Why do some people believe that knowledge implies certainty?

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

prothero
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 10:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156958 wrote:
Plato distinguishes knowledge in terms of what the knowledge is of. And Plato would not honor the true belief about the name of the capital of E. with the honorific, "know".
And do not you think Plato has a point.
that Quinto is the capital of E. is a rather trivial and self defining form of knowledge of a different character than say.
Newton's law of gravity or Einstein's general relativity?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:07 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;156969 wrote:
Yes, that is right. People are very certain of mathematics, because they are used to the type of a priori reasoning.



I don ` t care if you can ` t add numbers. Mathematics as i know it are about theorems, and their proves. People are very certain of the theorems in mathematics, because their truth can be deduced by axioms, and accepted rules.


People feel very certain, and believe they are certain, but that doesn't make them certain. And they cannot be certain, since they can be mistaken. And we know that they can be mistaken because, like me, they make mistakes when they add numbers, and even when they try to perform deductions. Or are you telling me that mathematicians never make mistakes when performing deductions?

---------- Post added 04-28-2010 at 01:10 AM ----------

prothero;157390 wrote:
And do not you think Plato has a point.
that Quinto is the capital of E. is a rather trivial and self defining form of knowledge of a different character than say.
Newton's law of gravity or Einstein's general relativity?


Trivial it might be (although I don't think that the inhabitants of Quito would think so) but knowledge it is, anyway. Even trivial knowledge is knowledge.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:24 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy, are you certain of anything? I mean is there any time when it is proper to use that word. I mean when you are certain it is proper to use the word "certain".
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:27 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
People feel very certain, and believe they are certain, but that doesn't make them certain. And they cannot be certain, since they can be mistaken. And we know that they can be mistaken because, like me, they make mistakes when they add numbers, and even when they try to perform deductions. Or are you telling me that mathematicians never make mistakes when performing deductions?


You have it all confused. Certainty is a psychological state that an agent has. Agent S is certain of a particular option if, and only if S thinks the option has a high probability of being true. This does not follow that option could not possibility be false. As you say, knowledge does not demand certain, but neither does certainty implies knowledge. You can be certain of P, even if P is false.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:38 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;157398 wrote:
kennethamy, are you certain of anything? I mean is there any time when it is proper to use that word. I mean when you are certain it is proper to use the word "certain".


I am a fallibilist, so I doubt whether anything I know is certain. But, is it ever proper to use the term "certain". Sure. When you believe that your justification for what you believe you know is so strong, that to say that you were not certain of what you know would be misleading to others.

We should distinguish carefully between whether we are justified in claiming that P is true, from whether P is justified for us. "I am in a coma" may be justified for me when I am in a coma. But I can never be justified in claiming I am in a coma, since anyone who is in a coma cannot claim anything at all. Claiming that P is true is one thing, but P being true is a different thing.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:45 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157404 wrote:
I am a fallibilist, so I doubt whether anything I know is certain. But, is it ever proper to use the term "certain". Sure. When you believe that your justification for what you believe you know is so strong, that to say that you were not certain of what you know would be misleading to others.

We should distinguish carefully between whether we are justified in claiming that P is true, from whether P is justified for us. "I am in a coma" may be justified for me when I am in a coma. But I can never be justified in claiming I am in a coma, since anyone who is in a coma cannot claim anything at all. Claiming that P is true is one thing, but P being true is a different thing.


Should we ever say "P is true." Or to be safe should we say instead "I claim that P is true." But then we'd have to say "I claim that I claim that P is true." and so on. I suppose it is obvious that we are claiming something so it need not be said.

But if our own statements and the statements of others are always implicitly bracketed off as mere "claims" from where do we get our concept of certainty?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:48 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;157401 wrote:
You have it all confused. Certainty is a psychological state that an agent has. Agent S is certain of a particular option if, and only if S thinks the option has a high probability of being true. This does not follow that option could not possibility be false. As you say, knowledge does not demand certain, but neither does certainty implies knowledge. You can be certain of P, even if P is false.


