• Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    Smith cannot believe both, that he will get the job, and that someone else will get the job.creativesoul

    I agree, that's basically what I said, natural reason delivers us toward an either this or that sort of belief. So I don't really see your point.

    But suppose that someone convinces Smith that the reality of "the job" is such that he might be sharing it with someone else. Then we must revise this statement, to allow that Smith might believe he will get the job, and someone else will also get the job.
  • creativesoul
    8.8k


    There were a couple different points being made...

    My basic point(the reason I first posted) was that natural reason does not demand coherency. If that were true, it would not be possible for a normal average everyday layperson to hold contradictory beliefs.

    But they do.

    The bit about Gettier was in agreement with your other point about someone being convinced that contradiction is acceptable. Except, with Gettier, that contradiction is not admitted...
  • TheMadFool
    7.3k
    You want to define truth in relation to correspondence, yet you keep insisting that falsehood can be demonstrated by inconsistency.Metaphysician Undercover

    You're conflating two things. The definition of truth/falsehood and the falsity implied by an inconsistency. These are two different things. The former is about what we mean by truth/falsehood and the latter is about the truth/falsehood relationship among a given set of propositions. When I say that an inconsistency in a group of propositions implies a falsehood, I don't mean that in the sense the inconsistency provides us with a definition of falsehood, as you seem to be thinking, and that that definition aids us in deciding there's a falsehood among the propositions.

    What's actually going on is that, an inconsistent set of propositions, call this set X, entails a contradiction (p & ~p). How did we arrive at that contradiction? By assuming all propositions in the set X to be true? Ergo, reductio ad absurdum, at least one of the propositions in X must be false. The detection of a falsehood in X isn't based on some kind of definition of falsehood inconsistency provides us but is actually a reductio ad absurdum inference.

    You claim that inconsistency has nothing to do with truth or falsity, then you proceed to argue that inconsistency demonstrates falsehood.Metaphysician Undercover

    By that I meant the definition of truth and falsity has nothing to do with inconsistency which is what you're all about. By way of an explanation for what I mean, allow me an analogy. You must've played the game of chance, LUDO, as a young child. Suppose you and I are playing this game one-on-one. There are four colors to choose from and we're free to choose any one of them. However, once the colors are chosen, they're antagonistic in the sense, whatever color we choose, both can't occupy the same square. Definitions of truth and faleshood are like the colors we choose and inconsistency is the rule in the game where, whatever color we've chosen, they both can't occupy the same square. If I were now to inform a third party that a situation where two pieces were on the same square occurred but that it resulted in one of the pieces being returned to the starting position (inconsistency), the third party can come to the correct conclusion that the pieces involved were not of the same color (falsehood detected). As you can see, the third party's realization that the colors are not of the same color (inconsistency i.e. one is true and the other is a falsehood) doesn't depend on knowing which colors the two of us were playing with (which definition of true and false the two of us were employing).
  • Harry Hindu
    3.5k
    Well, I don't think so really. All we need is a proper definition of "reason". The more specific term is defined in relation to the more general, but a definition of the more general defining feature is usually not necessary. So for example, we might define "human being" through reference to the more general, "mammal". A definition of "mammal" may or may not be called for. We define "mammal" in reference to "animal", and a definition of "animal" may or may not be called for. Likewise, if we define "reason" in reference to consciousness, a definition of consciousness may or may not be required.Metaphysician Undercover

    This is nonsense. If part of the definition of a mammal is that it is part of the group that we call animals, then animals needs to be defined in order to properly define mammals. The same goes for consciousness if you are going to say that reason is limited only to it.

    So what is it about reason that makes it limited to consciousness?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    My basic point(the reason I first posted) was that natural reason does not demand coherency. If that were true, it would not be possible for a normal average everyday layperson to hold contradictory beliefs.creativesoul

    This is not true, as I explained. Contradictory beliefs can be held by a person, so long as the contradiction is not evident to the person who holds the contradictory believes, This is due to the way that a person understands one's own beliefs, and relates them to each other.. A person may come to believe one thing at one time, and hold that belief, then come to believe a contradictory thing at a later time, and hold that belief as well. Unless the person uses reason to analyze and compare the two beliefs they will not recognize the contradiction. The person might continue through life applying the one principle in one type of situation, and the contradicting principle in another type of situation without even realizing that one's own behaviour is inconsistent.

    The definition of truth/falsehood and the falsity implied by an inconsistency. These are two different things.TheMadFool

    Sure they are different things, but it amounts to equivocation, to use falsity in the two different ways in the same argument. So it's not that I am conflating two different things, you are equivocating.

    When I say that an inconsistency in a group of propositions implies a falsehood, I don't mean that in the sense the inconsistency provides us with a definition of falsehood, as you seem to be thinking, and that that definition aids us in deciding there's a falsehood among the propositions.TheMadFool

    You do not seem to understand the problem. You cannot say that inconsistency implies falsehood, while maintaining consistency with our definition of "falsehood". It's not that you're redefining falsehood, but you're using it in a way which is unsupported by our definition. Therefore I reject that use as unacceptable, because what you are doing is known as equivocation.

