Talk:Epistemology/Archive 3

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arbitration

I have commenced arbitration proceedings against DotSix - see Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration#DotSix Banno 09:10, August 5, 2005 (UTC)

Move from Knowledge

It had been suggested that knowledge be merged with epistemology. I think there is enough material to justify a separate page for Knowledge, but have moved philosophical stuff from knowledge to here. Good, Bad or Ugly? Banno 21:24, August 5, 2005 (UTC)

Organization of "Epistemological theories"

Two questions: (1) should there be two sections with this title, or just the one, and (2) is there some reason for the different levels of section headings in this section? If so, it isn't clear. I'm considering flattening it to one level. --The Hanged Man 18:40, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

I guess the idea was to group the empiricist theories together, and on that basis perhaps the Pragmatism section should be included with them. Banno 21:07, August 10, 2005 (UTC)
This seems wrong. Pragmatism is not a form of empiricism (Quine thought so, but the majority of pragmatism scholarship is against it). --The Hanged Man 08:03, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
Glad that got your attention... Perhaps you would like to add instrumentalism as a derivation form pragmatism? Banno 08:16, August 15, 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure that instrumentalism belongs as a sub-category of epistemology or of philosophy of science. I think Dewey's version of instrumentalism is covered by the section on pragmatism, whereas later versions of instrumentalism aren't very close to Dewey's philosophy of that name, and is basically just empiricism applied to interpretation of scientific theories. I'm just not sure what to say about instrumentalism. --The Hanged Man 08:32, 17 August 2005 (UTC)
Well, I'll bow to your good judgement as concerns pragmatism; Have a thin about instrumentalism, though, since including it adds to the comprehensiveness of the article. Banno 08:47, August 17, 2005 (UTC)

Stop me before I delete again

I would like to delete the 3 philosophers below from the long list of "Epistemic Philosophers" at the end of the article. I will do so unless someone objects:

    • Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski (Her work is just too new and too sparse to be included with the other great minds on this list. I have never heard of her before. Maybe in 20 years she'll belong on the list. Her Wikipedia article is probably unjustified on grounds of not being notable enough. It might even be a vanity article.)
    • Alfred Sohn-Rethel (Never heard of him either. From his wiki article, there is no reason to think that he was really an epistemologist in the sense of this list. It sounds like he is really an economist/political philosopher who perhaps used "epistemology" in some non-standard sense.)
    • Gaston Bachelard (Also never heard of him. I'm intriguied by his wiki article and would like to know more, but it sounds like he is what is called a sociologist of science or maybe even psychologist of science as distinct from an epistemologist.)

--Nate Ladd 23:41, August 9, 2005 (UTC)

Bachelard is a keeper. He's listed in all three major single volume encyclopedias of philosophy, and while he's more of a philosopher of science, I think he's big enough to be listed here. Zagzebski is good and interesting, but I agree not important enough to be on this list. I'm with you on Sohn-Rethel. Never heard of him. KSchutte 02:54, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Belief/truth picture

Shouldn't the intersection of true and believed statements be all yellow without the gray border?

No - There are unjustified true beliefs that do not count as knowledge. There are things that are (at least potentially, or in some people's opinions) both true and believed - and yet do not count as knowledge. Theses correspond to the grey area. Banno 20:25, August 12, 2005 (UTC)
Can we make it a classic 3-circle Venn diagram with circles for Truths, Beliefs, and Justified Statements?
I thought about doing that - but decided against it. The point of Gettier's objections is that there are justified true beliefs that are not knowledge - that is, that the intersection of the three is not equivalent to "knowledge". So such a diagram would be somewhat misleading, and I think overly complex. My thinking is that the main body of the article is about what differentiates the grey from the yellow - True beliefs from knowledge. Plato, and most philosophers since him, say it is justification. Gettier, and others, give different accounts. Certainly this could be made more explicit in the article itself. Please, edit as you see fit. Banno 21:33, August 12, 2005 (UTC)

