• Ø implies everything
    252
    But if I know that John knows that p, I do know that p is true. If p had been false, I wouldn't have known
    that John knows that p. What's the problem?
    Ludwig V

    Yes, what is the problem? That's what I've been asking you. If I know (have a justified belief) that John knows p, then I know (have a justified belief) that p. The need for requiring truth in the definition of knowledge does not enter in these second, third and nth person cases. If you agree that for non-skeptical accounts of truth, truth is a redundant criterion of knowledge in the first person case, then you also agree that it is redundant for the nth person case.

    You are also changing the definition of knowledge, by allowing that it might be false and still be knowledge.Ludwig V

    No, whether or not knowledge can be false depends on whether one finds justification sufficient for the status of knowledge to be fallible; i.e., whether one has a traditionally skeptical account of truth. Now, as for my definition of belief as emotional and knowledge as justified belief; what else do you propose?
  • Ludwig V
    948
    Still, given multiple conceptual possibilities (lines of action), one needs to be actualized. That actualization is a specific kind of intentional act.Dfpolis

    Could you please explain how that the requirement of a specific kind of intentional act before any action doesn't give rise to an infinite regress?

    Because objects act on the senses to inform the nervous system, thereby presenting themselves for possible attention. When we choose to attend (focus awareness on) to them, we actualize their intelligibility, knowing them.Dfpolis

    I've no doubt that there is a causal chain from what is called the external world to our brains. I agree that sometimes we choose to attend to things. But I also think that sometimes we do not. When I burn my fingers on a hot stove, I do not choose to attend to the pain.

    Doubts question his commitment to the truth of what he continues to know and believe.Dfpolis

    Ah, so knowledge does also require commitment. Thank you for clearing that up.

    Since both knowledge and belief require commitment, how is it possible to continue to know or believe things that one is not committed to? Do you really mean to say that one knows something that one doubts?
  • Banno
    23.5k
    Being hungry is not a commitment.Dfpolis

    That's right. And so is believing that your are hungry.

    How does what you are calling "will" differ from what philosophers call "intentionality"? Or does your theory not make such a distinction?

    That we can continue to know while suspending belief shows that belief is not a necessary condition for knowing.Dfpolis
    I can believe that I am hungry yet muse about not being hungry, without contradiction. No contradiction is involved. And thinking about what I might do were I not hungry is not the same as believing that I am not hungry when I am.

    Suspending belief isn't the same as ceasing belief.Ludwig V
    Yep.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    Could you please explain how that the requirement of a specific kind of intentional act before any action doesn't give rise to an infinite regress?Ludwig V
    Sure. The need is to reduce the many potential plans contemplated to one line of action. The act doing this is not the result of contemplating its own meta-options, but of relating to the same options differently.

    First, some options are imagined. This is the generate portion of generate and test. Second, we judge which are in our power. This is a recursive process, Aristotle's proairesis, in which we work from high level ends to lower level goals considered as means to those ends until we come to means in our immediate power. This winnows the imagined plans down to possible plans. The final step, that involving will, is valuing the plans. As Aquinas noted, the intellect is directed to truth, and the will to good. So, while many plans may be feasible, only one is most valued and therefore implemented. Since valuing is not judging feasibility, no regress is involved.

    The above is somewhat simplified, as valuing also occurs in the proairetic process of working out the structure of intermediate means and ends.

    But I also think that sometimes we do not. When I burn my fingers on a hot stove, I do not choose to attend to the pain.Ludwig V
    I am not sure that you did not, at least implicitly. Far greater wounds are suffered in battle and may pass unnoticed because attention is not focused on one's body, but on something else. So, I would say that by not fixing on another focus, we default to focusing on our body state.

    Doubts question his commitment to the truth of what he continues to know and believe. — Dfpolis

    Ah, so knowledge does also require commitment. Thank you for clearing that up.
    Ludwig V
    That is not what I said. I said doubt can affect commitment. I did not say that commitments can change what we know. Doubts can only affect our commitment to the truth of what we continue to know. Of course, we can refuse to look, but that is a different issue.

    Do you really mean to say that one knows something that one doubts?Ludwig V
    I mean that if one really knows, doubts cannot change that knowledge to ignorance. They can only lead us to suspend our commitment to the truth of what we know. This can happen as the result of social pressure or brainwashing. Discrimination can convince people who know their self-worth to doubt it.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    That's right. And so is believing that your are hungry.Banno
    Believing it adds a commitment to its truth. Suppose a child is hungry and says so. An abusive parent says, "You're not hungry, you just want to complain." The child might believe this, even though she continues to know she is hungry.

    How does what you are calling "will" differ from what philosophers call "intentionality"? Or does your theory not make such a distinction?Banno
    Will is a power that allows us to value and so choose. Intentionality is not a power, but a property of certain acts, in virtue of which they point beyond their own existence. E.g. we do not just know, we know something. The same for hoping, fearing, loving, hating and so on. This is often described as possessing "aboutness." Valuing and choosing are instances of intentionality, as there is no valuing or choosing without something valued or chosen.

    I can believe that I am hungry yet muse about not being hungry, without contradiction. No contradiction is involved. And thinking about what I might do were I not hungry is not the same as believing that I am not hungry when I am.Banno
    Musing is not doubting. It is imagining. Doubting questions our commitment to a proposition. Musing does not.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    When philosophers talk about belief, they are talking about the attitude we have towards something such that we take it to be the case, to be true, and that is all.

    This is somewhat different to the way it is sometimes used in common parlance, such that it involves commitment. That's the sense it is used in church. Philosophers do not much go to church.

    The sense of belief in JTB does not involve commitment.

    I'm sugesting that the way you are using belief is somewhat different to the way it is used by epistemologists in general.
  • Ludwig V
    948
    If you agree that for non-skeptical accounts of truth, truth is a redundant criterion of knowledge in the first person case, then you also agree that it is redundant for the nth person case.Ø implies everything

    We obviously misunderstand each other. This is starts from the grammatical structure of verbs. There are only three persons in the singular and three in plural forms of any verb, including "know". "I know that p", "You know that p" and "He/She knows that p". The plural forms are "We", "You" and "They", but we don't need to consider those for present purposes.

    We need to consider three roles in speech situations - the subject, that is, the person who knows, or doesn't, the speaker, who asserts that the subject knows and the audience, who are being addressed by the speaker (or at least are within earshot).