    What's actually going on is that, an inconsistent set of propositions, call this set X, entails a contradiction (p & ~p). How did we arrive at that contradiction? By assuming all propositions in the set X to be true? Ergo, reductio ad absurdum, at least one of the propositions in X must be false. The detection of a falsehood in X isn't based on some kind of definition of falsehood inconsistency provides us but is actually a reductio ad absurdum inference.TheMadFool

    OK, so this is what is at issue here. When we learn how to reason formally, with mathematics, deductive logic, etc., we learn that it is not necessary that the proposition be true. The natural tendency for a human being might be to only proceed from premises believed to be true, but we are trained to suppress that natural tendency, and proceed from premises regardless of the truth or falsity of the premises, we suspend judgement on that. This gives many advantages to the logical process. However, the detection of logical inconsistency cannot be claimed to be a detection of falsity, as you insist, because we have divorced the logical proceeding from the judgement of truth and falsity.

    By that I meant the definition of truth and falsity has nothing to do with inconsistency which is what you're all about. By way of an explanation for what I mean, allow me an analogy. You must've played the game of chance, LUDO, as a young child. Suppose you and I are playing this game one-on-one. There are four colors to choose from and we're free to choose any one of them. However, once the colors are chosen, they're antagonistic in the sense, whatever color we choose, both can't occupy the same square. Definitions of truth and faleshood are like the colors we choose and inconsistency is the rule in the game where, whatever color we've chosen, they both can't occupy the same square. If I were now to inform a third party that a situation where two pieces were on the same square occurred but that it resulted in one of the pieces being returned to the starting position (inconsistency), the third party can come to the correct conclusion that the pieces involved were not of the same color (falsehood detected). As you can see, the third party's realization that the colors are not of the same color (inconsistency i.e. one is true and the other is a falsehood) doesn't depend on knowing which colors the two of us were playing with (which definition of true and false the two of us were employing).TheMadFool

    You are describing the logical process as if we must make a judgement as to truth or falsity before applying the logic. But this is not the case, as described above. We are actually trained to proceed without making any such judgement. That's why logicians use symbols which do not refer to anything, to learn the procedures, so that we can proceed with pure logic without the bias which judgements of true and false present to us, impeding our progress.

    This is nonsense. If part of the definition of a mammal is that it is part of the group that we call animals, then animals needs to be defined in order to properly define mammals. The same goes for consciousness if you are going to say that reason is limited only to it.Harry Hindu

    That's your opinion, but I think it is very clear that it is incorrect. If we need each term defined as you say, there'd be an infinite regress of definitions, and no one would understand anything. In reality, at some point we get to a broad, vague term, and we do not request any further definition. So, for example, human being is defined as a mammal, and some might accept this, others might ask to define mammal. Mammal is defined as animal, and most would accept this as going far enough. But if we go further, we say it's a living being, and further, a living being is an existing thing. And what does it mean to exist? Ad infinitum.

    So what is it about reason that makes it limited to consciousness?Harry Hindu

    As I said, it's defined that way, the more general term being used to define the more specific. Reason (the more specific) is defined as a feature of consciousness (the more general).
  • TheMadFool
    7.3k
    Sure they are different things, but it amounts to equivocation, to use falsity in the two different ways in the same argumentMetaphysician Undercover

    What I did would qualify as an equivocation if and only if I used different definitions of falsehood. I didn't. The actual definition is important for sure but inconsistency is relationship in which propositions differ in truth value. If so, surely one of them has to be a falsehood; otherwise how would the differ in truth value?

    However, the detection of logical inconsistency cannot be claimed to be a detection of falsity, as you insist, because we have divorced the logical proceeding from the judgement of truth and falsity.Metaphysician Undercover

    Read above.

    You are describing the logical process as if we must make a judgement as to truth or falsity before applying the logic. But this is not the case, as described above. We are actually trained to proceed without making any such judgement. That's why logicians use symbols which do not refer to anything, to learn the procedures, so that we can proceed with pure logic without the bias which judgements of true and false present to us, impeding our progress.Metaphysician Undercover

    Consistency/inconsistency is about logic and not about the definition of true and false.

    By the way, there are systems of logic (paraconsistent logic, dialetheism, and perhaps others) that tolerate, even encourage I suppose, inconsistencies and contradictions. Perhaps you should have a look at them.

    I just can't wrap my head around someone saying P and ~P and being true on both counts. Proposition X is something that I can't make heads or tails of: Ne caput nec pedes!

    To not stall this discussion, I'd like to suggest something. Please describe what the meaning of the most obvious inconsistency, the contradiction (p & ~p), would be in a system that tolerates inconsistencies, the kind you're suggesting here?
  • creativesoul
    8.8k
    My basic point(the reason I first posted) was that natural reason does not demand coherency. If that were true, it would not be possible for a normal average everyday layperson to hold contradictory beliefs. But they do.creativesoul

    This is not true, as I explained. Contradictory beliefs can be held by a person...Metaphysician Undercover

    There's a bit of irony here...
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    What I did would qualify as an equivocation if and only if I used different definitions of falsehood.TheMadFool

    Here's what Wikipedia says:
    "In logic, equivocation ('calling two different things by the same name') is an informal fallacy resulting from the use of a particular word/expression in multiple senses within an argument."
    There is no requirement for definitions. All that is required is to use the word in "multiple senses", which you already admitted that you did. Now you ought to admit that what you did was a fallacy called equivocation.

    The actual definition is important for sure but inconsistency is relationship in which propositions differ in truth value.TheMadFool

    No, I just went through, this. We do not need to judge propositions for truth value in order to determine that one is inconsistent with another, we can look for contradiction.

