A continuation from a dialog in this com box:
First let’s note that T-stone has called me David Hume because I have denied the evidentialist constraint. But, let’s note what Hume actually says,
“(…) We may observe, that there is no species of reasoning more common, more useful, and even necessary to human life, than that which is derived from the testimony of men, and the reports of eye-witnesses and spectators. (…)"
And so T-stone is actually the Humean here. This is the start of a bad day for T-stone. Read on, it gets worse.
John Loftus wrote: "Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief,"
Paul Manata translated: " All things we believe are things we should demand evidence for.
Now, as any standard logic book will tell you, "whatever" should be translated "all." For example, "whatever you do, whether you eat drink, do it for the glory of God," would be appropriately translated "all things you do are things you do for the glory of God." So, so far my understanding of Loftus is correct - he said ALL our beliefs need evidence.
I then said: "Now, I assume that T-stone here is defending John by saying that the regress argument would bottom out because John had a raw perception or experience of the belief that ALL things believed are things which we should demand evidence for. Hmmmm, I'd like to see that perception."
T-stone replied: "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."
My reply: Well, if one reads what I wrote one can see that I didn’t say that perceptions are beliefs. So, T-stone either didn't read what I wrote, skimmed it, or didn't get it. I suggest he read it again. Furthermore, he said that perceptions are not beliefs. Okay. Does he believe that? If so, where is the evidence. And, after he given me the evidence, I want the evidence for his beliefs about the first set of evidences. And then, lastly, I want him to show me the perception he had that beliefs are not perceptions.
T-stone claims: "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."
My reply: Well, (a) that's not predication. (b) Some beliefs are not based on perceptions. Given (b) then we have SOME beliefs that don't fit into T-stone's evidence pattern and hence it can't be all that John meant since I showed that John said that ALL beliefs should have evidence. And, (c), I'd like T-stone to show me the perception he had that this is what "John meant" as well as the perception that shows that "all beliefs are based on perception." Lastly, (d), not to get on a tangent, but this is simply warmed over Locke and Aristotle, etc. Of course Hume said that given the above, since no one perceives necessary causation or the self, we could not have ideas of either. Indeed, since there is no perception for the belief that ALL beliefs are based on perception, then T-stone can't believe his own theory here.
T-stone asserts: "When you demand evidence for the belief that beliefs should be supported by evidence, John simply points back at past experience -- experience which shows that concepts that are based on evidence (directly perceptual or logically derived) provide better approximations of the real world than concepts that do not have such support."
My reply: Uh, (a) John points back to BELIEFS about past experience, so where is the evidence for this? Remember, John said ALL beliefs can have their evidence demanded of them. So, I'm following John's claim out. (b) Uh, this assumes that memory is reliable, that's a belief. What "evidence" do you have for this belief? Past experience? But that assumes that memory is reliable? And, where did you have a "perception" that memory was reliable that doesn't assume the reliability of memory? So far, T-stone, you haven't escaped the infinite regress that made me "look so unthoughtful." This doesn't bode well for you. Makes you look like you can't back up your talk. And, (c), there are plenty of beliefs that do not have evidence from the senses, nor evidence logically derived from the senses, and so your concept of "evidence" would kick out most of our beliefs, including THAT belief itself! Furthermore, (d) your thesis depends on doxastic voluntarism. This is hotly disputed. So, you enthymematic argument needs disputed premises to make it work. I don't grant doxastic voluntarism. If you believe it to be the case, then show me the perceptual evidence, or the logical argument derived from perceptions. Now, (e) take knowledge by testimony. Thomas Reid shows what would have happened to us had we held this evidentialist constraint: "I believed by instinct whatever my parents and tutors told me, long before I had the idea of a lie, or a thought of the possibility of their deceiving me. Afterwards, upon reflection, I found that they had acted like fair and honest people, who wished me well. I found that, if I had not believed what they told me, before I could give a reason for my belief, I had to this day been little better than a changeling. And although this natural credulity hath sometimes occasioned my being imposed upon by deceivers, yet it hath been of infinite advantage to me upon the whole, therefore I consider it as another good gift from [God]." Lastly, (f). Your above constraint only allow propositional evidence and the evidence from the senses to count as "evidence." Tell me, what "evidence" do you have for the belief that only those kinds of evidences can support a belief?
T-stone says: "If John wants to walk up a case of stairs, he can learn by experience (if he has not already -- heh!) that using the perceptions from his eyes as evidence of the location of the steps gives him a significantly better probability of navigating the staircase without difficulty versus trying to do the same without those perceptions/evidences."