Yes, you are right. My use of "certain" is quasi-technical. I mean it the way philosophers have used it (or have talked about it). I mean what might be called "Cartesian certainty", not the ordinary use of the term, "certain" which, as you correctly point out does not imply truth. The philosophical use of the term (Cartesian Certainty) does imply truth, and it implies the impossibility (and not just the inactuality) of error. Cartesian certainty is not a psychological state, but yes, ordinary use certainty is.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157408 wrote:
Yes, you are right. My use of "certain" is quasi-technical. I mean it the way philosophers have used it (or have talked about it). I mean what might be called "Cartesian certainty", not the ordinary use of the term, "certain" which, as you correctly point out does not imply truth. The philosophical use of the term (Cartesian Certainty) does imply truth, and it implies the impossibility (and not just the inactuality) of error. Cartesian certainty is not a psychological state, but yes, ordinary use certainty is.


What is the difference between Cartesian certainty and psychological-state-certainty?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 27 Apr, 2010 11:58 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;157407 wrote:
Should we ever say "P is true." Or to be safe should we say instead "I claim that P is true." But then we'd have to say "I claim that I claim that P is true." and so on. I suppose it is obvious that we are claiming something so it need not be said.

But if our own statements and the statements of others are always implicitly bracketed off as mere "claims" from where do we get our concept of certainty?


Of course we should say that P is true, whenever we believe that P is true. The philosopher, Harry Pritchard, resolved never to promise anything because no person can absolutely guarantee that he will keep his promises. Something may always happen that will prevent it. (He may die before he can, for instance). So, Pritchard would never say the words, "I promise to do so-and-so". Instead he said, "I fully intend to do so-and-so". Fine. But it wasn't long before his friends knew about Pritchard's resolution. So, whenever he said, "I fully intend to do so-and-so", his friends would say,"Oh, that's just old Harry being careful. We know what he means. He means he promises". It is hard not to speak ordinary language. The same goes (ceterus paribus) for saying, "I am certain that so-and-so".

---------- Post added 04-28-2010 at 02:02 AM ----------

Deckard;157412 wrote:
What is the difference between Cartesian certainty and psychological-state-certainty?


What I said. If you are cartesianly certain, then it is impossible for you to be mistaken. You know infallibly (in the instance). But if you are psychologically certain it is possible for you to be mistaken. You just believe it is impossible (or maybe you feel sure you are not mistaken).
 
Deckard
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 12:13 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157413 wrote:
Of course we should say that P is true, whenever we believe that P is true. The philosopher, Harry Pritchard, resolved never to promise anything because no person can absolutely guarantee that he will keep his promises. Something may always happen that will prevent it. (He may die before he can, for instance). So, Pritchard would never say the words, "I promise to do so-and-so". Instead he said, "I fully intend to do so-and-so". Fine. But it wasn't long before his friends knew about Pritchard's resolution. So, whenever he said, "I fully intend to do so-and-so", his friends would say,"Oh, that's just old Harry being careful. We know what he means. He means he promises". It is hard not to speak ordinary language. The same goes (ceterus paribus) for saying, "I am certain that so-and-so".
I tend to agree having broken a few promises and not all of them due to a lack of will power. Didn't Sartre have a similar argument against getting married? Yet I think Sartre would also say, one always has a choice whether to break a promise or not. Hmmm... maybe Sartre's argument against marriage is different from Pritchards.
kennethamy;157413 wrote:

What I said. If you are cartesianly certain, then it is impossible for you to be mistaken. You know infallibly (in the instance). But if you are psychologically certain it is possible for you to be mistaken. You just believe it is impossible (or maybe you feel sure you are not mistaken).

Does Cartesian certainty ever occur in real life. If not, how do we know it exists? Do we have any evidence for it?
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 12:20 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157408 wrote:
Yes, you are right. My use of "certain" is quasi-technical. I mean it the way philosophers have used it (or have talked about it). I mean what might be called "Cartesian certainty", not the ordinary use of the term, "certain" which, as you correctly point out does not imply truth. The philosophical use of the term (Cartesian Certainty) does imply truth, and it implies the impossibility (and not just the inactuality) of error. Cartesian certainty is not a psychological state, but yes, ordinary use certainty is.


