Okay, so originally John Loftus made this claim:
Loftus’ Original Claim: “Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief, and historical evidence in the past simply isn't good enough. What we need is evidence."
Me now: To which I, naturally of course, asked for the evidence he had for *that* belief. I then said that if he believed his evidence then he would have new beliefs, and I would demand evidence from them, as well.
But then Touchstone came barging in and said that my infinite regress argument against the claim that ALL beliefs had to have evidence fro them was wrong.
This lead to me dismantling his arguments.
To avoid the force of my arguments he made the claim that Loftus was making an inductive generalization about all beliefs, and that Loftus could answer the regress argument. To this day I don’t think he’s answered my post, but that is besides the point for now. The point here is that T-stone asked Loftus to side with him and say that I had misunderstood him. To which Loftus, seeing himself unable to back up his original assertion, happily obliged.
But, I must say, and I do not say this lightly, I think Loftus is flat out lying through his teeth. Let’s look at his claims and my reason for this accusation. I doubt a more plausible story than mine can be given. In fact, the *only* story that I will accept is that Loftus is perhaps the second dumbest individual on the planet. That would be the only excuse. But, since I don’t think he is said person, that option is not open to him. But, he is free to take it if he so chooses. And so let’s look at the situation:
John Loftus: "Touchstone, once again you are correct. Mine is not a deductive argument."
Reply: First off, why should I believe an admitted liar? Why wouldn't you lie especially since you saw your position get sliced and diced?
Second, I never said that it was a "deductive argument."
John Loftus: "And I think what I said should be placed in its context. I wrote:
Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief, and historical evidence in the past simply isn't good enough. What we need is evidence.”
Reply: Right, Gotcha. John's Thesis looks like this:
(JT) All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them.
So, let's flesh this out:
1. All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them
2. (*) is a belief.
3. Therefore (*) is a thing that should have evidence demanded of it.
But, amazingly, John didn’t mean for (JT) to read how it most naturally reads. Says John,
John Loftus: "What am I referring to when I use the word "believe"? Believe what? I was referring to worldviews--whole systems of thought--although I didn't spell that out too clearly.”
My reply: You said "beliefs." You said, "WHATEVER we believe we should demand evidence for that belief. So, as we now have it, John meant "worldviews" but instead wrote "beliefs." That's a pretty big blunder. I mean, yeah, I always write "belief" when I mean "worldview."
So Loftus does the debunkers shuffle, stop, stammer time. So, "belief" meant "worldview."
And, you ask, "believe what?" Well, you told us! You said... "WHATEVER." So you're saying that you ONLY had 'worldviews' in mind when you wrote 'WHATEVER??' C'mon, I was born at night, but not last night, John.
I don’t buy this. Here’s why:
In response to his claim I said:
ORIGINAL RESPONE TO (JT) BY ME
Paul Manata said:
"Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief..."
Paul: I demand evidence for that belief.
P.S. Just so I don't have to post again, if you give me evidence for that belief then I assume you'll believe that evidence supports your original belief. So, while I'm here I'll demand the evidence for all your beliefs about the evidences you've provided. Ad infinitum. So get busy John, you don't have all day.
6/06/2007 8:53 AM
And so it is OBVIOUSLY clear that I assumed that John meant actual *beliefs.* That is, I OBVIOUSLY assumed that Loftus meant positive cognitive attitudes towards propositions.
Furthermore, T-stone then came in and tried to argue against my Original Claim.
Said T-stone: “I don't know who got you into your van-Tillian-Humean Frankenstein Approach to thinking, but they were pulling your chain. At some point (an usually quite quickly) the regression bottoms out at raw perception and experience; people value evidence because their most basic experiences suggest through trial and error that having some evidence for what you believe aids in survival, and maintaining beliefs without empirical support is a good way to get killed quick (or starve to death slowly, or, insert your favorite method of demise here...).”
Reply: Okay, so it is OBVIOUS that T-stone understood John the way I did, and me the way I meant for my post to be taken.
But the problem is that **John Loftus never comes in to straighten this mess out!** He let’s T-stone and I spend thousands of words on debate over it!