My reply: Hmmm, and that shows that ALL beliefs need to have propositional evidence in their favor how, exactly? Here's been your argument:
1. Some things that help us survive are things we need evidence for.
2. Some beliefs are things that help us survive.
3. Therefore, ALL beliefs are things we need evidence for.
T-stone asserts: "If you agree with the value of vision as a means of collecting evidence of what's about in the real world -- for climbing the stairs, say -- then you should have no trouble understanding the chain of beliefs derived from concepts derived from experience. Beliefs are *not* raw perception, which is the point that's being offered to you here; that's what breaks the regress you suppose presents a problem here. "
My reply: I have no problem with the evidence of the senses, I have a problem with ALL beliefs having to have evidence demanded of them.
I never said that beliefs were raw perception (though your terminology is off here, I won't quibble).
The regress has not been broken, certainly not by you. And, I note that when I asked you for the "raw perceptions" of all your assertions you failed to back it up. So, why don't you show me the "raw perception" that "all beliefs should have evidence for them." And, when you do, avoid the fallacy above of the conclusion going beyond the premises -- granting you could supply what no philosopher yet has been able to.
I had said: "Furthermore, how would an *experience* lead to a *normative* conclusion like saying that we *should* have evidence for our beliefs?"
T-stone replied: "It may *not* lead to a normative conclusion in an "authoritative" sense, and it doesn't need to. It can be simply empirical. 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."
My reply: Funny; I don't see the "raw perception" I asked for.
And, I never said anything about "authoritative." I am asking how a description gets to a prescription. Lay out the reasoning pattern for us to see. Let us see the steps involved, trying to avoid the "is implies ought" falalcy.
Again, he's basing his argument on his BELIEFS about past experience. I want evidence for those beliefs.
And, I shouldn't fail to point out, again, that this nowhere proves that ALL beliefs need evidence.
Also, if this is not “authoritative,” then by whose authority is he “demanding” my “evidence?” You can’t “demand” what you don’t have the “authority” to “demand."
We should also note his pragmatic justification for his evidentialist constraint: “If you want to achieve good ends, then base your beliefs on evidence; for if you do not, bad things will happen, therefore the evidentialist constraint is true.” But, what would T-stone say if I argued for Jehovah in this way: If you want success in life, and to avoid bad things, then believe in Jehovah; thus it is true that Jehovah exists. Despite the rhetorical value of T-stone’s arguments, they have little by way of commending them as true.
T-stone continues: “Or, like I said, John can walk up the stairs without difficulty when he has his eyes open, and can develop beliefs about the location and orientation of the stair steps based on the perceptions his eyes afford him. With his eyes closed, he has learned he is like to stumble and fall. So, empirically, he has good cause to include this experience as empirical evidence for *should* in his decisions about evidence.”
My reply: Funny, I can make it up my stairs with my eyes closed. Is T-stone saying John has problems moving up a flight of 13 or so steps with his eyes closed?
Anyway, he includes his *beliefs* about his past experience as evidence. Hence, I want evidence for those beliefs.
Now, if you want to say that experience provides noninferential and immediate support for beliefs, fine. But then if beliefs can be formed in us immediately and noninferentially, then that pretty much screws your (and John’s) arguments against presuppositionalism.
I had said: “But, let's let T-stone tell us all about the experience which grounds the universal claim that "*all* beliefs are things that *should* have evidence given for them."
T-stone replied: “John's experience demonstrates that visual perception (construed as evidence about the real world) is a valuable asset in the task of navigating the staircase.
John's experience demonstrates that his visual perception (construed as evidence about the real world) is a valuable asset in the task of driving a car.
John's experience demonstrates that his visual perception (construed as evidence about the real world) is a valuable asset understanding emotional cues in the facial expressions of his wife when she talks to him.
On and on an on... over thousands of tasks and experiences (and I've just been using visual perceptions by way of example here, and haven't even touched on other forms of perception), John accumulates a large pile of experiences that, when reviewed, strongly suggest that evidence represents a means to improve or clarify his model of the real world, as demonstrated by his ability to accomplish his desired objectives.
My reply: Hmmm, and so particular experiences ground the claim that ALL beliefs should have evidence demanded of them? Come again? How does that follow?
Furthermore, these are BELIEFS based on John’s PAST experience. That is to say, these are beliefs based on “history.” Now, since the context of our discussion is my response to John’s post, then his claims determine what evidence you offer will be allowed to support HIS position. Fair enough? Now, John Loftus had said: “Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief, and historical evidence in the past simply isn't good enough.” Emphasis mine! Thus it is not “good enough” evidence for John that his historical past supplies evidence for his current belief that “all beliefs should have evidence demanded of them.”
Next, what non-question begging perceptual “evidence” can be marshaled for beliefs like this: (1) other minds exist, (2) the earth is older than 5 minutes, (3) nature is uniform, (4) I am a numerically one self that persists through time?
