Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Facebook Philosophy: Epistemology

By Hanno, Lee and c.e.

Lee: The difference between cockiness and confidence is that confidence does not depend on the opinion or view of others, it comes from self assurance through knowledge and experience, unlike cockiness no matter what someone else says confidence will not fade away because there is no need to show off or prove something, it is already known.

Hanno: Hmm. I expect that confidence does not really exist, then. All of our conceptions of self are tied, at least in part, to the opinion of others, unless you are utterly delusional. Imagine you write a paper about things you think you know, and you think it is well written. You show it to your friends, and they say it is unreadable crap. OK, you are confident, you still know it is good. So you show it to your professor, and he blasts it, gives it a D. So you show it to a professor you respect. And he explains why its crap. At some point, don't you lose your confidence? And if not, are you not delusional?

Lee: That is a good point, however I think that if confidence stems from knowledge it must stem from true knowledge other wise it is false confidence. For us to actually know something it must first be true, the example you used could show that the person would not have had the experience of writing good papers nor knowing what they consist of, however you make a good point in the fact that the only way for one to know that your are doing something right is through the opinions, teachings, and guidance of others. But I think that once the person has that true knowledge of what a good paper consists of it would not matter what a professor or the persons friends would say, and I would argue that the person is not being delusional if the paper had been written in accordance to that knowledge. I guess I should have just said that confidence sustainability does not depend upon the opinions of others. But I am not arguing that conceptions of self are not tied to other people, only that once you know who you are and what you can do you dont need to show it off and no one can take it from you (ideally).

Hanno: How will you know you have true knowledge?
I say all thus, of course, as a cocky person.

c.e.: Why must knowledge be tied to truth? Certainly, can't I have a justified false belief? And don't we call that knowledge? I can thus "know" something, which is in fact false. And if knowledge is dependent upon truth (at you would have it then I can only "know" that which is known analytically, since even the synthetic is suspect, and certainly “facts", as they are commonly held, are suspect and generally grounded in assumptions. And as such, we "know" very little. And certainly, whether or not a paper is "good" does not fall into such a category.

That confidence is synonymous with delusion is no way entails that is does not exist. Indeed, we have every reason to believe that there are delusional persons, and if so, then that there are also─as per your argument─confident persons. And thus, confidence must exist.

Lee: well to me personally knowledge must be tied to truth, I would never call a false belief knowledge. There is a difference between believing something and having knowledge about something. For instance, a person believed that he knew his drink wasnt poisoned by his wife (she assured him it wasnt), and low and behold he found out that some men cant hold their arsenic after drinking it. It would be fair to say the he held a belief that the drink wasnt poisoned but it would not be accurate to say that he KNEW it wasnt poisoned. One cannot know that 2 + 2 = 5, only believe it.
4 hours ago

c.e.: Then you're redefining knowledge. And doing so in such a stringent fashion that we "know" very little. Indeed, you'll have to replace almost every daily usage of the word "know"with the word "believe". And that's fishy, to say the least. Our criteria for knowledge is far more lax than that. As such, science can never give us knowledge. It simply lacks the ability, as anything empirical must (on your view).

Hanno: Who is the one redefining knowledge? Perhaps it is you! And maybe we *know* very little.

Lee: Fine Chris Ill just go into epistemological arguments and bite the bullet. I think the notion that knowledge is justified belief in somethings standing on what it is actually true does not infringe upon empirical claims at all. As long as you don’t get into the nitty gritty dream argument that is. I am justified in my belief that 2 + 2 equals 4 because it would be a logical impossibility for it not to. So I can know that, I can also know that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit because it does so every single time I raise it to that temperature and thus my justified belief can be called knowledge. Having a belief is a prerequisite for having knowledge, but whether or not that belief is true and having justification for believing it is true is what I believe constitutes as knowledge. I don’t think it prevents science from giving us knowledge at all.

In order to say you know something you must first have a belief, the belief must be true, and you must have justification for believing it is true. Thats where my notion of knowledge came from which is tied to my notion of confidence for better or worse.

Hanno: What lee says seems right. But we learn socially. Almost everything you think you know you learned from someone. Which is precisely why your confidence is social, too. The things you actually determine yourself are few and usually uninteresting. It would be narcissistically delusional to think you are right and everybody else is wrong about any topic the least bit interesting.

c.e.: 2 + 2 = 4 is not in the same category as water boiling at 212 F. One is confirmed merely by observation. It is necessarily the case that 2 + 2 = 4. There may be circumstances in which water does not boil at 212 F. Simply because you have never encountered that circumstance means not so much.

What we call knowledge is justified belief. We cannot be guaranteed that G or e are right in any absolute sense. We can only have good evidence to support them. We could be wrong. And as such, we may have knowledge, which is in fact false.

And once we realize justification comes in degrees, it's up for debate as to what constitutes a good(tm) justification. It's not immediately obvious that "My father loves me", and "The mass of a proton is 1.672 621 637(83) × 10−27 kg", differ in kind, or merely by relative uncertainty.... See More

Uncertainty is there. And as such, the line you are drawing between knowledge and belief is either not present, which I will concede is false, or often blurry and prone to smudging, which I will hold is true.

Empiricism can never guarantee truth. It lacks the ability to do such. But it can give us good reason to believe. And when we feel justified in our beliefs, then we call it knowledge. Whether or not we are justified, which justifications are good ones, etc., is still up in the air.

Hanno: There are lots of reasons to think that mere justified beliefs do not constitute knowledge. And not even true justified beliefs, for which you can speak to Dr. Furman, as his dissertation deals with just that claim. For example, I might look up at Big Ben, and the clock says 12:00. So given the belief that Big Ben is an accurate clock, I may be justified in believing that it is 12 o'clock. But we would not call that knowledge if it turned out that Big Ben stopped working, unbeknownst to me. And even if it happened at that moment to be 12, but the clock stuck on 12, I would have a justified true belief, but it is missing something, because it is just by accident that the clock has the right time (a stopped clock is right twice a day). True justified belief plus something extra = knowledge. Thanks to GE Moore for the example.

But be that as it may, my belief that Big Ben is usually right is socially constructed. And if everyone around me told me that Big Ben was not working, or that it was wrong, I would be an idiot to keep having confidence in its verdicality.

4 comments:

ce said...

This was not reprinted with permission. Not that it matters a damn bit. Just saying.

And you missed a part. I guess we can let it die on Lee's facebook, and see if anything interesting happens here.

Hanno said...

Ain't no copyright on the internet! Anarchy rules! Kind of!

ce said...

Technically, it's "original text", and thus protected by copyright laws. But at least you half-assed credited the original source. I'm honestly, still a little confused as to how copyright laws apply on the internet. And everyone else seems to be in the same boat.

Anarchy can't rule. That's part of what's cool about anarchy.

FJ said...

I'll stick w/Plato's divided line epistemology from "Republic"... Amour propre/amour de soi arguments are just too passe...