• ZzzoneiroCosm
    953
    As for example, when someone proposes an argument to us that we cannot refute, we say to him, "Before the founder of the sect to which you belong was born, the argument which you propose in accordance with it had not appeared as a valid argument, but was dormant in nature, so in the same way it is possible that its refutation also exists in nature, but has not yet appeared to us, so that it is not at all necessary for us to agree with an argument that now seems to be strong."

    Sextus Empiricus



    Does the prospect of a unknown future refutation make the strongest argument weak? Should it at the very least temper a dogmatic approach to knowledge- and certainty-pronouncements?
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    953
    Addendum: It's wise to beware (moreover) of an uknown future refutation of the possibility of an unknown future refutation.

    Is it possible to refute the possibility of an unknown future refutation?
  • Gregory
    969
    Hegel says there are only partial moving truths within a part of the whole of reality
  • ZzzoneiroCosm
    953


    Can you point out where he says that? Thanks.
  • Gregory
    969
    He often says a truth is negated, and makes truth a movement. I've read his first book twice and the philosophy of mind
  • ovdtogt
    667
    a dogmatic approach to knowledge- and certainty-pronouncements?ZzzoneiroCosm

    Dogmatism should only be used in religion.

    an argument to us that we cannot refute
    — ZzzoneiroCosm

    An argument need not be refuted (by us). An argument needs to be demonstrated.

    Philosophy look into the distance from the pedestal of scientific knowledge.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Does the prospect of a unknown future refutation make the strongest argument weakZzzoneiroCosm

    Without argumentation an argument can not be strong.
  • A Seagull
    463
    One cannot refute nonsense, it can only be ignored.

    Many so called arguments amount to little more than nonsense or an arbitrary arrangement of words; they are best ignored.
  • javra
    1k
    Does the prospect of a unknown future refutation make the strongest argument weak?ZzzoneiroCosm

    No. The purpose of an argument or justification is to substantiate that one's belief-that (always of what is true) is in fact true (in fact conforms to that which is real). The unknown of whether or not an unknown future refutation to that which is affirmed exists doesn't change the fact that the given substantiation for the affirmation is strong.

    The unknown of whether or not an unknown future refutation exists only makes the substantiation, and therefore the affirmation, less than epistemically infallible.

    Should it at the very least temper a dogmatic approach to knowledge- and certainty-pronouncements?ZzzoneiroCosm

    If the dogmatism deals in infallible pronouncements - such as in "it is unquestionably true because I (or he, etc.) says so" - then yes. Otherwise, it to me seems contradictory that affirmations are not a product of psychological certainty for that affirmed. The affirmation quoted in the OP gives all indications of Empiricus being very psychologically certain of what he states, for example.

    Addendum: It's wise to beware (moreover) of an uknown future refutation of the possibility of an unknown future refutation.ZzzoneiroCosm

    Agreed.

    Is it possible to refute the possibility of an unknown future refutation?ZzzoneiroCosm

    Until such refutation is provided, it can only remain unknown whether or not such refutation is possible. But until it is provided, all affirmations remain less than infallible, i.e. fallible to varying degrees.

    My take so far is that their fallibility is why we must be capable of justifying our beliefs to be true if they are in fact true. If they're untrue, our attempts to justify them will at some point become inconsistent, incoherent, or both. Hence the notion of (fallible) knowledge-that as JTB.
  • khaled
    1.3k
    In other words: "There may be a refutation to your argument but I don't know it." I don't think that really amounts to anything. That an argument might be wrong doesn't make it a "weak" argument, especially if it has gone without refutation for a long time. Every argument "might" be wrong, including this one
  • TheMadFool
    5.8k
    As for example, when someone proposes an argument to us that we cannot refute, we say to him, "Before the founder of the sect to which you belong was born, the argument which you propose in accordance with it had not appeared as a valid argument, but was dormant in nature, so in the same way it is possible that its refutation also exists in nature, but has not yet appeared to us, so that it is not at all necessary for us to agree with an argument that now seems to be strong."

    Sextus Empiricus

    Does the prospect of a unknown future refutation make the strongest argument weak? Should it at the very least temper a dogmatic approach to knowledge- and certainty-pronouncements
    ZzzoneiroCosm

    Addendum: It's wise to beware (moreover) of an uknown future refutation of the possibility of an unknown future refutation.

