Why do some people believe that knowledge implies certainty?

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north
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:31 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156922 wrote:
I don't believe that knowledge does imply certainty (infallibility or the impossibility of error). But why is it thought by some philosophers (let us call them "infallibilists", that knowledge does imply certainty? After all, Plato and Descartes both believed it, so it obviously is not because those who think it are dummies.


the Universe has limits

for example

I ask you , to knock down the CN Tower in Toronto , Canada , with a hockey stick or baseball bat , at the base of, the CN Tower

impossible

hence a certainty

we now know then that anything is not possible

that there are , limits within the Universe , that really have been there all along we just didn't see it

but there are limits
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:33 pm
@kennethamy,
What about the ability to act with the courage of your convictions? It is true that in many life circumstances, we cannot proceed on the basis of certain knowledge. In real life (as distinct from philosophizing), there is often risk, and frequently many things we don't know. You might often need to act on the basis of propositions for which there is no scientific proof or even social consensus.

Consider belief in the existence of a moral law - that all intentional actions have consequences. There is no scientific basis to believe such a thing, and many people certainly don't believe it. But for those who do, it is both certain and binding, and they will tend to act accordingly. At the end of the day, knowing what is right and knowing what is the most important thing to do are often decisions that have to be made with some degree of uncertainty.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:42 pm
@north,
north;157712 wrote:
the Universe has limits

for example

I ask you , to knock down the CN Tower in Toronto , Canada , with a hockey stick or baseball bat , at the base of, the CN Tower

impossible

hence a certainty

we now know then that anything is not possible

that there are , limits within the Universe , that really have been there all along we just didn't see it

but there are limits


What Descartes meant is that he was not infallible. So that he might alwaysbelieve that something was impossible and be mistaken. He pointed out that it doesn't follow that something is impossible because you believe it to be so. Of course, it might indeed be impossible, but, according to Descartes, no person could be absolutely certain that was so. The issue is not about whether this or that is true, but about whether it can be known to be true, that is, known with certainty. It is not about metaphysics. It is about epistemology.
 
north
 
Reply Wed 28 Apr, 2010 07:53 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;157715 wrote:
What Descartes meant is that he was not infallible. So that he might alwaysbelieve that something was impossible and be mistaken. He pointed out that it doesn't follow that something is impossible because you believe it to be so. Of course, it might indeed be impossible, but, according to Descartes, no person could be absolutely certain that was so. The issue is not about whether this or that is true, but about whether it can be known to be true, that is, known with certainty. It is not about metaphysics. It is about epistemology.


then understand the difference between the structure of the wood as opposed to the structure of the concrete

as deep as you would like to go
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Thu 29 Apr, 2010 12:29 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156922 wrote:
I don't believe that knowledge does imply certainty (infallibility or the impossibility of error). But why is it thought by some philosophers (let us call them "infallibilists", that knowledge does imply certainty? After all, Plato and Descartes both believed it, so it obviously is not because those who think it are dummies.

I have a number of explanations for why this (what I consider) false belief is held by so many, and I don't think they are exclusive. I think they all operated together. One is that some philosophers hold that certainty is knowing that we know, and that we always know we know, because knowledge is a mental state that we can know directly. Another is that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is the consequence of a modal fallacy. A third is that mathematics has always been considered the exemplar of knowledge, and the belief is that mathematics is certain. As I said, I think that these explanations operate together.

But the belief has consequences. One is that most of what we all think we know, we really do not know. Another is that science cannot afford us knowledge. A third is that we know no more today than we did 100 years ago. These consequences by themselves would seem to be be enough to show that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is false.
Because they'r naive and delusional. They gain false clarity, often arrogance which narrow their understanding and preception of things.

They are often kept in this state of mind, because they lack evidence of their lack of infallibility, and other weaknesses.

This is excatly what happend to that CEO I worked for, who brought his newspaper to ruin, and personal faliure.
 
Minimal
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 06:05 am
@kennethamy,
The use of knowledge in an axiomatic fashion, that is to state absolute certainty, creates a systematic means to analyse, question and reason over matters with consistency - logic, traditionally, is only concerned with the consistency of an argument in relation to the premise. The validity is examined and not the veracity, or soundness (the premise/s are true). Truthfulness would have to likewise be proven by a systematic means and therefore another set of supposed axioms or "certain" knowledge; the modern-day arbiter of truth, or fact, is that of science and the attached methodology - I think it is justified in saying metaphysical explanation with all its superstition and deities are slowly losing their arbitrative rights with the proliferation of atheistic/agnostic ideals (that is specifically secular perspectives).