In fact, since your arguments assume that the belief that there is a past (e.g., “past experiences”) is correct, then you must have evidence for this belief. But all the evidence would be, as John says, “viciously circular.” Now, if that belief was considered as a basic belief, not in need of propositional evidence in its favor, then you’d have a philosophical pou sto. But, those kinds of beliefs are not allowed by Loftus, hence T-stone has failed to show that my original response to Loftus made me come off as “unthoughtful.” In fact, this looks quite ironic indeed!
T-stone concludes: “That's a solid, empirical basis for the belief that beliefs should have evididential [sic] bases underneath them.”
My reply: You’ve *got* to be kidding me, T-stone. Do you *believe* that this is a “solid, empirical basis for the belief that beliefs should have evidential bases underneath them?” If so, what is the evidence for *that* belief, which is different than the original? Looks like you’ve not escaped the regress. And I thought the regress argument was “silly” and “ignorant?” Why so hard to “debunk,” eh?
I had mentioned that T-stone was holding to classical foundationalism. He replied quite interestingly:
T-stone: “Paul you have that backwards. Classical foundationalism holds that the basis of knowledge -- the fundamental pillars of knowledge -- must be secure, infallible, skeptic-proof. That's quite opposite from what I'm suggesting, and in fact would say that demands for a "normative conclusion" are more indicative of such an orientation than anything I've said.”
My reply: From Dr. Sudduth: “Ancient Foundationalism: (a) Properly basic beliefs are either self-evident or evident to the senses. (b) The evidential relation between beliefs is typically deductive. (e.g., Aristotle)”
Dr. Groothius: “Roughly put, classical foundationalism is an approach to knowledge that claims that a belief only becomes knowledge if (a) that belief is true and if either (b) the belief is self-evident or necessarily true or evident to the senses or (c) the belief can be supported in some way by what is self-evident, necessarily true or evident to the senses. Beliefs of type (b) serve as the foundation for all other beliefs of type (c) and not the converse.”
Dr. Kelly James Clark: “Recall classical foundationalism (CF): A proposition p is rational if and only if p is self-evident, evident to the senses or incorrigible or if p can be inferred from a set of propositions that are self-evident, evident to the senses, or incorrigible.”
Dr. T-stone: “experience which shows that concepts that are based on evidence (directly perceptual or logically derived)”
And, some have argued that evidentialism entails infallibilism:
T-stone claims “I'm comfortable with a pragmatic bit of bootstrapping. We have experience, we form concepts, build beliefs on top of them, and subject them to the rigors of daily life. There's nothing indubitable about that at all. ook [sic] thoughtful.”
My reply: Funny, pragmatist William James offered some trenchant arguments against Clifford’s evidentialism - which T-stone and John are supporting.
T-stone fumbles: “Paul, the reason people believe evidence is valuable is because they have evidence to support that notion -- their experience. So when you say you don't deny that people value it, you are affirming that they have a belief in the value of evidence -- a belief that people SHOULD have evidence in support of their beliefs.”
My reply: I agree that people SHOULD have evidence to support SOME of their beliefs. I never argued that. I never denied that SOME beliefs SHOULD have evidence for them. I denied the universal claim of Loftus that “ALL beliefs should have evidence demanded of them.” Or, the obverse of which is: “No beliefs should fail to have evidence demanded of them.” So, given those two logically equivalent claims, we can see that my argument was against the idea that ALL beliefs should have evidence for them, not SOME. That it is valuable to have evidence for SOME or even MOST of our beliefs does not logically equate to the universal proposition I’m arguing against. These are basic rules of inference, T-stone.
T-stone talks about my mouth while his foot is in his: “As it is, it looks like you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. One one [sic] hand you affirm (or at least don't deny) that people value evidence, then suggest that people (or maybe just John) do not/cannot have evidence for such belief. The *evidence* for the belief in the value (should) of evidence is our experience, which we've been accumulate since we were born.”
My reply: I have never affirmed that people need evidence for ALL of their beliefs. And, I never denied that John “cannot” have evidence for his belief that one needs evidence for all beliefs. I haven’t seen the evidence yet (and you haven’t offered any logically compelling or non-fallacious evidence either), but let’s say that he was able to offer it. Given his maxim, I’d ask for the evidence which supports his BELIEF in the evidence he offered me. Got it?
T-stone claims: “If you drive a car, and you do so with your eyes open, then you're endorsing this belief. If not, try driving to your local 7-11 for a pack of smokes with your eyes closed. You can report back what your experience suggests about the SHOULD of evidence (visual evidence as to the location and attributes of the objects you will be driving on/near/around).”
My reply: At best this supports that SOME beliefs need evidence for them, not ALL.
