Skepticism and Belief

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kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 09:48 am
@nerdfiles,
nerdfiles wrote:


---------- Post added at 08:09 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:07 AM ----------



Well, knowledge does imply belief, by our definition.

But I too find nothing particularly wrong with this fact. Simply citing the fact as it is, without argument or explanation as to why it is wrong, surely will not get anyone to agree.

.


I didn't realize that "invite" meant, "implies".

People who object to the notion that knowledge implies belief are often thinking of the locution, "I don't believe, I know" which suggests that not only does knowledge not imply belief, but that it implies non-belief. But this is, I think, an illusion. For, I think that what is meant by saying, "I don't believe, I know" is "I don't only believe, I know." For, after all, I might just believe that Quito is the capital of Ecuador. But then, I might then do research, and after looking it up in the latest Atlas, and in the Encyclopedia, come to know that Quito is the capital. But when I do that, I surely have not ceased to believe it is the capital, too. In fact, it seems that not only does I know not imply I do not believe, but I know implies I do believe. But that, of course, needs argument.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 09:53 am
@nerdfiles,
Uh... Yeah, I know implies I believe. That's part of our definition. It's on the original post.

I've already given the argument ten times over. You're taking us back over steps we've made.

S knows that p only if S believes that p.

By contraposition, If S does not believe that p, then S does not know that p.

(1) -B > -K

Argument, then, is: Is there ever a case where someone does not believe something to be true yet does not know it to be true?

(1) is logically equivalent to: -(-B & K)

And a counterexample would look like (-B & K)

So is there ever a case where one does not believe a proposition to be true to be and knows it to be true?

Take an atheist example. Is there ever a case where one knows that God exists, but does not believe that God exists?

"Invite" and "imply" are not the same word, but they intimate roughly the same idea. You really did not need to raise a comment on that. A little reflection shows that these words, though not synonymous, have overlapping connotations and can be reasonably substituted for one another idiomatically.
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 10:14 am
@nerdfiles,
Are we merely placing constraints on what a belief can be, or are we actually identifying what a belief is. It was my understanding that we are seeking out what qualities the subject possesses when we apply the predicate "believes", and it is now my "belief" that we have failed miserably.
 
nerdfiles
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 10:58 am
@Mr Fight the Power,
Mr. Fight the Power wrote:
Are we merely placing constraints on what a belief can be, or are we actually identifying what a belief is. It was my understanding that we are seeking out what qualities the subject possesses when we apply the predicate "believes", and it is now my "belief" that we have failed miserably.


We're "placing constraints" on "what qualities the subject" can possess when belief is predicated.
 
ACB
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 12:29 pm
@nerdfiles,
Nerdfiles - Thank you for your post #247. Regarding logically impossible beliefs, I have no disagreement. On the Gettier problem, I am trying to clarify in my mind the distinction between:

(a) an unjustified true belief, and

(b) a justified true belief that does not constitute knowledge.

Is there a clear distinction? How outlandish does a belief have to be to count as unjustified? I am just running these things around in my head. Any comments would be appreciated.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 01:51 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
Nerdfiles - Thank you for your post #247. Regarding logically impossible beliefs, I have no disagreement. On the Gettier problem, I am trying to clarify in my mind the distinction between:

(a) an unjustified true belief, and

(b) a justified true belief that does not constitute knowledge.

Is there a clear distinction? How outlandish does a belief have to be to count as unjustified? I am just running these things around in my head. Any comments would be appreciated.


An unjustified true belief would be my guess that President Obama is in the bathroom of The White House at this moment, and it turns out he is. A lucky guess.

A justified true belief that was not knowledge would be the case of a man who goes to his office and sees the office clock with its hands pointing to 9.A.M. . He also knows that clock has never been wrong, since the boss is a zealot for time, and he has a clock maker come into the office twice a day to check on the clock, and make sure it is in tip-top running order.
But what the man does not know is that this day, for the first time, the clock stopped at 9 pm the evening before, and clock maker has not yet come in to check. And, furthermore, it is 9AM. The clock is right.

So, the man's belief that it is 9 am is justified. His belief it true since it is, 9am. So, it is a justified true belief. But does he know that it is 9am? Most people would say he does not, since unknown to him, the clock has stopped at exactly 9pm the previous evening.
 
