Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 76 (9011 total)
61 online now:
DrJones*, dwise1 (2 members, 59 visitors)
Newest Member: Burrawang
Upcoming Birthdays: Coragyps
Happy Birthday: DrJones*
Post Volume: Total: 881,652 Year: 13,400/23,288 Month: 330/795 Week: 31/95 Day: 12/19 Hour: 0/0


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   The Nature of Scepticism
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 1 of 271 (690785)
02-15-2013 1:54 PM


"I wish to propose for the reader’s favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true". - Bertrand Russell, Introduction to Sceptical Essays

Is this an accurate reflection of scepticism? Is it the approach taken by science? Is it paradoxical and subversive?

If we apply the above where does that leave claims of the mystical and superntural?


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-16-2013 5:21 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 02-16-2013 5:31 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 12 by kofh2u, posted 02-16-2013 7:41 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 17 by RAZD, posted 02-16-2013 11:12 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 109 by kofh2u, posted 02-25-2013 10:48 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 154 by kofh2u, posted 03-04-2013 1:11 PM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 7 of 271 (690827)
02-16-2013 12:59 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Dr Adequate
02-16-2013 5:21 AM


Yes. I know. But presumably those with a more 'blessed are those who believe but do not see' approach to discerning what is real and what is not have a different take. It is they who the 'paradoxical and subversive' question was aimed at.

Ah I see Phat has joined the fray.....


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-16-2013 5:21 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Phat, posted 02-16-2013 1:10 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 16 by Faith, posted 02-16-2013 9:54 PM Straggler has responded
 Message 31 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-17-2013 1:50 PM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 9 of 271 (690830)
02-16-2013 1:14 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phat
02-16-2013 5:31 AM


Re: Wikipedia
Phat writes:

I certainly wouldn't want to frame skepticism as an absolute fact.

It's not a fact (I'm not sure it even makes sense to call skepticism a fact). It's an approach to considering claims, assertions etc. etc.

Phat writes:

To me it is an opinion and a belief.

It's not an opinion or belief (I'm not sure it even makes sense to call skepticism an opinion or a belief). It's an approach to considering claims, assertions etc. etc.

Phat writes:

To you it is an attitude, no?

It's a necessary approach if one is to avoid the pitfall of accepting things because they are personally appealing rather than because they are likely to be correct.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 02-16-2013 5:31 AM Phat has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 10 of 271 (690831)
02-16-2013 1:17 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Phat
02-16-2013 1:10 PM


Re: The Fray
Phat writes:

Ask me a question or two to get me going..

Is skepticism the approach taken by science? Is it paradoxical and subversive?

If we accept skepticism as an approach to considering claims, assertions etc. etc. where does that leave claims of the mystical and supernatural?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Phat, posted 02-16-2013 1:10 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Coyote, posted 02-16-2013 1:44 PM Straggler has not yet responded
 Message 42 by Phat, posted 02-18-2013 7:43 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 83 by Taq, posted 02-22-2013 4:44 PM Straggler has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 19 of 271 (690864)
02-17-2013 5:15 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by RAZD
02-16-2013 11:12 PM


Re: dead end? ... how far do you go?
RAZD writes:

Well, I would say that taken to the absurd ultimate extreme final conclusion, nothing could be trusted, not even your own senses....

I would suggest that doubting one's own senses to some degree is a very sensible approach. Because we are notoriously adept at wrongly interpreting that which we sense. I would argue that many of the methods of science (verification, peer review, repeatability etc. etc) are necessary exactly because individual perception is an incredibly unreliable means of distinguishing what is real and what is not. For example is this picture moving?

RAZ writes:

...and that you end up not believing anything.

I don't think a healthy doubt of the validity of one's own individual perception leads to that conclusion at all. Rather it leads to a more scientific approach when we want to most accurately and reliably discern what is real and what is not.

But I guess you are taking this to the solipsistic extreme based on some form of Cartesian doubt. But even Descarte himself threw that out on the basis that an illusion so perfect as to be indistinguishable from reality is reality. A difference without a difference. So we are left concluding that the solipsistic argument, that reality isn't real, fails.

RAZ writes:

Therefore you take some things on trust, such as the trust that reality exists, or that empirical evidence represents that reality.

No. We don't take these things on trust. Reality (of some sort) exists otherwise how on earth are you and I here conversing? Nor is the conclusion that empirical evidence is the most reliable method of discerning that reality an assumption. People have tried other approaches and they have been less successful. So on a very pragmatic level we aren't just assuming that empirical evidence represents reality we can demonstrate that this approach has been more successful than any other approach yet devised at investigating reality as we experience it.

These aren't assumptions. They are conclusions.

RAZD writes:

To my mind this requires a certain amount of open-mindedness, ... which in its absurd ultimate extreme final conclusion would mean believing everything. This would appear to be equally invalid.

On a very basic pragmatic level believing everything won't get you very far at all. Compared to skepticism it is obviously inferior.

RAZD writes:

...... but one does need to guard against false skepticism (or confirmation biased skepticism).

