T-pebble and Loftus made, and subsequently defended, a problematic claim. Hating all things T-blog, they have now been forced to equivocate on, and alter, angle, belie, change, collapse, color, contort, deform, deviate, disfigure, distort, doctor, fake, fudge, garble, gnarl, mangle, melt, misconstrue, misinterpret, misrepresent, misshape, pervert, phony up, sag, scam, slant, torture, trump up, twist warp, whitewash, wiggle wrench, and writhe out of the rather precarious position they’ve now put themselves in.
This morning I shot a mouse that I had caught in a glue trap point blank in the head. Unfortunately, there’s no way to put T-pebble and Loftus out of their misery that easy. We must watch them squirm and wiggle, possibly for years.
We should note that I have argued against them here, here, and here. I would wager that probably 75-80% of my arguments have been ignored. Loftus even claims to “not read what I write.” Amazingly he can still respond, though! Did he learn that at TEDS?
T-pebble says: “Paul,
No time tonight to give this more than a quick skim and one quick observation. So you argue here via the "copy-and-paste" method... that strikes me as quite lazy Paul. I think paste in quotations is useful, but in *support* of arguments (I quoted Darwin's Origins over on Pike's post in support of my claim that Darwin relied on fossil evidence in forming his theory), not *as* your argument. I actually did try something like this in an entry-level Philosophy course in college. I was not treated kindly by my professor, nor should I have been. Lesson learned. But this is a blog and you can do what you want.
My response: So you avoid the argument via the “you copy and pasted” red herring? Sorry, I missed that chapter in my logic text books where an argument suddenly isn’t an argument if one copies and pastes it. The purpose of my post was not to be original, as was the case with your philosophy paper, and so your claim is disanalagous, but it does serve to poison the well quite nicely. My post was a bringing together, with supplied commentary, analysis, and original argumentation, of at least 5 separate philosopher’s views on the subject. I furthermore noted, had you cared to read, that I had hoped that the arguments would be taken more seriously because they weren’t made by a T-blogger. I guess I was wrong and arguments are even poisoned if they are “pasted” by a T-blogger.
T-pebble says: “I can't engage with Plantinga or Sudduth, as they aren't participating here; it's fine for you to "adopt" their arguments, verbatim, even, but it's not clear that's what your doing here. As it is, it appears to be "see all these philosophers who have trouble with evidentialism???" To which it occurs to me invites a similarly lazy response: should I paste in selected passages from Bonjour, or Feldman, or DePoe, or the McGrews (or... how many of these do I need to supply to match Paul's name-dropping, again?) and leave off, even knowing that that I don't hold to evidentialism, strictly construed?”
My response: Surely you can engage their *arguments,* for that is what people do *all the time.* They write books and engage other people’s arguments found in other books.
I was not merely saying “see all these *philosophers* who have problems with evidentialism,” but, rather, “see all these *arguments* against evidentialism.”
I would furthermore *welcome* your arguments against my arguments, whether they be your own or other philosophers who you copy and paste, since that would be *at least some kind* of interaction on your end. If you want to “stand by” their arguments, then you fall with them to. So, refute them, refute you.
Lastly, you do hold to evidentialism as I showed and will show. I didn’t think the fact that your thoughts are incoherent and your statements inconsistent was the “evidence” you were going off to say that I haven’t pegged you.
T-pebble’s strong [sic] point: “But all that is really secondary to the strong point I want to make here for tonight: Paul remains incorrigible with respect to the claims and arguments that he is reacting to in the first place, here. This "reminiscence" is not something I recognize at all from my arguments, and do not recognize in my understand of Loftus' arguments:”
My reply: Of course this is what we’ve been over before and T-stone has totally failed to interact with the vast majority of all my posts. So, I guess we’ll go through it again. It’s funny that he called “copy and pasting” more “wasted bandwidth.” Certainly repeating refuted arguments is “more wasted bandwidth,” no?
I previously had written: Paul said:
John Loftus claimed: "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."
Obviously reminiscent of Clifford's The Ethics of Belief: "To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."
There's nothing new under the sun. Loftus was claiming what Clifford was.
T-stizzle fo shizzle claims: Loftus can speak for himself (or not) here; for my part, I reject this "reminiscence" as wholly mistaken in its understanding of what was claimed by me, and as far as I can tell, by John as well.
