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Posts Tagged ‘bartley’

Fideism

In bartley, critical rationalism, empiricism, fideism, quine, van fraassen on 12/08/2011 at 11:18 am
Empiricism in the philosophy of science, even in its modern variants, takes observation reports of phenomenal states as a reliable route to knowledge. The problem for empiricists is as follows: Why adopt the theory (T1) that observation reports are a reliable way to sort out true from false theories and not adopt the theory (T2) that theories are a reliable way to sort out true from false observation reports? If the empiricist rejects T1 and adopts T2, the empiricist rejects empiricism and becomes a Kantian; however, this does not address the problem, for why should the Kantian adopt T2 and reject T1? The epistemological pendulum swings back.

If a basic statement and theory are incoherent, then observation reports cannot inform us that theories are wrong and theories cannot inform us that observation reports are wrong. Either the theories or observation reports are wrong — or both. Neither T1 nor T2 should be adopted a priori, for they effectively annihilate one another: all we can see is an incoherence between T1 and T2.

Furthermore, even after we recognize an incoherence between an observation report and a theory, this ‘recognizing’ is relative to a given system of logic, background assumptions, language, and cognitive framework: we are even fallible in recognizing incoherence. Whatever method or route we follow that leads to preferring one over the other will either not rest on an Archimedean point, or will not be known to rest on an Archimedean point. All is theory-laden and subject to error. We must admit that it is possible to change the logic we employ, statements we adopt, theories we accept, methods we follow, language we use, or the cognitive frameworks we inhabit, for none of them are privileged.

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A Brief Restatement and Defense of Bartley

In bartley, empiricism, experiments on 17/07/2011 at 1:41 am

‘Faith’ is often taken to be a theory that is not taken on logical or empirical grounds. This is little more than a simultaneous disparagement of theories that are not logically or empirically grounded and an assumption that such grounding is possible.

It is impossible, so I conjecture, to ground anything. If this is the case, according to this description of faith, all theories are equally faith-based. That doesn’t seem right. At this point, most people see this as a reductio of the conjecture of the impossibility of grounding. I can intuitively tell apart a scientific theory, they might say, from religious theories. Therefore, some theories are grounded. The nature of grounding is then examined in detail.

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The Orthodox Story

In bartley, kuhn, wittgenstein on 03/07/2011 at 12:31 pm

The orthodox story runs as follows: Kuhn is the philosopher that undermined the philosophical tradition of Logical Positivism. I think this is wrong; Kuhn did not manage to break from the preceding philosophical tradition. His work is laden with principles belonging to the philosophy he was determined to reject. In fact, incommensurability, non-directed progress, rejection of the concept of truth as a regulatory principle, and the very thesis of “world change” are all consequences of the positivist elements Kuhn’s philosophy retains.

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A Solution to the Gordian Knot

In bartley, critical rationalism, justificationism on 15/06/2011 at 2:47 pm

We are like sailors who have to rebuild their ship on the open sea, without ever being able to dismount it in dry-dock and reconstruct it from the best components. (Otto Neurath)

Knowledge isn’t built on a foundation. Deducibility is a transitive relation; the conclusion of a valid argument cannot entail anything that is not also entailed by the premises. Nothing is built, since all that is entailed is the original set of premises. Since the foundation cannot be logically weaker than the set of all it entails, the foundation is the entire building.

The metaphor of construction in epistemology is a cognitive trap. The notion of “building from a foundation” cuts off creativity and diversity, reducing epistemology to unpacking the logical content of a few propositions. What does this achieve? Very little, almost nothing is produced but restatements of common beliefs – ‘I exist,’ ‘there is thinking,’ and so on – and little can come from them without some additional, and quite dubious, assumptions about phenomenal states.

I’m willing to grant that phenomenal states are indubitable to the justificationist out of a sense of leniency. Unfortunately for the justificationist, this does nothing to further their program. One cannot have access the noumenal world that easy. It is as if a man sets out to cross the Grand Canyon with little more than a running start.

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