But this isn’t the only evidence I have. If it were, I may not be warranted in my harsh accusation that Loftus is a lying weasel. So, here’s more evidence:
Not only was my response CLEAR that I understood Loftus to mean “beliefs” and not “worldviews,” Loftus actually responded to my claims and gave no indication that we were equivocating, which was PLAIN to see, remember. So, Loftus responded to my Original Claim by saying:
JOHN’S ORIGINAL RESPONSE TO MY ORIGINAL CLAIM:
John W. Loftus said:
Paul, how do we guarantee that our assumptions are not viciously circular? They must be grounded in some evidence, correct?
Best to you too.
6/06/2007 1:04 PM
Reply: So, rather than correct me by saying, “Paul, I didn’t mean what you clearly thought I did, I meant 'worldviews' but said 'beliefs' instead." No, he didn’t do that. That would require being helpful. Rather, he went on and responded to my CLEAR understanding of (JT) that it was a claim that all *beliefs* (not “worldviews”).
Not only *that,* but Loftus doesn’t use “worldviews” again! He rather uses a synonym for *belief!* And so am I now to assume that "assumptions" meant "worldview????" In what world has "belief" or "assumption" ever meant "worldview." And, one can understand being terribly unclear once, but to continue on making unclear statements which 99.99% of readers would construe in the prima facie and intelligible way is a bit much to swallow. For a mistake, this is too big!
On top of that, T-stone continued to understand John as I and every other normal human did. Here are some gems from T-stone:
- That's doesn't obtain from what John said, by my lights. Beliefs rest on concepts which rest on perceptions. That doesn't imply that *perceptions* are beliefs. They are predicates for concepts which are predicates for beliefs. So when John says "We should demand evidences for our beliefs", there's nothing more complicated to it than saying that predication should hold: perceptions -> concepts -> beliefs.
- I *should* base my beliefs on evidence (derived from experience) because this same experience shows that I can accomplish my goals much more surely and effectively by demanding evidence for my beliefs than divorcing my beliefs from any evidential basis.
- (Paul Manata clearly asked) Further, how does this prove that ALL BELIEFS "should" have evidence demanded of them?
(T-stone responds) It's a truism, Paul. Don't be pedantic. Our experience is evidence for the belief that evidence is a beneficial underwriter for our beliefs. We SHOULD demand evidence for beliefs, and this belief is based on our experience.
And so are we to believe that T-stone meant “worldviews” here? No! Of course not. It is therefore likewise OBVIOUS that both T-stone and I were on the same page at least. We knew what we were debating. We were using terms the same way. These gems show that the thread makes clear that both T-stone and I were not talking about “worldviews” but had (if John is telling the truth) been talking about *beliefs.* This is plain as day. But nary a word from Loftus. He lets to people continue to debate a subject, when it is CLEAR that they have misunderstood him, without saying a single word.
But, it gets worse. T-stone asked John a point blank question:
T-stone’s undeniably clear point blank question: “My understanding of what John wrote/is saying is that his experience -- which includes the view he has of others and their experiences on the same question -- is evidence in support of the value of evidence as a basis for belief.”
And so given the context of the ENTIRE thread, where we made it painfully clear how we were using the term belief, John replies:
John Loftus’ unconscious admission: “Yes, indeed.”
My reply: Got that? Loftus point blank agrees with T-stone that his position had been about BELIEFS, not worldviews. Why didn’t he correct T-stone and say, “Oh, I meant ‘worldviews’ and not ‘beliefs?’ I mean, this was at the end of the discussion when it was CLEAR that both T-stone and I had been using the term differently than John.
No, I’m afraid John Loftus is making up a story to get out from under the critiques I leveled at him. This is a tacit admission of defeat on his part.
Furthermore, his response to T-stone supplies more evidence that he was lying (or maybe he really is dumb). That is because if John is correct and he meant ‘worldview’ for ‘belief’ then he also meant that “historical evidence” was not “good evidence” for a “worldview” but he admits to T-stone that “past experience” (I.e., historical evidence!) is good support for his “worldview!”
And for those reasons I claim that John is a liar and a snake. But, this is to be expected when one defends such a shoddy position as atheism.
However, I'm a gracious fellow and I will now accept your admitting that not all *beliefs* should have propositional evidence in their favor. Unfortunately for T-stone, he had been arguing for your claim as understood by all normal people. Therefore, T-stone was ALSO wrong (if John is correct) about John's interpretation. In fact, since T-stone was wrong about John's interpretation, then John is lying in saying that T-stone is correct if John also holds to his song and dance that "beliefs" meant "worldviews." All this will turn out quite unfortunate for T-stone and his responses covered with bravado and chest thumping. Let's now look at Loftus' new claim:
Remember, beliefs = worldviews:
Loftus: "Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief,"
Reply: Restated: "Whatever worldviews we believe we should demand evidence for that worldview,"
(*') All worldviews are things we should demand evidence for.