    In the case of "I know that p", since the speaker and the subject are the same person, the truth clause is redundant (with some potential qualifications).
    In the case of "You know that p", the audience and the subject are the same person. The truth condition is not redundant, but conveys the information that the speaker endorses the subject's belief that p.
    In the case of "She/he knows that p", speaker, subject and audience are all distinct from each other. The truth condition is not redundant.

    Now, as for my definition of belief as emotional and knowledge as justified belief; what else do you propose?Ø implies everything

    I propose to continue to use both terms with the meaning attributed to them by any good dictionary.

    First, some options are imagined.Dfpolis

    Could you clarify whether this is an action and, if so, a rational action?

    Far greater wounds are suffered in battle and may pass unnoticed because attention is not focused on one's body, but on something else.Dfpolis

    I would agree. But I would not believe that I chose to focus my attention elsewhere.

    Doubts can only affect our commitment to the truth of what we continue to know.Dfpolis

    How does doubt affect our commitment to the truth of what we know if it does not undermine it.?

    Will is a power that allows us to value and so choose.Dfpolis

    We have the power to value and to choose. Why do you posit anything over and above those powers?
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    When philosophers talk about belief, they are talking about the attitude we have towards something such that we take it to be the case, to be true, and that is all.Banno
    How does that contradict what I said? I am simply further specifying the "attitude" as commitment. Isn't "taking" p to be true the same as committing to the truth of p?

    The sense of belief in JTB does not involve commitment.Banno
    I beg to differ. Commitment is indicated by consequent behavior. If A believes p, then when asked "is p is true?" A will say, "Yes." That verbal behavior signifies commitment.

    I'm sugesting that the way you are using belief is somewhat different to the way it is used by epistemologists in general.Banno
    I agree. I do not see it as a genus in which knowledge is a species. This is because I take a narrower view of what constitutes knowing.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    How does that contradict what I said?Dfpolis
    By 'further specifying the "attitude" as commitment'.

    Isn't "taking" p to be true the same as committing to the truth of p?Dfpolis
    An odd phrasing, but sure. But "taking p to be true" is not the same as "willing P to be true".

    I agree.Dfpolis
    Fine then, I'll leave you to your variation.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    First, some options are imagined. — Dfpolis

    Could you clarify whether this is an action and, if so, a rational action?
    Ludwig V
    Yes, generating initial options for consideration is an action, but it need not be rational in the sense that the options result from judgement. Judgements come later, after there are options to judge. I see it as akin to Humean association, which results from neural net activation processes.

    I would agree. But I would not believe that I chose to focus my attention elsewhere.Ludwig V
    Choices need not require long reflection. I have not been in battle, but I have been in life and death situations, and I know I chose my responses in under a second. Teachers of meditative practice train their disciples to focus their minds, excluding distractions from the chosen object. In my paper, I cite numerous philosophers' examples of consciousness focusing on one thing, while generating complex neurophysical behavior or responses to unrelated stimuli.

    The point is that physical stimuli cannot make themselves known. We must choose to attend to them. How conscious that choice is varies among individuals. By default, we choose to attend to our body as presented by sensation, perhaps unaware that other options are available.

    How does doubt affect our commitment to the truth of what we know if it does not undermine it.?Ludwig V
    It does not. The truth is unaffected, which is why the Cartesian meditation does not undermine cognition. What is affected is our commitment to the unaffected truth. Our commitments are reflected in our willingness to act on the truth we know. The abused child who has been told she is not really hungry, but only seeking attention, may cease asking for food and feel guilty about seeking attention -- all the while knowing she is truly hungry. When asked if she is hungry, she says, "No, sir" instead of "Please, sir, more gruel."

    We have the power to value and to choose. Why do you posit anything over and above those powers?Ludwig V
    Did I? I only named that power "will."
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    By 'further specifying the "attitude" as commitment'.Banno
    I do not understand the contradiction.

    But "taking p to be true" is not the same as "willing P to be true".Banno
    Of course, it is not. We do not will p to be true. We will to act as if p is true (or false). While commitment is an intentional act, it has behavioral consequences. (See my response to Ludwig V above.)

    I am glad we agree.
  • Isaac
    10.3k
    Donald Trump in his claims that he had the largest crowd at his inauguration and that he won the 2020 election.Dfpolis

    What makes you think he committed to that? He said it. He probably lied.

    all who chose to believe him, knowing that there was no basis for doing so other than their own desire that it be so.Dfpolis

    What do you mean 'no basis'? Trump said it. That's basis for someone who trusts Trump.

    People who know, but will not believe, that they have insufficient funds to buy what they want, and act on this commitment by buying it because they want it.Dfpolis

    Again, this doesn't mean they believe they have sufficient funds, it just means they're going to do it anyway. They might believe they'll get away with it, they might believe some money will come their way, they might believe they're going to win the lottery. Without actually asking you just come across a really arrogant, assuming you know what's going on in other people's minds.

    information is conveyed to the visual association cortex for integration with prior experience.Dfpolis

    Apart from the clear involvement of priors in the primary visual cortex, I don't have any objection to your description, but nowhere in it does the object even make an appearance. So far we have photons and then either electrical or chemical activity in a complex set of feedback loops. "the Tree" hasn't even got in there yet, nor will it until much after the visual cortex has finished with the processing. In fact, nothing we could call "the Tree" arrives in the whole process until at least the inferotemporal cortex near the end of the ventral stream.Until that point, the photons from beside the tree and the photons from the tree are processed exactly the same way, no distinction is made.

    And even in the inferotemporal cortex we have inputs from the A36 region are unrelated to the visual information and associate more strongly with language centres, emotional states and memory.

    The idea that objects are recognised as a result of some unique 'signal' sent from them is not supported by the science on the matter.

    without the action of the object, none of the consequent changes of neural state, which are our visual representation of the object, would exist.Dfpolis

    This is also untrue. Hallucinations are an obvious example of objects having the appropriate neural state associated with their presence being created, without their actually being there.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    What makes you think he committed to that? He said it. He probably lied.Isaac
    He certainly lied. The sign of commitment is subsequent behavior, not a clear conscience. I could distinguish sincere and insincere commitment, and say that the intentional state we call belief requires sincere commitment. I am unsure precisely how to define sincere commitment. Using behavior as a criterion is pretty clear-cut. Suggestions?