"Knowledge is ... belief" suffers from the fallacy of equivocation, the conflation of two entirely different things.--67.182.157.6 14:41, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

You argue, "We know that for something to count as knowledge it must be true and be believed to be true." You are mistaken. Any given statement is either in accord with the actual state of affairs or it is not (law of the excluded middle). Belief (synonym faith, meaning personal subjective conviction without evidence) has nothing to do with it. You obscurantists are just trying to get away with the fallacy of equivocation, the conflation of knowledge and belief, two entirely different things. Shame on you.--67.182.157.6 15:05, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

If something is true but nobody believes it, then who knows it? --Christofurio 15:50, August 16, 2005 (UTC)

Your question takes it for granted that belief has something to do with a statement being in accord with the actual state of affairs in any particular case. That's called begging the question, right? That is, unless you can show what leads to such a conclusion?--67.182.157.6 19:51, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

My question takes no such thing for granted. Your saying so doesn't make it so. And since you haven't shown that I have employed such a premise, I'm not required to demonstrate such a premise. I'll repeat my question, in hopes that this time you'll either answer it or show why it takes something for granted. Again, then, if something is true and nobody believes it, who knows it? --Christofurio 20:08, August 16, 2005 (UTC)

Please don't feed the troll. If two months of discussion is not enough to get .6 to actually say something new or intelligible, let's just let the arbitration take it's course. It shouldn't take long now. Banno 21:03, August 16, 2005 (UTC)

"Troll" is just more of your argument _ad hominem_ personal attack. This is a content dispute. I am not trolling, I am just taking exception to the fallacy of equivocation, the conflation of knowledge and belief by publishing, "Knowledge is belief." Such logical fallacy has no place in Wikipedia. Plus, you know as well as the next man that any rhetorical loaded question like, "If something is true but nobody believes it, then who knows it?" takes it for granted that belief has something to do with a statement being in accord with the actual state of affairs in any particular case. That's called begging the question, because it has not been established that belief (synonym faith) has anything at all to do with a statement being in accord with the actual state of affairs, right?--67.182.157.6 22:23, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

Calling it a loaded question doesn't make it one. And you have done nothing either to make a reasonable objection to this perfectly relevant question question or (God forbid) to answer it. So: If something is true but nobody believes it, then who knows it? --Christofurio 00:53, August 17, 2005 (UTC)

YOU made it a loaded question by loading it with your assumption, your taking it for granted that belief (synonym faith) has something to do with a statement being in accord with the actual state of affairs in any particular case. That's called begging the question, right? That is, unless you can show what leads to such a conclusion?--172.193.121.16 19:16, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

I made it a "loaded questionn by loading it"? When I studied logic, circularity was frowned upon. You haven't shown that I have loaded, you've only said so. Saying so doesn't mean it's so. And if I didn't load it, I'm not begging anything either, and you should stop stalling and answer the question, which is reasonable and relevant. I've taken nothing for granted, I only want to know: if something is true and nobody believes it, who knows it? --Christofurio 21:10, August 17, 2005 (UTC)
.6, you're basically saying that belief is completely and utterly unrelated in any way with the current state of affairs. ...--Gutza 21:33, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

No sir, I am not making an assertion, I am asking a simple question:

"How is belief (synonym faith, or personal subjective conviction without evidence) a factor in a statement, call it P, being objectively known to be in accord with the actual state of affairs? The proof is all that really counts in any case, not anyone's subjective conviction, isn't it? (See 'proof' in www.m-w.com)"