    Is it possible to refute the possibility of an unknown future refutation?
    ZzzoneiroCosm

    The problem of induction and Popper's falsifiability anticipated. I don't know if it works for deductive logic though. The square root of 2 was irrational before the Pythagoreans deduced it and will always be irrational till the end of time itself.

    Also the word "refutation" says a lot about what Sextus Empericus meant. It implies a premise or premises will turn out to be false but it's unlikely that there will be a problem with validity. This ties in quite neatly with the problem of induction and Popper's falsifiability doesn't it?
  • A Seagull
    463
    The fallacy is that what is supposed to be 'true' cannot be shown logically to be 'true', there is always an element of 'hand-waving' within the argument.
  • javra
    1k
    The problem of induction and Popper's falsifiability anticipated. I don't know if it works for deductive logic though. The square root of 2 was irrational before the Pythagoreans deduced it and will always be irrational till the end of time itself.TheMadFool

    As for example, when someone proposes an argument to us that we cannot refute, we say to him, "Before the founder of the sect to which you belong was born, the argument which you propose in accordance with it had not appeared as a valid argument, but was dormant in nature, so in the same way it is possible that its refutation also exists in nature, but has not yet appeared to us, so that it is not at all necessary for us to agree with an argument that now seems to be strong."

    Sextus Empiricus
    ZzzoneiroCosm

    The square root of 2 being irrational to me seems to be precisely the type of affirmation which we cannot refute in practice. While I find the boldfaced text somewhat weak in its argument (and, for that matter, dislike the emotive tone of what follows and thereby ends the sentence), the idea that I make out is this: if one cannot prove that at no future time will anyone find conceivable what to us is currently inconceivable (say some sapient being that will exist a million years from now) then neither can one demonstrate the infallibility of the claim. We find it impossible to conceive of how the square root of 2 is not irrational; can this of itself demonstrate that all intelligences that shall exist for all time yet to come will likewise find it impossible to conceive of some justifiable alternative to this affirmation? If not, then we have not demonstrated that no unknown future refutation is possible.

    I mention this because a) it (fallibly) evidences that all our affirmations are fallible, even the ones we cannot refute (such as the example you've provided) and, to me far more importantly, b) it illustrates the absurdity of doubting the truth of any affirmation merely because it is not evidenced to be epistemically infallible.

    Also the word "refutation" says a lot about what Sextus Empericus meant. It implies a premise or premises will turn out to be false but it's unlikely that there will be a problem with validity. This ties in quite neatly with the problem of induction and Popper's falsifiability doesn't it?TheMadFool

    Not "will turn out to be false" but "might (or might not) turn out to be false". We already know that "all swans are white" is false. That "all swans are either white or black" might someday turn out to be false just as readily as it might never turn out to be false (the latter on account of being ontically true).

    Yes, I for one do see an important tie with induction and the principle of falsification - and, hence, with knowledge gained from the empirical sciences.
  • TheMadFool
    5.8k
    Well, to my knowledge logic excludes only one possibility - a contradiction. I've heard of paraconsistent logic but I think it simply toys with the concept of contradiction in a hypothetical sense without any real practical application. This is just a vague feeling and I maybe wrong. Nonetheless even paraconsistent logic must have some rules that set a limit to what is possible and impossible. I'm not sure.

    Anyway what I want to get at is the often cited example of wave-particle duality of light and the paradoxes of quantum mechanics which all boil down to contradictions in my view. It's here where things get confusing for me. Is logic a priori or a posteriori? I think it's a choice between rationalism and empiricism but I'm not very clear on that.

    The basic question is: Is logic derived from how the world works or is logic independent and prior to how the world behaves? Rationalists probably believe that logic is independent of nature and is a priori but then how do we make sense of quantum mechanics which violates the law of noncontradiction? Plus what do we make of the word "because" which suggests a link between causality and logic, the former being a pattern in the world and ergo an a posteriori concept?

    If logic is a posteriori then Sextus Empericus covers all the bases and nothing, including even the best of deductive arguments, is infallible.

    However, if logic is a priori then all wrinkles (contradictions) in the logical fabric instantiated in quantum mechanics and other fields are illusions and represent ignorance if anything at all.
  • Gregory
    969
    So myth goes, Adam, before Eve was made, lay on the grass at night and watched as the revolving heavens (infinity plus infinity, or times) molded logic and rationality into his brain
  • javra
    1k
    The basic question is: Is logic derived from how the world works or is logic independent and prior to how the world behaves?TheMadFool

    I’ll offer my perspective, but, before I do, as per the contents of my previous post, I do find that no matter the answer affirmed, it will be less than infallible.