    What do you mean 'no basis'? Trump said it. That's basis for someone who trusts Trump.Isaac
    I mean no basis in reality, of course.

    Again, this doesn't mean they believe they have sufficient funds, it just means they're going to do it anyway.Isaac
    We are saying the same thing in different ways. You call the awareness of their state "believing." I find that confusing because people also believe things they have no knowledge of. So, I choose to call awareness of reality "knowing." Further, if you are going to do something that rationally requires p to be true, I call that committing to the truth of p -- and we agree that people do that knowing that p is false.

    Without actually asking you just come across a really arrogant, assuming you know what's going on in other people's minds.Isaac
    If I accused a particular person, that would be arrogant and presumptuous. To say that it happens without accusing a specific person is not. It is a generalization based on experience.

    nowhere in it does the object even make an appearance.Isaac
    Of course, it does. The action of the object on the sensing subject effects the changes described.

    "the Tree" hasn't even got in there yet, nor will it until much after the visual cortex has finished with the processing.Isaac
    You are confusing having sense data, with the classification of sense data. To apply the term "the tree" we need to classify the "this something" (Aristotle's tode ti), a particular sensory complex, as an instance of a sortal. That comes later. The perceived interacts with its environment in specific ways, one of which is to scatter light capable of being focused into a retinal image into our eyes. That image, together with data from other sensory modalities (perhaps the smell of pine or of orange blossoms), combines into what Aristotle called the phantasm (cf. the binding problem), which we now know to be a modification of our neural state.

    We identify organic unities because it was evolutionarily advantageous to do so. If it were not, we might well model the world differently. If "this something," the preceived unity, turns out to be a tree, it will be because it has an organic unity and function that qualifies it as an instance of the sortal or universal concept <tree>.

    Once we have a sensory "representation," Humean association comes into play. I think of it in terms of the activation of specific nodes in our neural net. An "image" of the setting sun may activate nodes representing other experiences of the sun, together with those of beach balls, golden orbs, etc. None of these associations is a classifying judgement. They are merely candidates for comparison. Still, their activation is the result of the sun's action on, the sun's dynamic presence in, the sensing subject. This is not to deny that they are also the inheritance of prior experience.

    In fact, nothing we could call "the Tree" arrives in the whole process until at least the inferotemporal cortex near the end of the ventral stream.Until that point, the photons from beside the tree and the photons from the tree are processed exactly the same way, no distinction is made.Isaac
    While it is of great neurophysiological import where and when various stages of sensory processing occur, it is really of little philosophical interest. What is of interest is that they do occur, and occur in and can be explained by, our neurophysiology.

    However, I think we still need to be careful in identifying the experience as (as opposed to associating it with) a tree. As Paul M. Churchland notes, no neural structures correspond to propositional attitudes ("Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes," The Journal of
    Philosophy
    (1981) 78, pp. 67-90.)

    The idea that objects are recognised as a result of some unique 'signal' sent from them is not supported by the science on the matter.Isaac
    I do not recall asserting this. In a recent article, I argued the opposite (http://gilsonsociety.com/files/847-891-Polis.pdf p. 855 in discussing the definition of man).

    without the action of the object, none of the consequent changes of neural state, which are our visual representation of the object, would exist. — Dfpolis

    This is also untrue. Hallucinations are an obvious example of objects having the appropriate neural state associated with their presence being created, without their actually being there.
    Isaac
    You are mixing cases. I am speaking of the normal perception of an existing sense object. I am not discussing pathological conditions. Please deal with the case at hand. In the case you describe, there is no sensed object, only a neural disturbance.

    In normal sensation, the sensible object informing our nervous system is identically our nervous system being informed by the sensible object. These are alternate formulations of one and the same process.
  • Isaac
    10.3k
    The sign of commitment is subsequent behavior, not a clear conscience. I could distinguish sincere and insincere commitment, and say that the intentional state we call belief requires sincere commitment. I am unsure precisely how to define sincere commitment. Using behavior as a criterion is pretty clear-cut. Suggestions?Dfpolis

    But you can't identify from the behaviour what the belief is that it is a sign of. If I want a drink and head to the end of the road, you might think that indicates a belief that the pub is at the end of the road. But I might be going to end of the road hoping someone there will tell me where the pub's gone. I might be going to eliminate a tiny remaining doubt that the pub has, in fact, been turned into a car park. I might go to the end of the road because I'm nervous of taking the short cut to where the pub actually is...

    In your example, lying about the crowd size is 'acting as if it were bigger'. It's acting entirely consistently with two other beliefs. 1) the crowd size was smaller, and 2) if I say it was bigger nonetheless, some people might believe me and I might be more popular. It Trump believed (1) and (2), he would act as he did. His 'commitment' to those two beliefs would be demonstrated in his claiming "the crowds were the biggest".

    What do you mean 'no basis'? Trump said it. That's basis for someone who trusts Trump. — Isaac

    I mean no basis in reality, of course.
    Dfpolis

    Trump is a part of reality. we all gain the vast majority of our information about the world from other people. I live in England, I wasn't at the rally. So my information about it comes entirely from other sources and so is dependant entirely on who I trust. It's perfectly rational to construct a system of beliefs where one cannot trust the media representations, the Democrats, the 'fact-checkers', but one can trust Trump. I mean, I wouldn't personally advise doing so, but there's nothing in such a belief system which is contrary to that same person's knowledge.

    You call the awareness of their state "believing." I find that confusing because people also believe things they have no knowledge of.Dfpolis

    That's begging the question.

    if you are going to do something that rationally requires p to be true, I call that committing to the truth of p -- and we agree that people do that knowing that p is false.Dfpolis

    Nothing in the actions you describe requires p to be true. Trump does not require it to be true that his crowd size was biggest in order to say that his crowd size was biggest. He can lie, and knowingly lie, for political advantage. He's not committing to be it being true, he's committing to it being false and acting to cover up that fact.

    The action of the object on the sensing subject effects the changes described.Dfpolis

    No. The information from assumed external states effects the changes described. All external states. The entirely of the heterogeneous soup of data states that the hypothesise as being external to our system. No 'objects' are defined prior to our defining them.