Scientifically speaking, the accumulation of knowledge forms a body of information, empirical data, that is testable, observable (that is phenomenal) and falsifiable. To treat something as infallible, that is free from fault and doubt, is a too large a bound of faith for me to seriously consider. As our reality is constantly morphing and moulding into new and wonderful manifestations of matter, I find hard to treat knowledge with absoluteness or certainty so as to deem such axiomatic - this is why I reject objective morality, a somehow inherent order that is universally so. Knowledge is tentative; principles can be drawn but ultimately we rely on causality and judge the philosophical and factual calibre of an argument by assuming one set of supposed axiomatic truths - in the case of science, an investment in physicalistic and materialistic understanding of the universe. This is not to belittle science, as I firmly believe physical reality should dictate truth, but to state when axioms are assumed, they are central beliefs - that is mental phenomena held to be true. This ultimately leaves all appeals to having knowledge that is certain, are a form of coherentism. Consistency within one's own created parameters or beliefs.

Why do we claim certainty? Because humans adapt; creating mental means to organise data can only be achieved if we hold some fundamental framework that orientates and arbitrates our impression of the universe, our behaviour and, ultimately, our survival.

Hopefully that makes sense,

Minimal.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 09:12 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156922 wrote:
I don't believe that knowledge does imply certainty (infallibility or the impossibility of error). But why is it thought by some philosophers (let us call them "infallibilists", that knowledge does imply certainty? After all, Plato and Descartes both believed it, so it obviously is not because those who think it are dummies.

I have a number of explanations for why this (what I consider) false belief is held by so many, and I don't think they are exclusive. I think they all operated together. One is that some philosophers hold that certainty is knowing that we know, and that we always know we know, because knowledge is a mental state that we can know directly. Another is that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is the consequence of a modal fallacy. A third is that mathematics has always been considered the exemplar of knowledge, and the belief is that mathematics is certain. As I said, I think that these explanations operate together.

But the belief has consequences. One is that most of what we all think we know, we really do not know. Another is that science cannot afford us knowledge. A third is that we know no more today than we did 100 years ago. These consequences by themselves would seem to be be enough to show that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is false.


Hello Kennethamy,

How can I be certain of my doubt?

Being either end of the causal-ladder - does it not stand to reason that - the greater one's certainty, the greater one's doubt?

Do forgive me if I am jumping the gun here, I only assume it is accepted that a conscious state is merely subject to the laws of causality?
If, indeed, this is not known to other than my contacts - Sorry!
But you'll have encountered it eventually - I guess???

I.E. Your mum is on her deathbed - the despair that this causes is exactly equal to the hope that it generates.
I.E A man's Pride (Process of self-elevation) is exactly equal to his interpretation of Shame.
I.E. A loud, confident projection is exactly equal to the shy, insecure characteristics of the projecter.

This applies to all states of mind and emotion.
Causality is universal indeed.

Think about it..

Thank you,

Mark...
 
Night Ripper
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 09:18 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156922 wrote:
But the belief has consequences. One is that most of what we all think we know, we really do not know. Another is that science cannot afford us knowledge. A third is that we know no more today than we did 100 years ago. These consequences by themselves would seem to be be enough to show that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is false.


That's not an argument from absurdity but rather an appeal to consequences and is therefore fallacious.

It would be awful if God didn't exist. Also, God doesn't exist. Consequences are irrelevant.
 
mark noble
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 09:29 am
@north,
north;157712 wrote:
the Universe has limits

for example

I ask you , to knock down the CN Tower in Toronto , Canada , with a hockey stick or baseball bat , at the base of, the CN Tower

impossible

hence a certainty

we now know then that anything is not possible

that there are , limits within the Universe , that really have been there all along we just didn't see it

but there are limits


Hello North,

Everything is possible in infinity - The properties to your argument are open to change and therefore so is the resulting outcome.

Maybe everything is not acheivable in the here and now, but in the throws of infinity - Who knows?

If everything is impossible, then everything cannot exist - therefore there is no EVERYTHING, and the existence of ONE THING alone constitutes that EVERYTHING is the sum of that ONE THING.

We agree that "NOTHING" is impossible, because "NOTHING" cannot exist - Causality therefore demands that the opposite of "NOTHING" = "EVERYTHING" MUST be possible, otherwise "NOTHING EXISTS". and if so, then this conversation cannot be taking place.

You are discounting the event mentioned , taking place in another universal realm, where, the tower in question is being knocked down with a hockey stick all the time.
Just because you are not witness to this event - doesn't mean it isn't taking place.

Thank you, and I understand your point of view - I was there once myself.

Mark...
 
north
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 12:02 am
@mark noble,
Quote:
Originally Posted by north http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
the Universe has limits

for example

I ask you , to knock down the CN Tower in Toronto , Canada , with a hockey stick or baseball bat , at the base of, the CN Tower

impossible

hence a certainty

we now know then that anything is not possible

that there are , limits within the Universe , that really have been there all along we just didn't see it

but there are limits





mark noble;161254 wrote:
Hello North,


Quote:
Everything is possible in infinity - The properties to your argument are open to change and therefore so is the resulting outcome.