ACB
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 07:19 pm
@nerdfiles,
Kennethamy - Thanks for the clarification. Just two comments:

1. You might guess that President Obama is now in the bathroom of the White House, but you would be unlikely to believe it unless you could give at least some evidence for it. Others may or may not consider your evidence adequate. So I think a genuine belief cannot be totally unreasonable (i.e. without (normative) reasons); it must have at least some minimal evidence to back it up, but this evidence may be considered sufficient or insufficient. So, if 'justification' means 'reasons', it is a matter of degree; but if it means 'sufficient reasons', then it is a case of yes or no.

2. In your second example, let us suppose it is a digital clock, with a display that includes the large letters AM or PM. Suppose it is clearly showing PM, but the man does not notice this. In that case, is his belief that it is now 9am justified? Presumably not. But what if the letters PM, though still visible from where he is standing, are quite small and not very prominent? Again, is justification a matter of degree?

nerdfiles wrote:
Category mistakes cannot be believed

However, a "category mistake" cannot be believed. Contradictions have truth conditons (which happen to always yield "false"), but category mistakes do not have truth conditions. It is logically impossible for them to. It is logically impossible for "The number for is sleeping" to have truth conditions, if the terms are taken literally. It cannot be believed because it is not a conceivable situation. It can never occur.


Nerdfiles - What about the proposition "The bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ"? Would you call that a category mistake? I would.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 10 Apr, 2009 11:14 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
Kennethamy - Thanks for the clarification. Just two comments:

1. You might guess that President Obama is now in the bathroom of the White House, but you would be unlikely to believe it unless you could give at least some evidence for it. Others may or may not consider your evidence adequate. So I think a genuine belief cannot be totally unreasonable (i.e. without (normative) reasons); it must have at least some minimal evidence to back it up, but this evidence may be considered sufficient or insufficient. So, if 'justification' means 'reasons', it is a matter of degree; but if it means 'sufficient reasons', then it is a case of yes or no.

2. In your second example, let us suppose it is a digital clock, with a display that includes the large letters AM or PM. Suppose it is clearly showing PM, but the man does not notice this. In that case, is his belief that it is now 9am justified? Presumably not. But what if the letters PM, though still visible from where he is standing, are quite small and not very prominent? Again, is justification a matter of degree?



Nerdfiles - What about the proposition "The bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ"? Would you call that a category mistake? I would.


In both cases, we can change the example to take care of your doubts.

In the first case, we can suppose that someone just passionately loves a racing horse, and although he has no reason to think the horse will win the race, believes he will, and places his last cent on the horse to win, and the horse wins. So he has no justification at all for believing the horse will win.

In the second case, we can simply pile on justification after justification for the man's belief that the clock is right so that if we had not completed the story, no one would think that he his belief that the clock was right was not completely justified, and still, he had justified true belief.But, when we added that the clock had stopped 12 hours before, I don't think that anyone would say that the man knew what time it was.

---------- Post added at 01:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:14 AM ----------

nerdfiles wrote:
Uh... Yeah, I know implies I believe. That's part of our definition. It's on the original post.

I've already given the argument ten times over. You're taking us back over steps we've made.

S knows that p only if S believes that p.

By contraposition, If S does not believe that p, then S does not know that p.

(1) -B > -K

Argument, then, is: Is there ever a case where someone does not believe something to be true yet does not know it to be true?

(1) is logically equivalent to: -(-B & K)

And a counterexample would look like (-B & K)

So is there ever a case where one does not believe a proposition to be true to be and knows it to be true?

Take an atheist example. Is there ever a case where one knows that God exists, but does not believe that God exists?

"Invite" and "imply" are not the same word, but they intimate roughly the same idea. You really did not need to raise a comment on that. A little reflection shows that these words, though not synonymous, have overlapping connotations and can be reasonably substituted for one another idiomatically.


That you cannot think of a counterexample does not show there isn't one, but you have not thought of it. So that you or anyone cannot think of a counterexample is not an argument that knowledge implies belief. (Or, at least, not much of an argument).
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 05:44 am
@kennethamy,
Note: Nerdfiles won't be responding as he's no longer a member of this forum.
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 08:28 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
In the first case, we can suppose that someone just passionately loves a racing horse, and although he has no reason to think the horse will win the race, believes he will, and places his last cent on the horse to win, and the horse wins. So he has no justification at all for believing the horse will win.