    As for my non-orthodox view, on one level, all sound deductive logic will require true premises. The truth of premises will in all cases require some reality that is conformed to. The conformity to the referenced reality will be less than infallible. Hence, all sound deductive reasoning is less than infallible in its conclusions.

    As to logic itself as laws, principles, and rules into which data is inputted, so to speak, logic cannot be used to substantiate the credibility of logic, for so attempting presumes the very conclusion one is attempting to arrive at from the very get go - this irrespective of the specific instantiation of logic used. This makes the credibility of logic in general less than epistemically infallible. Notwithstanding, we are psychologically stuck with needing to find logic in general trustworthy; to my mind, that should answer that.

    As to the metaphysics of logic, my own view is that logic is neither derived from the world nor independent of the world. Logic when generally addressed, hence when starting with rudimentary laws of thought, is rather an a priori aspect of awareness (my view is somewhat Kantian on this). From its a priori aspects we sapient beings can then extrapolate axiomatic rules and experiment with them via trial and error. But logic when more loosely interpreted as the rules which govern reasoning and inferences (rather than formalized logic or, else, the study of the rules which govern inferences) is, again, an a priori aspect of experience - again, neither derived from the world nor independent of it.

    [edit: The laws of identity and of non-contradiction, for example, are integral to any instantiation of immediate experience. For instance, because everything that occurs within any given moment of immediate experience will occur during the same span of time, these contents cannot be discerned to be mutually exclusive strictly from the given experience and, hence, can only abide by the law of non-contradiction (contradictions require that givens discerned to be mutually exclusive are further discerned to co-occur at the same time, at least imo). And these two laws' innateness to experience is prior to use of these same laws to infer their manifestation via abstract thought. This in itself is probably deserving of further explanation, but I thought I should better substantiate my aforementioned claim that logic is an a priori aspect of experience.]

    Don’t know if it’s of any benefit but that’s my current take. And while I’m certain there is a lot that could be debated in at least some of what I’ve just affirmed, my basic point was this: Logic itself cannot be epistemically evidenced to be infallible – this though we have no choice but to trust its capacity of producing accurate results whenever devoid of errors.

    I’m avoiding the particle-wave duality issue because I don’t want to here engage in speculations of how QM might not in any way be inherently contradictory.
  • TheMadFool
    5.8k
    As for my non-orthodox view, on one level, all sound deductive logic will require true premises. The truth of premises will in all cases require some reality that is conformed to. The conformity to the referenced reality will be less than infallible. Hence, all sound deductive reasoning is less than infallible in its conclusions.javra

    Agreed.

    logic cannot be used to substantiate the credibility of logic, for so attempting presumes the very conclusion one is attempting to arrive at from the very get go - this irrespective of the specific instantiation of logic usedjavra

    Yeah. I remember starting a thread titled "The fallacy of logic" on this issue, pointing out that logic itself is unproven as to its ability to always discover truths. Someone then remarked that any attempt at such a proof already assumes logic has that ability.

    However, let's study the nature of this circularity. As far as I can see an argument to justify logic as the correct method for discovering truth is circular only because we need argument and that is already assuming that logic is the correct method of arriving at the truth which in this case is whether logic is justified or not.

    However, is this obvious circularity really damaging to our attempt to justify logic? If I remember correctly, a bad circular argument simply restates the premise as a conclusion and is that how a justificatory argument for logic is/has to be?

    The argument that any attempt to justify logic is circular would look like this:

    Argument A:
    1. Logic requires that all claims have to be justified
    2. Logic is the best way to arrive at the truth i.e. logic is justified
    3. Claim 2 requires justification because of claim 1
    4. Claim 3 (we need an argument) assumes 2 (logic is already justified) (circularity)

    Despite the obvious circularity I think there's a way to justify logic as follows

    Argument B:
    1. Any claim can be true or false
    2. To determine the truth value of a claim we need a method; this method is justification/argumentation
    Ergo
    3. It's a requirement that all claims have to be justified (if we want to know the truth value of the claim)
    4. Logic is the requirement that all claims have to be justified
    5. The requirement that all claims have to be justified is the only way we can determine truth/falsehood
    Ergo
    6. Logic is the only way we can determine truth/falsehood
    7. If logic is the only way we can determine truth/falsehood then logic is justified
    Ergo
    8. Logic is justified

    Yes, the above, argument B, is an argument and although there is a circularity in that I've used logic to prove itself, the circularity is external to the argument, a meta-circularity if you like. The argument itself contains no internal circularity and therefore, is sound.

