• Curious Layman
    20
    Tom and Sam are neighbours and they want to meet at a local coffee shop.

    Prior to going outside, Tom checks the outside temperature and concludes that it is cold outside. Hence he chooses to dress warm.

    Sam doesn't have the means to check the outside temperature. So he looks out of the window and sees a passerby that is warm dressed. Sam concludes that it is cold outside . Hence he dresses accordingly.

    Both are justified in believing that the proposition it is cold outside is true. However, intuitively, we can say that Tom is more justified than Sam. That means, if both methods were available to Sam and Sam used both, then his belief about the weather is only justified when it corresponds to what is said on the thermometer. Even if he chooses to look outside the window, to assess the temperature, and refrains from using the thermometer, he isn't justified to believe in the resulting belief.

    So my question is: what makes Tom's justification method to be superior to Sam's justification method? Or in other words, why Tom is more justified to believe "it is called outside" then Sam?
  • tim wood
    7.3k
    However, intuitively, we can say that Tom is more justified than Sam.Curious Layman

    That "intuitively" kills it. Tom reads a temperature from a thermometer. What Tom knows, all that he knows, is the reading, based on which he makes his own judgment, and as anyone with cold-weather experience knows, thermometers don't tell the whole story, and sometimes not even the right story.

    Sam, on the other hand, accesses a community view. Now you decide who has the most useful information.

    The whole notion of justified belief, wrt knowledge, is much trouble with little reward: not least it requires care as to what knowledge is being sought, and if it's actually useful, or even knowledge.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    So my question is: what makes Tom's justification method to be superior to Sam's justification method? Or in other words, why Tom is more justified to believe "it is called outside" then Sam?Curious Layman

    The thermometer is a scientific justification; looking out the window for clues is an inference. Note, the passerby dressed outside might have a mental illness that has them overdressed for the day.

    Looking outside to see what to wear is fraught anyway. I know down to a certain temperature I don't need an overcoat or warm hat, but others do. I would rather make the decision based on a scientific measurement than inference/induction. I then had to adjust in my head. At 50 degrees I would wear a hat, above that I wouldn't.

    The question of knowledge is curious. What if the thermometer was broken and stuck on a temperature that just happened to be the actual temperature outside? (Gettier problem) It would still be a justified belief, but it would no longer be knowledge.
  • tim wood
    7.3k
    The thermometer is a scientific justificationTom Storm
    No. "Scientific" justification. The thermometer is not telling you what presumably you want to know. Maybe close no doubt. But it does not measure wind, and depending on how and where mounted, maybe not even the temperature except at that exact place and time, presuming it's accurate. Nor is it predictive or anything else.

    Which is to say that in looking at the thermometer, you get information, and then you make an extrapolated independent decision in part based on that information.

    On the other hand, if you look outside and observe how someone else is dressed, then you have direct information about exactly what you're interested in.

    The question here isn't what you know, but instead what you suppose you know. Two different and sometimes two very different things.
  • T Clark
    5.9k
    So my question is: what makes Tom's justification method to be superior to Sam's justification method? Or in other words, why Tom is more justified to believe "it is called outside" then Sam?Curious Layman

    The level of justification needed by Tom and Sam is very low. I they're wrong, they've dressed conservatively, so they will not be cold. If it's too warm, they can take off their jackets. They can both also easily come back in the house and change if needed. Both Tom and Sam are are adequately justified in their beliefs. For either to put in additional effort to be more sure would probably be a waste of effort.
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    No. "Scientific" justification. The thermometer is not telling you what presumably you want to know.tim wood

    Fair enough. I should have been more precise. A scientific instrument telling you the temperature. That's all I ever go by. But I live in a warm part of the world.
  • forrest-sounds
    14
    So my question is: what makes Tom's justification method to be superior to Sam's justification method?Curious Layman

    Isn't it simply the fact that a thermometer is a more reliable and objective gauge of temperature, then a look at what others are wearing from the window. Isn't this obvious?
  • Mww
    2.6k
    However, intuitively, we can say that Tom is more justified than Sam.Curious Layman

    By what right can we say that?
  • Curious Layman
    20
    Guys, i think you miss understood the point of the question.

    Both of the justification methods are inductive by nature. Tom believes a thermometer because it has shown the right temperature every time in the past. Sam believes his observation of the passerby because such observations were generally accurate in the past. So calling one method scientific and the other inference is not correct. in their essence, they are the same methods.

    The difference is in the degrees of likelihood. We intuitively feel that using a thermometer gives a higher probability that the weather outside will match your belief. Hence the question above can be rephrased to, "why the probability of having the truth is higher in the Tom's method?"

    I tend to think that the solution lies in the different types of probability that each of the justification method provides. Tom's method produces the absolute probability. Sam's method produces conditional probability. (i might be using those terms wrongly)
  • Curious Layman
    20


    I agree with you. The thermometer is more accurate. You can call it the scientific method, if you will. My question is, what is that common denominator that makes one more accurate than the other from philosophical prospective? If we agree that both use an inductive method to assess their evidence, then what is that thing that allows for the comparison?