--67.182.157.6 17:55, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

Let's assume a hypothetical proposition "P", which is not KNOWN by anyone, but is actually TRUE (a good candidate would be the unified theory of physics many physicists are actively pursuing). Say that tomorrow a dubious scientist proposes P as a fact (remember, P is really true). Given the scientist's reputation, the news doesn't make the main news agencies, but a few tabloids pick it up; however, given their audience's level of understanding, they just include it as regular news instead of the breaking news it really is -- but they print all the scientific data. In that context, would it be wrong to state that "most people don't believe P?" (Most people don't believe what tabloids say, and the scientist is dubious as well, so it's reasonable to imagine they probably won't believe P either in the context -- although, again, P is correct.) If the scientist dies the day after tomorrow, and nobody follows up on the news item, wouldn't it be true that "nobody believes P" a couple of years from now? Therefore, if nobody believes P, then obviously nobody knows P either, although some have that piece of information stored in their memories, since they read the news in the tabloid -- isn't that correct? Tell me where I'm wrong. Please note that this is my first comment in this dispute -- I'm genuinely trying to shed a little light on your theory, and I thought an example would allow you to pinpoint exactly where you feel the logic or terminology is failing. On a side note, I'm only marginally interested in philosophy, so I welcome any contributors to remedy any errors in my hypothetical example above, if I'm speaking nonsense. --Gutza 21:33, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

Doesn't your hypothetical scenario also take it for granted (begging the question) that personal subjective conviction is a factor in P being proven to be the case, just as Christofurio's loaded question does? Has that been established? If so, would you (or anyone else) please explain how that was established so that I can check the line of reasoning?--67.182.157.6 17:55, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

There is no such assumption to be "established." You keep saying there is, just so you can avoid a question. The nearest you've come to explaining why its loaded is to say that I "loaded it by loading it" -- which is typing, not reasoning. So please answer the unloaded, fair, and perfectly relevant question. If there is a truth, and nobody believes it, who knows it? --Christofurio 19:58, August 18, 2005 (UTC)

.6, going back to my example -- are you basically saying that the scientist doesn't need to believe P is true before he knows P? --Gutza 21:07, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

Gettier's counterexamples show that belief is not a factor in knowledge

Gettier's counterexamples show why the odd notion that belief is a factor in knowledge is rejected as absurd; plus knowledge is not belief, because uttering, 'Knowledge is belief' suffers from the logical fallacy of conflating two different things, knowledge and belief.--67.182.157.6 19:13, 27 August 2005 (UTC)

Controlling content by force of numbers is what you call consensus ("meeting everyone's needs")?

Banno, the majority side controlling content by force of numbers, the needs of other points of view be damned, is what you would call consensus decision-making, "meeting everyone’s needs"? Your definition of consensus needs work, don't you think?--67.182.157.6 17:55, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

Where did you get the idea that a consensus should meet everyone's needs? I assumed you had read the first paragraph of Consensus decision-making - after all you link to it regularly. Out of ten people, if nine agree, than there is a consensus, even if the tenth disagrees fanatically. Banno 20:42, August 18, 2005 (UTC)


Banno asks, "Where did you get the idea that a consensus should meet everyone's needs?"

Answer: It is a direct quote from consensus decision-making, moron, haven't you read it yet? You need to quit reading into it what you want it to say. Banno, the majority side controlling content by force of numbers, the needs of other points of view be damned, is what you would call consensus decision-making, "meeting everyone’s needs"? Your definition of consensus needs work, don't you think?--67.182.157.6 00:17, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