If this post is committed to a premise that I am defending the arguments of Clifford, then there's no point in proceeding at all, for my part: it's fundamentally mistaken in its premises.
In that sense, I suppose it's good that Paul has opted for a "cut-and-paste" job for his... arguments here, as this is all aimed at -- again, let the record show -- boxing shadows. No point in investing the time to argue in your own words against a scarecrow, right?
My reply: Surely T-stone doesn’t think that his “say-so” is enough to overturn my claim, right? If I say, “New York is smelly,” then it makes no difference if a group a New Yorkers corner me in an alley way and threaten to feed me to the fishes for saying that and I respond, “I didn’t say New York is smelly.” I mean, I could punk out and deny what I claimed, but then I’d be a punk. So, T-stone certainly can deny the implications of his claims if he has no problem with being a punk who’s afraid to stand behind his words (or the *logical* implications of his words.). With that caveat in mind, let’s proceed…
T-stone claims: “Specifically, I reject the "always", the "everywhere", the "anyone" and the "anything" in your quote from Clifford as being necessary qualifiers for my claim. Which means you've got it completely wrong, Paul, if you suppose this is my position (or Loftus' so far as I can tell). I've specifically rejected these extremes previously, yet you apparently are unwilling to engage on what is asserted, and instead stand up Mr. Clifford as some kind of proxy to argue against. Why is this, Paul?”
My reply: Oh really? Okay, let’s analyze this. We’ll need to quote the John Loftus Thesis again for the context:
(JLT) = "Whatever we believe we should demand evidence for that belief.”
Logically, “whatever” is the same as “anything.” So, that knocks T-stone’s denial that he does not accept Clifford’s “anything.”
Logically, in context, “we” means “anyone.” If not, this is not the case then John’s Thesis is:
(JLT*) = “Some things that some people believe, some people should demand evidence for that belief.”
If I have (JLT*) correct then note: (a) John needs bigger help than I do in writing and grammar! And, (b) this is *my* position and is what *I* have argued from since *post 1.* They should have agreed with me from post one then. Therefore, granting that John knows how to use the English language, and that T-stone and Loftus are not the type to debate with people they agree with just for the sake of debating them, we can say that (JLT*) is not correct.
In fact, to prove that I have never denied (JLT*) I quote myself from a PREVIOUS thread (actually, from my *first* post on this subject, we‘re on the *4th,* now!):
Paul Manata‘s Previous Agreement With (JLT*),: “ 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. (emphasis original)
Therefore, any claim that Loftus or T-stone are supporting something like (JLT*) is to agree with me and admit that something like (JLT) is subject to the infinite regress argument. So, at best, I was wrong because I mistook “everything” for “some things.” But since I’ve admitted this before, and they keep going, we can assume that they do not agree with (JLT*).
Since “whatever” is logically the same, in this context especially, as “anything,” and since “we” is the same as “anyone” then we could also write (JTL) this way:
(JLT**) = “"Anything anyone believes we should demand evidence for that belief.”
(JLT) and (JLT**) are logically the same and to deny it forces one to hold to (JLT*). If (JLT) and (JLT**) are the same then T-stone *does not* disagree with Clifford’s “anything” and “anyone.” If T-stone agrees with (JLT*) then T-stone agrees with me. If (JLT*) is correct, then my position in this debate is correct. T-stone has made it clear that he doesn't agree with me. He has made it clear that he is talking about everyone and all beliefs. Hence he agrees with Clifford so far.
Lastly, Clifford includes parameters like “everywhere” and “always.”
This would makes Clifford’s Claim look like this:
(CC) “All times and places are times and places where it is wrong for anyone to believe something on insufficient evidence.”
T-stone disagrees? Okay:
(CC*) “Some times and places are times and places where it is wrong for anyone to believe something on insufficient evidence.”
Oh, he disagrees with “anyone” too. Okay:
(CC**) “Some times and places are times and places where it is wrong for some people to believe something on insufficient evidence.”
But of course I *agree with* (CC**). My posts have made this clear. My posts have made this clear from the beginning.
Unfortunately, once cannot *logically* get out of (CC**) the claim that: “All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them.”