Further, I don’t view beliefs based on immediate reports of sense-perception as inferential beliefs.
And, do you believe all this stuff I’ve quoted? If so, and if you are defending John’s claim that ALL beliefs should have evidence for them, then where is your evidence for this belief?
I had said: “And, beliefs aimed at survival don't = beliefs aimed at truth. You can survive with false beliefs and bad evidence, ya know.”
T-stone uncritically blurts out: “That's just foolish, Paul. Truth -- an accurate a model of the real world as we can achieve -- is a huge asset in the quest for survival. If you deny this, well, try to drive to the local 7-11 for a pack of smokes with your eyes closed!”
My reply: That’s just ignorant, T-stone. (a) First, I never denied that true beliefs are an asset for survival. That’s an invalid converse of my claim. (b) Talk to materialists and evolutionists in your own camp, like Patricia Churchland for example, first : “Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in the four F's: feeding, fleeing, fighting and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost.” And, try this: © I drive to the local 7-11 and believe that crashing into the fanciest car is the best way to magically transport myself to the front of the line at 7-11, but, always looking for a better option than the fancy car right in front of me, I continue to steer clear of all the cars on the road while looking for a better prospect than the Lexus in front of me. Or, perhaps you don’t like that, okay, how about this: I think that I am in a huge video game, call me Mario, and by avoiding objects on the “road” I am racking up points that will be seen after I “die.” Of course being the competitive gamer that I am, I strive as hard as I can to rack up points. Thus my beliefs are not true, but they have survival value. Therefore, beliefs aimed at survival don’t equal beliefs aimed at truth.
T-stone says: “We seek an accurate model of the real world because our experience shows that we are generally penalized in our efforts to accomplish our goals when our model is less accurate, and generally rewarded when our model is more accurate.”
My reply: A model of the world that says we came into existence 5 minutes ago, with all our memories and beliefs implanted in us, would allow me to accomplish all the same goals as you, yet MOST of my beliefs are *radically* false; read, “inaccurate.”
And, again, you are assuming that beliefs based on experience are reliable, what evidence is there for this belief? That is, answer Loftus’ maxim.
T-stone says: “A more accurate model of the real world is definitely a survival advantage over a less accurate model of the real world.”
My reply: How does my belief that EVERTHING other than God is “created” give me a survival advantage over the atheist? Or, assuming I’m wrong, how does the atheist have a survival advantage over me? In fact, atheists like Hitchens and Dennett have argued that it was a *survival advantage* to believe falsely about religion. Take a sample quote from a book review I’m writing on Hitchens’ latest book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything:” “The reason people have this tendency to believe in the wild claims of religious hucksters is because it is genetic. “In primitive times, is it not possible that those who believed the shaman’s cure had a better morale as a result, and thus a slightly but significantly higher chance of actually being cured?” (p.165, emphasis his). And so Hitchens finds common cause with Daniel Dennett who notes that there might have been survival value in holding religious beliefs and thus “it seems possible, moving to the psychological arena, that people can be better off believing in something than in nothing, however untrue that something may be” (p.165). Seems like the “Evangolutionist” (AKA T-stone) disagrees with the evolutionary arguments of his intellectual heroes.
T-stone sez: “But it goes beyond just survival. More accurate models help us achieve all sorts of goals and objectives we have in life, from the mundane task of climbing the stairs to more complex task, say, of earning a living as an economic forecaster.”
I sez back: Yeah, and here’s another humdinger for T-stone. Just as beliefs aimed at survival don’t equal beliefs aimed at truth, beliefs aimed at success don’t equal beliefs aimed at truth. And, again, I shouldn’t fail in pointing out that this does not prove that ALL our beliefs (like those in other minds, the past, the reliability of the senses, etc., God) need propositional evidence in support of them. Perhaps this will sink in if I say it enough.
I had asked where T-stone’s “raw perceptional” evidence was for the belief that “raw perceptual” evidence provides evidence for his beliefs,
And He responded: “The evidence is my experience (perceptions) of what results when I base my beliefs of evidence and what happens when I don't. If I close my eyes and try to climb the stairs, my "bottomed out" evidence is pain from a bleeding shin, caused when I stumbled, thinking the stairs were somewhere else than where they actually were.”
My reply: Tell me you’re not serious. And this avoids the regress how, exactly? Let’s see, maybe this will help:
John T-stone: “All beliefs require evidence for them.”
T-blogger: “Where is the evidence for that belief.”
John T-stone: “It’s based on my experience.”
T-blogger: “Do you believe that?”
John T-stone: “Yes.”
T-blogger: “Okay, where is the evidence for that belief?”
John T-stone: “My experience of what happens when I don’t base my beliefs on experience/evidence.”