You have me at a distinct disadvantage, my friend. You see, I not only have read the article, but I have also understood it. This leaves me in a poor second position to one such as yourself.
Consider the hypothetical case I mentioned briefly in a bit more detail. Let's suppose that out of a group of ten people, nine agree on the wording of, say, an introduction to an article. But the tenth has a quite divergent view, one that is incompatible with the view of the others; and yet insists that his view be used in the place of the view of the community. Such instances are not at all uncommon on the Wiki, and usually result in the tenth person modifying their position somewhat in order to have it accommodated into the article.
But on occasion, someone comes along who is incapable of compromise. Such cases are very rare, since in normal human interactions few lack the social skills needed to present their position in a way that is acceptable to others. Most people learn such things on the playground at school, but occasionally a bully will find that they can use their weight to get their way, and unfortunately never learns the art of compromise. In such cases a genuine problem occurs. Often the others involved will be able to make some sense of the demands of the recalcitrant, and eventual they will bypass his obstinacy, and come up with a compromise that is acceptable to him.
But very, very rarely, an individual will come along who combines arrogance, ignorance and insolence to an extraordinary degree. such a person might not only be incapable of expressing their opinion in a way acceptable to the community, but also be incapable of taking on board the compromises offered by the community. In such cases, the boor becomes ostracised, removed from the group. This sometimes results in their imagining "cabals" or some such, since to their mind, the general agreement they evoke in the community seems inexplicable without some sort of conspiracy. Such people usually leave the Wiki of their own accord, but in extreme cases, after attempts at discussion, the involvement of third parties, and so on, it is necessary to involve the arbitration committee, and to have the person removed from the Wiki. It is indeed unfortunate, but there are some folk who simply do not get it; they do not see this encyclopedia as a joint community exercise; and they must be removed so that the work being done here can continue.
This is what is embodied in the various policies of the Wiki, including Consensus decision-making. And it is why the phrase ""meeting everyone’s needs" in that article is parenthetic - it is quoted, not stated. Neither the sentence nor the paragraph, in which it occurs support your interpretation; furthermore the article is quite explicit, in the first paragraph, in stating that consensus seeks the agreement of most participants. When it proves impossible to resolve or mitigate the objections of the minority to achieve the most agreeable decision, as is the case with your edits, there are other processes that come into play. At present, your case is subject to arbitration.
So I can only regard your statement "You need to quit reading into it what you want it to say" with ironic amusement.
Now no doubt you will feel obliged, as is your want, to say that this particular post is ad hominem, and remove it. But again you have myself, and most of the other editors here, at a disadvantage, since I and they know what ad hominem is. Here is an example:
  1. DotSix's mother wears army boots
  2. DotSix is not capable of editing the Wikipedia successfully
You see, for us, this is a fallacy. If you look carefully, you will see that the conclusion, "DotSix is not capable of editing the Wikipedia", does not follow from the premise, "DotSix's mother wears army boots". And I don't think that anyone has actually presented an argument of this sort against you. Instead, the arguments are more like this:
  1. DotSix cannot think
  2. Only those who can think are capable of editing the Wikipedia successfully
  3. therefore, DotSix cannot edit the Wikipedia successfully
Now others will notice that this argument is indeed valid, since if the assumptions are true, the conclusion will follow. Those posts you accuse of being ad hominem are for the most part statements in support of the first premise: that you are incapable of rational thought. Such gems as "Don't engage in ad homimims, you moron" only add weight to the case.
And it seems that the weight of evidence is in support of the conclusion: for, as far as I can see, none of your edits have been accepted by the community. Your presence here has had no direct impact on the content of the encyclopedia. You cannot edit the Wikipedia successfully.
One last thought: perhaps there is a compromise position that you might be willing to accept. Perhaps, after discussing the relationship between belief, truth, knowledge and justification as explicated by Plato, Russel, Gettier, Hume, Quine and the others, we might include the following:

Donald R. Alford, a retired trainman with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and a member of the United Transportation Union Local 1024, states that knowledge and belief are "different things".

Do you think we should include this in the encyclopedia?

Banno 22:13, August 19, 2005 (UTC)

Why would you want to give that impostor trying to pose as 67.182.157.6 credit for the work of Edmond Gettier, moron? Haven't you read Gettier problem?

The problem owes its name to a remarkable three-page paper published in 1963, by Edmund Gettier, called "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?". In the paper, Gettier shows why it is not.

The JTB account

Until Gettier's essay was published, most analytic philosophers took it for granted that something we might call the JTB account of knowledge was correct. The JTB account claims that knowledge can be conceptually analyzed as justified true belief--which is to say that the meaning of sentences such as "Smith knows that it rained today" can be given with the following set of necessary and jointly sufficient conditions:

A subject S knows that a proposition P is true if, and only if:

  1. S believes that P
  2. P is true
  3. S is evidentially justified in believing that P is true

Gettier's paper used counterexamples to show that there are cases of beliefs which are both true and justified--therefore satisfying all three conditions for knowledge on the JTB account--but which do not appear to be genuine cases of knowledge. Gettier, therefore, argued that his counterexamples show that the JTB account of knowledge is false--and thus, that a different conceptual analysis is needed to correctly track what we mean by "knowledge."