Furthermore, T-stone clearly thinks that “ALL” beliefs “SHOULD” have evidence for them. Here are some statements:
- “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.”
- “That's a solid, empirical basis for the belief that beliefs should have evidential bases underneath them.”
- “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.”
- “We believe 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.
- “I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the assertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them.”
Lastly, I had asked: “Further, how does this prove that ALL BELIEFS "should" have evidence demanded of them?”
And T-stone unequivocally responded:
- “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.”
Therefore, it is painfully obvious that T-stone is arguing that every single one of our beliefs, whether it’s about “survival,” religion, or “getting the Higgins account closed to make your numbers for the quarter,” are things that “SHOULD” have evidence for them. Moreover, “we” is best translated as “anyone.” And, no matter the place you’re at (e.g., at work trying to close the Higgins account), or what time it is (e.g., a time when we need to survive,), the beliefs we have then and at that time "should" have evidence for them. Hence John agrees with Clifford's "always" and "everywhere." Furthermore, since “should” is the claim T-stone makes, and assuming it is “wrong” to do things we “shouldn’t do,” and if “all” our beliefs “should” have evidence for them, then, logically, this can be translated to, “none” of our beliefs “should not” have evidence for them,“ then it is “wrong” to do what we “shouldn’t do.” The logic is undeniable. Therefore, T-stone argues that “anyone” in “anyplace” and at “any time” is someone who “ought” to have evidence for their beliefs. Let’s look at Clifford’s Exact Quote, which T-stone said he categorically denied:
(CEQ) = “To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."
I therefore claim, on the basis of the logic and argumentation above, that T-stone and Loftus are indeed agreeing with Clifford. As I said, just because T-stone can’t see the *logical implications* of his statements and so *merely asserts* that he’s not arguing Clifford’s thesis, does not mean that T-stone is *nevertheless* in fact arguing for Clifford’s thesis! Therefore, I’m showing that T-stone agrees with (CC) and not (CC* or CC**). I am the one who agrees with (CC* or CC**), see above.
So, how does T-stone get out of the clear implications of the logic of his position? He claims he’s making an “inductive” argument. But I don’t see how this gets him out of anything. We already saw that he clearly believes that “all” beliefs “should” have evidence for them. Since this is so, he believes that “no” beliefs “should not” have evidence for them. To say “it is possible that a belief might not have evidence for it, since my claim is inductive,” is extremely ambiguous. First, I have admitted that plenty of our beliefs do not have evidence for them. So, I’m not denying that. No, his claim would have to be: “it is possible that some beliefs should not have evidence for them.” But, if this is *true,* then it is *false* that “all” beliefs “should” have evidence for them. But, T-stone doesn’t believe this. In fact, he believes that though a belief “might not” have evidence for it, it nevertheless *should* have evidence for it.
- “Sometimes we have little to no evidence in view for decisions or beliefs that are required. That's life. But those pragmatic constraints don't diminish the truth of what John asserted, based on our experience; we *should* have evidence for our beliefs.
- “I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the assertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them.”
Therefore, it is obvious that T-stone is arguing that **EVERY SINGLE ONE** OF OUR BELIEFS **SHOULD** HAVE EVIDENCE FOR THEM. T-stone’s claim then, is not inductive. He’s claiming that “If there’s a belief, there should be evidence for it.” This is a *normative constraint.* Perhaps we should break the analysis out this way - the Two Options:
(TO) = Either we should have evidence for every single one of our beliefs or we shouldn’t.
So if T-stone denies the first half of the disjunct we’d have this premise P2:
(P2) It is not the case that we should have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.
To which the conclusion would follow:
(C1) Therefore, we shouldn’t have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.
Call this TO Argument 1. I obviously have been affirming (TOA1). This can be seen from the fact that it does not follow from the claim that we shouldn’t have evidence for “ALL” of our beliefs then we shouldn’t have evidence for “SOME” of our beliefs. It is obvious that T-stone denies the second half of the disjunct given my quote from him directly above. Hence we can fill out the argument:
(P2*) It is not the case that we should not have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.
(C1*) Therefore, we should have evidence for every single one of our beliefs.