Are you saying certainty implies truth? This is completely ridiculous. It is probable the most ridiculous thing i read from you. See here:

source:Certainty (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Quote:
Certainty is often explicated in terms of indubitability. This has been done in a variety of ways. One prominent account of certainty is suggested by Descartes's presentation of his famous Archimedean point, the cogito (I am thinking, therefore I exist). In the Second Meditation, Descartes reviews the extensive doubts of the First Meditation before saying that even if "there is a deceiver of supreme power and cunning who is deliberately and constantly deceiving me," still "he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I am something" (PW 2, p. 17). Descartes then concludes that the proposition that he himself exists is true whenever he considers it. It is often thought that the cogito has a unique epistemic status in virtue of its ability to resist even the "hyperbolic" doubts raised in the First Meditation (see Markie 1992 and Broughton 2002). However, even if Descartes took this view of the certainty of the cogito, he did not accept the general claim that certainty is grounded in indubitability.


This quote tell us that certainty does not demand a proposition to be beyond doubt.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 12:23 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;157417 wrote:
I tend to agree having broken a few promises and not all of them due to a lack of will power. Didn't Sartre have a similar argument against getting married? Yet I think Sartre would also say, one always has a choice whether to break a promise or not. Hmmm... maybe Sartre's argument against marriage is different from Pritchards.

Does Cartesian certainty ever occur in real life. If not, how do we know it exists? Do we have any evidence for it?


Some (Descartes for example) held that we can be Cartesianly certain that we exist. And that I exist is probably the best candidate for Cartesian certainty. If not, then like the unicorn, it is not instantiated.

It is said that Socrates thought everyone should marry on the ground that if the marriage is a good one, then you will be happy, and if the marriage is a bad one, you will be (like Socrates) a philosopher.

---------- Post added 04-28-2010 at 02:27 AM ----------

TuringEquivalent;157421 wrote:
Are you saying certainty implies truth? This is completely ridiculous. It is probable the most ridiculous thing i read from you.


Cartesian certainty implies truth since Cartesian certainty implies the impossibility of error. Of course, psychological certainty does not imply truth. If you think that what I said is the most ridiculous thing I have ever written, I advise you to stick around. You ain't read nothin' yet!
 
Deckard
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 12:39 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157422 wrote:
Some (Descartes for example) held that we can be Cartesianly certain that we exist. And that I exist is probably the best candidate for Cartesian certainty. If not, then like the unicorn, it is not instantiated.

You seem more certain of the existence of psychological-state-certainty than you are of the existence of Cartesian certainty...or perhaps equally uncertain of both?

I just said "more certain" which suggests that there are degrees of certainty. One can be more certain of one thing than of another. Or is this just an mistake of the common parlance use of the word "certain" and the fact that we can add the word "more" before any adjective or adverb. Is this mistake avoided when we use the word "certain" in its philosophical sense properly?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 12:58 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;157430 wrote:
You seem more certain of the existence of psychological-state-certainty than you are of the existence of Cartesian certainty...or perhaps equally uncertain of both?

I just said "more certain" which suggests that there are degrees of certainty. One can be more certain of one thing than of another. Or is this just an mistake of the common parlance use of the word "certain" and the fact that we can add the word "more" before any adjective or adverb. Is this mistake avoided when we use the word "certain" in its philosophical sense properly?


Yes, of course. We all know that we sometimes feel certain about some things. We certainly feel certain that we exist. There are degrees of psychological certainty, certainly. But not of philosophical certainty. That is either on or off.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 02:09 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157441 wrote:
Yes, of course. We all know that we sometimes feel certain about some things. We certainly feel certain that we exist. There are degrees of psychological certainty, certainly. But not of philosophical certainty. That is either on or off.


But surely this is a function of the way you define philosophy. This particular view is derived from the Aristotlean laws of thought, isn't it? Something either being A or Not A, and never both or neither? So this is, again, amounts to the assertion that a thing either exists or doesn't exist, either we know something, or we don't.