T-blogger: “So you’re basing it off your belief about your memory of past experiences? Do you believe that your experiences of what happened when you didn’t base your beliefs on experiences/evidences supply good evidence for the claim that experience has shown that you should have evidences for all your beliefs?”
John T-stone: “Yes, I do.”
T-blogger: “And the evidence for this belief is where, exactly?”
John T-stone: “Uh, blank out.”
Second, your “pain” is a “belief,” a subjective one at that, that is, not something material. Anyway…, where’s your evidence for that belief? Remember, John said “all beliefs” should have evidence demanded of them, and you said I was “unthoughtful” for questioning this assumption. So, show me how thoughtful you are and give me the evidence which backs up your immediate cognitive attitude toward the proposition: I am in pain.
T-stone boldly asks: “Is *pain in the shin* a raw enough experience for you, Paul?”
My reply: Do you *believe* that it is, T-stone? If so, follow John’s maxim.
I asked how I look unthoughtful since T-stone switched from defending John, which was the context behind his claim that I was unthoughtful, and T-stone replied:
T-stone: “Oh, I've read enough of your posts, including some of the links you have below to have a fuller sense of where you are coming from than what's obtained from your short, initial post here. That's just shorthand for a schtick I've come to know too well from you. “
My reply: I don’t see how this answered the question, T-stone. But, just as I expected, T-stone never interacts directly, he simply shows off his skill of rubbing fish across the trail the dogs are on, attempting to get them off track. Vague and ambiguous references to some secret and hidden agenda I have aren’t really answers to my questions.
T-stone argues ad baculum: “If you want me to quote some of what I'm referring to for you, please advise.”
Me now: Consider yourself advised.
I had said: Lastly, I've blogged on the problems with all this before:
T-stone came back with: “Yeah, I know. It's a mess. I've read some, and I think more than I need to to understand. But you can correct me if I'm mistaken and you now have gotten to the point of accepting the terminus of your epistemological regress in the brute fact of consciousness and perception.”
My reply: How about this response against some of your posts arguing for theistic evolution: > “Yeah, I know. It's a mess. I've read some, and I think more than I need to to understand. But you can correct me if I'm mistaken and you now have gotten to the point of accepting the terminus of your epistemological Pelagianism and theological anthropocentrism in the exegesis by sola Scientifica and knowledge strictly via sense Percepta. How would you feel if a T-blogger gave you that response? You now have your answer how I feel about your response.
T-stone claims: “Experience is the evidence for the belief that John was expressing.”
My reply: (a) John said evidence from “history” is not allowed. (b) Does John believe that this experience is evidence for his belief? If so, evidence please! © Which experience(s) did John have which lead to the conclusion that ALL beliefs should have evidence demanded of them?
T-stone continues to repeat himself: “We belief [sic] we should demand evidence for our beliefs because our experience shows that such demands translate to improved abilities to pursue our goals, whether it's mere survival, or getting the Higgins account closed to make your numbers for the quarter.”
My reply: (a) This isn’t an argument for ALL beliefs. (b) Where is the evidence for *this* belief, ad infinitum? © How does the belief that I have over 5,000 blades of grass on my lawn “translate to improved abilities to pursue my goals?” (d) Further, say that one’s cognitive faculties are malfunctioning, and so all things he things are evidence *for* his belief are, in reality, evidence *against* his belief. Would he then be warranted in believing some proposition P on the basis of faulty evidence? Now, assume that one believes that his cognitive faculties *are* malfunctioning. He therefore should reject all the “evidence” for his beliefs. Thus we see that we should believe that our cognitive faculties are not currently subject to malfunction. But, where is the “evidence” for *that* belief? All “evidence” would *assume* the proper function of our cognitive faculties. Therefore the belief that our cognitive faculties are properly functioning is not a belief that is *grounded in* some kind of perceptual or deductive evidence. (e) How much evidence should we demand for our beliefs?
T-stone asserts: “If you assert that you intend to question the basis for such a belief, ad infinitum, that's a clear indication that you do not recognize the groundedness of that belief in John's (or anyone else's) experience.”
My reply: (a) Not all beliefs are grounded in experience. (b) If John *believes* that his experience grounds his first belief, then where is the evidence for the second belief? Ad infinitum.
I asked: “Further, how does this prove that ALL BELIEFS "should" have evidence demanded of them?”
T-stone wildly asserts: “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; we fare better with evidence-based models than models that are not evidence-based, according to our experience.”
My reply: Tell me you’re not serious!
T-stone’s cherished “Wiki” defines “truism” as: “A truism is a claim that is so obvious or self-evident as to be hardly worth mentioning.”