    By the way, there are systems of logic (paraconsistent logic, dialetheism, and perhaps others) that tolerate, even encourage I suppose, inconsistencies and contradictions. Perhaps you should have a look at them.TheMadFool

    I know, that's what I've been talking about, it's the point of the thread. Some people believe that the nature of the physical world is such that contradiction, and other inconsistencies are required to accurately describe it. The question though, is if it is the right thing to do, to reject natural reason for this artificial form of reason, which has been manipulated to allow contradiction and incoherency, for the sake of corresponding with observations.

    I just can't wrap my head around someone saying P and ~P and being true on both counts. Proposition X is something that I can't make heads or tails of: Ne caput nec pedes!TheMadFool

    I agree, I find this very difficult. What I tend to believe, is that the observations, which lead people toward these artificial forms of logic, are themselves faulty. So instead of reshaping logical principles, to correspond with observations, we ought to revisit these observations to determine the faults within them, and see what makes them inconsistent with natural reason.

    To not stall this discussion, I'd like to suggest something. Please describe what the meaning of the most obvious inconsistency, the contradiction (p & ~p), would be in a system that tolerates inconsistencies, the kind you're suggesting here?TheMadFool

    The issue, as I see it, is that in some instances we cannot determine whether P, or not-P is what is the case (true). Natural reason tells us that it cannot be both (contradiction), nor can it be neither (excluded middle). If, after much examination, this continues to be the situation, we will be inclined to produce a principle to account for this situation, by violating either the law of non-contradiction, or the law of excluded middle.

    There's a bit of irony here...creativesoul

    If there's irony there, it goes way over my head. Oh well, I've always had difficulty discussing anything with you anyway. Who cares?
  • creativesoul
    8.8k


    Here's the irony...

    You claimed both, that natural reason demands coherency, and that laypeople can indeed hold contradictory beliefs. So, either lay people do not use natural reason(which is contradictory to what you've already claimed) or natural reason does not demand coherency(which is also contradictory to what you've already claimed).

    ...you hold contradictory beliefs.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.5k
    That's your opinion, but I think it is very clear that it is incorrect. If we need each term defined as you say, there'd be an infinite regress of definitions, and no one would understand anythingMetaphysician Undercover
    Only if there were an infinite number of words. There isnt, so your argument is invalid.

    As I said, it's defined that way, the more general term being used to define the more specific. Reason (the more specific) is defined as a feature of consciousness (the more general).Metaphysician Undercover
    And yet you can't define reason without using the word consciousness. So either define consciousness or define reason without using the word. Does not reason entail using information to achieve some goal? Does a computer reason? If you're going to say no because the computer isn't conscious, then you'd be using circular reasoning. You'd need to define consciousness and why you think brains are conscious but not computers.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    Here's the irony...

    You claimed both, that natural reason demands coherency, and that laypeople can indeed hold contradictory beliefs. So, either lay people do not use natural reason(which is contradictory to what you've already claimed) or natural reason does not demand coherency(which is also contradictory to what you've already claimed).

    ...you hold contradictory beliefs.
    creativesoul

    You demonstrate the point very clearly. Whether something appears to be contradictory or not depends on how you look at it, i.e. how you interpret, understand, explain, or describe that situation.

    That was the point I made with your example "Smith cannot believe both, that he will get the job, and that someone else will get the job." The situation appears to be contradictory, therefore impossible. But if Smith looks at "the job" in a different way, there is no contradiction.

    Likewise, the way you interpret what I've said leads you to think that I believe contradiction. That's good evidence that you've misinterpreted what was said, indicating that you ought to go back and reread what the person actually said

    Only if there were an infinite number of words. There isnt, so your argument is invalid.Harry Hindu

    You seem to have forgotten about circularity. There is no need for an infinite amount of words, because an infinite regress can be supported by vicious circle. Any way, these things just demonstrate that your claim, that any word used in a definition, must itself be defined, is a false claim.

    And yet you can't define reason without using the word consciousness. So either define consciousness or define reason without using the word. Does not reason entail using information to achieve some goal? Does a computer reason? If you're going to say no because the computer isn't conscious, then you'd be using circular reasoning. You'd need to define consciousness and why you think brains are conscious but not computers.Harry Hindu

    I really don't see your point Harry. Using my guide, the dictionary, I can define reason without using the word consciousness. "The intellectual faculty by which conclusions are drawn from premises", for example. The problem is that "intellectual faculty" tends to imply a conscious thinking being.

    Is it your point to argue that a computer has an intellectual faculty, and therefore artificial reason is the same thing as natural reason? If so, you still don't get beyond the point I'm making, and that is that artificial reason is derived from natural reason, such that natural reason is prior to artificial reason. And therefore, to understand "reason" we need to understand natural reason as being the foundation for artificial reason.
  • TheMadFool
    7.3k
    Here's what Wikipedia says:
    "In logic, equivocation ('calling two different things by the same name') is an informal fallacy resulting from the use of a particular word/expression in multiple senses within an argument."
    There is no requirement for definitions. All that is required is to use the word in "multiple senses", which you already admitted that you did. Now you ought to admit that what you did was a fallacy called equivocation.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Well, give us an instance of equivocation then. A tangible and concrete example would go a long way in clearing up matters.

    P.S. Please don't use anything I said because that would be begging the question.