Now, since (*') is not a worldview, then the regress won't work here. But, we immediately want to know how John knows (*')?
The problem here, though, is that worldviews *determine* what counts as "evidence!" So any evidence he gives for his worldview assumes that his worldview is true! Say that John's worldview says that evidences from the senses are allowed. To give evidence from the senses in support of his worldview assumes his worldview! Thus rather than the regress with have a vicious circle!
And, furthermore, how would something like empirical evidence falsify a worldview? The arrow of modus tollens points both ways! If my worldview included the belief that Apollo was a god, all gods are immortal, and then I see Apollo die in battle, what element of my worldview would be falsified? Well, the belief I am less committed to, of course. Assuming my worldview allows the evidence of the senses to count as evidence, then if I was more committed to Apollo being a god I could say his death falsified the idea that all gods are immortal. Or, if I was committed to the latter, I would then give up my belief that Apollo was a god!
Nest, why "should" we offer propositional evidence for our worldview? What is supposed to happen to me if I don't? I mean, I "should" not murder. if I do, I very well may be put to death. But, what happens if I do not have propositional evidence in support of my worldview (this is all rather silly because some beliefs of a worldview will have propositional evidence, while other beliefs will not, but we'll play along). Perhaps the worldview police will torture me? Perhaps they will make me wear a cowboy hat for a year? What? What is wrong with me, or my worldview, if I don't offer propositional evidence in support of it?
Perhaps John will says, "well then you'll have no reason to believe that it's true!" But of course this means:
"If a belief(s) does not have evidence for it, then there is no reason to believe that it/they is true."
Well we can't have that, otherwise we're back at the regress.
So, perhaps Loftus means,
"If a *worldview* does not have evidence for it, then there is no reason to believe that it is true."
But why suppose a thing like that? What justifies the move that only worldviews are things that need evidential support? Why them and not the individual beliefs? Is it entire worldviews that need evidence for them, but John's particular belief in Santa Clause doe snot need evidence for it? No, I'm afraid that it's nothing but mere sophistry and special pleading to argue thus. So, we're back at the regress.
John Loftus: "I do think with Paul that there are some things we believe without evidence, but this in no way can apply to a whole system of thought like Paul probably wants it to."
My reply: This is ridiculous. Now it's not just T-stone who can't understand and misrepresents me, but Loftus joins the fun too. (a) I know there are some things we believe without evidence. The issue here is, "should" we believe anything without evidence? Or, is a belief *warranted* or *justified* if it does not have evidence in its favor? Therefore, the fact that we may have some beliefs that have no evidence, the question arises: "If I come to reflect on this belief, and realize that I have no propositional evidence in its favor, should I reject it?"
(b) Above I said that some of the constituent beliefs in a worldview do and should have evidence for them, but not all. And the ones that don't, if they are the appropriate ones, can nevertheless be warranted, justified, or items of knowledge. Does Loftus agree with this? if not, we have the evidentialist constraint. If so, he disagrees with T-stone; along with allowing Christians warranted knowledge of God!
John Loftus: "He believes (or presupposes) his whole system of thought and uses that system of thought to look for evidence. That's like putting the cart being before the horse. With such a system I liken his belief to the paranoid schizophrenic, although in no way do I think this is any diagnosis of him as a person. I'm arguing there isn't anything different between what he does and what that schizophrenic does. That's what I mean. We need evidence before we believe any whole system of thought."
My reply: (i) Presuppositions and systems determine what will and what will not count as evidence. Who died and made John Loftus king of decreeing what kind of evidence is acceptable? Who told Loftus that he gets to determine how much evidence will suffice? John Loftus himself said “historical evidence is not good.” Well, in my worldview it is. See, John’s view of history, man, etc., are determinative in his not allowing historical evidence. Hence, ones worldview determines the evidence accepted and allowed.
(ii) John is free to “liken my system to a paranoid schizophrenic,” though he must realize that that is an argumentum ad baculum. Schizophrenics will *build* an entire paranoid outlook from various bits of evidence, John. Schizophrenia doesn’t determine or give anyone a *worldview.* It’s not a *worldview* a schizophrenic gets from his disease, it’s cognitive malfunction. If this is “exactly what I do,” then where’s the argument for *that* controversial thesis.
