Something that scientists often fail to realise, in my view, and more so in the current 'scientific age', is exactly that logic and mathematical reasoning don't go 'all the way down'. They rest on assumptions and axioms at some point, beyond which they cannot be applied. As for the logical foundations of math, isn't this what Russell and Whitehead tried to establish, and Godel showed couldn't be done? I think logic is very much a tautological system. But skepticism is something that needs to be understood and applied correctly. In my view, scientific skepticism is pseudo-skeptical, because it is all predicated on the type of naive realism which is the first thing that the real skeptic calls into question.
Yes, I know about intuitionism, and not much about the rest. And it may be that (as I said) the scope of the LEM needs to be restricted. But such restriction is not something isolated. It will have implications for all we know. An important contemporary development in philosophy is the notion of anti-realism, which also restricts the use of the LEM and claims, and hold that that propositions that are unverifiable in principle are neither true nor false.
I think that a very important realization in philosophy in the latter part of the last century is that you must justify doubt.
The quest for foundations and certainty. The heavy hand of Plato. That is why we have to recognize a coherence theory of justification (not of truth) and a correspondence theory of truth.
The correspondence theory of truth is great. It's done humanity great service. But it has its limits. If reality is not completely knowable, then there are truths it is not available to correspond with.
For instance, to what does the correspondence theory itself correspond? What reality anchors the correspondence theory of truth? It's a prejudice of ours. Its prestige is based on its results. I'm OK with that.
They rest on assumptions, but the assumptions are made very pragmatically and there is little intellectual dispute over them. Otherwise you would see a huge revolution in the somewhat stagnant field of philosophy of science and eventually there would be some major changes because someone would test the newly proposed paradigm and find that it works better than the current one. If a better paradigm were found, it would necessarily be demonstrably better i.e. it would give us more predictive ability, give simpler explanations etc. The effects would be measurable. That is why science is only tentatively subject to new philosophy. If the new philosophy would make no noticable difference in scientific practice, it is essentially usless until shown otherwise; to quote William James: "A difference that makes no difference is no difference".
Really, attacking scientist for being psuedo-skeptical because they don't delve as deeply as a professional philosopher (though they probably have though about it more than you, considering they are usually highly intelligent people who do science all day), is akin to attacking the mechanic for not casting all the pieces and tools he uses to make sure they were made right. If there is a design flaw, he will recognize it in his work, someone will see it as a good problem to solve and the flaw will be resolved. It may be a while before the mechanic gets the better tool set, but it will happen eventually.
It correspond to the facts about what truth is, of course. The question, what reality anchors the correspondence theory supposes there is more than one reality. But that is false. So the answer is, of course, reality.
Let me phrase it another way. How is the correspondence theory of truth justified? It's a theory. It's one way to define truth, and certainly not the only way. I say the correspondence theory is founded upon the prestige of technology, but this is hardly a logical grounding of the theory. It's a useful prejudice that at times leads to confusion and something like superstition.
Use your logic skills and ground the correspondence theory. Argue for it. If you think you can. :sarcastic:
They rest on assumptions, but the assumptions are made very pragmatically and there is little intellectual dispute over them. Otherwise you would see a huge revolution in the somewhat stagnant field of philosophy of science and eventually there would be some major changes because someone would test the newly proposed paradigm and find that it works better than the current one. .
In the quest to explain human nature and human knowledge in 'natural' terms, it must be assumed that logic and mathematical ability simply evolved. So in the scheme of things, natural selection must be regarded as ontologically senior to logic.
And besides that, science is undoubtedly in the midst of the greatest paradigm shift since the Copernican revolution, right at this minute. 95% of the universe is missing. But we'll save that for another thread.
---------- Post added 12-16-2009 at 07:30 PM ----------
. How can truth be founded upon a reality not yet discovered?
The current paradigm is still overwhelmingly defined by the newtonian-galilean assumptions of the primary reality of physical bodies obeying newtonian laws. It is that mindset that I believe is under threat, and will soon cease to be the 'dominant paradigm'.
. But in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn shows pretty convincingly that in addition to this 'method' there is also an underlying condition of the whole process, which is what the experimenter will or won't consider as a possible explanation.
Hmmm. What happened to Einstein and relativity physics?
Bingo, and this is the blind spot of objective science. The scientist is a biological entity. But even "biological" is a loaded word. Man's names for himself affect his behavior. Social Darwinism is an obvious example of science converted into ethics. It means something when man reduces himself to just another animal. It has its uses, of course, and objectivity has been a sword against a horde of idiosyncratic prejudices. The danger now is that the revolutionary will play the tyrant. Humans crave an authority to lean on. That we live in a post-superstitious age is this age's superstition.
Logic is to use your deductive reasoning to create inductive ideas. We gather information from our sense, piece it together in our brains, then based on that created reality we made assumptions using what we already know.