Call this TO Argument 2. T-stone has been shown to affirm (TOA2). Now, since we “should” have evidence for “all” of our beliefs, then it would be false to say that we “shouldn’t” have evidence for all of our beliefs. And it would be false to say that we "shouldn't" have evidence for *soem* of our beliefs. This is not an "inductive" claim, then. Indeed, given the force of “should,” if T-stone notes that he does indeed hold beliefs without evidence, he should give them up. No belief shouldn’t have evidence for it. This is not inductive. To see that, let’s look at a More Obvious Example:
(MOE) = We shouldn’t torture little children for the pure pleasure of it.
Now, one could say that, “To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to torture little children for the pure pleasure of it." Thus I would *never* say that it “may” or “might” be acceptable to torture little children for the pure pleasure of it, in some cases! Thus (MOE) shows us the true nature of a claim like this. T-stone’s position is that one should *never* violate the conclusion of (TOA2). If they are then they’re doing something that they “shouldn’t” be doing. If it is okay, acceptable, etc., *in some cases* to believe things without people saying that we “should” have evidence for it, then it’s wrong to say that we “should have evidence for all of our beliefs.” If that is wrong then (TOA1) is the case, This is my position.
As I had previously argued. If it is true that there can be warranted beliefs of which we have positive epistemic status when holding them, then we "shouldn't" have to have evidence for them. I pointed this out this way: Not all beliefs need propositional evidence in support of them to be warranted or justified or have positive status. Likewise, not every street requires me to go 25 MPH. On *this street* [the one requiring me to go 25] it would be “good” to go, and I “should” go, 25. If I am on a street that doesn’t require 25, but, rather 45 MPH, then it is neither “bad” nor immoral for me to not go 25! So, no, if I can and do have positive epistemic status for beliefs without propositional evidence in its favor, then I deny the claim that I “should” have this evidence for all my beliefs. If I “should” not rape, then NO INSTANCE of rape is “good.” Therefore, if T-stone thinks this about beliefs then NO INSTANCE of beliefs without propositional evidence in their favor are “good” things. And thus we’re back at the regress.
Therefore, since T-stone’s claim is that “every single one of anyone’s beliefs should have evidence demanded of it,” I then “demand” evidence for *that* belief. For him to resort to past experience raises two problems: (a) John Loftus, the claim he’s defending, said that “evidence from history,” which past beliefs are, “is not good evidence,” and (b) this is a *belief* about his past and reliability of his memory. Since *this belief* should have evidence demanded of it, then I so demand. Ad infinitum….
Now, T-stone goes on to make some comments which he thinks clarify his position, but they actually serve to elucidate his muddle-headedness. Let’s look at them:
T-stone sez: “Just as a baseline, I do assert this:
(1) Evidence is a proven, (and undeniable) basis for forming true beliefs.
I sez back: Though I could quibble here that based on T-stone’s relativistic presuppositions, things he’s asserted before (and I have the quotes) he has no basis to say that (1) is “undeniable.” In fact, it *is* deniable by many skeptics, see Stroud, (the former) Unger, Sextus Empiricus, et al. I agree with (1) even though it‘s roughly stated.
T-stone: “(2) Justified bases for true beliefs that obtain without any evidence *may* exist, but their warrant and justification are problematic, whereas evidence-as-warrant/justification is not problematic.”
My reply: First, T-stone said that they *do* exist, not “may.” I had asked him, “So, would you and John admit that I can be justified and warranted in a belief that has no propositional evidence in its favor?” And T-stone replied, I hope so, as I'm confident that some beliefs I hold would probably qualify under that distinction…, and so T-stone is “confident” that he *has* beliefs that “do not” have evidence in their favor! His claim is not a “maybe” but a “sure does.”