One equally needs to guard against those who are unable to cope with the fact that evidentially unsupported claims are unlikely to be correct no matter how unfalsifiable they are designed to be.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by RAZD, posted 02-16-2013 11:12 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 25 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2013 8:48 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 34 by petrophysics1, posted 02-18-2013 3:56 AM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 20 of 271 (690865)
02-17-2013 5:19 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by kofh2u
02-16-2013 7:41 PM


Re: of the various kinds of skeptism...
If you want to use Genesis as an example of that which a skeptical approach can be taken that's fine.

But this isn't a detailed discussion about the minutiae of the Genesis account.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by kofh2u, posted 02-16-2013 7:41 PM kofh2u has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 21 of 271 (690866)
02-17-2013 5:31 AM
Reply to: Message 16 by Faith
02-16-2013 9:54 PM


Re: Belief in anything always rests on some sort of evidence
Faith writes:

The mystical and supernatural generally involve internal experiences or one-time events that require you to believe those who claim to have experienced or witnessed them.

I do accept that people have these experiences. But skeptically speaking there is absolutely no reason to believe or even accept the causal link that people make between these experiences and the thing that they are supposedly evidence of.

Why is some internal experience deemed to be evidence of Satan (for example) rather than evidence of undetectable telepathic beams emanating from the moon?

Faith writes:

There is nothing in principle faulty about this sort of evidence.

Well of course there is. If we ask people to pick lottery numbers (for example) on the basis of 'internal experiences' (gut feelings, hallucinations etc. etc. etc.) we can see that the results are indistinguishable from blind random chance.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Faith, posted 02-16-2013 9:54 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 22 by Faith, posted 02-17-2013 7:38 AM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 27 of 271 (690883)
02-17-2013 9:17 AM
Reply to: Message 25 by RAZD
02-17-2013 8:48 AM


Re: too far already?
RAZD writes:

Your opinion based on your worldview. You trust the scientific process and approach, and accept the accuracy of research papers based on these beliefs.

Are all world views equally valid?

If I decided that sitting in a room waiting for divine inspiration was the best path to discovering things about reality external to my own mind do you think it would yield equally valid results as the scientific method? Or not?

How do we decide which 'world views' are more reliable and accurate than others?

Straggler writes:

No. We don't take these things on trust. Reality (of some sort) exists otherwise how on earth are you and I here conversing?

RAZD writes:

Are we or is it your imagination?

Like I said before - Even Descrate himself disposed of Cartesian doubt as a valid argument. If you are going to base your entire 'open mindedness' argument on solipsism then I'd suggest you barely have an argument at all.

RAZD writes:

Or do you take it on trust that your senses do give you some valid information (those ones you doubt above)?

If there is any valid information to be had about a reality external to one's own mind then how else is one going to get any valid information about it?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2013 8:48 AM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2013 12:29 PM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 28 of 271 (690884)
02-17-2013 9:25 AM
Reply to: Message 22 by Faith
02-17-2013 7:38 AM


Re: Belief in anything always rests on some sort of evidence
Faith writes:

WHAT experience are you aware of that has been presented as evidence of Satan?

It is you who is citing internal experiences as a valid form of evidence. How about you give an example of such an experience and the thing you consider it to be evidence of?

Faith writes:

No, there is NOT anything IN PRINCIPLE wrong with this sort of evidence.

If the method of knowing something being cited cannot demonstrate that it results in conclusions which are any more reliable than blind random chance then use of the term 'evidence' is a misnomer.

There is very much something wrong in principle with calling something "evidence" when (at best) it amounts to nothing more than a subjective reason for belief.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 22 by Faith, posted 02-17-2013 7:38 AM Faith has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 30 of 271 (690891)
02-17-2013 1:08 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by RAZD
02-17-2013 12:29 PM


Re: Too far already? Yep
If I decided that sitting in a room waiting for divine inspiration was the best path to discovering things about reality external to my own mind do you think it would yield equally valid results as the scientific method? Or not?

How do we decide which 'world views' are more reliable and accurate than others?

RAZD writes:

What do you mean by "valid" -- that they are consilient with your views?

No. In epistemological terms we are talking about a method of knowing that results in conclusions that are more likely correct than not.

For example - If a claim is made on the basis of no evidence whatsoever is it in your view:

A) Likely to be correct
B) As likely to be correct as incorrect
C) Likely to be incorrect

RAZD writes:

There are as many worldviews as there are people.

OK. But is every world view equally correct or are some more correct than others?

RAZD writes:

Do you agree with Truzzi's characterization of "true" skepticism.

Depends. For example:

RAZD writes:

No burden of proof to take an agnostic position

Depends what one means by "agnostic position". If, for example, you told me that a herd of undetectable ethereal elephants were congregating in my garden as I type I don't think that an agnostic position beyond trivial lack of philosophical certainty would be necessary.

Is lack of philosophical certainty "agnostic"...?

To all practical intents and purposes I am atheistic rather than agnostic about said herd of undetectable ethereal elephants congregating in my garden. But if lack of certainty qualifies as "agniostic" then I guess I am "agnostic".