    We identify organic unities because it was evolutionarily advantageous to do so. If it were not, we might well model the world differently.Dfpolis

    I don't think the evidence supports this model either. Very different groups of people have different rules of distinction. Take colour, for example. There are several different ways of dividing up colour responses in different culture. the evidence seems, rather, to point in the direction of language and culture being at least substantially, if not mainly, responsible for the 'dividing up' of our sensory inputs into objects.

    their activation is the result of the sun's action on, the sun's dynamic presence in, the sensing subject.Dfpolis

    This would be to privilege one neural response above others. without begging the question, you've no grounds on which to do that. All we have is some sensory arousal. that sensory arousal causes a set of subsequent neural activity, some of which results in identifiable behaviour (like saying the word "sun"), others result in less identifiable behaviour, but that which we can identify with neural probing (like activating neural cluster previously strongly associated with beach balls). None of these responses is the 'real' one (with others being merely peripheral). Only our culturally embedded values can determine such a thing. Scientifically, they're all just equally valid responses of a system to stimuli.

    I think we still need to be careful in identifying the experience as (as opposed to associating it with) a tree. As Paul M. Churchland notes, no neural structures correspond to propositional attitudes ("Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes,"Dfpolis

    Exactly. And no neural structures correspond with 'tree' either (or at least not consistently). for a representationalist account we need consistent neural clusters to be associated with the objects of language, and they're just not.

    I am speaking of the normal perception of an existing sense object. I am not discussing pathological conditions.Dfpolis

    It's not 'pathological'. We hallucinate, for example, the content of a scene which is behind our punctum caecum. We hallucinate a stable scene despite regular changes in the angle of perception. We hallucinate dimensionality from flat images. We hallucinate colour changes where we expect them to be (not where they actually are). We also hallucinate the absence of unexpected objects despite the photons from them clearly hitting our retinas. There's nothing pathological about hallucination, it's how we see. we 'hallucinate' the scene we expect to be there and then we organise our saccades to test that hypothesis, only discarding it if it is overwhelmed by evidence to the contrary.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    Suppose a child is hungry and says so. An abusive parent says, "You're not hungry, you just want to complain." The child might believe this, even though she continues to know she is hungry.Dfpolis

    I'd characterise this differently. The child, ex hypothesi, believes they only want to complain; they do not believe they are hungry, and hence can not know that they are hungry.

    Believing it adds a commitment to its truth.Dfpolis
    I think that wording is misleading. You'r over egging the cake.

    Commitment is indicated by consequent behavior.Dfpolis
    A little slide from "belief being an act of will" to our acts being indications of our beliefs. There's a difference between something's being believed because one wills it and someone willing some act as a consequence of their belief.
  • Cidat
    128
    You can't prove anything without assumptions.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    In your example, lying about the crowd size is 'acting as if it were bigger'. It's acting entirely consistently with two other beliefs. 1) the crowd size was smaller, and 2) if I say it was bigger nonetheless, some people might believe me and I might be more popular. It Trump believed (1) and (2), he would act as he did. His 'commitment' to those two beliefs would be demonstrated in his claiming "the crowds were the biggest".Isaac
    I agree that this is possible and likely. Still, the possibility that Trump may have convinced even himself (self-deluded) is all that I need to show that knowledge is not a species of belief. In that case, he may well have seen the pictures comparing his to the Obama inauguration crowds, found them so distasteful that he put them out of his mind, and comforted himself with the belief that his was crowd was bigger.

    It's perfectly rational to construct a system of beliefs where one cannot trust the media representationsIsaac
    The question is not if it is rational, but if it is possible, to construct beliefs. One cannot construct knowledge out of whole cloth, only make explicit what was only implicit in what we already know. One might construct a belief that was adequate to reality, but unless it was informed by the reality it was about, it would not be knowledge. Its adequacy would be accidental -- a coincidence.

    Given that such a construct is a true belief, adding rational justification cannot convert it into knowledge, unless that justification is being aware of the relevant intelligibility. This is the same point made in a different way by Al Goldman's response to the Gettier problem (“A Causal Theory of Knowing,” Journal of Philosophy (1967), 64, 357-72.) Knowledge, in the strictest sense, requires a causal chain of action linking object to subject in which the former informs the latter. This is not to deny that in both common and technical use, what is called "knowledge" turns out to be "justified" belief -- for example, the "knowledge" that the world is determined by Newtonian mechanics. This was simply an over-commitment to a theory with a limited range of application, i.e. believing in Newtonian mechanism.

    Suppose I am lied to by a usually reliable source. I am morally justified in believing what I am told, but the belief is false. (The justification is surely moral, rather than logical, because it is based on an estimation of character.) On the other hand, if my source is reporting what actually she actually experienced, there is a line of action from the objective event to my information-bearing neural state. So, I know (by my definition). This leaves us with no infallible test for knowing, vs. merely believing, p, but there is no reason why we should have such a test. We can only know and believe as humans do, i.e. fallibly.

    We can only act on rational beliefs, but now we are talking about the basis of action, not simple knowledge. Our willingness to act on p is what I am calling commitment to the truth of p or believing p. It is different from knowing it is the case that p. We can know p, but lack the confidence to commit to the truth of p, and act on it.

    Aquinas offers a related insight in the Summa Theologiae in discussing commitment to God as our end, which he calls "intentionality toward God." He writes that we know we are committed to an end when we will the means to that end. In other words, when we "walk the walk" instead of merely "talking the talk." That is why I offer action premised on p as a sign of commitment to the truth of p.

    there's nothing in such a belief system which is contrary to that same person's knowledge.Isaac
    I would suggest that with over 13,000 lies in office, it is virtually impossible to follow Trump and not to know he routinely lies.

    You call the awareness of their state "believing." I find that confusing because people also believe things they have no knowledge of. — Dfpolis

    That's begging the question.
    Isaac
    How can being confused be begging the question? My only assertion was that "people ... believe things they have no knowledge of." Are you denying that?