Second, Why are their “warrant and justification problematic?” Because they don’t have evidence? But this *begs the question.* T-stone may say, “because then you might not have a “basis for forming true beliefs?.” Why? T-stone may say, “because you have to have evidence as a basis to form true beliefs.” But this *begs the question.* T-stone may say, “because it helps you accomplish your goals.” Why? Furthermore, this is a *pragmatic* argument. That we can accomplish the ends we want does not mean our “evidence” or “beliefs” is *true.* And, people can accomplish goals with false beliefs. As Gordon Clark as pointed out:
“How science can be useful though false is illustrated in a delightful textbook on inductive logic. Milk fever, the illustration goes, until late in the nineteenth century, was a disease frequently fatal to cows. A veterinarian proposed the theory that it was caused by bacteria in the cows’ udders. The cure therefore was to disinfect the cow, which the veterinarian proceeded to do by injecting Lugol solution into each teat. The mortality under this treatment fell from a previous ninety percent to thirty. Does not this success full treatment prove that the bacteria were killed and that Lugol cured the disease? Unfortunately another veterinarian was caught without the Lugol solution one day, and he injected plain boiled water. The cow recovered. Had water killed the bacteria? What is worse, it was found later that air could be pumped into the cows’ udders with equally beneficial results. The original science was wrong, but it cured the cows nonetheless.”
Philosophers of Science like Larry Lauden have offered us lists of successful theories which turn out to be false. Examples are: “Ptolmaic astronomy, chemical affinity theory, subtle fluids chemistry and physics, Newtonian Mechanics, classical thermodynamics, wave optics, humoral theory of medicine, phlogiston theory of chemistry, caloric theories of heat, vibratory theory of heat, the theory of circular inertia, theories of spontaneous generation” (MNoreland, Christianity And The Nature of Science, p. 155). The list could be extended. Indeed, pragmatism as a species of Instrumentalism is a famous anti-realist position!
Or, perhaps T-stone will say that “evidence helps us form true beliefs and hence survive.” Why? “Because those with evidence survive better.” Never mind that this still doesn’t prove his universal claim, it has other problems. (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. 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.
Lastly, given an externalist and proper function epistemology, it is not a “problem” to have warranted beliefs without propositional evidence. T-stone is just making assertions and failing to address me where he knows I’m at. That is, his enthymeme is terribly bias. It’s only true if a debated and problematic epistemic position is assumed. Thus one shouldn’t offer enthymemes which rest on hotly disputed premises.
T-stone: (3) Because of (2), evidence is a naturally preferable basis for obtaining true beliefs. (this is the underpinning for "should" in John's original claim, in my view)
My reply: I’ve undermined to and so anything that is “because” of (2) is suspect. Furthermore, I’ve shown that “should” applies to every belief and therefore it applies to (3) as well. So, I “demand” evidence for (3), and (2) for that matter. Lastly, even if this is true, it doesn’t prove T-stone’s claim which I have painstakingly laid out above: “All beliefs, universally, should have evidence for them.” That’s what he’s trying to prove. And, he cannot allow even *one* belief to pass this test because that would be like allowing *one* person to torture a child for pleasure in (MOE) above.
T-stone: “(4)Cases *may* exist where evidence is not possible as underwriter for a belief, even in principle. In such cases, it is reasonable to ask a) what, if not evidence, does serve as the warrant/justification for this belief? and b) does a commitment to this belief *need* to be made?”
Reply: Typical. T-stone can’t even keep track of the discussion. No one is disputing that some beliefs “may” not have “evidence” for them. Indeed, there are thousands. We’re also not disputing that some “true beliefs” may not have evidence for them since they’re lucky guesses. We’re arguing that T-stone is committed to the claim that “ALL” beliefs “SHOULD” have evidence for them. Since he can’t deny this, then he has the regress problem.
And, to answer (a) and (b): (a) the fact that it has been produced by cognitive faculties that are properly functioning, successfully aimed at producing true beliefs, and you are in the right environment, I.e., one sufficiently similar to that which your cognitive faculties have been designed for. As for (b); it does if you want to be warranted in your belief in other minds, the past, induction, etc.
T-stone asserts: “In my view, John Loftus' statement -- "We should demand evidence for all our beliefs" -- reflects (1)-(4) above. I quote John as saying in his clarifying comments posted at 6/08/2007 3:22 PM:
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.
This alone should be enough for Paul to avoid equating Loftus' (or my) arguments with Cliffords. If he is to be responsible here, he will take note of Loftus' words and my words, which are incompatible with Cliffords ("always", "everywhere", "for anyone", "anything").