(iii) Schizophrenics act on evidence, John. Ever seen “Beautiful Mind?”
(iv) Before someone accepts a system of thought he had another system of thought. So, he had to have evidence for that system. How did he get that one? If he changed from a previous one then he had to get evidence for that one. How did he get that one? If you say that at one point the had *no* worldview, just bare facts, then I ask for an argument. I don’t believe that there are bare and brute facts. Uninterpreted data.
John Loftus: I'd also argue that the fewer things we believe without evidence the better. And those things which we believe without evidence are limited to those things which by their nature are evidence translucent, that is, the need for evidence doesn't apply to said beliefs.”
My reply: See, again, the main point is missed. No one denies that people can or do believe things without propositional evidence, the question is *should* they. So, if it is “better” to believe “fewer things” without evidence, then certainly it is “the best” to believe “nothing” without evidence. Hence it looks like Loftus is now affirming his original statement!
Second, this isn’t an inductive generalization, but a *normative* constraint placed on the epistemic enterprise.
Third, what are some things that are “evidence translucent?” Who determines what they are? Why doesn’t evidence “apply” to them? How does a “thing” have a “nature” that makes it “evidence translucent?”
John Loftus: “And in this scenario the question is whether or not the God belief is one of those beliefs which doesn't require evidence. I think it does. But let's say it doesn't. Then what? All one can do is presuppose the "god of the philosophers," or the deistic God, which is a far cry from a full blown Calvinistic Christianity. One cannot rationally presuppose a trinity, or the God of the Bible, otherwise Mormons and Muslims can do likewise with their whole system of thought, and within such a system of thought there are only Kuhnian anomalies, not full blown refutations.
Reply: Why can’t one “rationally presuppose a trinity?” One whose view of “rationality?” Does wearing a cowboy hat mean you’re the sheriff and can lay down and enforce laws? Why can someone rationally believe in a deistic god in a warranted way? What view of warrant? How does it work? Explain it and show us how they can do so. What is a presupposition? How am I using the term? Based on this usage, why can’t I presuppose that Christianity is true? Or, take someone like Plantinga. On a Plantingian model, why cannot he believe in God and “the great truths of the gospel” in a basic way? Please don’t tell us that you’ve rested your atheological hopes and dreams on a list of unargued assumptions? Please tell us you’ve thought through all of these things. Given my model, my view of epistemology, the testimony of another person is non-propositional evidence in support of a belief, and it has warrant for me if it does for the testifier. So, when I believe in, say, the doctrine of election I believe it on the testimony of another - Christ speaking in the Scriptures - and hence am warranted in believing it even though I have no propositional evidence in its favor. How does your argument defeat this? How does it defeat it on my terms? Surely you didn’t mean to thump your chest and say that “Because John Loftus disagrees with a Christian approach to epistemology, then it must be false,” right?
Okay, so now I have proven that if Loftus is correct then BOTH T-stone and I misunderstood him. But, rather than thinking through how stupid Loftus made himself look, T-stone supports this and uses it as evidence to bash me. Unfortunately, it only serves to bash him. In response to John’s admission T-stone had this to say,
Thanks for clearing that up.
There you go. You spanked me again with the "misunderstood the basic argument" gambit. Didn't see it coming... masterful.
For my part, I don't suppose that an argument like John's exhausts the *possibility* of warranted beliefs that derive their warrant from something other than an evidential foundation. But the empirical observations we do accumulate give rise to the understanding that evidence is *good*, generally speaking, and a lack of evidence represents epistemic *risk*. That's just not controversial, which is why it's strange to see you pull out your regress gun on.
Chalk it up to the hair-trigger, I guess.
My reply: LOL! T-stone obviously misunderstood John’s argument as well! He wasn’t defending John’s claims EITHER, then. But, this does nothing to get T-stone off the hook of his defense of Loftus original position that we both had been arguing. I’m still right there and falling back on Loftus’ debunkers shuffle doesn’t meant that I was wrong in *our* debate given the context we *both* understood.