I disagree

infinity shatters the hockey stick to infinite particles

Quote:
Maybe everything is not acheivable in the here and now, but in the throws of infinity - Who knows?


above

Quote:
If everything is impossible, then everything cannot exist - therefore there is no EVERYTHING, and the existence of ONE THING alone constitutes that EVERYTHING is the sum of that ONE THING.


your getting carried away here

its that everything is not possible

Quote:
We agree that "NOTHING" is impossible,


NO we don't


Quote:
because "NOTHING" cannot exist - Causality therefore demands that the opposite of "NOTHING" = "EVERYTHING" MUST be possible, otherwise "NOTHING EXISTS". and if so, then this conversation cannot be taking place.


your getting way off topic here

Quote:

You are discounting the event mentioned , taking place in another universal realm, where, the tower in question is being knocked down with a hockey stick all the time.
Just because you are not witness to this event - doesn't mean it isn't taking place.


not in this Universe

and thats all that matters


Quote:
Thank you, and I understand your point of view - I was there once myself.

Mark...


come back to the Universe into where you live
 
mark noble
 
Reply Wed 19 May, 2010 10:17 am
@north,
north;165986 wrote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by north http://www.philosophyforum.com/images/PHBlue/buttons/viewpost.gif
the Universe has limits

for example

I ask you , to knock down the CN Tower in Toronto , Canada , with a hockey stick or baseball bat , at the base of, the CN Tower

impossible

hence a certainty

we now know then that anything is not possible

that there are , limits within the Universe , that really have been there all along we just didn't see it

but there are limits








I disagree

infinity shatters the hockey stick to infinite particles



above



your getting carried away here

its that everything is not possible



NO we don't




your getting way off topic here



not in this Universe

and thats all that matters




come back to the Universe into where you live


Hi North,

I do understand that I, We exist in this realm, and this realm alone. But, science cannot measure the beyond or the depths of. Do you not think that it is normal for the mind to imagine what is beyond these parameters?

I do. And if you can find "Nothing" anywhere, anywhere at all, and substantiate it with logic or reason, other than opinion - please let me know?

Thank you North, have a great day.

Mark...
 
Im Confused
 
Reply Fri 21 May, 2010 12:24 pm
@kennethamy,
i like the idea of different types of knowledge

i know that barack obama is the president of the US

i know that 2+2= 4

I know that I ate pizza yesterday

I'm quite happy to use the verb to know in all these propositions, but obviously they are different types of propositions

i ate the pizza on my own, i could easily be mistaken i ate it yesterday

might have had it the day before - memory is fallible

but I'm damned if I'm gonna muck about here and say i think i know i ate pizza yesterday - no sir - i'm sticking with i know - i remember it clear as day

however i accept that under sufficient questioning i might waver, and concede maybe i don't know for sure

now last week's dinners that's different, i've left the realm of knowledge here for sure- maybe a trained detective/hypnotist might get the info back - maybe not

barack obama is easy tho - if i'm a bit unsure - i just check google etc

i'm not sure about the president in 1922 tho - but unlike my last week's diet i can easily find out, and hey presto then i know
 
north
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 09:18 pm
@mark noble,
mark noble;166152 wrote:
Hi North,

I do understand that I, We exist in this realm, and this realm alone. But, science cannot measure the beyond or the depths of. Do you not think that it is normal for the mind to imagine what is beyond these parameters?


sure

but that doesn't make that line of thought correct

Quote:
I do. And if you can find "Nothing" anywhere, anywhere at all, and substantiate it with logic or reason, other than opinion - please let me know?


what does the Universe lack within its self that is necessary for the Universe to be as it is ?

now the only answer for this is understanding the essence or the begining of the Plasma Universe
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 09:24 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;156922 wrote:
I don't believe that knowledge does imply certainty (infallibility or the impossibility of error). But why is it thought by some philosophers (let us call them "infallibilists", that knowledge does imply certainty? After all, Plato and Descartes both believed it, so it obviously is not because those who think it are dummies.

I have a number of explanations for why this (what I consider) false belief is held by so many, and I don't think they are exclusive. I think they all operated together. One is that some philosophers hold that certainty is knowing that we know, and that we always know we know, because knowledge is a mental state that we can know directly. Another is that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is the consequence of a modal fallacy. A third is that mathematics has always been considered the exemplar of knowledge, and the belief is that mathematics is certain. As I said, I think that these explanations operate together.

But the belief has consequences. One is that most of what we all think we know, we really do not know. Another is that science cannot afford us knowledge. A third is that we know no more today than we did 100 years ago. These consequences by themselves would seem to be be enough to show that the belief that knowledge implies certainty is false.