My reply: And of course we should not that neither T-stone nor Loftus has as of yet interacted with my response to JL’s claim. Furthermore, I have shown above that the only way that *this claim* lets them off the hook is for them to *deny other claims* that they have made. My argument is that they are holding a irrational position in that they are holding inconsistent beliefs and have been made aware of this. Thus if “the need for evidence doesn’t apply to said beliefs” means “evidence shouldn’t be demanded of said beliefs” then T-stone’s claim here, for instance, is wrong: “I don't doubt there are beliefs that have no evidence. That's not controversial at all, and not what John or I asserted. Rather the assertion is that beliefs *SHOULD* have evidence supporting them” (emphasis original). If JL’s claim means “evidence shouldn’t be demanded of them,” then we have something similar to a denial of (MOE)-type claims. If “evidence shouldn’t be demanded of them,” then we affirm (TOA1) above, my position. Thus if JL is correct, then it is *true* that “not all beliefs should have evidence demanded of them,” and hence T-stone is either wrong or shown to be agreeing with me yet debating me.
T-stone claims: “Paul tries to justify this gross misrepresentation by asserting that "always", "everywhere", "for anyone", and "anything" as offered by Clifford are *necessary* by virtue of the normativity of epistemology.”
My reply: With the above work on my part, I can now easily dismiss this. In fact, I showed, logically, that T-stone agreed with Clifford. The only way for his claims to disagree with Clifford is if we grant him problems with grammar worse than mine, and problems with clear-thinking worse than Sloth from the Goonies! “Ru, ru, Baby Ru.”
T-stone sez “I will note that in this case, his straw man is quite capable, and while it's not my argument, the only way I can see that Paul manages to wrestle his opponent of straw to the ground is through selective cut-and-paste. If a *real* evidentialist -- and I have engaged and debated some at considerable length -- were to stand in the place of Paul's straw opponent, the exchange would be quite different than the heroic victory Paul portrays with the command-v key on his keyboard.”
My reply: Of course given that I have argued in the combox of one post, as well as two original posts from me, way before I ever did the “cut and paste” job, I must take the above as creamy sophistic filler intended to add form to the soft and spongy Twinkie shell his ‘arguments’ have been laid out in. And, we can note that T-stone has admitted my arguments against him have been “quite capable.” Just because he irrationally and illogically doesn’t *think* his position is the one I’m refuting, that doesn’t mean that it *isn’t* the position I’m refuting.
T-stone off-roads: “Naturalist epistemologies do not rely on a priori norms as the building blocks for their normativity; if a theist proposes a set of norms for their epistemology as *prescriptive*, the naturalist will offer norms that are *descriptive* -- norms that are the distillation of empirical and observational evidence.”
My reply: Of course this doesn’t have much to do with the convo, but of course the naturalist will have something like “proper function” to go off of. And this runs into Plantinga’s argument.
And, simply claiming that there are *descriptive norms* doesn’t come close to *showing* that there are. Descriptions don’t get prescriptions, and that’s what T-stone has been arguing. Furthermore, this doesn’t help *Loftus* since he’s an internalist, and I have quotes upon quotes to prove it. For example: “How do you know that you know God is not deceiving you?” Be that as it may, I’d love to see the *norms* that are distilled from “empirical observations.” Indeed, the norms are there *before* you form them! That is, to assume that “empirical observation is evidence for the claim that we should have evidence for all our beliefs” is “good” evidence to “build” your norms from assumes that you “should” have “good evidence” to “build your norms from.” Thus you have the norms *before* your supposed “building up from evidences.”
And, lastly, see this idea of yours get run through the ringer here:
T-stone claims: “In this sense, then, Paul's "should" problem breaks down into a conflation of differing models of normativity -- prescriptive and descriptive. It's a non-starter to wonder how a naturalist establishes epistemic normativity in the *prescriptive* sense; her norms obtain descriptively, and she points to the witness of experience as the basis for what we "ought" to require in terms of justifying our beliefs.”
My reply: Of course T-stone is now trying to do more shuffling. He’s now trying to dodge my arguments against “should.” Descriptive normativity is like the normativity involved in saying, “my heart ‘should’ beat so many times a minute.” That is to say, these are physical processes which are byproducts of the evolutionary workshop, and something works the way it “should” if it does what it was “designed” to do, or what its “purpose” is. But of course when one claims that all beliefs should have evidence “demanded” of them, one isn’t assuming *this kind* of normativity. To say that it can be “demanded” of us is to assume an internalist approach to epistemology. And, naturalism isn’t internalist. But, say it is. What worldview can make sense of the claim that our “design plan” is to “produce mostly true beliefs?” This assumes Plantinga’s arguments and T-stone failed to interact with my arguments for this, and my defenses of his brief comments about it.
