Talk:Münchhausen trilemma

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Why Münchhausen?!?[edit]

So how did this philosophical term come to be associated with Baron von Münchhausen? Nothing in the article (as it stands at the time I write this) explains this association. --llywrch (talk) 19:02, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Yes, could someone please explain the origin of the first half of the notion!weekeepeer (talk) 10:28, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

The link with Baron von Münchhausen was first made by Hans Albert in Traktat über kritische Vernunft.

Agrippa's Trilemma[edit]

I suggest renaming this page to Agrippa's Trilemma after Agrippa the Sceptic. Spirals31 (talk) 22:50, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Reductio ad absurdum?[edit]

Does anyone know how Albert, or other defenders of skepticism, respond to the claim that a reductio ad absurdum (contradiction derived from the denial of a claim) proves a claim, apparently using none of the methods discussed in the trilemma? Aristotle gives some further support to this method, suggesting that anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction and demand "proof" for it "is like a plant,"--if they do not admit that p excludes not-p, this simply shows that they don't know what p (or propositions in general) mean, and you can simply ignore them. This seems to be an effective way out of the trilemma; whether it can be extended beyond trivial logical claims is another question of course.--ScottForschler (talk) 20:18, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm not a professional philosopher, but I'll take a stab. I think that reductio ad absurdum is supposed to be a method of deducing new facts from a set of existing facts. In terms of the Trilemma, one might ask what your justification is for believing the original set of facts--if they are not valid, neither will the newly deduced facts necessarily be valid. Furthermore, one might ask what the justification is for believing that reductio ad absurdum actually works--that is, certainly deduces new facts from old ones. Etcetera. Mkcmkc (talk) 16:12, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure how Albert or others would respond, but transcendental arguments have indeed been but forward (by philosophers such as P. F. Strawson, A. C. Grayling and Jaakko Hintikka) as a defeater against ontic and-or epistemic skepticism. A transcendental argument against the trilemma may be something like:
One has no justification for holding the trilemma if the trilemma is true (since no belief can be justified)
--it can't even be said to be "more likely" than some alternative, since whatever criteria of "likelyhood" is applied is also ultimately unjustified.
Every meaningful belief is justified (this can be shown in various ways--if this premise is denied then the whole force of the trilemma is nullified--if unjustified beliefs can be meaningful, then it doesn't matter whether justification is possible for some belief X, since some other criteria of meaning is applied).
So to affirm belief in the trilemma is meaningful presopposes some standard of justification which the trilemma satisfies.
So to affirm belief the trilemma is to deny the validity of the trilemma.
So the trilemma should not be believed.
That's just a quick and sloppy version, better arguments can be formulated. (talk) 15:13, 22 January 2009 (UTC)


I dont understand how _five_ tropes work out to be a trilemma...

Yeah, that didn't make sense. Anybody care to improve on this new and only marginally better verson? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:50, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

See Albert's Formulation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:16, 27 October 2009 (UTC)


Isn't this basically the same as Godel's incompleteness theorems? (talk) 01:27, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Not really. Godel's incompleteness theorems posit (basically) that no formal system is able to completely describe itself in terms of it's own axioms. This posits that certainty (as a property of propositions) is logically impossible. Godel is a theory about the properties of formal systems; this is a theory about the nature of proofs. I.e., Godel doesn't say that nothing can be proven in a given formal system, this does. (talk) 23:08, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Recursion (n) - See "Recursion"[edit]

Am I a terrible person for wanting to add "says who?" tags to every statement in this article? Or "citation needed" to the citation links?

On a more productive note, should we actually incorporate this idea as an example? Demonstrate that, though we cite our sources here, what ensures the veracity of the cited source? In other words, "What is our source's source?" — Preceding unsigned comment added by TheAmbsAce (talkcontribs) 10:14, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Big Bang Theory[edit]

Can we have a reference the character Sheldon using this as a form of argument in the television program The Big Bang Theory? - (talk) 16:00, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Are there any reviews of the episode which can be cited as a secondary-source reference? Of course, we have the episode itself, the primary reference, linked here. Wbm1058 (talk) 15:29, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Source for this?[edit]

"One example of an alternative is the fallibilism of Karl Popper and Hans Albert, accepting that certainty is impossible, but that it's best to get as close as we can to truth, while remembering our uncertainty."

Did Popper ever assert that a theory had verisimilitude? I thought he was all about 'explanatory power'. (talk) 11:15, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

yes, see conjectures and refutations. He maintainted that we needed a way to seperate falsified theories, when there are no other unfalsified contenders, which one has more verisimilitude. Explantory power would be a typle of verisimillitude. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:43, 20 February 2014 (UTC)

Explanation for the trilemma actually using Munchhausen's feat missing[edit]

I am not a professional philosopher but I did read some Popper (and others too). He maintained that scholars use language in a way that non-specialists can understand, and indeed this is a critical issue. It explains ideas to a broader audience, while exposing content more easily to criticism. This appears very important in philosophical and scientific discussions. In this Wikipedia article I missed an actual explanation (in a step-by-step manner) how the story of Munchhausen relates to the trilemma (circular, regressive and axiomatic argument). I was unable to come up with an edit myself, so maybe someone with the necessary skills can come up with such? Ehanzal (talk) 11:05, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

model theory, universal algebra?[edit]

Hasn't there been forward progress on this, from e.g. model theory? One has non-standard models of axioms, and one has forcing lemmas. the possible stances are not just coherentism or foundationalism or constructivism, its a bit more subtle than that. (talk) 02:39, 8 April 2016 (UTC)