The idea of believing something (rather than just hoping it) without any evidence still seems strange to me. I am sure I could never do it. Certainly I could indulge in wishful thinking, and exaggerate meagre evidence. But if I were asked why I believed something, and could come up with nothing better than "Well, I just do" or "I desperately want it", I would soon reflect that my 'belief' was untenable and (being a sane person) abandon it. But I admit that some people's thought processes may be different!

Quote:
So that you [i.e. nerdfiles] or anyone cannot think of a counterexample is not an argument that knowledge implies belief. (Or, at least, not much of an argument).


I would have thought that knowledge implies belief by definition, in which case there are necessarily no counterexamples. What could 'knowledge without belief' mean? What conditions would a counterexample have to satisfy?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 02:29 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:




I would have thought that knowledge implies belief by definition, in which case there are necessarily no counterexamples. What could 'knowledge without belief' mean? What conditions would a counterexample have to satisfy?


I suppose a person would have to know that p, but not be able to bring himself to accept that p. People do say things like, "I know that my son is guilty of murder, but I cannot (or do not) believe it".
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 05:25 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I suppose a person would have to know that p, but not be able to bring himself to accept that p. People do say things like, "I know that my son is guilty of murder, but I cannot (or do not) believe it".


I think this is stretching the word 'believe' beyond its normal meaning, or using the word figuratively. I would say that the sentence in quotes means something like "I know [and so in a sense 'accept'] that my son is guilty of murder, but I am banishing the thought from my mind" or "blocking it from the emotional part of my mind" or something like that. Otherwise it would be a blatant contradiction. I would ask the person: "Is your son guilty of murder - yes or no?" If they replied "yes and no" or "I can't give a simple answer to that", it would demonstrate that their position was vague or incoherent.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 05:30 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
I think this is stretching the word 'believe' beyond its normal meaning, or using the word figuratively. I would say that the sentence in quotes means something like "I know [and so in a sense 'accept'] that my son is guilty of murder, but I am banishing the thought from my mind" or "blocking it from the emotional part of my mind" or something like that. Otherwise it would be a blatant contradiction. I would ask the person: "Is your son guilty of murder - yes or no?" If they replied "yes and no" or "I can't give a simple answer to that", it would demonstrate that their position was vague or incoherent.


I suppose it is reasonable to interpret that sentence in that way if you are already convinced that it is impossible to know without believing.
 
ACB
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 06:06 pm
@kennethamy,
It ultimately comes down to the meanings of words. Definitions that are rigorous enough for everyday life are often insufficiently so for the purposes of philosophy. As a result, much philosophical argument on apparently substantive issues actually boils down to subtle differences in people's understanding of particular words. I think 'knowledge and belief' is such a case!
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 11 Apr, 2009 08:16 pm
@ACB,
ACB wrote:
It ultimately comes down to the meanings of words. Definitions that are rigorous enough for everyday life are often insufficiently so for the purposes of philosophy. As a result, much philosophical argument on apparently substantive issues actually boils down to subtle differences in people's understanding of particular words. I think 'knowledge and belief' is such a case!


I think the problem is not about words. I think we need arguments. For instance, I pointed out that when we first believe something, and then, when we research further, we know that same something, we never think that we have stopped believing it just because we now also know it, do we?
 
Dichanthelium
 
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 01:27 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I think the problem is not about words. I think we need arguments. For instance, I pointed out that when we first believe something, and then, when we research further, we know that same something, we never think that we have stopped believing it just because we now also know it, do we?


ken, from the beginning, haven't we been working within the context of nerdfiles' opening statements? The agreed-upon assumption was that knowing is a kind of believing:

"we generally and more or less plausibly hold [that] Knowledge is justified true belief."

If someone utters a sentence that appears to express a dichotomy between "believe" and "know" isn't it usually based on one of the many possible connotations of the word "believe"?

The argument I tried to raise several times (and which I think was dismissed without a clear counter argument) was based on this typically ambiguous nature of the word. As far as I can tell, the kind of analysis that nerdfiles was trying to do on "believe" is impossible without specifying who is the believer, what is believed, and whether or not the believer is expressing strong or weak assent to the proposition.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 01:41 pm
@Dichanthelium,
Dichanthelium wrote:
ken, from the beginning, haven't we been working within the context of nerdfiles' opening statements? The agreed-upon assumption was that knowing is a kind of believing:

"we generally and more or less plausibly hold [that] Knowledge is justified true belief."