    Nothing in the actions you describe requires p to be true.Isaac
    Again, it need not be true in every case. If there is one case in which a rational actor knows p is false and acts based on the belief that p is true, by the modus tollens, knowledge is not a species of belief.

    he's committing to it being false and acting to cover up that fact.Isaac
    It is my opinion, based on listening to Mary Trump, Donald's niece and a clinical psychologist, that Donald could never commit to his crowd size being less than that of an African American. He would see it as being utterly demeaning and so impossible.

    o. The information from assumed external states effects the changes described. All external states.Isaac
    Information is an abstraction, not encountered in a disembodied form. Rather, there are informing actions: sending a message, forming an image on the retina, causing cochlear cilia to vibrate, etc. Sensible objects are agents that effect changes in sense organs, and it is those changes, specified jointly by the nature of the object and of the organ, that embodies information.

    Claude Shannon defined information as a reduction in possibility. Of all the possible ways in which the sense organ could be affected, it is affected in a way specified by the action of the sensible object. The object's essence is the specification of its possible actions. So, the actual action of the object on the organ informs us about the object's essence/specification -- the way it acts on us is one of the ways it can act.

    External states are not "assumed." They are consequent on how we structure our experience. In other words, "external states" is the name we give to the source of certain experiential contents, as "internal states" is the name given to the source of other contents or aspects of contents. You can deny that experienced contents have a source, but if you do, you are a solipsist, and we have no basis for further communication as, in your view, I may not be real.

    The entirely of the heterogeneous soup of data states that the hypothesise as being external to our system.Isaac
    This is not a sentence.

    No 'objects' are defined prior to our defining them.Isaac
    I find this unintelligible until you define "'objects.'" There are sensible existents with organic unity prior to being perceived. I could argue this, but the burden is on you to clarify and possibly justify your claim.

    Very different groups of people have different rules of distinction. Take colour, for example. There are several different ways of dividing up colour responses in different culture. the evidence seems, rather, to point in the direction of language and culture being at least substantially, if not mainly, responsible for the 'dividing up' of our sensory inputs into objects.Isaac

    I have no problem with projecting experience into different conceptual spaces. I raised the issue in my first (Metaphilosophy) paper and discussed it in my last three articles. However, the existence of diverse conceptual spaces does not entail the non-existence of organic unities, aka organisms. Further, your dismissal of my evolutionary explanation suggests that you not only reject organisms, but the modern evolutionary synthesis that explains their genesis.

    I note that language expresses thought, making thought ontologically prior to language. We often struggle to find le mot juste to express our thought, showing that thought is not totally dependent upon language.

    I agree that culture can and does shape our conceptual space, but it typically does so through the medium of language. Since language does not preclude thought that cannot be linguistically expressed, there is no reason to think that culture is the only source of one's conceptual space. In confirmation of this, we see that new concepts constantly come into being.

    This would be to privilege one neural response above others. without begging the question, you've no grounds on which to do thatIsaac
    Of course, I do. Experiments show that some stimuli activate specific neural net nodes while others do not. Those that activate nodes might be called "privileged" (your term, not mine).

    None of these responses is the 'real' one (with others being merely peripheral). Only our culturally embedded values can determine such a thing. Scientifically, they're all just equally valid responses of a system to stimuli.Isaac
    You are mischaracterizing my position. I do not deny that any neural response is real. Still, some activate nodes formed by prior experience, and some do not. Those that do not lack discernible immediate consequences. They may not even activate the next neuron.

    So, our evolution and experience make certain stimuli "privileged" in your jargon. Evolution plays a role because other organisms can be predators, sources of nourishment, and/or otherwise dangerous or useful -- making it advantageous for them to be "privileged." Thus, there is good reason to think that nature rather than nurture makes ostensible unities (Aristotle's tode ti = this something) "privileged." We relate to the world precisely as humans, and not as abstract data processors. Still, we would not have adapted to privilege organisms were there no organisms to privilege.

    And no neural structures correspond with 'tree' either (or at least not consistently).Isaac
    I am not a metaphysical naturalist, but I think this claim is unsupportable. The neural net model seems a reasonable first approximation to how information is categorized. If so, there ought to be nodes assocated with each sortal in our conceptual space and activated by its instances. Thus, there ought to be a "tree" node, which is activated by encountering trees. Further, its activation should be consistent, though not infallible. If not, we would have great difficulty in predicating "tree" of an oak we have encountered.

    Scientifically, they're all just equally valid responses of a system to stimuli.Isaac
    I am not sure what you mean by "valid" here. Are all responses equally logical? No. Equally adaptive? No. Equally effective in activating sortal nodes? No. They are only equal in all existing. That does not make them "valid" in any sense I can think of.

    It's not 'pathological'. We hallucinate, for example, the content of a scene which is behind our punctum caecum. We hallucinate a stable scene despite regular changes in the angle of perception.Isaac
    To hallucionate is to "experience an apparent sensory perception of something that is not actually present." I am discussing the case where an object is actually present. Thus, what you are describing does not meet the defintion of a hallucination.

    Still, I agree: we fill in data. I discuss filling in motion between cinema frames in my book. Neural data processing is an adaptive resonse to the action of the object. Just to be clear, I am not claiming that the "image" we see in our minds corresponds one-to-one with the object seen. It does not.

    My claim is that our intellect being informed by the intelligible object is identically the intelligible object informing our intellect. That claim is incontrovertible, as it merely identifies alternate formulations of a single event. It also implies that knowing is not purely objective, as some believe, but a subject-object relation. Thus, it is as inescapably subjective as it is inescapably objective.

    None of the filling-in of data we are discussing would or could occur were there not objective information to supplement in what has proven to be a normally adaptive response -- and there is no response without something to respond to.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    I'd characterise this differently. The child, ex hypothesi, believes they only want to complain; they do not believe they are hungry, and hence can not know that they are hungry.Banno
    The problem with this is that the sequence begins by the child knowing they are hungry. Being convinced they are not is an abusive consequence of that.

    Believing it adds a commitment to its truth. — Dfpolis

    I think that wording is misleading. You'r over egging the cake.
    Banno
    I think the difficulty is that in common use, believing and knowing are often used interchangeably. The question is, is there a difference between being aware of a state and being willing to act (even mentally) on the fact of that state. I am saying there is.

    here's a difference between something's being believed because one wills it and someone willing some act as a consequence of their belief.Banno
    I would say that if you claim to believe something, and are unwilling to act on that "belief," you do not really believe it.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    It seems to me you've missed the criticism here.

    One might will oneself to believe Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will win against the Sharks, but one does not will oneself to believe that this text is in English.

