1. Hmmm . . .
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    07 Feb '16 16:381 edit
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallibilism

    From the first cited wiki page: “Advocates of fallibilism, though, point out that while it is indeed correct that a theory cannot be proven universally true, it can be proven false (test method) or it can be deemed unnecessary (Occam's razor). Thus, conjectural theories can be held as long as they have not been refuted.” [My bold]

    From the 2nd wiki page: “Unlike skepticism, fallibilism does not imply the need to abandon our knowledge; we need not have logically conclusive justifications for what we know. Rather, it is an admission that, because empirical knowledge can be revised by further observation, any of the things we take as knowledge might possibly turn out to be false. Some fallibilists make an exception for things that are axiomatically true (such as mathematical and logical knowledge). Others remain fallibilists about these as well, on the basis that, even if these axiomatic systems are in a sense infallible, we are still capable of error when working with these systems. The critical rationalist Hans Albert argues that it is impossible to prove any truth with certainty, even in logic and mathematics. This argument is called the Münchhausen trilemma.”

    My personal interest relates to the Pyrrhonian “skeptics”, but fallibilism seems to me to be somehow right (at least outside of math and deductive logic).

    Given recent epistemological discussions—and disagreements about what can properly be claimed as “truth” or “knowledge”, I wondered what others think.
  2. Cape Town
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    07 Feb '16 16:58
    Originally posted by vistesd
    From the first cited wiki page: “Advocates of fallibilism, though, point out that while it is indeed correct that a theory cannot be proven universally true, it can be proven false (test method) or it can be deemed unnecessary (Occam's razor). [b]Thus, conjectural theories can be held as long as they have not been refuted.” [My bold][/b]
    I generally agree with the understanding that a 'conjectural theory' should have some argument / evidence in its favour for it to continue to be held. In fact the preponderance of argument / evidence should be in its favour.
    It shouldn't be a case of 'I can believe whatever I like because it pleases me to do so, and as long as you can't prove me wrong, then its all OK.'
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    07 Feb '16 18:18
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I generally agree with the understanding that a 'conjectural theory' should have some argument / evidence in its favour for it to continue to be held. In fact the preponderance of argument / evidence should be in its favour.
    It shouldn't be a case of 'I can believe whatever I like because it pleases me to do so, and as long as you can't prove me wrong, then its all OK.'
    We need clarity on what difference there is between a theory and a conjectural theory (and for that matter, a conjecture) and what it means to hold a conjectural theory. I would prefer "conjecture" and "entertain" (give attention or consideration to (an idea, suggestion, or feeling).
  4. Standard memberCalJust
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    07 Feb '16 18:21
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I generally agree with the understanding that a 'conjectural theory' should have some argument / evidence in its favour for it to continue to be held. In fact the preponderance of argument / evidence should be in its favour.
    It shouldn't be a case of 'I can believe whatever I like because it pleases me to do so, and as long as you can't prove me wrong, then its all OK.'
    I think the exact opposite is true.

    I CAN believe what I like (based on whatever evidence I have that satisfies me) but then I have to realise at the same time that new or additional evidence may at some point in the future prove me wrong.

    That, I guess, makes me a fallibilist.
  5. Cape Town
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    07 Feb '16 18:26
    Originally posted by CalJust
    I think the exact opposite is true.

    I CAN believe what I like (based on whatever evidence I have that satisfies me) but then I have to realise at the same time that new or additional evidence may at some point in the future prove me wrong.

    That, I guess, makes me a fallibilist.
    Actually you appear to entirely agree with me and we are both fallibility.

    It is when you take out the "(based on whatever evidence I have that satisfies me) " bit that I disagree. If your belief is based solely on desire and without evidence / argument, then I think you should not hold the belief. If the evidence that 'satisfies' you exists with other, stronger, evidence against, and you accept that the evidence against is stronger, then you shouldn't hold the belief.
  6. Cape Town
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    07 Feb '16 18:29
    Originally posted by JS357
    We need clarity on what difference there is between a theory and a conjectural theory (and for that matter, a conjecture) and what it means to hold a conjectural theory. I would prefer "conjecture" and "entertain" (give attention or consideration to (an idea, suggestion, or feeling).
    I am fairly sure that the 'held' in the quoted text refers to 'strongly believing to be true'. So a bit more than say string theory.
  7. Standard memberDeepThought
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    07 Feb '16 18:43
    Originally posted by vistesd
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallibilism

    From the first cited wiki page: “Advocates of fallibilism, though, point out that while it is indeed correct that a theory cannot be proven universally true, it can be proven false (test method) or it can be deemed unnecessary (Occam's razor). [b]Thus, c ...[text shortened]... ents about what can properly be claimed as “truth” or “knowledge”, I wondered what others think.
    I think one normally requires that there be some positive evidence to accept a theory in the first place. Simply to prevent a proliferation of non-disprovable theories. So, at least for scientific questions, I'd tend to advocate a mixture of validation (to establish a candidate) and falsification (to rule it out).
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    07 Feb '16 19:272 edits
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I think one normally requires that there be some positive evidence to accept a theory in the first place. Simply to prevent a proliferation of non-disprovable theories. So, at least for scientific questions, I'd tend to advocate a mixture of validation (to establish a candidate) and falsification (to rule it out).
    It seems as if we're all pretty much agreed on that.

