but will not yield a result, that can only be because it will not terminate, and that can only be because there is an infinite number of coins in the jar, and then indeed there is no natural number equal to the cardinality of the set of coins in the jar. Whether we call aleph-null a number I did not address. Whether a jar can hold an infinite number of coins, I did not address.

    There's modal language all over this, and I'm fine with that. In part, that's simply because MU agreed that they can be counted, and if they were to be counted, then we would know how many coins are in the jar. I was simply working within a counterfactual framework already accepted. A possible world in which coins appear and disappear at random is not a world in which coins can be counted, so it is not, as we might say, salient for this case. A possible world in which coins sometimes disappear after I've touched them is a world in which I can count coins, but my count cannot be verified, and in such a world my count applies only to the past, to the coins that were in the jar in its initial state.

    To use a macroscopic analogy, an interpretation which rejects counterfactual definiteness views measuring the position as akin to asking where in a room a person is located, while measuring the momentum is akin to asking whether the person's lap is empty or has something on it. If the person's position has changed by making him or her stand rather than sit, then that person has no lap and neither the statement "the person's lap is empty" nor "there is something on the person's lap" is true. Any statistical calculation based on values where the person is standing at some place in the room and simultaneously has a lap as if sitting would be meaningless.Same wiki article on counterfactuals in QM

    A person who has no lap has nothing in their lap. Russell's analysis of definite descriptions works just fine here, but physicists don't read Bertrand Russell. It's also tempting here to give a counterfactual analysis: if a standing person holding nothing were to sit, they would have an empty lap; if a standing person holding a child on their back and nothing else were to sit, they would have an empty lap, until another child scrambled onto it; if a standing person holding a child against their chest were to sit and loosen their grip upon the child even a little, they would have a child in their lap, and they would sigh with relief.

    Quantum mechanics may have some specific prohibitions on the use of counterfactual values in calculations, but it is, for me anyway, inconceivable (!) that we could get along without counterfactuals. They're hiding absolutely everywhere.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    Be clear about what you are doing if you claim that there is no truth as to the number of coins in a jar until they are counted.

    On the one hand we have the view that there are either 64 coins in the jar, or there are not; that either "There are 64 coins in the jar" is true, or that it is false, but that we do not know which.

    On the other, you would be claiming that "there are 64 coins in the jar" is neither true nor false. That is, you are rejecting bivalence, the view that all statements are either true or they are false.

    The former is realism, the latter is antirealism.

    The former uses traditional logic, the latter must move to more obtuse variations.

    To be sure, the choice is simply one of how you would choose to talk about the physical world, what logic you would apply, how you treat words such as "true", "believe", "know" and so on. Bivalent logic works, it will be up to you to choose some other logic and show that it is as functional. You might go with Kripke's definition of truth and a paraconsistent logic in an attempt to avoid exploding. You will have difficulty in maintaining that there is one true logic, once you open those doors. But perhaps you will decide that being consistent is overrated...

    It works for @Metaphysician Undercover, who has previously claimed that , that objects cannot have a velocity at a given point in time, and various other eccentric notions. You can decide how much attention to pay such thinking.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    The alternative is the simple view that there are a specific number of coins in the jar, that "there are 64 coins in the jar" is true or it is false, but the which is unknown. That believing that there are 64 coins in the jar is an attitude one can adopt towards the number of coins in the jar. That counting the coins in the jar does not bring a certain state of affairs into existence, is not an act of ontological magic, but is simply informing ourselves as to what is already the case. It is deciding which sentences concerning those coins are true and which are false.

    This is the point made several times already in this thread, that statements of truth are univalent, while statements of belief or knowledge are bivalent. That is, being true is about a statements while being believed is about the relation between a statement and the believer.

    There's no need, of course, for sophistic potential-but-not-actual logics nor for quantum machinations. Their mention should indicate to all that one has already ventured down a rabbit hole.

    Keep it simple.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    An important consideration here is the one agreed to by @Pie (Remember Pie? This is Pie's thread...) and I in the first few pages, that what is happening in this discourse is not about how the world is, but about how we choose to talk about it. For my money we get a greater utility out of differentiating between belief and truth than we do by conflating them, as antirealism chooses to do. We can talk about the world as if certain sentences - concerning such things as boiling kettles and jars of coins - are true regardless of what we say about them; that the world places limits on what we can and do say and do within it. That certain noises and marks we make count as setting out that kettles are boiling and 64 coins are in the jar, and further that those who disagree have either misunderstood or are wrong.

    And for all of this there already are exceptions, or we can choose to construct them if we like, some to do with hinges, some to do with counting as, some to do with deranged epitaphs. We construct our language using the shared material around us, and we do it in the plural, as a communal exercise. Others might constructed things differently, but if they do we would still be able to understand most of what they had done, because they used the same stuff.
  • Banno
    18.6k
    But we gain a less than adequate understanding of the use of "...is true" if we limit our examples to the things around us. It's also true that some paper counts as money, that some art is beautiful and that some actions are good. Any story about "...is true" that cannot also account for these is inadequate. While the notion of correspondence works wonderfully for kettles and coins it fails miserably in other cases.