    While one might be said to will oneself to act in a certain way based on one's beliefs, one does not in every case will oneself to believe this or that.

    But you seem to be arguing for this last, using the first.
  • Janus
    15.7k
    So, why speak about propositional knowledge at all then, why not speak about more or less justified propositional belief instead, thus dissolving all the attendant paradoxes, and saving us from going over and over this same old boring ground ad nauseum? — Janus


    I think it is very hard to let the idea of knowledge go, because it carries a promise of certainty. Even if we did speak only about justified belief, we would still argue about what counts as justification. It is not an unimportant idea.

    Sadly, every philosopher has to be convinced of everything for themselves. It's foundational that one cannot trust anyone on any subject. Perhaps it's overdone, but I don't think there is any cure that would not be worse than the disease.
    Ludwig V

    I missed this response previously.

    I draw a distinction between feeling certain and being certain. We can feel certain about many things, and be mistaken, but by definition if we are certain about something then we cannot be mistaken. And this is just what knowledge is generally taken to be (even if some usages of the term might belie this): being certain.

    We don't need knowledge to carry the promise of certainty because belief already carries this intimation of certainty in two ways. Firstly, we can simply be convinced by our beliefs, that is feel certain about them. Of course we will then take beliefs that we feel certain about as knowledge, but if we cannot actually be certain about them then they are not knowledge, and we are deceived. Secondly belief carries the potential to become knowledge, which is certainty.

    For example, say you believe your partner is having sex or planning to have sex with a particular person; you cannot be certain (although you might feel certain) until you catch him or her in the act at which point you know and become certain, and doubt and belief are longer relevant.

    Is there anything we can be certain about? If so, we possess knowledge and if not, then we don't possess knowledge.

    The JTB formula allows that we might know things we don't know that we know. This seems absurd to me, if you don't know that you know, then you don't know.

    I also think that the things we do know are simply things that we can see, and belief is redundant in those cases. I look out the window and see that it is raining; I go outside to make sure it is actually rain, and I see that it is; no need then to speak of belief. It should not be "seeing is believing" but 'seeing is knowing'. It seems to go against the inherent logic of believing to say that you believe something of which there could be no doubt.

    Of course we can always raise the spectre of universal doubt, which just shows that all propositional knowledge is contextual; there is no absolute propositional knowledge, and thus there is no absolute certainty.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    One might will oneself to believe Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will win against the Sharks, but one does not will oneself to believe that this text is in English.Banno
    Perhaps not, but either atheists will themselves to believe there is no God, or theists will themselves to believe there is a God. Both cannot know the truth of the matter, despite claiming that they do. So, there must be another source of their commitment. I claim that it is will.

    While one might be said to will oneself to act in a certain way based on one's beliefs, one does not in every case will oneself to believe this or that.Banno
    I agree that generally these acts are spontaneous rather than the consequence of deep reflection. I do not think that willing requires such reflection. I think that in most cases it is a spontaneous and unreflective valuing.

    Returning to your example, it takes no "will power" a la William James to commit to the truth of "This text is in English." We spontaneously value (are drawn to the goodness) of truth, and that valuing results in commitment. So, believing what we know is the normal response.
  • Banno
    23.5k
    but either atheists will themselves to believe there is no God, or theists will themselves to believe there is a God.Dfpolis

    Well, no. Atheists believe there is no God, or theists believe there is a God. Will has little to do with it.
    ...there must be another source of their commitment.Dfpolis
    Why? As in, why must there be a commitment? Why not just a belief?

    I do not think that willing requires such reflection.Dfpolis
    And when you take this far enough, will becomes no more than intentionality - directedness.
  • Isaac
    10.3k
    the possibility that Trump may have convinced even himself (self-deluded) is all that I need to show that knowledge is not a species of belief. In that case, he may well have seen the pictures comparing his to the Obama inauguration crowds, found them so distasteful that he put them out of his mind, and comforted himself with the belief that his was crowd was bigger.Dfpolis

    Again, this begs the question. If you assume the possibility, you are not investigating it, you're simply declaring it.

    Our willingness to act on p is what I am calling commitment to the truth of p or believing p. It is different from knowing it is the case that p. We can know p, but lack the confidence to commit to the truth of p, and act on it.Dfpolis

    There's obviously a difference between mere belief and actual knowledge, but that difference is not sufficient to justify a claim that people believe something despite knowing its opposite.

    The points (as yet unaddressed) are that;

    1) people acting as if p is not an indicator that they believe p, it is an indicator that they believe acting as if p is in their best interests. It might be in their best interests because they believe p is the case, but it might be in their best interests because it benefits them in some way that people see them act as if p, or that there's some peripheral benefit to acting as if p.

    2) (and I'm having to say this a worryingly increasing number of times lately) stuff you believe is true is not necessarily true. Just because you personally believe Trump didn't have the largest crowds, doesn't mean he didn't. you didn't personally count them, you didn't personally see them. You are told and shown the evidence by others. It is perfectly rational behaviour to not trust those others and so not believe the evidence they are presenting. I could, for example, imagine all the news footage was doctored by CGI. Believing implausible things is not the same as believing something you know to be false.

    I would suggest that with over 13,000 lies in office, it is virtually impossible to follow Trump and not to know he routinely lies.Dfpolis

    Case in point. who told you he told over 13,000 lies? Did you count them yourself? Did you investigate the truth in each case? No. You simply believed what you were told. Other people do not believe what you believe. Other people do not trust the sources you trust.

    If there is one case in which a rational actor knows p is false and acts based on the belief that p is true, by the modus tollens, knowledge is not a species of belief.Dfpolis

    Yes, but without begging the question, you've yet to demonstrate that there is any such actor.

    Donald could never commit to his crowd size being less than that of an African American. He would see it as being utterly demeaning and so impossible.Dfpolis

    That may well be true, but you haven't demonstrated that he, at the same time, knows it to be true that his crowds were smaller.

    The entirely of the heterogeneous soup of data states that the hypothesise as being external to our system. — Isaac

    This is not a sentence.
    Dfpolis

    My apologies, it should read "The entirely of the heterogeneous soup of data states that we hypothesise as being external to our system"

    I'm arguing that there is no ground for saying that external objects (with properties consistent to that object) exist outside of our definition of them. There is ground for saying that sufficient heterogeneity exists (otherwise we'd have to assume that our astonishing consistency in object recognition was a mere coincidence), but there's no grounds for assuming that it could not have been otherwise.