    Note, this is a minor issue; you may choose to ignore it.

    No, I just went through, this. We do not need to judge propositions for truth value in order to determine that one is inconsistent with another, we can look for contradiction.Metaphysician Undercover

    :ok:

    I know, that's what I've been talking about, it's the point of the thread. Some people believe that the nature of the physical world is such that contradiction, and other inconsistencies are required to accurately describe it. The question though, is if it is the right thing to do, to reject natural reason for this artificial form of reason, which has been manipulated to allow contradiction and incoherency, for the sake of corresponding with observations.Metaphysician Undercover

    My two cents:

    First, there are empirical statements, statements about our world. These, for sure, need to correspond with observations i.e. their truths are not determined by the application of logic; to the contrary, the need to be tested against observation.

    Second, beginning with a set of empirical statements and some theoretical framework, other empirical statements are implied. Nonetheless, entailed empirical statements too need to correspond with observation.

    The above is basically a sketch of the scientific method.

    Where does inconsitency enter into all of this?

    The most well-documented scientific culprit involved in violation of logical principles, specifically the law of noncontradiction - the most glaring inconsistency of all - is quantum mechanics. One common instance of a quantum contradiction is Schrodinger's cat - it's said that before the box containing the cat and a probabilistic quantum system, the cat is both dead and alive.

    Schrodinger's cat being both dead and alive is a logical impossibility in first-order logic for, in the world at our scale, if a cat's alive then it can't be dead and vice versa. No empirical evidence at our scale supports Schrodinger's cat's state of being both dead and alive. According to you then, we have to accept that the claim about Schrodinger's cat amounts to an inconsistency and this was possible not because we did something fancy with logic but because we failed to make an observation corresponding to that statement.

    Are we on the same page?

    Now suppose that it were possible to peek at Schrodinger's cat inside the box without breaking the experiment. You look inside, essentially making an observation, and find the poor cat is both dead and alive. As far as first-order logic is concerned this is frank inconsistency but the situation in this case is entirely different to the one we considered previously - we have, in this case, an observation that corresponds to Schrodinger's cat being both dead and alive. The question that then arises is this: are you going to put your faith in first-order logic and treat your observation (cat both dead and alive) as null and void or are you going to believe what you saw and make plans to modify first-order logic to accommodate your observations?

    Remember we're dealing with empirical statements.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.5k
    You seem to have forgotten about circularity. There is no need for an infinite amount of words, because an infinite regress can be supported by vicious circle. Any way, these things just demonstrate that your claim, that any word used in a definition, must itself be defined, is a false claim.Metaphysician Undercover
    You seem to have forgotten that words are merely scribbles and sounds. So to say that words are defined by other words is saying that scribbles and sounds are defined by other scribbles and sounds. But then those scribbles and sounds point to things that are not scribbles and sounds and this is the step that avoids the infinite regress. What we are doing with words is pointing to things that are not words. I don't have to define "rain" by using other words. I can point to it raining outside. But if it's not raining outside, how do I communicate the idea of rain? I have to use words and I have to keep using words until I can simply show you what the words mean. We aren't telepathic, hence we rely on scribbles and sounds to communicate the other sensations that we experience.

    I really don't see your point Harry. Using my guide, the dictionary, I can define reason without using the word consciousness.Metaphysician Undercover
    Which seems to indicate that consciousness isn't a requirement for reasoning.

    "The intellectual faculty by which conclusions are drawn from premises", for example. The problem is that "intellectual faculty" tends to imply a conscious thinking being.Metaphysician Undercover
    Computers can draw conclusions (output) from premises (input).

    Is it your point to argue that a computer has an intellectual faculty, and therefore artificial reason is the same thing as natural reason? If so, you still don't get beyond the point I'm making, and that is that artificial reason is derived from natural reason, such that natural reason is prior to artificial reason. And therefore, to understand "reason" we need to understand natural reason as being the foundation for artificial reason.Metaphysician Undercover
    The point that I am making is that there is no difference between natural and artificial reasoning. Brains are physical objects, like computers, yet you attribute natural reasoning to brains and artificial reasoning to computers. Why?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    Well, give us an instance of equivocation then. A tangible and concrete example would go a long way in clearing up matters.

    P.S. Please don't use anything I said because that would be begging the question.

    Note, this is a minor issue; you may choose to ignore it.
    TheMadFool

    I'm inclined to ignore, but since you don't seem to understand equivocation, maybe I can help. Here's an exaggerated example so it will be easy for you to follow. Say we come to a fork in the road, one road goes right and one goes left. I ask you which is the correct road to take. You say the right road is the correct road, because "right" means correct, therefore it's an obvious choice, the logical conclusion is to go right. That's an exaggerated example. Your equivocation with "falsehood" is much more subtle.

    First, there are empirical statements, statements about our world. These, for sure, need to correspond with observations i.e. their truths are not determined by the application of logic; to the contrary, the need to be tested against observation.TheMadFool

    This is not such a simple issue. To judge whether a statement corresponds requires determining the meaning of the statement. And we cannot determine what the statement means without some sort of application of logic. Otherwise, the meaning of the statement is determined by its use, and if this statement is being used to refer to this thing, then it necessarily corresponds.