    By what right can we say that?Mww

    I suggested that we feel it on the level of intuition. My question is meant to identify the factors that can explain the intuition.
  • tim wood
    7.3k
    It appears you're looking for something objective. But the only commonality I see is, "I'll do it my way; you do it yours."

    My own bias is such that I would argue that the observation of the neighbor conveys more information than the thermometer.
  • unenlightened
    5.8k
    My own bias is such that I would argue that the observation of the neighbor conveys more information than the thermometer.tim wood

    I can justify your bias! A thermometer takes no account of wind chill. We are not interested in the scientific measure of absolute temperature, but the subjective one of whether it feels cold, and therefore the neighbour as a subject, is the superior evidence.
  • Pinprick
    728
    My question is, what is that common denominator that makes one more accurate than the other from philosophical prospective?Curious Layman

    Reliability. Thermometers are objective measures of temperature, whereas a neighbor’s choice of clothing is subjective. What is “cold” is a matter of opinion. Oftentimes I’m cold/hot when others are not. Therefore, by consulting a thermometer I have the ability to decide for myself if X temperature is hot/cold and dress accordingly. Knowing that a stranger thinks it’s cold has no bearing on whether or not I do.
  • Don Wade
    185
    So my question is: what makes Tom's justification method to be superior to Sam's justification method? Or in other words, why Tom is more justified to believe "it is called outside" then Sam?Curious Layman

    "Justified true belief" is still the most acknowledged method of determining the "truth" in contrast to an enlightened view. However, there are still problems with this method including the "Gettier Problem". It really comes down to the realization that we just don't know enough to determine the "absolute-truth" of anything. Many people would probably argue that point though...
  • Manuel
    1.2k


    That's part of it sure, we don't have absolute certainty in any case. But I think the problem with Gettier paradoxes lies in some measure, with the concept of "knowledge". It's not a straightforward word that applies in all instances and it has certain English specific idiosyncrasies.

    We can speak of a person knowing the history of WWII and while we can say that a person knows that he sees a lake, these are very different uses of the word, established by very different criteria. Some could argue that speaking about "knowing" that you see something is not really knowledge, it is perception. This is debatable though.

    And then we also have knowledge by accident, as in bumping into a tourist from a particular country and happening to know the language they speak. And many other cases.

    So instead of knowledge we may be better off using "understanding" or some other term.
  • Don Wade
    185
    So instead of knowledge we may be better off using "understanding" or some other term.Manuel

    We just have a hard time realizing "what it is that we don't know".
  • Tom Storm
    1.6k
    So instead of knowledge we may be better off using "understanding" or some other term.Manuel

    I see what you mean but I suspect all terms will become worn out. Soon we will need to parse what counts as understanding. Then we might choose the word familiarity and ditto. An endless regression.

    Fallibillism (originally CS Pierce) may be the best approach. Absolute certainty is not possible - no belief has absolute justification. (Some hold a special category of justification for apriorism) We may apportion our belief according to what we can be reasonably confident based on best available models and evidence. Which is why I choose a thermometer, not a random lone person out the window. If, however there were a crowd outside and they all wore cold weather clothing, I might be more likely to go this path.
  • Manuel
    1.2k
    Fallibillism (originally CS Pierce) may be the best approach.Tom Storm

    :up:

    Yes. He's an excellent choice on these matters.
  • Manuel
    1.2k
    Which is why I choose a thermometer, not a random lone person out the window. If, however there were a crowd outside and they all wore cold weather clothing, I might be more likely to go this path.Tom Storm

    It becomes complex quite quickly.

    Perhaps you can say that looking at a thermometer gives you more reasons yo believe it is cold outside as opposed to looking at a person. A thermometer isn't subjective, perhaps the person you are looking it is particularly sensible to slight changes in weather or perhaps that person looked at the same thermometer before choosing what to wear.

    Then again someone can always come back at you and say that this thermometer might be broken or misleading, etc.

    So you can add all the extra complications you'd like. In such a scenario I tend to prefer trusting a thermometer over a person because more people are involved in making sure the thermometer is working properly as opposed to what a single person may feel.
  • Book273
    482
    We intuitively feel that using a thermometer gives a higher probability that the weather outside will match your belief.Curious Layman

    But why do you believe that? I do not. The thermometer may corroborate something I already believe, as will seeing buddy walk by in, what I believe to be, appropriate clothes. I have experienced days that froze my ass, while the thermometer implied they should have been balmy. The thermometer doesn't consider wind, and humidity, and all the other little details that living bodies feel. Buddy in the coat likely does, even if his normals are different than mine. Neither the thermometer nor the other dude are the best choices to check the weather. Pop your head out the door and figure it out yourself.
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