    Like the constellation Orion. It definitely is in the shape of a man with a belt and a bow. We're not making that up. But it is also in the shape of dozens of other things we've chosen to ignore.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    Well, no. Atheists believe there is no God, or theists believe there is a God. Will has little to do with it.Banno
    They both cannot know what they claim, so what kind of act do you see engendering belief? And, when they each believe what they believe, is that not the same as being committed to that position?

    Why? As in, why must there be a commitment?Banno
    If you engaged in a discussion of God's existence, you would quickly find that theists and atheists are strongly committed to their positions. So, it is a contingent fact that firm belief is inseparable from firm commitment.

    And when you take this far enough, will becomes no more than intentionality - directedness.Banno
    Almost. It is the cause of intentionality in the sense of directedness.
  • Dfpolis
    1.3k
    Again, this begs the question. If you assume the possibility, you are not investigating it, you're simply declaring it.Isaac
    Not at all. I am articulating a common and accepted view, viz. that people are capable of self-deception. Cf. Zengdan Jian, Wenjie Zhang, Ling Tian, Wei Fan and Yiping Zhong, "Self-Deception Reduces Cognitive Load: The Role of Involuntary Conscious Memory Impairment," Frontiers of Psychology 10 (30 July 2019) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01718/full.
    People often hear classic allusions such as plugging one’s ears while stealing a bell, pointing to a deer and calling it a horse, drawing cakes to satisfy one’s hunger, and the emperor’s new clothes. These allusions reflect the principle that people believe in nonexistent phenomena to satisfy their desires. This is called “self-deception.” Self-deception is a personality trait and an independent mental state, it involves a combination of a conscious motivational false belief and a contradictory unconscious real belief. — Jain et al. (2019)
    What they are calling "a contradictory unconscious real belief" I am calling "knowledge."

    Further references:
    Z. Chance, M. I. Norton, F. Gino, and D. Ariely (2011). "Temporal view of the costs and benefits of self-deception." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 15655–15659.
    W. Hippel and R. Trivers(2011). "The evolution and psychology of self-deception," Behav. Brain Sci. 34, 1–56.
    J. Liu, W. Zhang, Y. Zhan, L. Song, P. Guan, D. Kang, et al. (2019). "The effect of negative feedback on positive beliefs in self-deception," Front. Psychol. 10, 702–713.
    M. Ren, B. Zhong, W. Fan, H. Dai, B. Yang, W. Zhang, et al. (2018). "The influence of self-control and social status on self-deception," Front. Psychol. 9, 1256–1267.
    I could go on, but this should suffice.

    There's obviously a difference between mere belief and actual knowledge, but that difference is not sufficient to justify a claim that people believe something despite knowing its opposite.Isaac
    I am not saying it is sufficient. I am saying that it is an accepted psychological fact that some people self-deceive as described by Jain et al. above.

    people acting as if p is not an indicator that they believe p, it is an indicator that they believe acting as if p is in their best interests.Isaac
    I would say that it could indicate either. I only claimed that acting on a belief was a sign of commitment, not that it necessarily entailed commitment. Smoke is a sign of fire, but that does not mean that every instance of spoke entails an instance of fire.

    stuff you believe is true is not necessarily true.Isaac
    We agree entirely on this.

    Just because you personally believe Trump didn't have the largest crowds, doesn't mean he didn't. you didn't personally count them, you didn't personally see them.Isaac
    I saw the picture of his crowd next to the picture of Obama's crowd. You could pettifog with various objections, but that is a rational basis for my conclusion on crowd size.

    It is perfectly rational behaviour to not trust those othersIsaac
    Hardly! It is paranoid behavior unless one has specific sound reasons for distrusting. I suggest you consult DSM 5.
    PPD (Paranoid Personality Disorder) is a DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), diagnosis assigned to individuals who have a pervasive, persistent, and enduring mistrust of others, and a profoundly cynical view of others and the world.American Psychiatric Association, 2013

    Case in point. who told you he told over 13,000 lies?Isaac
    Pettifogging. You are creating a diversion instead of addressing my point that no rational follower of D.T. could fail to notice many of his lies.

    That may well be true, but you haven't demonstrated that he, at the same time, knows it to be true that his crowds were smaller.Isaac
    I am not seeking metaphysical certitude with my examples. I am merely suggesting directions to look in order to see what I see. So, raising possible alternatives in specific cases misses the point. The point is that this type of behavior occurs, and it is useful to reflect upon it. It is not that my example is infallibly a case of such behavior. I am morally certain it is -- certain beyond a reasonable doubt. Aides normally inform presidents of such things. I am not metaphysically certain that it is -- my conclusion lacks absolute necessity.

    I'm arguing that there is no ground for saying that external objects (with properties consistent to that object) exist outside of our definition of them.Isaac
    "No ground"? In that case, you have a long way to go. It seems clear to me that many of our perceptions have specific, enduring sources, and that specificity grounds our property concepts.

    no grounds for assuming that it could not have been otherwise.Isaac
    I agree that sensible objects have no intrinsic necessity. They are metaphysically contingent. Beyond that, I have no idea what you mean by thinking it could have been otherwise. Do you mean that ants might not have evolved? Or that we might not have noticed that ants are organic unities, and so might not have formed the concept <ant>? Or that we could have evolved without giving "privilege" to sensations of organisms? Or what?

    Like the constellation Orion. It definitely is in the shape of a man with a belt and a bow. We're not making that up. But it is also in the shape of dozens of other things we've chosen to ignore.Isaac
    Quite true, but, I think, entirely irrelevant. In thinking of an ant, we are not saying this little six-legged thing in the sugar bowl is like something else. We are saying it is an ant. It is also like many other things -- say, a moving speck of pepper -- but that likeness is irrelevant to calling it "an ant." We call it "an ant" because it has the objective capacity to elicit our concept <ant> -- not because it is like a moving pepper speck. Orion does not have the objective capacity to elicit the notes of comprehension in our concept <a man with a belt and a bow>.
  • Ø implies everything
    252
    Sorry for not responding in a while, I've unfortunately been busy with work.