Excellent post. I feel it is a matter of terminology. I'm quite happy with the concept of knowledge that does not claim certainty. Of course there are little pieces of knowledge that one could argue certainty about. This would have to be knowledge concerning the structure of perception, I think. Or perhaps the way we perceive space, or conceive of number.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 09:39 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167498 wrote:
Excellent post. I feel it is a matter of terminology.


Of course it is. With one kind of exception every truth is partly a matter of terminology. But that does not mean it is only a matter of terminology. It is not, for instance, only a matter of terminology whether a necessary condition of knowing is the impossibility or whether it is merely the inactuality of error. For clearly I can know that Quito is the capital Ecuador although it is possible for me to be mistaken about it as long as I am not mistaken about it.

The distinction between being (partly) a matter of terminology, and being only a matter of terminology, is a very important distinction, and we should make that distinction. Most people fail to do so.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 09:55 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167504 wrote:
Of course it is. With one kind of exception every truth is partly a matter of terminology. But that does not mean it is only a matter of terminology. It is not, for instance, only a matter of terminology whether a necessary condition of knowing is the impossibility or whether it is merely the inactuality of error. For clearly I can know that Quito is the capital Ecuador although it is possible for me to be mistaken about it as long as I am not mistaken about it.

The distinction between being (partly) a matter of terminology, and being only a matter of terminology, is a very important distinction, and we should make that distinction. Most people fail to do so.


I think if you asked most forum members if they had knowledge that was significant to them and trusted enough to "bank on" and yet not certain, they would say "yes." As to the second issue, perhaps you could phrase that differently. I want to make sure I understand you before I address that.
 
north
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:04 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167504 wrote:
Of course it is. With one kind of exception every truth is partly a matter of terminology. But that does not mean it is only a matter of terminology. It is not, for instance, only a matter of terminology whether a necessary condition of knowing is the impossibility or whether it is merely the inactuality of error. For clearly I can know that Quito is the capital Ecuador although it is possible for me to be mistaken about it as long as I am not mistaken about it.

The distinction between being (partly) a matter of terminology, and being only a matter of terminology, is a very important distinction, and we should make that distinction. Most people fail to do so.


so to the object its self the terminology we use is irrelevent

the object is still certain
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:32 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167508 wrote:
I think if you asked most forum members if they had knowledge that was significant to them and trusted enough to "bank on" and yet not certain, they would say "yes." As to the second issue, perhaps you could phrase that differently. I want to make sure I understand you before I address that.


So would I. And what I would mean is that there are some propositions which I am extremely confident are true, but that it would still be possible I was mistaken about them. That is, I would know. with great confidence, they were true, but still I would not be certain they were true in the sense of "certain" that philosophers like Descartes and Russell meant. In the sense in which it was impossible that I was wrong. (Whether the knowledge was significant -whatever that meant- would be irrelevant).

What I said that that with the exception of truths that are true solely in virtue of the meanings of their terms, like all biological brothers are males, all truths are true in part because of what their constituent terms mean, but partly because of the facts (using that term in a broad sense). So that, for instance, the truth that Brutus killed Caesar in part depend on the meanings of "Brutus", "Caesar" ,"killed", but also, in part on what happened in the world. The facts. So it is certainly not only a matter of terminology whether Brutus killed Caesar (or whether Caesar killed Brutus). Similarly, whether knowledge implies certainty or not does, of course, partly depend on what you call "terminology". But why would you think it depends entirely on terminology? Anymore than that the truth that Brutus killed Caesar, although it does depend partly on terminology, would entirely depend on terminology?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:36 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167528The facts. So it is certainly not [B wrote:
only[/B] a matter of terminology whether Brutus killed Caesar (or whether Caesar killed Brutus). Similarly, whether knowledge implies certainty or not does, of course, partly depend on what you call "terminology". But why would you think it depends entirely on terminology? Anymore than that the truth that Brutus killed Caesar, although it does depend partly on terminology, would entirely depend on terminology?


Now that I see what you mean, I can say that no I don't think it depends only on terminology. Yes, the facts are quite important indeed. I meant the terminology of the thread title. I still don't think you will find many who assert that the truth of historical statements has only to do with terminology. The word "knowledge" is used in different ways. As you know. So I think the confusion is resolved. I hope.
 
north
 
Reply Sat 22 May, 2010 10:43 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167529 wrote:
Now that I see what you mean, I can say that no I don't think it depends only on terminology. Yes, the facts are quite important indeed. I meant the terminology of the thread title. I still don't think you will find many who assert that the truth of historical statements has only to do with terminology. The word "knowledge" is used in different ways. As you know. So I think the confusion is resolved. I hope.


both of you are looking at this , I think , different from my self

both of you are thinking in terms of history I think

whereas I'm thinking in terms of a physical object
 
 

 
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