    We might look for the barest minimal point of agreement concerning true sentences, and here we find Tarski's work invaluable. What ever else one might suppose about truth, the kettle will be boiling only if "the kettle is boiling" is true, the coin will be worth a dollar only if "the coin is worth a dollar" is true, and modesty is a virtue only if "modesty is a virtue" is true. Vacillate as you will, the logic of truth favours redundancy.

    None of which counts against talk of truth being used as a play for power, as a way to silence disagreement.
  • Janus
    12.8k
    Thanks, if I can find the time, I'll take a look at the David Lewis paper.

    @Isaac @Moliere
    I believe there is a Kantian distinction between the "thing in itself" and noumena; the former is a purely formal or logical requirement to the effect that if there is something as perceived there must be a corresponding thing as it is in itself. .'Noumena' I take to signify the general hidden or invisible nature of what is affecting us pre-cognitively such as to manifest as perceptual phenomena. — Janus


    Thanks. So 'noumena' might be closer to hidden states in that respect, but I'd be interested to hear what you think of what Moliere says about the problem of causality. Hidden states are definitely considered causal.
    Isaac
    I think it is an inescapable entailment in Kant's philosophy that the noumenal gives rise to the phenomenal. or it could be said that phenomena are supervenient on noumena. Can we avoid thinking of this supervenience as some kind of being-caused? Even in relation to phenomenal experience, causation is postulated, not ever directly experienced except perhaps in the case of our own bodies acting upon and being acted upon, and even that seems arguable.

    As I understand it Kant believes the idea of causation is essential to making sense of what we experience, and since that is the proper ambit of its applicability, he sees it as being incoherent to seek to apply it to what we cannot experience.

    Thanks, I'm not sure I'm following everything you're saying about the difference between a noumenon and a ding an sich, but you do appear to be saying that intuition of the objects of the senses (considered as wholes) is impossible, which would seem to suggest equating the empirical object with the ding an sich, if not the noumenon?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.4k
    In the first scenario it is raining, in the second scenario it is not. According to knowledge as justified, true belief, do you judge that Alice has knowledge in either or both of those scenarios?Andrew M

    The issue is, who determines whether or not it is raining. Here, you are asserting "In the first scenario it is raining, in the second scenario it is not". Do you know whether or not it is raining in each scenario, in an absolute way? If so, I can give you an answer. If not, I cannot. This is because I cannot say whether Alice has knowledge or not unless I know infallibly whether or not it is raining. You have provided no justification for your assertions, therefore I cannot honestly give you an answer. So I do not believe that you know infallibly whether or not it is raining in each of those scenarios

    That is, according to your representation of "knowledge", which requires infallibility. I do not represent knowledge like that though. I think Alice has knowledge whether or not you assert that it is raining. These third party assertions, "it is raining", "it is not raining", or "if it is raining", are actually completely irrelevant to whether or not the person has knowledge, because as mere assertions they do nothing to justify one's belief.

    That question I answered as clearly as I could, and even provided informal proofs to support my position.

    If you have no rebuttal besides "maybe coins spontaneously appear and disappear," then we're done here.
    Srap Tasmaner

    What I said, is that your logic is not valid without a premise of temporal continuity. That a coin might disappear without one noticing, is just a simple example as to why such a premise is necessary. If you do not agree, and think that your logic which concludes that the number of coins in the jar at a later time will necessarily be the same as the number at an earlier time will be valid, without such a premise, then so be it. But I think your refusal to continue is just a recognition that you are wrong. The premise of temporal continuity is a requirement for a valid conclusion.

    In the sense that the numeral refers to a number and that number is the number of coins prior to being counted.Michael

    Well, here we have an ontological difficulty. What is "a number"? Are you taking a position of Platonic realism here? If not, maybe you can explain what you mean by "a number". I tend to think that a numeral refers to the situation in application, through the medium of some mental ideas, rather than through the medium of "a number", just like other words do.

    We can however, use mathematical symbols, like numerals, in practise, without any particular situation of application. This is like when we practise other forms of logic, using symbols without any referent. The symbols have meaning, but they effectively refer to nothing. So in mathematics when we do practise exercises like "2+2=?", the symbols have meaning, but they effectively refer to nothing. And it is a mistaken notion, that "2" refers to a number in this sort of exercise. In reality "2" has a complex meaning of order and quantity, which cannot be represented as a simple object, the number two.

    t's not magic. We agree to use the word "triangle" to refer to the shape of some object that we have seen. Now, every object with that shape -- even objects we haven't seen -- are triangles, even though we haven't explicitly used the word "triangle" to refer to each of those objects individually. They are triangles by virtue of having the same shape as an object that we have referred to as having a shape named "triangle".Michael

    I don't understand how you can truly believe this. How do you honestly believe that there are objects called "triangles" which have never been called by that name? This is blatant contradiction. There is an object called a triangle which has not been called a triangle.

