Are All Synthetic Propositions Subject to Doubt?

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hue-man
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:34 am
It is commonly said that all synthetic propositions are subject to doubt, but is this really the case? For example, is there any logical reason to doubt that humans are intelligent organisms that live on a planet called earth?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:43 am
@hue-man,
hue-man wrote:

It is commonly said that all synthetic propositions are subject to doubt, but is this really the case?


All this means is that we cannot be absolutely certain about anything since we are fallible. Yes, this is really the case. But this does not mean we should doubt everything. We should have reason to doubt. And no, there's no reason that I know of to doubt humans live on planet earth.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:47 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;131439 wrote:
It is commonly said that all synthetic propositions are subject to doubt, but is this really the case? For example, is there any logical reason to doubt that humans are intelligent organisms that live on a planet called earth?


I don't know just who it is you mean who holds that. But, in general, it seems to me that although all propositions of any kind are subject to doubt, no proposition ought to be doubted unless there is a good reason for doubting it. Doubting is not, after all, one of the rights of man. And neither (I suggest) does doubting simply consist in uttering the words, "I hereby doubt that P" perhaps accompanied by some sensation of hesitancy.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:58 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;131447 wrote:
I don't know just who it is you mean who holds that. But, in general, it seems to me that although all propositions of any kind are subject to doubt, no proposition ought to be doubted unless there is a good reason for doubting it. Doubting is not, after all, one of the rights of man. And neither (I suggest) does doubting simply consist in uttering the words, "I hereby doubt that P" perhaps accompanied by some sensation of hesitancy.


Can one doubt and believe X proposition at the same time?

Suppose a loved one calls me up and tells me something farfetched. I have no reason to believe this person is lying, as this person has been very honest in the past. The person is also sane, and this sort of thing is not something they would most likely be mistaken about. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that what this person tells me seems almost impossible (to use the term loosely).

First, am I forced to either believe or doubt this person? Second, is my not believing, doubting? Or can I believe this person but "still have my doubts". Can't we believe contradictory ideas (cognitive dissonance)?

I think the answer is that my doubting means I do not believe. But I am not convinced yet.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 04:05 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;131454 wrote:

I think the answer is that my doubting means I do not believe. But I am not convinced yet.


I think a spectrum view of belief/doubt is more accurate than a binary view. Would you agree that doubt and certainty are largely emotional?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 04:31 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;131545 wrote:
I think a spectrum view of belief/doubt is more accurate than a binary view. Would you agree that doubt and certainty are largely emotional?


I do not know much about the formation of belief or doubt, so I can't really answer that. I would suspect that emotion does play a role in our formation of belief, but to what extent I do not know. I don't think it's entirely an issue of emotion, though; we often believe things for good reasons, and emotion never comes into the picture.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 05:52 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;131545 wrote:
I think a spectrum view of belief/doubt is more accurate than a binary view. Would you agree that doubt and certainty are largely emotional?


Psychological certainty is partly a matter of feeling. But then, we were not talking about psychological certainty, but epistemological certainty. Doubting is not a feeling at all, although feelings do generally accompany doubting. But doubting is a disposition or tendency to behave in certain appropriate ways. We do not talk of someone's doubting as if it were the name of a sensation he has. It is not like an itch.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 07:44 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;131447 wrote:
But, in general, it seems to me that although all propositions of any kind are subject to doubt, no proposition ought to be doubted unless there is a good reason for doubting it.


Sure. But then one must decide what constitutes a good reason.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 07:48 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;131662 wrote:
Sure. But then one must decide what constitutes a good reason.


Of course. But, a lot of the time, that's quite easy. For instance, if you are at a magic show, and someone is suppose to be cutting a woman in half, you have excellent reason to doubt he is. Or, if someone is known to be a congenital liar, and he tells you the Moon is made of cream cheese, you have excellent reason to doubt what he says. See what I mean?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 07:52 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;131558 wrote:
I do not know much about the formation of belief or doubt, so I can't really answer that. I would suspect that emotion does play a role in our formation of belief, but to what extent I do not know. I don't think it's entirely an issue of emotion, though; we often believe things for good reasons, and emotion never comes into the picture.


I appreciate your reply. I agree that in some cases emotional is out of the picture, or out of the picture enough. But if we think of the brain as an organ evolved for survival, it's easy to wonder what role instinct and emotion play in the organization of perception into knowledge.

I think the issue of morale is quite important. If the faithful make better soldiers, lies trump truths sometimes. The survivors live to reproduce, and with more resources to feed their offspring. How does Darwin effect epistemology?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 23 Feb, 2010 11:21 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;131663 wrote:
Of course. But, a lot of the time, that's quite easy. For instance, if you are at a magic show, and someone is suppose to be cutting a woman in half, you have excellent reason to doubt he is. Or, if someone is known to be a congenital liar, and he tells you the Moon is made of cream cheese, you have excellent reason to doubt what he says. See what I mean?


If only it were always that easy....but it's not.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 24 Feb, 2010 01:55 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;131720 wrote:
If only it were always that easy....but it's not.


But I didn't say it was easy all the time. I said it was easy some of the time. You seemed to suggest that not only was it never easy, but that it could not be done. But that is just false. We can often distinguish between good and bad reasons. That's a lot of the job of logic. Just another reminder.
 