    Schrodinger's cat being both dead and alive is a logical impossibility in first-order logic for, in the world at our scale, if a cat's alive then it can't be dead and vice versa. No empirical evidence at our scale supports Schrodinger's cat's state of being both dead and alive. According to you then, we have to accept that the claim about Schrodinger's cat amounts to an inconsistency and this was possible not because we did something fancy with logic but because we failed to make an observation corresponding to that statement.

    Are we on the same page?
    TheMadFool

    No, I don't think we're on the same page. I can't quite figure out what you're trying to say with this example. You're saying there's an inconsistent state of affairs described by "Schodinger's cat". And, you think that some fancy logic produced this description. You contrast this with a failure to make a corresponding observation, and you imply that you believe one of these, and I believe the other.

    I think what I would actually argue, is that we make observations which we cannot understand. They are not necessarily inconsistent observations, but unintelligible, for some reasons or others. So we create the fancy logic, which hides the fact that we are not understanding, and therefore do not have an adequate or meaningful description of what is being observed. (Consider what I said about corresponding statements above. Making a statement which corresponds with what is observed is not always a straight forward and simple task.) The inconsistency results from a failure to understand, and properly describe what is being observed. Then the fancy logic is applied to try and make the unintelligible appear to be intelligible.

    Now suppose that it were possible to peek at Schrodinger's cat inside the box without breaking the experiment. You look inside, essentially making an observation, and find the poor cat is both dead and aliveTheMadFool

    From the point of view which I just described, looking inside the box amounts to getting an adequate description of what is being observed, based in an understanding of the situation. At this point, the "fancy logic" which produces the cat scenario can no longer be applied. So the question about the cat is no longer meaningful, if you could get that required understanding.

    The question that then arises is this: are you going to put your faith in first-order logic and treat your observation (cat both dead and alive) as null and void or are you going to believe what you saw and make plans to modify first-order logic to accommodate your observations?TheMadFool

    The problem with this example, is that the cat scenario is just a fictional scenario. It is produced by the fancy logic. You cannot expect to look and see the cat, because the scenario is not based in any true observations, it's a fiction. So your example is really nonsensical. You are taking a scenario which is completely fictional, and asking, what would we see, if looked at this part of the fictional story. I might just as well ask you, if I throw a box out the window with something in it, and it was falling, and you could peak inside it, what is in it? It's just a nonsensical question.

    The point that I am making is that there is no difference between natural and artificial reasoning. Brains are physical objects, like computers, yet you attribute natural reasoning to brains and artificial reasoning to computers. Why?Harry Hindu

    If you read my posts, I attribute both, natural and artificial reason to human minds. Natural is the innate, intuitive sense which we are born with, while artificial is the learned type of reasoning, like mathematics and formal logic. Computers use different types of formal (artificial) logic, just like minds do, this is an extension of the human mind's use of artificial reasoning. Smith cannot believe both, that he will get the job, and that someone else will get the job. But I'm differentiating this, artificial reason, and natural natural reason.

    The argument, for the difference between these is this. Natural reason does not allow inconsistency, like contradiction. Artificial reasoning may allow contradiction and inconsistency, like in TheMadFool's example above. Therefore there is a difference between the two.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.5k
    Artificial reasoning may allow contradiction and inconsistency,Metaphysician Undercover
    Contradiction and inconsistency is a lack of reason, not a different type of reason. Computers can't compute contradictions. The produce errors if they try.

    Contradictions can only manifest as a use of language - an improper use of language.
  • GodlessGirl
    27
    There is no difficulty justifying one's rational beliefs, at least on principle. And if our beliefs turn out to be false, we just adopt different beliefs. This is the way science works. We started with simple theories and we just adopted new theories to accommodate discoveries that falsified our initial theories.

    We have a long experience now of scientific theories being falsified and replaced by what we see as better theories. We also all have first hand experience of having our personal beliefs being falsified again and again. But we are never short on new beliefs to replace them and in any case we don't know how to know the world. We just keep going regardless just because we can.

    Nobody can justify that science is knowledge but there is no difficulty articulating a good justification that science is our best belief. And if that is not even true, then we may have to change our belief at some point in the future. Meanwhile, we will keep relying on science.

    The solution to the Münchhausen trilemma is simple. We just have to admit that we don't know what we don't know. And I think we can all live with the fact that we still won't be able to justify that we know what we do know.
  • TheMadFool
    7.3k
    I'm inclined to ignore, but since you don't seem to understand equivocation, maybe I can help. Here's an exaggerated example so it will be easy for you to follow. Say we come to a fork in the road, one road goes right and one goes left. I ask you which is the correct road to take. You say the right road is the correct road, because "right" means correct, therefore it's an obvious choice, the logical conclusion is to go right. That's an exaggerated example. Your equivocation with "falsehood" is much more subtle.Metaphysician Undercover

    :rofl: :up: So, equivocation is about definitions, "right"?

    This is not such a simple issue. To judge whether a statement corresponds requires determining the meaning of the statement. And we cannot determine what the statement means without some sort of application of logic. Otherwise, the meaning of the statement is determined by its use, and if this statement is being used to refer to this thing, then it necessarily corresponds.Metaphysician Undercover

    Well, indeed it's true that "some sort of application of logic" is necessary; that's true of everything. What I mean is that logic alone doesn't help us determine that a given empirical statement is true/not.