---------- Post added 04-28-2010 at 06:43 PM ----------

In saying this, I highlighting the distinction you make between 'psychological' and 'philosophical' certainty. I would think that it would be absurd to ask yourself, while you're in pain 'am I really in pain?' The same can be said, as you observe, for existence; you can't reasonably doubt that you exist, as Descartes said. But it seems 'propositions about states of affairs' or 'knowledge of externals' is a different matter.
 
Emil
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 09:40 am
@kennethamy,
Which cause is the strongest, you think? I'm inclined to believe the modal fallacy because of previous failure to explain that to people even given lengthy discussion.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 11:46 am
@Emil,
Emil;157558 wrote:
Which cause is the strongest, you think? I'm inclined to believe the modal fallacy because of previous failure to explain that to people even given lengthy discussion.


Why would that be a reason to think it is the modal fallacy, though? Why would the most difficult to explain (if it is) be the strongest cause? Anyway, I suppose that there are a lot of causes, and their effect is cumulative. (I wonder, though, how we can tell whether a mistake is a cause of the belief. Maybe just by asking?).

---------- Post added 04-28-2010 at 01:58 PM ----------

jeeprs;157454 wrote:
But surely this is a function of the way you define philosophy. This particular view is derived from the Aristotlean laws of thought, isn't it? Something either being A or Not A, and never both or neither? So this is, again, amounts to the assertion that a thing either exists or doesn't exist, either we know something, or we don't.

---------- Post added 04-28-2010 at 06:43 PM ----------

In saying this, I highlighting the distinction you make between 'psychological' and 'philosophical' certainty. I would think that it would be absurd to ask yourself, while you're in pain 'am I really in pain?' The same can be said, as you observe, for existence; you can't reasonably doubt that you exist, as Descartes said. But it seems 'propositions about states of affairs' or 'knowledge of externals' is a different matter.


No. Cartesian certainty (so far as I can tell) is either on or off. Psychological certainty is a matter of degree.

Some philosophers have thought that when we are in pain we cannot be mistaken about it. But I don't find that so clear. Certainly an agonizing pain is hard to miss, but not what dentists like to call "discomfort". Or a sensation that comes and goes. Descartes thought that the mind was an open book, but that "externals" are always dubitable. But psychologists certainly don't believe that, and neither have the great novelists. As Stendhal wrote, "In how many ways do we deceive ourselves?" By the way, why would you think that whether or not I exist is an "internal" question? Unless, of course, like Descartes, you are a dualist and think that I am essentially my mind, not my body.
 
amist
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 12:05 pm
@kennethamy,
Look, this is all really quite simple. People (like me) don't feel comfortable saying that they know something that the truth value of which is actually false. If you say, 'I know X' and then X is shown to be false, one doesn't say that he knew it, or still knows it. He says he was wrong when he said 'I know X'.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 01:04 pm
@amist,
amist;157591 wrote:
Look, this is all really quite simple. People (like me) don't feel comfortable saying that they know something that the truth value of which is actually false. If you say, 'I know X' and then X is shown to be false, one doesn't say that he knew it, or still knows it. He says he was wrong when he said 'I know X'.


Yes. So what you are saying is that you would not say or claim to know unless you felt sure that what you claimed to know is false (unless, of course, you were lying, or you were trying to deceive). And I agree. But that does not mean that it is a condition of knowledge that you be certain that what you claim to know is true. It just means that it is a condition of claiming to know that you feel certain that what you claim to know is true. But, there is a difference between what is a condition of claiming to know, and what is a condition of knowing. Feeling certain is a condition of claiming to know, but it does not follow that it is a condition of knowing. And, in fact, it is not a condition of knowing. And, it may very well be that one of the causes of believing that certainty is a condition of knowing is that a condition of claiming to know is confused with a condition of knowing itself. And, in fact, I think that is true. That confusion is another cause of thinking that in order to know (not claim to know, but know) you have to be certain.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 05:36 pm
@kennethamy,
Why do some people believe that knowledge implies certainty?
Because some people cant live with out the cetainty of knowledge.
Because for some people knowledge is all they have to be certain about.
Because everyone has to be certain about something and for some people this certainty is knowledge.
 
 

 
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.02 seconds on 04/25/2024 at 01:57:48