Gracee
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:10 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;131439 wrote:
It is commonly said that all synthetic propositions are subject to doubt, but is this really the case? For example, is there any logical reason to doubt that humans are intelligent organisms that live on a planet called earth?


Well no, but just because this is the most logical conclusion to come to about the world given the evidence - Russell calls the external world a 'working hypothesis' - does not mean its the right one.
It would be logical for someone who had never experienced water before to assume it would not impede their breathing, just as it is logical for me to conclude that I am alive and I live on planet earth, because I have no reason to believe otherwise. But both are dubitable, there is always the chance that tomorrow I will wake up on another planet and find out I was part of some sort of Matrix like experiment.

Of course it is reasonable of us to conclude that this is not the case, but the point is it is always open to philosophical doubt.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:11 pm
@Gracee,
Gracee;135549 wrote:

Of course it is reasonable of us to conclude that this is not the case, but the point is it is always open to philosophical doubt.


Well said. It seems to me that we have maybe a small core of Truth, and a large spectrum of "truth,' which is open to revision to various degrees. A network of beliefs which are interdependent.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:20 pm
@Gracee,
Gracee;135549 wrote:
Well no, but just because this is the most logical conclusion to come to about the world given the evidence - Russell calls the external world a 'working hypothesis' - does not mean its the right one.
It would be logical for someone who had never experienced water before to assume it would not impede their breathing, just as it is logical for me to conclude that I am alive and I live on planet earth, because I have no reason to believe otherwise. But both are dubitable, there is always the chance that tomorrow I will wake up on another planet and find out I was part of some sort of Matrix like experiment.

Of course it is reasonable of us to conclude that this is not the case, but the point is it is always open to philosophical doubt.


But what kind of doubt is philosophical doubt? The American pragmatist, Charles Peirce called it, "sham doubt" , "fake doubt", and "paper doubt", since it has no connection to action. We can philosophically doubt there is a chair at the same time we try to sit on it. Peirce wrote, "We ought not to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts".
 
Gracee
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;135561 wrote:
But what kind of doubt is philosophical doubt? The American pragmatist, Charles Peirce called it, "sham doubt" , "fake doubt", and "paper doubt", since it has no connection to action. We can philosophically doubt there is a chair at the same time we try to sit on it. Peirce wrote, "We ought not to doubt in philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts".



Oh you have to read the Peirce quote on my page, its beautiful...

You have a point, and Peirce does have a way with words, but, like Reconstructo says, this is only one point on our 'spectrum of truth', the truth which we use daily, the truth which we have to have to make us human and not just abstractions. But we cannot forget the rest of the spectrum because in it, somewhere, lies absolute truth, and this is what philosophy was born to find.
What i mean by philosophical truth is that truth men have been searching for for centuries, the one Descartes thought he had found when i said 'cogito ergo sum', the one indubitable proposition upon which everything else, morality, spirituality, reality, can be built; the fulcrum with which we can move the world.
No, its not practical, and, no, the search for it may only lead us on pathways of pure abstraction, but it is still truth, in its purest form, undiluted by our humanity, our 'being' - without which we are not, and yet somehow we are something so much more than what we are - and we cannot forget that, no matter how incomprehensible it can become.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:45 pm
@Gracee,
Gracee;135574 wrote:
Oh you have to read the Peirce quote on my page, its beautiful...

You have a point, and Peirce does have a way with words, but, like Reconstructo says, this is only one point on our 'spectrum of truth', the truth which we use daily, the truth which we have to have to make us human and not just abstractions. But we cannot forget the rest of the spectrum because in it, somewhere, lies absolute truth, and this is what philosophy was born to find.
What i mean by philosophical truth is that truth men have been searching for for centuries, the one Descartes thought he had found when i said 'cogito ergo sum', the one indubitable proposition upon which everything else, morality, spirituality, reality, can be built; the fulcrum with which we can move the world.
No, its not practical, and, no, the search for it may only lead us on pathways of pure abstraction, but it is still truth, in its purest form, undiluted by our humanity, our 'being' - without which we are not, and yet somehow we are something so much more than what we are - and we cannot forget that, no matter how incomprehensible it can become.


our 'spectrum of truth', the truth which we use daily, the truth which we have to have to make us human and not just abstractions. But we cannot forget the rest of the spectrum because in it, somewhere, lies absolute truth, and this is what philosophy was born to find.

I can understand why you might want to believe that. But I don't understand why you do believe it. I mean your reasons. Ponce de Leon was always wanting to find The Fountain of Youth. I can understand why, but I don't understand why he believed there was such a thing as The Fountain of Youth.
 
Gracee
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 03:50 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;135580 wrote:
I can understand why you might want to believe that. But I don't understand why you do believe it. I mean your reasons. Ponce de Leon was always wanting to find The Fountain of Youth. I can understand why, but I don't understand why he believed there was such a thing as The Fountain of Youth.


Because if there isn't absolute truth, then there isn't any truth at all, in which case we're both mistaken
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 04:04 pm
@Gracee,
Gracee;135585 wrote:
Because if there isn't absolute truth, then there isn't any truth at all, in which case we're both mistaken


What is absolute truth as opposed to truth?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 3 Mar, 2010 04:07 pm
@Gracee,
Gracee;135585 wrote:
Because if there isn't absolute truth, then there isn't any truth at all, in which case we're both mistaken


What would make you say that if there is no absolute truth, there is no truth. Would you say that if there are no blue fire trucks, there are no fire trucks?
 
 

 
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