    Do you see any problems with it?
  • javra
    1k
    If I were to try to play devils advocate, I'd try using Agripa's trilemma as a counter. But I'll be forthright. At first glance, I like you're argument B.

    Just in case it is sound:

    Hence, all sound deductive reasoning is less than infallible in its conclusions. — javra


    Agreed.
    TheMadFool

    :smile: :razz: ... This wouldn't tarnish the argument's strength though.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.9k
    Is a refutation itself an argument? Can a successful refutation be refuted in the future?

    I ask because, in the case of irrational numbers, the proof of their existence consists of a refutation of an argument that certain numeric quantities can be expressed as ratios of integers. The Pythagoreans originally insisted vehemently that every number could be expressed as a ratio of two integers, and then someone refuted that by showing that some definitely cannot. Is that refutation not set in stone now, as much as the observation of one black swan forever refutes the claim that all swans are white?
  • TheMadFool
    5.8k
    :ok:

    My argument boils down to self-justification - the circularity that pops up whenever we attempt to justify logic.

    I've been using "logic" in a loose sense but it appears to me that we need to make a distinction between rationality and logic. The circularity we talked about concerns the former which makes the demand for justification and not the latter which simply captures the elements of inference.

    Rationality requires justification for claims. This is necessary if we are to find out what truth value a certain claim has and the method by which you determine that is logic.

    Since rationality asks for justification, the same requirement should apply to it, right? But that would mean it already assumes that rationality is justified. However, given that the only method for discovering the truth of a claim is to justify it and this is exactly what rationality is, it means we have no choice other than to accept rationality as justified.

    What would be the other option to rationality is not justified? Is there another method by which we may find truth values of claims? No, I can't think of any method, other than justification (rationality), that can help decide what the truth value of a claim is.

    As for logic, in the stricter sense of the term, it's about defining the rules of how we should think. It itself needs no justification and all it has to do is ensure that its rules agree with our thought patterns.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.9k
    Just want to note that rationality is not synonymous with justification. Critical rationalism is anti-justificationist.
  • javra
    1k
    The Pythagoreans originally insisted vehemently that every number could be expressed as a ratio of two integers, and then someone refuted that by showing that some definitely cannot. Is that refutation not set in stone now, as much as the observation of one black swan forever refutes the claim that all swans are white?Pfhorrest

    It's in trying to answer questions like these that I believe the Ancient Skeptics got such a bad reputation over the years. :wink: It requires illustration of possibilities that evidence a lack of infallibility which then gets others to doubt things unreasonably.

    There's this fallback:
    if one cannot prove that at no future time will anyone find conceivable what to us is currently inconceivable (say some sapient being that will exist a million years from now) then neither can one demonstrate the infallibility of the claim. We find it impossible to conceive of how the square root of 2 is not irrational; can this of itself demonstrate that all intelligences that shall exist for all time yet to come will likewise find it impossible to conceive of some justifiable alternative to this affirmation? If not, then we have not demonstrated that no unknown future refutation is possible.javra

    This same argument would apply for the refutation of all swans being white as well.

    Being only humorous, what if all swans that appear to be black were in fact white swans that some person painted with permanent ink? Yes, this is absurdly non-credible for a number of reasons. Yes, other more sci-fi possibilities could be easily produced, maybe without end - some of which might hold more sway. But before the topic enters into issues such as that of mass selective hallucinations telepathically produced by aliens with a funny sense of humor, and the like, the point to any such possible example is here only to show that the criteria of being "perfectly secure from all possible error", i.e. of being infallible, hasn't been met.

    And this absence of currently held infallibility will then apply even for the refutation of any given argument.

    But not all fallible, psychological certainties are of the same strength. One can be certain of a gut feeling that one has not justified but most will deem such psychological certainties to be weaker than the thoroughly justified psychological certainty that planet Earth is spherical. Strong refutations, just like strong arguments, are of strong psychological certainty.

    Am a bit tired now, but if didn't express something properly or am wrong about something, I'm sure I'll find out about it later.
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