    It appears to be a simple confusion of what is potentially the case, with what is actually the case. I might agree to the possibility that there are objects which if seen, and named, would be called triangles. That's a type of potential, a possibility. Obviously, I cannot say that any such potential is actually a triangle, because no one has apprehended these things and designated which of them are triangles. You clearly conflate the potential for triangles with actual triangles.

    We've already agreed that the numeral "66" refers to a specific number..Michael

    No, we haven't yet discussed this premise of Platonic realism. The problem, as I said above, is that numerals have multiple uses and therefore complex meaning. I learned from fishfry on this forum, that modern mathematics assumes order as the primary defining feature. Then, to establish consistency between order and quantity, quantity is assumed to be a sub-type of order. The problem which I see is that order is a concept based in continuity, while quantity requires discrete entities. So there is a fundamental incommensurability between order and quantity which makes it so that one numeral, "66" for example, cannot refer to one coherent intelligible object, the number. There is a dual meaning and the two are not consistent with each other.

    You make the mistake of saying that because we need to explicitly assign a particular word or numeral to a particular kind that we need to explicitly assign that particular word or numeral to every individual of that kind. This is false. We need to do the former to establish meaning, but we don't need to do the latter.Michael

    The issue is, that the thing must be judged to be of that kind. because a "kind" is something artificial, created by human minds, a category. A natural object isn't just automatically of this kind or that kind, because it must fulfill a set list of criteria in order to be of any specific kind. And, whether or not something fulfills a list of criteria is a judgment. So a natural object really does not exist as any specific kind until it is judged to fulfil the criteria. We cannot claim that a thing is judged to be of a specific type, without it actually having been judged to be of that type.

    That this is truly the case is evident from the fact that there is continuous disagreement as to whether some objects are of this or that kind, disagreements which sometimes cannot be resolved. And the fact that all people might agree on some things, doesn't prove that kinds are naturally occurring. However, the fact that some people do not agree on some things demonstrates that kinds are artificial, and things just aren't naturally of this kind or that, they are judged. Things are classiified, and placed into categories, through judgement. They do not just naturally exist in categories.

    The T-schema is useful here. There are 66 coins iff "there are 66 coins" is true, there are 67 coins iff "there are 67 coins" is true, there cannot be both 66 and 67 coins, therefore "there are 66 coins" and "there are 67 coins" cannot both be true.Michael

    This does not tell us whether "there are 66 coins" is the product of a judgement, or whether it's something independent from judgement. Nor does it tell us if there is 66, or 67 coins. It really tells us nothing. It is a useless statement. And, since it is possible that the person who counts 67 is using a different numbering system, in which "67" is equivalent to "66" in the other system, it is actually your claim, that there cannot be both 66 and 67 coins, which is incorrect. That is why my proposal, that when both 66, and 67 are both claimed as true assertions, we must move to justify and understand, rather than simply asserting that one person must be wrong.

    This is consistent with how we actually understand the meaning of the word "true". I don't know why you're trying to make it mean "honest belief". What evidence or reasoning is there for that?Michael

    This is how "truth" is most commonly used. When someone is asked to tell the truth, the person is asked to state what they honestly believe. Epistemologists have attempted to give "true" a meaning which is independent from this, signifying what is the case, in some absolute sense, independent from human judgement. But it really makes no sense at all to argue that there is some type of true correspondence, or true relation between a group of symbols, and the reality of the situation, without a judgement in relation to some criteria for "true". So this proposed form of "true" is really nonsense.

    On the other, you would be claiming that "there are 64 coins in the jar" is neither true nor false. That is, you are rejecting bivalence, the view that all statements are either true or they are false.Banno

    That's right, in cases where a human judgement is required, we ought to reject bivalence. This was argued extensively by Aristotle, in order that we can account for the reality of potential, and the nature of the human will. He proposed that we reject the law of excluded middle in these situations, while some modern philosophers propose we reject non-contradiction. Aristotle's famous example is the sea battle tomorrow. There may or may not be a sea battle tomorrow. It has not yet been decided, so there is no truth or falsity to "there will be a sea battle tomorrow". And, we cannot turn retroactively, after tomorrow, and say that one or the other was true the day before, because there simply was no truth or falsity to this matter at that time, due to the nature of the human will.

    His argument, was that since we all deliberate on our decisions, we act as if there really is not truth or falsity concerning those questions we deliberate on. And if it really was ture that there was already a truth or falsity to the questions which we deliiberate on, we would have no need to deliberate, we would just let the event occur the way it is predestined to.
  • Luke
    2.1k
    Here, you are asserting "In the first scenario it is raining, in the second scenario it is not". Do you know whether or not it is raining in each scenario, in an absolute way? If so, I can give you an answer. If not, I cannot. This is because I cannot say whether Alice has knowledge or not unless I know infallibly whether or not it is raining.Metaphysician Undercover

    You'd be a terrible weatherman.
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