If someone utters a sentence that appears to express a dichotomy between "believe" and "know" isn't it usually based on one of the many possible connotations of the word "believe"?

The argument I tried to raise several times (and which I think was dismissed without a clear counter argument) was based on this typically ambiguous nature of the word. As far as I can tell, the kind of analysis that nerdfiles was trying to do on "believe" is impossible without specifying who is the believer, what is believed, and whether or not the believer is expressing strong or weak assent to the proposition.


Dichanthelium,

I wasn't ignoring your argument, I even agree with it.

Each case is subjective, and it's near impossible to come to a general set of conditions that "belief" shares. Because, as you note, each participant in the usage of "belief" could be implying varying ranges of intensity and meaning. You're right.

This, however, was a thought-experiment. I don't even think nerdfiles expected a definitive conclusion. The point is the thought-processes we've all trekked through to get where we are 22 pages later. The point was to see just how far language could take us -- to what length of clarification we could all share in describing a notion. It's very interesting when you think about thought-experiments like these from different perspectives; What are the limits of language?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 02:21 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin wrote:
Dichanthelium,

I wasn't ignoring your argument, I even agree with it.

Each case is subjective, and it's near impossible to come to a general set of conditions that "belief" shares. Because, as you note, each participant in the usage of "belief" could be implying varying ranges of intensity and meaning. You're right.

This, however, was a thought-experiment. I don't even think nerdfiles expected a definitive conclusion. The point is the thought-processes we've all trekked through to get where we are 22 pages later. The point was to see just how far language could take us -- to what length of clarification we could all share in describing a notion. It's very interesting when you think about thought-experiments like these from different perspectives; What are the limits of language?


I don't think that the intensity of a belief changes the fact that it is a belief, nonetheless. Just as the intensity of one's hope does not change the fact that it is a hope. (Same for wanting).
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 02:45 pm
@kennethamy,
It doesn't change that it's a "hope" or "belief", but the task is converting each "hope" and "belief" into language with conditions. I think this is where Wittgenstein's exercise really comes into play:

"Wittgenstein first asks the reader to perform a thought experiment: to come up with a definitionof the word "game". While this may at first seem a simple task, he then goes on to lead us through the problems with each of the possible definitions of the word "game". Any definition which focuses on amusement leaves us unsatisfied since the feelings experienced by a world class chess player are very different from those of a circle of children playing Duck Duck Goose. Any definition which focuses on competition will fail to explain the game of catch, or the game of solitaire. And a definition of the word "game" which focuses on rules will fall on similar difficulties. Wittgenstein's point is not that it is impossible to define "game", but that we don't have a definition, and we don't need one, because even without the definition, we use the word successfully. Everybody understands what we mean when we talk about playing a game, and we can even clearly identify and correct inaccurate uses of the word, all without reference to any definition that consists of necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the concept of a game"
-Wikipedia

Similarly, as noted, one could use the word "belief" with different meanings implied. One could use it interchangeably with "think", while another may use it interchangeably with "know". Intensity varies: A religious zealot who shouts, "I believe in God!", is much different than me nonchalantly stating, "Yeah, I believe my mother is in the other room".

If we are to attempt to lay necessary and sufficient conditions out for "hope" or "belief" or "game", we must all be playing the same "language-game", we must all participate in clarification, come to an understanding. Otherwise, language will not help us in clarifying. "Belief", like "Game", I don't feel has a general set of conditions. So, we could postulate what conditions may precede "belief" in particular situations, just as we could postulate what conditions may precede "game" in particular situations such as, "Bob and Joe go outside to play a game of catch", or "The professional chess champion is playing the game of chess".

And we've already done this. What else shall we do?
 
ACB
 
Reply Sun 12 Apr, 2009 02:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
I think the problem is not about words. I think we need arguments. For instance, I pointed out that when we first believe something, and then, when we research further, we know that same something, we never think that we have stopped believing it just because we now also know it, do we?


I fully concur with that. Knowledge implies belief.

---------- Post added at 10:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:55 PM ----------

Zetherin wrote:
Wittgenstein's point is not that it is impossible to define "game", but that we don't have a definition, and we don't need one, because even without the definition, we use the word successfully.


Yes, and that is true of most common words. There are exceptions, however. I am thinking particularly of the word 'art', as in 'What is art?' A meaningless question, I think, as there is insufficient agreement about the proper use of the word.
 
 

 
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