    No, I don't think we're on the same page. I can't quite figure out what you're trying to say with this example. You're saying there's an inconsistent state of affairs described by "Schodinger's cat". And, you think that some fancy logic produced this description. You contrast this with a failure to make a corresponding observation, and you imply that you believe one of these, and I believe the other.

    I think what I would actually argue, is that we make observations which we cannot understand. They are not necessarily inconsistent observations, but unintelligible, for some reasons or others. So we create the fancy logic, which hides the fact that we are not understanding, and therefore do not have an adequate or meaningful description of what is being observed. (Consider what I said about corresponding statements above. Making a statement which corresponds with what is observed is not always a straight forward and simple task.) The inconsistency results from a failure to understand, and properly describe what is being observed. Then the fancy logic is applied to try and make the unintelligible appear to be intelligible.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    I don't want to say this but I get the impression that you're failing to make the connection between things "we cannot understand", things "unintelligible" and inconsistencies. Inconsistencies, when they occur, are precisely things "we cannot understand", things "unintelligible" because they amount to affirmation of something followed by the negation of the thing that was affirmed: Proposition P, formally expressed as (p & ~p).

    The problem with this example, is that the cat scenario is just a fictional scenario. It is produced by the fancy logic. You cannot expect to look and see the cat, because the scenario is not based in any true observations, it's a fiction. So your example is really nonsensical. You are taking a scenario which is completely fictional, and asking, what would we see, if looked at this part of the fictional story. I might just as well ask you, if I throw a box out the window with something in it, and it was falling, and you could peak inside it, what is in it? It's just a nonsensical question.Metaphysician Undercover

    You're barking up the wrong tree. The fictional nature of my example - Schrodinger's cat - is irrelevant to the point I'm making. The Schrodinger's cat hypothetical, in the way I presented it, is a simulation of a situation in which a person might make on observation that is inconsistent as per logic. It is intended as a simulation so I don't understand you making an issue about how it isn't real. Coming back to the issue, the choice then becomes one between accepting your observation as true and fault logic or stick with logic and question the validity of the observation. What would you do?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    Contradiction and inconsistency is a lack of reason, not a different type of reason. Computers can't compute contradictions. The produce errors if they try.Harry Hindu

    The problem is that some forms of reasoning allow for the existence of contradiction, as has been discussed on this thread. A computer can easily be programmed to produce contradictions, look at something like spell check.

    So, equivocation is about definitions, "right"?TheMadFool

    No, it's about how one uses words. Notice, that "right" is only defined once in the example, yet it is also used in a way other than the defined way, just like your use of falsehood. It is the act of using the word in a way which is inconsistent with the definition which is called equivocation.

    What I mean is that logic alone doesn't help us determine that a given empirical statement is true/not.TheMadFool

    Yes I agree, and that is why consistency does not define truth. But there are two distinct reasons why logic does not necessitate truth. The first is obvious to most people, and that is that logic requires content, the premises. And if the premises are false, the conclusion is unsound.

    The second reason, which is not so evident to most people, is that logic consists of a system of rules for procedure or application. If these rules themselves are unsound, then even true premises could turn up false conclusions. Take mathematics for example, which has at the base of its rules, "axioms". The axioms may be derived completely from the imagination without any requirement that they correspond with any real features of the world. (Refer to discussions on infinity for example). I would say that if these axioms have no evidence of correspondence they are unsound. Unsound axioms produce what you called "fancy logic".

    I don't want to say this but I get the impression that you're failing to make the connection between things "we cannot understand", things "unintelligible" and inconsistencies. Inconsistencies, when they occur, are precisely things "we cannot understand", things "unintelligible" because they amount to affirmation of something followed by the negation of the thing that was affirmed: Proposition P, formally expressed as (p & ~p).TheMadFool

    Sure there is a connection, but there is also a distinction. If we make a category of "things we cannot understand", call this "the unintelligible", then "inconsistencies" refers to one type of thing in this category. Another type of thing in this category, is what I referred to, things which we cannot adequately describe. Notice that "inconsistent" refers to the description, it requires a description. But I am talking about an observation which we haven't the capacity to describe properly, because for instance the person doesn't understand what was observed.

    As I said in my earlier example, when a person does not understand what was observed, yet the person has the urge to describe it, aspects of what occurred might appear such that they can only be described with inconsistencies. The person basically has two choices. either describe what has occurred, using inconsistencies, or else manufacture aspects in the description of the event, to create consistency, but that may contain falsity. Of course a person might use a combination of these two as well.

    Coming back to the issue, the choice then becomes one between accepting your observation as true and fault logic or stick with logic and question the validity of the observation. What would you do?TheMadFool

    As I said, the example is an inadequate hypothetical. To make what is in the box observable is to negate the premises of the hypothetical, thereby negating the relevance of it. If we could observe what is in the box, then there would be no question of what's in the box, and no fancy logic being applied to determine what's in the box, therefore no issue of whether to doubt the logic or the observation. Otherwise we must be skeptical of both.
  • Harry Hindu
    3.5k
    The problem is that some forms of reasoning allow for the existence of contradiction, as has been discussed on this thread.Metaphysician Undercover
    Thats not a problem. People can discuss imaginary and untrue things and be oblivious to the fact that what they are discussing is imaginary and untrue. The problem is that by definition, contradictions result from a lack of reason/logic.
  • TheMadFool
    7.3k
    No, it's about how one uses words. Notice, that "right" is only defined once in the example, yet it is also used in a way other than the defined way, just like your use of falsehood. It is the act of using the word in a way which is inconsistent with the definition which is called equivocation.Metaphysician Undercover

    How can you use a word properly without knowing its definition?