What exactly do you mean by "agnostic"...?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2013 12:29 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2013 10:35 PM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 37 of 271 (690928)
02-18-2013 5:25 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by RAZD
02-17-2013 10:35 PM


Re: Too far already? Yep
The epistemological difference between the skepticism advocated by Russel and the approach advocated by you is this:

When confronted by an evidentially unsupported but unfalsifiable proposition (e.g. a herd of undetectable ethereal elephants are congregating in my garden) Russel's approach to skepticism leads to the conclusion that this is NOT the case. This conclusion already incorporates tentativity and fallibility in it's approach to knowledge. So philosophical certainty is not claimed. But Russel's approach does allow us to meaningfully draw a conclusion. We can say that we (albeit tentatively) know that there are NOT a herd of undetectable ethereal elephants congregating in my garden.

Conversely when confronted by an evidentially unsupported but unfalsifiable proposition your approach to skepticism demands either:

A) That both possibilities (i.e. that there ARE a herd of undetectable ethereal elephants congregating in my garden and that there are NOT) be given equal credence and that any stated position on the matter either way is mere opinion no more or less epistemologically justified than the opposite opinion. Thus belief in an absence of undetectable ethereal elephants in my garden is no more or less justified than the belief that my garden is in fact full of undetectable ethereal elephants.

B) That you evade any consideration of such scenarios because you know giving equal weight to such possibilities makes you look foolish in the extreme.

Straggler writes:

But is every world view equally correct or are some more correct than others?

RAZ writes:

What does "more correct" mean -- that they are more consilient with your views?

Consilient with reality.

Are all world views equally consistent with reality or are some more so than others? How do you determine which are more consilient with reality and which are less?

Straggler writes:

For example - If a claim is made on the basis of no evidence whatsoever is it in your view:

A) Likely to be correct
B) As likely to be correct as incorrect
C) Likely to be incorrect

RAZ writes:

Why would you need to decide?

Because, in the specific case of ethereal elephants, if too many congregate in one place their inaudible trumpeting causes long term brain damage to small children.

RAZ writes:

How could you ever know?

Only when it's too late and my children grow into brain damaged adults. So do you think I should evacuate my children from my house just in case there are a congregation of ethereal elephants in my garden? Or do you (skeptically?) think this unevidenced proposition not something remotely worth worrying about?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 32 by RAZD, posted 02-17-2013 10:35 PM RAZD has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 52 by RAZD, posted 02-18-2013 7:49 PM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 38 of 271 (690929)
02-18-2013 5:31 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by Dr Adequate
02-17-2013 1:50 PM


Dr A writes:

There are in effect only two kinds of people: there are skeptics, and then there are people who are skeptics except which they want to give some particular favored idea a free ride.

Well you seem to have hit the nail on the head with regard to Faith's approach. It didn't take long for her special pleading to manifest.

RAZD's approach.... I guess we'll see.

As for Petrophysics - I don't care. He's an imbecile.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 31 by Dr Adequate, posted 02-17-2013 1:50 PM Dr Adequate has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 39 of 271 (690930)
02-18-2013 5:42 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by petrophysics1
02-18-2013 3:56 AM


Re: Straggler's Skepticism, not the real thing
Petro writes:

No it is not moving and and it has no apparent motion what so ever. If you see it moving there is something very wrong in your mind.

It isn't actually moving but approx 98% of human beings will perceive it as moving. According to you the overwhelming majority of people are wrong minded because they are able to perceive optical illusions. Apparently you can't. I don't know if monkeys (for example) have the capacity to see such things either.

The point being made (over your head no doubt) is that naive acceptance of sensory perception is notoriously and demonstrably fallible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by petrophysics1, posted 02-18-2013 3:56 AM petrophysics1 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by RAZD, posted 02-18-2013 7:31 PM Straggler has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 40 of 271 (690931)
02-18-2013 5:45 AM
Reply to: Message 36 by petrophysics1
02-18-2013 5:15 AM


Re: Straggler's Skeptism, not the real thing
Petro writes:

Science says LOOK, skepticism says don't look.......

Actually both science and skepticism say "Always look but don't naively believe everything you see".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 36 by petrophysics1, posted 02-18-2013 5:15 AM petrophysics1 has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 41 by Phat, posted 02-18-2013 7:34 AM Straggler has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10327
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 44 of 271 (690940)
02-18-2013 7:56 AM
Reply to: Message 41 by Phat
02-18-2013 7:34 AM


Re: Straggler's Skeptism, not the real thing
Phat writes:

Does science believe anything?

I think the term "science" is being used as a shorthand for empirical evidence as a basis for knowledge and thus justified belief. You could apply the same principle to history or any other similarly evidenced discipline however.

Phat writes:

Do skeptics reject all quick answers?

In short - Skeptics reject unsupported assertions and forms of evidence which are unable to demonstrate themselves as leading to conclusions more reliable than simply guessing.

Phat writes:

Do they accept any answers at all apart from evidence?

With regard to answers/claims that pertain to any reality that exists external to one's own mind - No. Probably not.

What did you have in mind?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 41 by Phat, posted 02-18-2013 7:34 AM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by Phat, posted 02-18-2013 2:55 PM Straggler has responded

  
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2020