Webster’s: “an undoubted or self-evident truth; especially : one too obvious for mention”
I deny that it’s a truism. It’s not obvious to me. Indeed, it seems deeply problematic. In fact, I guess I could respond by saying that the falsity of the evidentialist constraint is a “truism.”
Next, how am *I* being “pedantic? John Loftus is the one who said that **ALL** beliefs should have evidence demanded of them, I just applied his Own logic to T-stone’s case! This is how it would look in argument form:
1. All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them.
2. (1) is a belief.
3. Therefore (1) should have evidence demanded of it.
So, every single belief, include the belief about ALL beliefs, are things John Loftus has allowed me to “demand evidence of.” But when I do this to *every single belief,* T-stone calls me pedantic!
Lastly, note that all he said above does not (a) prove that ALL beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them, (b) and it itself is a belief and so needs evidence for it, ad infinitum. But I’m just being pedantic again. Anyway, T-stone likes to conjugate irregular verbs:
I pay attention to detail. You are a bit nit-picky. He is downright pedantic.
Bertrand Russell once quipped:
I am firm. You are obstinate. He is simply pig-headed.
Now an AMAZING turn of events transpire.
I had argued: It doesn't The simple fact is that we have beliefs that seem to have no survival value, such as detailed beliefs about modal logic and possible worlds, for example. Furthermore, not all beliefs that have evidence for them help you survive. Remember, T-stone, you're trying to defend (1) above. So far you've not come close.
T-stone replied: “Sure, but I'm no sucker for your pedantry. We live in the real world, and of course, we don't have all the evidence available that we would prefer. Sometimes we have little to no evidence in view for decisions or beliefs that are required. That's life.”
My reply: Sure, what? That I am right? Look, if you have “little or no evidence” for your belief, then you shouldn’t believe it! John Loftus said that all beliefs should have evidence demanded of them. You say, “that’s right, but we don’t always have the evidence and so we just go on believing things without evidence.”
When talking about believing a claim John Loftus writes, “I would need sufficient evidence to lead me to believe.” And so if T-stone is defending Loftus, then if there is “no sufficient evidence” for a claim, then you shouldn’t believe it. So, again, the context of the debate is my response to John. T-stone is free to shift the goal posts for Loftus, and present his own tattered case, but he should have some integrity and apologize for claiming that my response *to John* made me look “unthoughtful.”
So, I have been arguing that the evidentialist constraint is false, and now T-stone agrees with me.
Moreover, he isn’t quite right. Does he think he’s warranted in believing this without evidence? If so, that’s what I claimed. But, if he thinks that he is not, then that’s the whole debate. And so, I would ask what is the evidence for the belief that for a belief to be warranted one must have perceptual or deductive inferences is support of that belief. The former agrees with what I’ve set forth here, and so by agreeing t-stone has effectively called *himself* “unthoughtful,” and if it’s the latter, T-stone is either warranted in believing it or not. If he is not, then why believe it? If he is, then where is the evidence ad infinitum for it?
Twighlight Zone T-stone says: “But those pragmatic constraints don't diminish the truth of what John asserted, based on our experiece; [sic] we *should* have evidence for our beliefs. Obviously, if no evidence is available, then no evidence is available. We should question whether it's necessary or beneficial to have a belief at all on that matter at that point. If we must, well, it's the real world, Paul. We try to do our best with what resources we have available.”
My response Sure they diminish it. If one makes a claim about ALL beliefs, and then one admits that even ONE belief does not need to fit into the class defined by the first claim, then one has shown that that the first claim is false. If I said “all swans are white,” and you show me ONE black swan, guess what, my original claim was “diminished.”
Now, if you’re claiming that for a belief to be justified or warranted one must have evidence for it, then defend that claim. If you’re not, then I’m right and you’re “unthoughtful.” If not, then John is wrong when he says that one *must* have propositional evidence in support of religious claims if he is to rationally or justifiably believe in God. Of course you might employ the “difference thesis” and argue that only religious beliefs must meet this standard, if so, Dr. Vallicella has some insights on that:
Now, interestingly, T-stone is using, verbatim, arguments employed by Sam Harris in “The End of Faith.” Says Harris:
“Our "freedom of belief," if it exists at all, is minimal. Is a person really free to believe a proposition for which he has no evidence? No. Evidence (whether sensory or logical) is the only thing that suggests that a given belief is really about the world in the first place. (71-72) “
And Vallicella slices and dices all the arguments T-stone has been offering here. I quote Dr. Vallicella at length:
“By "freedom of belief," Harris is presumably referring to the right, not the ability, to believe whatever one wants. We CAN believe all sorts of things – I once met a woman who thought that the moon glowed by its own light – but we MAY believe only some things, namely, those propositions for which we have sufficient evidence. But why should we accept this normative claim? Because evidence is what makes a belief about the world in the first place.