    By the way, as far as I'm concerned, we've sailed past that port.

    Yes I agree, and that is why consistency does not define truth. But there are two distinct reasons why logic does not necessitate truth. The first is obvious to most people, and that is that logic requires content, the premises. And if the premises are false, the conclusion is unsound.

    The second reason, which is not so evident to most people, is that logic consists of a system of rules for procedure or application. If these rules themselves are unsound, then even true premises could turn up false conclusions. Take mathematics for example, which has at the base of its rules, "axioms". The axioms may be derived completely from the imagination without any requirement that they correspond with any real features of the world. (Refer to discussions on infinity for example). I would say that if these axioms have no evidence of correspondence they are unsound. Unsound axioms produce what you called "fancy logic".
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Just as a side note, I recall reading that logic is basically a set of rules that are truth preserving. It can't tell us which propositions are true in the sense it's a definition of truth which we can employ but it does tell us which propositions must be true in the sense of providing us candidate propositions for observational verification.

    Another type of thing in this category, is what I referred to, things which we cannot adequately describe.Metaphysician Undercover

    Fine but now we're getting involved with language, its limits - logic doesn't have a stake in the ineffable.

    example is an inadequate hypotheticalMetaphysician Undercover

    Ok, if you insist. Odd that because your post is about what people may describe as hypotheticals taken to an extreme - entertaining impossibilities (inconsistencies) to be possibld - and yet you object to the example I gave on the grounds of an inconsistency based on the ordinary, mundane.

    Anyway, perhaps another example will do the job. You must know the double-slit experiment. The results of this experiment are that light is both a particle and a wave, two mutually contradictory physical states. Inconsistency as per logic but yet verifiable observationally. How do you resolve this problem? Do you think we should reexamine logical principles like inconsistency and treat our observations as real or do you think there's nothing wrong with logic and that oud observation is flawed?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    The problem is that by definition, contradictions result from a lack of reason/logic.Harry Hindu

    That's not true, look at the examples TheMadFool gave.

    By the way, there are systems of logic (paraconsistent logic, dialetheism, and perhaps others) that tolerate, even encourage I suppose, inconsistencies and contradictions. Perhaps you should have a look at them.TheMadFool

    How can you use a word properly without knowing its definition?TheMadFool

    Have you ever watched how children learn to talk? They do not learn how to use words by learning definitions.

    Just as a side note, I recall reading that logic is basically a set of rules that are truth preserving. It can't tell us which propositions are true in the sense it's a definition of truth which we can employ but it does tell us which propositions must be true in the sense of providing us candidate propositions for observational verification.TheMadFool

    The idea that logic is "truth preserving" is what I disagree with. If the logical system is created with the intent of preserving truth, like traditional deduction for example, then it might be capable of doing a reasonable job at that. Then there are logical systems like modal logic, and even mathematics which do not aim to preserve truth. But the point of the op, I think, is that perhaps logic cannot maintain truth. Maybe the world is so strangely complex that human beings are incapable of producing a logic which is guaranteed to maintain truth.

    Fine but now we're getting involved with language, its limits - logic doesn't have a stake in the ineffable.TheMadFool

    I think that this is a mistaken perspective, and where logic applies to the ineffable is where we need to proceed with the most caution. This is what I tried to describe already. A person might observe something as ineffable. This means that the occurrence is fundamentally unintelligible. However, this person wants to understand what happened, wants to remember it in words, so the person then applies some sort of natural reason to determine which words are best suited for describing the event.

    So logic does have a stake in the ineffable, otherwise knowledge could not proceed from unknown to known. We must allow that knowledge evolves, and progresses, such that some things which were ineffable when human language was young, can now be described. How else can these things come into the realm of being describable if not through the application of some logic?

    Anyway, perhaps another example will do the job. You must know the double-slit experiment. The results of this experiment are that light is both a particle and a wave, two mutually contradictory physical states. Inconsistency as per logic but yet verifiable observationally. How do you resolve this problem? Do you think we should reexamine logical principles like inconsistency and treat our observations as real or do you think there's nothing wrong with logic and that oud observation is flawed?TheMadFool

    As I said, we ought to be skeptical of both the logic and the observations. The two go hand in hand. The logical systems (what I called artificial logic) are conformed to correspond with the observations if there is a desire to preserve truth. But the observations (descriptions) are conformed by the underlying natural reason, as described above. So, the observations may be faulty, and this would lead to the production of faulty logic therefore we must be skeptical of both.
  • TheMadFool
    7.3k
    Have you ever watched how children learn to talk? They do not learn how to use words by learning definitions.Metaphysician Undercover

    I aksed how can you use a word "properly" without knowing its definition?

    But the point of the op, I think, is that perhaps logic cannot maintain truth. Maybe the world is so strangely complex that human beings are incapable of producing a logic which is guaranteed to maintain truth.Metaphysician Undercover

    All I can say is that many different kinds inconsistency tolerant logics have spawned from the possibility that the world could be is "strangely complex". Nevertheless, it must possess the attribute of being truth preserving, otherwise it loses its raison d'être, right? The very reason we need logic, whatever shape or form it may assume, is to have a system that handles propositions in such a way that, ceteris paribus, we arrive at other true propositions.