Furthermore, a failure of this kind of normativity is that, the first time an organ did have some consequence that was useful to the organism, that did not constitute being functional for the organism, because there was not yet any evolutionary selection history for that useful consequence. So, *this belief* that was based on “evidence” wasn’t “normative” and, therefore, T-stone’s claim is falsified.
And, next, what about *this belief* itself? “Ought” it to have “evidence?” If not, then experience doesn’t say that “all” beliefs “ought” to have evidence. If it does, what is the evidence? And, once you give it, do you believe that it is evidence for your claim? If so, what is *that evidence?* Ad infinitum…
Lastly, how is experience alone a “basis for what we ought” to do?
T-stone admits: “The "should" then, in Loftus' claim, is only pinned to a *descriptive* construction of normativity, and is manifestly at *odds* with a prescriptive construction of normativity. That means that "should" means "should" in the sense of "this has been proven to work on a wide array of truth problems", a sense which disavows "always", "for anyone", etc.”
My reply: Okay, and if this is denied then, according to (TOA1), I’m right. We “shouldn’t” have evidence demanded for all our beliefs.
Furthermore, “should” means “this has proven to work on a wide array of truth problems.” But I’ve agreed that evidence is fine for many beliefs since post 1. So, how was this *my* confusion? Looks more like T-stone’s backpedaling to me. If they now want to admit that it is false that: “All beliefs are things that should have evidence demanded of them,” I’m all ears. And, let’s redo the original claim:
(JLT***) “Some beliefs are things that have been proven to work well on a wide array of truth problems.”
And from the first combox discussion I never even came close to intimating that I denied (JLT***). I even asserted that I agreed with it. But, we don’t know what the “demanded” part means.
Lastly, T-stone is again his worst enemy. Previously he had claimed:
- “You will be maintaining "controlling beliefs" that have no apparent epistemic foundation. As such, they represent a risk to your ability to make sense of the real world around you. That very well may not lead you to murder, but empirically, we observe that more accurate models of the world around us are assets in the pursuit of our goals, and less accurate models are liabilities in pursuit of same.
- If you are entertaining beliefs that have neither a) evidentialist support or b) any other kind of epistemic support, then such a worldview *would* result in a visit by the "worldview police", in the form of the real world being both practically and fundamentally unintelligible for you. And I think such a position would often lead to what can be called "torment" -- the inability to make headway against the challenges of the real word.
Obviously we can see the “prescriptive” element in T-stone’s claims here. A “descriptive” normativity simply tells us *how we function,* but a “prescriptive” one tells us how we “should” function! I highly doubt that if it was the case that we formed beliefs without evidence all the time, and happened to succeed and survive simply because of a wild case of epistemic luck, T-stone would deny that we “should” have evidence. In fact, I noted above that he claimed that “whatever we believe,” even something like the Higgins account, we “should” have evidence for it. This is prescriptive, especially since T-stone has granted that we do, *in fact* believe things without evidence all the time! This is a *description.* In fact, *most* beliefs people have probably have insufficient evidence. Therefore should I be a good T-stonian naturalist and reason that “we *shouldn’t* have evidence for most of our beliefs because we don’t!”? Thus T-stone is laying down a prescription. What if T-stone met a fellow who did “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” as a way to pick things. Say do to luck he always picks the things which helps him succeed. Would T-stone tell this guy that he *shouldn’t* try to base his beliefs on evidence? What if the guy said, “My experience shows this has been a proven way to work on a wide variety of truth problems.”? On T-stone’s logic he would have to tell the guy that he shouldn’t believe things based on evidence. No, this is prescriptive. T-stone is telling us how we *should* believe, even if we *didn’t* believe this way. So, I highly doubt T-stone is saying, “No, you shouldn’t have evidence for your beliefs, it just is the case that some of our beliefs are more successful or closer to truth if we have evidence for them.” Never mind I pointed out that this “evidence” is not necessary and sufficient for knowledge, no one disagrees with this. Please tell me T-stone has been pretending to disagree with me this entire time!