    . . . validation (to establish a candidate) . . .

    I would generally see that as the hypothesis-formation stage, in any fairly formal inquiry. (We likely do something like that informally--and even subconsciously--in day-to-day belief formation.
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    07 Feb '16 20:54
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I am fairly sure that the 'held' in the quoted text refers to 'strongly believing to be true'. So a bit more than say string theory.
    It seems to me that saying one has a strong belief that P is true while also saying that its truth is conjectural makes the statement of belief more a report on the state of one's mind WRT the truth of P, than it is a claim that P is true. It is like saying "I am reporting that when I introspect, I find a strong belief that P, but this report is not an assertion that P." Is this the proper stance for fallibilism WRT the discussion of the truth of conjectural theories?
  10. Standard memberDeepThought
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    07 Feb '16 22:24
    Originally posted by vistesd
    It seems as if we're all pretty much agreed on that.

    [b] . . . validation (to establish a candidate) . . .


    I would generally see that as the hypothesis-formation stage, in any fairly formal inquiry. (We likely do something like that informally--and even subconsciously--in day-to-day belief formation.[/b]
    I've got a problem with the word belief here. I can't help feeling there's some equivocation going on (I'm not accusing you of this, I mean in discourse generally). The word "know" has a fairly well defined meaning, as a justified belief that is true. This implies that it is possible to hold a belief with no justification whatsoever. But in the discussion above posters are talking about beliefs as if they do require justification. So there seem to be three types of beliefs, unjustified or weakly justified, strong justification, and justified to the point where one can claim knowledge. Whether it's psychologically possible to form or maintain a belief without any justification is another matter.

    I've been wondering if we can use possible world semantics to try to illuminate this. I'll use an example from physics to illustrate this:

    H) "The Higgs Boson exists."

    Proposition H was believed for a couple of decades before the announcement of the discovery at LHC. When the electro-weak theory was first proposed the justification for the existence of the Higgs boson was then at the level "We have a consistent theory." which produces the correct low energy behaviour - so that is weak justification. At LEP they found the W and Z particles which are predicted by electro-weak theory, this provided relatively strong justification for the claim of the existence of the Higgs Boson, but probably not to the level of making a knowledge claim. The justification was at the level of "How else?", so by then I think a professional scientist would have been justified in saying "I believe the Higgs exists.", but not "I know the Higgs exists.". Here justification is required for a belief claim as it's a professional opinion. When they made the announcement of the discovery they had counted so many events that the probability of the result happening without the Higgs existing was one part in 500 million. So the justification for a knowledge claim is fallible, in the sense that there is a possible world where the result did come about by chance, but it is insanely unlikely that the result did come about by chance in the actual world.

    So I'm wondering if we can use possible world semantics to make clear what we mean by "justified" and establish criteria for what level of justification is needed to make a knowledge claim.
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    08 Feb '16 01:09
    Originally posted by vistesd
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallibilism

    From the first cited wiki page: “Advocates of fallibilism, though, point out that while it is indeed correct that a theory cannot be proven universally true, it can be proven false (test method) or it can be deemed unnecessary (Occam's razor). [b]Thus, c ...[text shortened]... ents about what can properly be claimed as “truth” or “knowledge”, I wondered what others think.
    That does look pretty much [on first glance] what I am arguing in the other thread.
  12. Subscribermoonbus
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    08 Feb '16 12:39
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I generally agree with the understanding that a 'conjectural theory' should have some argument / evidence in its favour for it to continue to be held. In fact the preponderance of argument / evidence should be in its favour.
    It shouldn't be a case of 'I can believe whatever I like because it pleases me to do so, and as long as you can't prove me wrong, then its all OK.'
    If I may add a small proviso to that: just because a theory or conjectire has't been conclusively refuted, doesn't mean it is advisable to hold it. It hasn't been clusively proven that Julius Ceasar did not have two heads, but it would be silly to believe it.
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    08 Feb '16 14:07
    Originally posted by vistesd
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnchhausen_trilemma

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallibilism

    From the first cited wiki page: “Advocates of fallibilism, though, point out that while it is indeed correct that a theory cannot be proven universally true, it can be proven false (test method) or it can be deemed unnecessary (Occam's razor). [b]Thus, c ...[text shortened]... ents about what can properly be claimed as “truth” or “knowledge”, I wondered what others think.
    The critical rationalist Hans Albert argues that it is impossible to prove any truth with certainty, even in logic and mathematics.

    Is that what the Münchhausen trilemma is? To state as true that any truth can't be proven to be true?
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    08 Feb '16 15:42
    Originally posted by josephw
    [b]The critical rationalist Hans Albert argues that it is impossible to prove any truth with certainty, even in logic and mathematics.

    Is that what the Münchhausen trilemma is? To state as true that any truth can't be proven to be true?[/b]
    I am certain about my uncertainty... But I am not certain about that.
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    08 Feb '16 15:46
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    I am certain about my uncertainty... But I am not certain about that.
    So you're both certain about your uncertainty, and uncertain about being certain simultaneously?
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