    There's also multi-valued logic and fuzzy logic to consider - attempts to capture other aspects of reality like partial truths.

    I think that this is a mistaken perspective, and where logic applies to the ineffable is where we need to proceed with the most caution. This is what I tried to describe already. A person might observe something as ineffable. This means that the occurrence is fundamentally unintelligible. However, this person wants to understand what happened, wants to remember it in words, so the person then applies some sort of natural reason to determine which words are best suited for describing the event.

    So logic does have a stake in the ineffable, otherwise knowledge could not proceed from unknown to known. We must allow that knowledge evolves, and progresses, such that some things which were ineffable when human language was young, can now be described. How else can these things come into the realm of being describable if not through the application of some logic?
    Metaphysician Undercover

    To me, once something is ineffable, knowledge is impossible because the basic requirement for a thing to count as knowledge is that it should be possible to render it as a proposition, something that can't be done with the ineffable. The unknown becomes a known only if we can construct the relevant meaningful proposition.

    That said, I agree with you that we're most at risk of being led away from the truth when our experiences (observations ,etc.) can't be put into words. There's this natural drive to understand, to make sense of, our encounters with reality and it has the power to force us to take a stand even when the most rational option is to withhold judgement. Misunderstanding, dangerous misunderstanding, seems almost inevitable.

    As I said, we ought to be skeptical of both the logic and the observations. The two go hand in hand. The logical systems (what I called artificial logic) are conformed to correspond with the observations if there is a desire to preserve truth. But the observations (descriptions) are conformed by the underlying natural reason, as described above. So, the observations may be faulty, and this would lead to the production of faulty logic therefore we must be skeptical of both.Metaphysician Undercover

    I agree but this leads to Pyrrhonian Skepticism - a state of global uncertainty and extreme doubt. Are you proposing that as the only reasonable option?
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    7.5k
    I aksed how can you use a word "properly" without knowing its definition?TheMadFool

    So does "proper" mean in a formal way to you? Using a suitable word for the situation does not require one to learn a definition, as we see by the way children learn how to use words. Young children do not learn definitions prior to going to school, yet they know how to use words.
    Where would you draw the line, what constitutes "proper" use.

    Nevertheless, it must possess the attribute of being truth preserving, otherwise it loses its raison d'être, right?TheMadFool

    I do not agree with this, and my concerns are very evident in the axioms of mathematics. They are not dreamed up for the purpose of being truth preserving. They are dreamed up for the purpose of solving a particular problem. So we see that such logic is based in pragmatics rather than 'truth preserving". This is the revelation made by Plato in "The Republic" where he says "the good" is what makes intelligible objects intelligible, just like the sun is what makes visible objects visible. The good is the end, the purpose, final cause.

    The very reason we need logic, whatever shape or form it may assume, is to have a system that handles propositions in such a way that, ceteris paribus, we arrive at other true propositions.TheMadFool

    So, I cast "logic" in a different light. The reason we use logic is to solve problems. And, logic being created by human beings, is actually shaped according to the problems it is designed to resolve. This goes beyond Plato, who says that intelligible principles are lit up by the good, to be more Aristotelian, saying that the intelligible principles are actually created, formed toward specific goals, or perceived goods. Logic is a means to an end. Clearly the means are shaped toward the end. If the end is not truth, but something else such as predictability (which has replaced truth in modern science), then we cannot say that the "raison d' etre" for logic is to preserve truth.

    o me, once something is ineffable, knowledge is impossible because the basic requirement for a thing to count as knowledge is that it should be possible to render it as a proposition, something that can't be done with the ineffable. The unknown becomes a known only if we can construct the relevant meaningful proposition.TheMadFool

    But do you agree that language evolves? So something which could not be put into a proposition many years ago, such as the relation between protons and electrons in an atom, could at a later later time, be put into a proposition. It used to be common knowledge that there was nothing smaller than an atom, so we couldn't make a proposition concerning the parts of an atom, that would be ineffable. However, observations combined with logic produced new ideas concerning the parts of an atom, and along with that, new terms, such that this is no longer ineffable.

    That said, I agree with you that we're most at risk of being led away from the truth when our experiences (observations ,etc.) can't be put into words. There's this natural drive to understand, to make sense of, our encounters with reality and it has the power to force us to take a stand even when the most rational option is to withhold judgement. Misunderstanding, dangerous misunderstanding, seems almost inevitable.TheMadFool

    This is why, when new theories get put into place, like theories about dark matter and dark energy for example, it takes a long period of trial before the theories can even be said to be proven.

    I agree but this leads to Pyrrhonian Skepticism - a state of global uncertainty and extreme doubt. Are you proposing that as the only reasonable option?TheMadFool

    Different approaches are required depending in the state of knowledge at the particular time. It appears like at Pyrrho's time skepticism was called for. I think that we are moving into a similar time with the state of modern knowledge. Consider the examples you've provided in this thread. When things don't make sense, there's really no other approach but skepticism.
  • JerseyFlight
    776


    I have already given Metaphysican Undercover a compliment in private, but I believe his diligent conduct in philosophizing with people at great length warrants public praise. There are others who will go on at length, but they are few and far in between. This fella is repeatedly clarifying himself and this takes tremendous patience and effort. Further, he is always trying to reason with people. This is not something I see very often on this Forum. It is exemplary.
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