Gettier's counterexamples

Gettier's case is based on two counterexamples to the JTB analysis. Both of them rely on the fact that justification is preserved by entailment: that is, that if Smith is justified in believing P, and Smith realizes that the truth of P entails the truth of Q, then Smith would also be justified in believing Q. Gettier calls these counterexamples "Case I" and "Case II":

Case I

Smith has applied for a job, but has a justified belief that "Jones will get the job". He also has a justified belief that "Jones has 10 coins in his pocket". Smith therefore (justifiably) concludes (by the rule of the transitivity of identity) that "the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket".
In fact, Jones does not get the job. Instead, Smith does. However, as it happens, Smith also has 10 coins in his pocket. So his belief that "the man who will get the job has 10 coins in his pocket" was justified and true. But it does not appear to be knowledge.

Case II

Smith has a justified belief that "Jones owns a Ford". Smith therefore (justifiably) concludes (by the rule of disjunction introduction) that "Jones owns a Ford, or Brown is in Barcelona", even though Smith has no knowledge whatsoever about the location of Brown.
In fact, Jones does not own a Ford, but by sheer coincidence, Brown really is in Barcelona. Again, Smith had a belief that was true and justified, but not knowledge.
None of which implies that knowledge has "nothing to do" with belief, or that an encyclopedia article on epistemology should exclude all those philosophers who have defined knowledge as a particular variety of belief. Heck, Gettier's analysis is consistent with such a view. He doesn't argue that JTB is a false description of knowledge, only that JTB isn't a sufficient definition of knowledge -- a different claim. Gettier most emphatically doesn't claim that calling knowledge JTB is a "fallacy of conflation," so he really is no threat to DotSix' uniqueness. --Christofurio 02:46, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

Christofurio is parroting typical obscurantist sophistry. All hot air with no substance at all. Gettier's counterexamples clearly show that belief has absolutely nothing to do with establishing that a given statement is known to be a statement of the actual state of affairs. Gettier showing in these counterexamples that there are beliefs that are true and justified, but at the same time do not qualify as knowledge, totally destroys the odd obscurantist notion that belief (personal subjective conviction with no basis in fact) has something to do with knowledge that a statement is known to be a statement of the actual state of affairs. SNAP OUT OF IT CHRISTOFURIO, THE OBSCURANTISTS HAVE YOU HYPNOTIZED!

Gettier neither says nor shows anything of the sort. To say that there is JTB which is not knowledge doesn't imply the contrary. Gettier's cases are consistent with the view that being JTB is a necessary, although it isn't yet a sufficient, account of knowledge. Certainly we shouldn't commit ourselves to the absurdity of a circular definition of knowledge as "that which is known..." -- whatever comes after the word "known" there, the definition will still be fallaciously circular, as well as unsupported by anybody in the history of epistemology, Gettier included. BTW, Gettier is already treated in this article. And if something is true but no one believes it, who knows it? --Christofurio 21:27, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

Deconstructing the above disingenuous reply in which ChristoFurious demonstrates how to act like a truely remarkable Sesquipedalian Obscurantist

Gettier neither says nor shows anything of the sort. ...

Balderdash. His counterexamples kill your dogma that knowledge is justified true belief.

...To say that there is JTB which is not knowledge doesn't imply the contrary. ...

What? Getter's counterexamples kill your dogma that knowledge is justified true belief. You understand the meaning of the term, 'counterexample' don't you, ChristoFurious?

Gettier's cases are consistent with the view that being JTB is a necessary, although it isn't yet a sufficient, account of knowledge. Certainly we shouldn't commit ourselves to the absurdity of a circular definition of knowledge as "that which is known..." ...

So we should never EVER call a spade a spade, ChristoFurious?

-- whatever comes after the word "known" there, the definition will still be fallaciously circular, ...