One of things that makes this argument suspect is that Harris appears to be inferring a normative conclusion from a nonnormative premise. Thus, he appears to be moving from
1. Evidence is what makes a belief a belief about the world
2. We may hold only those beliefs for which we have evidence.
Now even if (1) is unproblematic, how does one validly infer the normative (2) from it? But there is a second way to read the above passage, and that is to take Harris to be reasoning from (1) to the nonnormative
2*. We can (are able to) hold only those beliefs for which we have evidence.
On this reading we avoid the Is/Ought fallacy, but trade it in for something just as bad: a false conclusion. Surely, (2*) is false. People are able to hold all sorts of beliefs for which they have no evidence.
But there is worse to come: (1) is highly problematic. There is an ambiguity in it. Is Harris talking about aboutness, or about truth? Is he saying
E1 Belief B is about the world only if there is evidence for B
E2 Belief B is true only if there is evidence for B?
E1 is obviously false. Beliefs have the property philosophers call ‘intentionality’: they are necessarily object-directed. Beliefs, like many other mental states, intend an intentum: they possess aboutness. Thus one cannot believe without believing something. But it doesn’t follow that the proposition one believes is true. Thus the belief that God exists is about God’s existence whether or not God exists, and thus whether or not there is any evidence for God’s existence. Aboutness is not the same as truth. A belief can have the first without the second. Harris may be confusing them.
Charitably construed, Harris is asserting E2. He is saying that a necessary condition for a belief’s being true is that there be evidence for it, whether sensory or logical. But why should we accept this? What is Harris’ evidence for it, whether sensory or logical? Clearly, one cannot have sensory evidence for E2. If you think otherwise, tell me which sense provides the evidence. I know by sight that there is a computer in front of me, but I do not know by sight (or by any other external or internal sense) that a belief is true only if there is evidence for it.
Nor can one have logical evidence for E2. The proposition in question is not logically true (true in virtue of its logical form), nor is it analytically true (true in virtue of the meanings of its constituent terms). Of course, ‘logical evidence’ could mean inferential evidence: a proposition has this sort of evidence if it is a logical consequence of a another proposition. But then which proposition is E2 supposed to inherit its evidence from? And what about the evidence of that proposition? Where does it come from?
One can see that E2 applies to itself. But we have just seen that there is no sensory or logical evidence for it. Given that these are the only two kinds of evidence, it follows that if E2 is true, then it is false. And if it is false, then of course it is false. Therefore, E2 is necessarily false.
So far, then, I see no coherent argument for the thesis that one may (can?) believe only propositions for which there is logical or sensory evidence. How then will Harris get to his thesis that the core beliefs of religious people are "absolutely mad"? Isn’t his claim that only beliefs for which there is sensory or logical evidence are true equally "mad"? Even if religious beliefs are unsupported by evidence, the same is true of Harris' epistemological beliefs.”
So much the worse for T-stone, then.
T-stone repeats himself: “Sure. Got it. 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.”
I repeat myself So you’re saying that the evidence for Loftus’ *universal* claim is his beliefs based on his reliance on memory traces of *particular* past experiences. Boy John with “friends” like T-stone, you don’t need any enemies, do ya?
T-stone insults Loftus: “I get the sense that you think you are really on to something profound with your regress schtick. It's "not even wrong", Paul. It's an imaginary set of constraints that don't exist in the real world.
My response: So Loftus makes a claim about ALL beliefs, I then ask him about ALL his beliefs, and this is “imaginary?” Well, tell Loftus not to make claims subject to infinite regresses then, T-pebble.
I had said: Actually, I'm not an internalist nor a deontologist. And, I do believe that we have warrant for our inductive beliefs. So, keep arguing against that straw-man you've constructed. So much better than fighting the real man.
T-stone shows how out of touch he is with the context of the conversation: “If that's true, then you've got no basis for pressing such a regress as you declared with John. By means of induction, John, I and you develop beliefs about the value of evidence as basis for belief. You [sic] belief we *should* have evidence for our beliefs, too. If you deny this I have a set of questions for you, which I believe the answers you provide will demonstrate that you operate on this very principle yourself.”
My response: Poor little T-pebble, can’t follow the argument he’s defending.
T-stone, here’s a news flash: *I* am not the one who says that I need evidential support for ALL my beliefs. John said that, not me. You defended that, and then equivocated later, and now seem to have totally dropped your original argument. You see, T-stone, if JOHN says that ALL BELIEFS need evidence demanded of them, then I certainly can, on Loftus’ own terms, “demand” the evidence for his inductive beliefs. You need to study up on reductio ad absurdum a bit, T-stone. I can ask John about EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS BELIEFS, based on JOHN’S ASSUMPTIONS. Then, when he tries to “back up” his beliefs with other beliefs, I’ll ask him about *those* beliefs, ad infinitum.