    In the case of "You know that p", the audience and the subject are the same person. The truth condition is not redundant, but conveys the information that the speaker endorses the subject's belief that p.Ludwig V

    So, you are saying that the truth criterion of the JTB definition is evaluated from the standpoint of the speaker, regardless of the subject of knowledge? That is, if I say that someone else than me knows something, then the truth criterion applies to the proposition that I am stating? More formally, it seems you are saying the following:

    He knows p = He is justified in believing p and this proposition is true/known by me

    That would be absurd, given that the truth criterion is written into the JTB definition of the verb to know, and I am not the subject of that verb in the 2nd and 3rd cases; whomever I am speaking of is.

    Which brings us back to the fact that the proposition thus has not only the same truth-value, but also the same informational value, with or without the truth criterion, if we have a non-skeptical account of truth. Now, use the assumption that has been present throughout our discussion: I know p = I am justified in believing p = It is proven true to me that p. With this assumption, please tell me what the informational difference between these sentences are:

    You know p versus You are justified in believing p versus It is proven true to you that p

    And

    They know p versus They are justified in believing p versus It is proven true to them that p
  • Isaac
    10.3k
    What they are calling "a contradictory unconscious real belief" I am calling "knowledge."Dfpolis

    Right. Your terminology is bizarre. You're referring to the fact that people can simultaneously hold contradictory beliefs and that one of those beliefs may turn out to be true (and the other false)?

    That is a really heterodox use of the word "knowledge" in the psychological sense you were using it. when we use the word "knowledge" we're typically referring to self-aware knowledge (beliefs we have sufficient confidence in). You're transporting what I suspect might be a philosophical definition (I couldn't be sure as I'm not a philosopher), into a psychological phenomena (I am a psychologist).

    What there's no evidence for (though I'm sure there are theorists who are working on the hypothesis) is having two contradictory beliefs - at contradictory confidence levels.

    Risk-reward behaviour is not illogical, nor irrational because it is affected by values. If I believe (with low confidence) that there is a million pounds inside a box and also hold the contradictory belief (but with high confidence - what we might call knowledge) that there is a trap in the box, it is not irrational for me to act on the low confidence belief. It depends on how much I value a million pounds and how high a tolerance for risk I have.

    Unless the second belief is held with absolute 100% confidence, then it is not necessarily irrational to act on the contradictory, low confidence belief if one has a high tolerance of risk and values highly the outcome if that second belief turns out (against the odds) to be true.

    I only claimed that acting on a belief was a sign of commitmentDfpolis

    Yes, but without support. Beliefs are not these rigid binomial settings you seem to think they are. I don't either believe or not believe most things, I hold some things to be true with a high degree of confidence and their opposites to be false with a high degree of confidence. I am absolutely 100% certain of a few fundamental things. The crowd numbers at Donald Trump's inauguration is not one of them. If you are 100% certain of such things, it is you who are the unusual case and your assumption that others are just like you is what is causing this confusion.

    I saw the picture of his crowd next to the picture of Obama's crowd. You could pettifog with various objections, but that is a rational basis for my conclusion on crowd size.Dfpolis

    Having a rational basis is necessary but not sufficient. There are several theories which have an equally rational basis, As Quine (and others) have expounded on, most theories are underdetermined.

    It is paranoid behavior unless one has specific sound reasons for distrusting.Dfpolis

    Exactly. Your 'sound reasons' are not the same as other people's 'sound reasons'.

    You are creating a diversion instead of addressing my point that no rational follower of D.T. could fail to notice many of his lies.Dfpolis

    It's not a point. It's just a declaration without evidence. On what grounds could "no rational follower of D.T. ... fail to notice many of his lies."? That you think they're lies? That the New York Times says so? People do not do primary research. they trust others, and different people trust different others.

    The point is that this type of behavior occurs, and it is useful to reflect upon it.Dfpolis

    Without demonstrating it in any given case you can't claim it occurs.

    "No ground"? In that case, you have a long way to go. It seems clear to me that many of our perceptions have specific, enduring sources, and that specificity grounds our property concepts.Dfpolis

    Since when does "it seems to me" constitute grounds?

    Do you mean that ants might not have evolved? Or that we might not have noticed that ants are organic unities, and so might not have formed the concept <ant>?Dfpolis

    It's not a matter of 'noticing' that ants are organic unities. Again, you're begging the question. what I'm asking you to demonstrate is the grounds for believing that ants are in fact organic unities absent of our declaring them to be.

    We call it "an ant" because it has the objective capacity to elicit our concept <ant>Dfpolis

    In what sense is that a property of the ant (absent of humans)?
  • Janus
    15.7k
    Since when does "it seems to me" constitute grounds?Isaac

    The "grounds" that support what seems to you are the "grounds" that seem to you to be such. It is the same with everyone; you're nothing special.
  • Isaac
    10.3k
    The "grounds" that support what seems to you are the "grounds" that seem to you to be such.Janus

    Yep. I was asking what those grounds actually are, in this case. I'm aware they will only ever be those grounds which 'seem to one to be grounds' but I haven't had any such grounds yet.

    Saying "it seems to me" only tells me that there exist such grounds (in a rational person), it doesn't tell me what they are.
  • Ludwig V
    948
    No apology necessary. Everyone has an off-line life to live.

    So, you are saying that the truth criterion of the JTB definition is evaluated from the standpoint of the speaker, regardless of the subject of knowledge? That is, if I say that someone else than me knows something, then the truth criterion applies to the proposition that I am stating?Ø implies everything

    The answer to the first question is Yes. The answer to the second question is No. The truth criterion applies to the proposition known - to the "that.." clause.

    You say: -
    He knows p = He is justified in believing p and this proposition is true/known by meØ implies everything

    I say: - He knows that p = He is justified in believing that p and p is true.

    There are two issues in what you say after that.

    First, you assume that "justify" means "conclusively justify". That's not obvious and not universally accepted. I waver somewhat on this.

    Second, you are assuming that there is only one proof for each proposition. That's not the case. The justification (whether conclusive or not) available to the S (the person who knows or doesn't) may not be the same as the truth-conditions available to the speaker. In any case, in practice endorsement by the speaker provides additional reassurance to the audience. Even if the S's justification and the truth-conditions available to the speaker are the same, endorsement by the speaker strengthens the testimony. "Believes" can never do this.
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