Balderdash. By your "line of reasoning" instead of calling a spade a spade we would have to call it a manuo-pedal excavationary implement or something?

If you object to saying "Knowledge is simply that which is known to be in accord with the actual state of affairs," then how about the following:

"Knowledge is simply that which is proven to be in accord with the actual state of affairs, a statement supported by proof, where proof is the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance, or the process of establishing the validity of a statement by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning."

Any objection to that one?

... as well as unsupported by anybody in the history of epistemology, Gettier included. BTW, Gettier is already treated in this article.

Not treated fairly. As the article stands now Gettier is "treated" from your JTB bias. That ain't right.

And if something is true but no one believes it, who knows it? --Christofurio 21:27, August 24, 2005 (UTC)

That's the same sophistry by loaded question Nat Ladd tried. Y'all get that at Sunday School? You are being a little overprotective of your dogma ("Knowledge is belief") here aren't you, ChristoFurious, in the manner of a true obscurantist sesquipedalian?

Obscurantist Sesquipedalian: One who is inordinately infatuated with polysyllabic obfuscation, preferring never to employ a less complicated syntactic arrangement of descriptive words when there exists a single expressive unit that amalgamates the multiplicity of morphemes1 comprising the simpler phrase. Among the manifold objectives of multisyllabic, holophrastic verbalism are those of: rendering the author's meaning indisputably precise yet simultaneously incomprehensible; demonstrating through superior orthography and lexical awareness that the writer is manifestly more erudite than the reader; disempowering intellectual challenge to the proponent's argument by using logomachinations to divert discussion to the establishment of the opponent's comprehension of the vocabulary as opposed to addressing the factual import of the treatise which, upon analysis, may well prove amphigorous. The obscurantist sesquipedalian is likely to compound the reader's difficulties by indulging in glossosynthesis, thus enabling the author to dismiss all opposing views as ultracrepidarious. In other words, a sesquipedalian is one who would call a spade a manuo-pedal excavationary implement. [1]

Best regards.--67.182.157.6 23:14, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Are you saying that anyone who disagrees with you shouldn't use long words (sesquipedelian) or complicated arguments (obscurantist)? Remember this is a philosophy article--editors should be able to use either in the talk page at least. If you don't understand something, just say what it is you don't understand, and hopefully the original editor will paraphrase it, or someone else will explain it better. (I think the word sesquipedelian is itself humorously long.) WhiteC 18:56, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
You think the word, 'sesquipedelian' is itself humorously long, moron? Well DUH!

Here is how Gettier and JTB should BOTH be given appropriate mention in the article

Epistemology is the study of knowledge.

Defining knowledge

Knowledge is simply that which is known, to a high level of confidence, to be in accord with the actual state of affairs because it is supported by proof, where proof is the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance, or the process of establishing the validity of a statement by derivation from other statements in accordance with principles of reasoning.

For many long years of philosophical history the majority point of view was that knowledge is justified true belief. This changed n the 1960s when Edmund Gettier showed by counterexample that the Theaetetus definition of knowledge was bogus by pointing out situations in which a believer has a justified true belief that does not in any way qualify as knowledge.

Another current objection to the Theaetetus definition of knowledge is that the statement, "Knowledge is ... belief" suffers from the logical fallacy of conflation of two entierely different things. See informal logic.

--67.182.157.6 16:19, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Freethinkers' list of things to do as an alternative to being one of Banno's sheep

  1. Edit out all of Banno's obscurantist nonsense, including his diagram, which conflates knowledge (facts supported by evidence), and belief without evidence, two entirely different things.
  2. Keep asking Banno and friends how could it possibly be that belief is a factor in demonstrating knowledge of the facts in any particular case when that odd notion was taken out by Gettier's counterexamples way back in the 1960s.
  3. Keep pointing out that the big problem with belief is that any belief can be wrong, so belief cannot possibly be a factor in demonstrating knowledge. Evidence talks, bullshit walks.

Freethinkers please add more. --67.182.157.6 06:47, 28 August 2005 (UTC)