Lastly, I deny that we should have evidence for ALL of our beliefs. But, John actually said that we must, or else he won’t believe it. I deny that too, T-stone.
Now T-stone loses track of the discussion almost entirely.
For the context, I’ll quote my response to T-stone’s claim that even without evidence for our inductive beliefs we are still warranted in believing the inductive principle because “we still do. We just can’t help it.”
I had replied that there's a distinction between optimistic-over rider proper function rationality, and alethic rationality by arguing:
Of course proper function would demand continued belief in the Inductive Principle IP, but this is not because this portion of your cognitive faculties are aimed at truth, but, rather, at the avoidance of cognitive disaster. A person S may be in a situation - say, lost in a snow storm on top of a mountain - and S may see a ridge that S thinks could be leaped to. Based on perception, this belief is basic to S. But, S would not have thought this if S were not in this survival situation. So S maintains this belief that the chasm is able to be jumped. Proper function requires this belief to be maintained. The optimistic over rider has kicked in. But the faculties governing this have some other virtue in mind - survival rather than true belief. In normal, reflective situations, S would not form said belief.
T-stone responded: “Paul, that's a neat story. Now why do I care that S is thinking one thing in panic mode, when he might make another assessment if he weren't? This doesn't attach to what John was suggesting. John is (or at least I am) suggesting something quite different; an accurate belief as to the probability of making it across the chasm (assuming that jump somehow saves S) is an *advantage* to survival. Evidence here, say pine trees in the chasm that help you gauge the distance across, is an advantage to survival. If the evidence keeps you from jumping to your death, where you would not have made it across to the ridge on the other side, then this would be yet more experiential evidence for your belief that evidence matters. If that evidence encourages you to jump and you make it, again, more evidence in support of the idea that evidence matters.”
My reply: It flew right over his head, didn’t it? My “story” showed that though in some instances proper function demands we “believe” certain things, that is not sufficient to providing warrant for that belief. So, that T-stone continues to assume the IP does not mean that he is warranted in doing so. Furthermore, in a blinding blizzard your “evidence” from your senses are invalidated! You’re not in the proper environment for your senses to provide you with warrant. The “evidence” is skewed, especially since the optimistic over rider has kicked in. In this case, you might “just believe” that you can “make the jump.” But, this doxastic forming process is not formed by cognitve faculties aimed at *truth,* but, rather, at *survival.*
I then offered a second analogy which flew right over T-stone’ little noggin: Or, suppose S ingests agent XX, a hallucinogenic drug, producing hallucinations in 90% of those who take XX. Proper function would require assuming the IP so as to avoid cognitive disaster. So, S has powerful inclinations to continue on in belief in the IP, even though S has come to believe that the probability that her beliefs are true is low or inscrutable, and S may take it in a basic way, but of course these powerful inclinations don't count as evidence for the IP. S would have this inclination whether she was in or out of the lucky 10%.
T-stone misses the boat, again: “Well, you might as well just go all the way, and take Peter Pike's line: what if we are in something like the movie The Matrix??? What if all of this is kind of Cartesian hallucination? Should I take the red pill, Paul?
It's precisely because you think this is a meaningful concern that I think you may have ingested XX prior to typing up your post. What bearing does this have on the value of our experience as basis for the belief in the value of evidence for our beliefs??? If you are hallucinating, or stuck fighting with Mr. Anderson in The Matrix, all this becomes a moot point. Blank out.”
My response: Again, the point was that a “strong inclination” to believe that P does not mean that you are warranted in believing that P. My analogy is not trying to argue that we can’t be certain whether we’ve ingested XX, it’s designed to show that there are cases where S would not be warranted in believing in P, even though S “can’t help” but to continue to believe P. Therefore, T-stone’s argument that he continues to believe in the IP does not show that he is warranted in believing in the IP. Given the evidentialist constraint, and John’s quotes, if we don’t have “evidence” for a belief then we shouldn’t believe it. Since there is no non-question begging propositional evidence for the IP, then Loftus et al has a defeater for that belief. To say that you still “continue to believe” in the IP isn’t an appropriate defeater-defeater. If it were, then our friend who ingested XX could defeat the defeater XX gives by simply noting that she still believes in the IP or in the reliability of her cognitive faculties. Blank out.
Hopefully that was slow enough for T-stone. Hopefully he can get back to discussing Tetra-Hydras and beakers and elixirs and stuff. But, I must say, watching T-stone take some baby steps into the philosophical room made me so proud. He’s learned so much coming here. Sure he stumbles every step along the way, but you gotta admit, isn’t it one of the cutest things you’ve ever seen?