But, again, I must point out that I have, since day one, admitted that “evidence is good generally speaking.” I mean, this is vague and ambiguous, but I go along. I have always maintained, as is CLEAR from my posts, that the idea that EVER SINGLE ONE OF OUR BELIEFS should have propositional evidence in its favor is irrational and subject to serious arguments, including the regress argument. This was clear from my post, and so why didn’t they just admit that I was right? If they don’t want to, well we’re back at the original debate. At best, therefore, all they can get me on (and T-stone failed here too) is that I thought John Loftus meant “beliefs” when he says “beliefs” and not “worldviews” when he said “beliefs.” Okay, you got me there. My mistake. How stupid can I be, right?
T-stone: “Paul, you've just gone done parachuting in with your regress gun pip-pip-pipping away against an inductive argument. I suggest the statement in question was inductive in nature, you insist it wasn't. Now the author of the statement weighs in and affirms it *was* made on inductive grounds. And you are telling me *I* don't understand what's being said here?”
My reply: LOL! Uh, T-stone, did you read Loftus’ response? Your “suggestion” of the statement was WRONG TOO!
At any rate, as far as the debate T-stone and I had, I falsified the inductive argument. I posted actual beliefs that do not have propositional evidence in their favor, and they are perfectly warranted beliefs.
I had asked: So, would you and John admit that I can be justified and warranted in a belief that has no propositional evidence in its favor?
T-stone replied: I hope so, as I'm confident that some beliefs I hold would probably qualify under that distinction, even and especially in the view of Loftus.
My reply: Amazing. This is what I had been arguing for the ENTIRE time. It is CLEAR that I had been arguing for this. Now T-stone admits that he has beliefs that are warranted and or justified without propositional evidence in their favor.
If he is correct, then he is wrong that ALL beliefs should have propositional evidence in their favor for one to be justified or warranted in believing them.
Lastly, please tell me *which* beliefs you hold qualify as warranted and justified in the absence of propositional evidence in their favor, and how do they receive their warrant?
T-stone: “John made claim on inductive grounds. From the specific to the general. Remember the talk about gravity? Specific to the general. Well, just as we can't rule out the possibility that gravity may not work the same everywhere (translational symmetry), we can't preclude the possibility of true beliefs that obtain without evidential bases.”
Reply: Uh, T-stone, maybe you can’t rule out the claim that gravity may not work the same everywhere, you didn’t say that true beliefs obtain without evidential basis though, you said they DID occur. You said, ‘you had them.” So, to make an accurate analogy, you’d have to say that we HAVE FOUND a place where gravity (given the same factors) did not hold!
T-stone: “That's how induction works; it's implicit in going from the specific to the general. So, if you are just figuring out that an inductive doesn't nuke your (or my) room for possible exceptions, all I can tell you is to take another look at what the probabilistic nature of induction means. We haven't tested gravity everywhere, and we never we be able to. Nevertheless, we look askance at someone who says "gravity doesn't apply here" without some explanation and demonstration.”
My reply: Incredible. T-stone has left the conversation and doesn’t even seem to know which way he’s going. I’m trying to take the kill shot but he’s bouncing all over the room. Stand still, wabbit.
I know how induction works. If someone says that “All x’s are y’s,” and then we find and x that is not a y, we have falsified the claim.
So, you had, granting you a lot, said that it is an inductive claim that “All beliefs should have evidence demanded of them.” But you now admit that you are “confident” that some of your beliefs are warranted and or justified without propositional evidence in their favor. Those types of beliefs are warranted and so “shouldn’t” have evidence “demanded” of them. Hence we have falsified “All x’s are y’s.” get it? Even your two-stepping, back-pedaling has been refuted…. Not just by me but by yourself as well
Lastly, you made the claim that “ALL beliefs SHOULD” have evidence demanded of them. And so I demand evidence of every single one of your beliefs. Infinite regress is back. Now, if you say that you hold some beliefs without propositional evidence, then you admit to doing things you shouldn’t. Like a person who says that you “shouldn’t” rape women, but nevertheless goes out and rapes women, no matter how scant the number of women is! So, perhaps you’ll now admit that you do not believe that “all” beliefs “should” have evidence demanded of them. Okay, fine. That has been *MY* argument. So, either you end up agreeing with me, or you look like a hypocrite on the intellectual level of the rapist!
By the way, you still have all those other arguments hanging over your head. So, given that what you argued, which was not in defense of Loftus since you misunderstood Loftus, was indeed representative of your position, I've still dismembered your position.
Glad I could clear all this up for you,