Rational Skepticism?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by KUMAR5, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    4,911
    I don't think that the 'Skeptoid' site gives a definitive definition of 'skepticism'. It's just a blog produced by some very opinionated guy. His error seem to me to be confusion of 'skepticism' with something like 'sound reasoning'. (Sciforums participants often foolishly use the word 'science' to mean the same thing.)

    In everyday usage, 'skepticism' means something like 'doubt' or 'incredulity'. 'I'm skeptical about that' means 'I'm doubtful about that'.

    Philosophers understand 'skepticism' in a more technical and historical way.

    The ancient Greek skeptics used the word to refer to the idea that knowledge is impossible, usually associated with the idea that not being attached to views brings emotional stability, imperturbability and happiness. (That idea may have been influenced by early Buddhism.) But ultimately it leads to a profound anti-intellectualism.

    The ancient skeptics divided into two schools, known by philosophers today as Pyhrronian and Academic. Pyhrronian skepticism is the better known of the two, since we still have the writings of one prominent Roman era Pyhrronian, Sextus Empiricus. Pyhrronianism was the idea that equally strong arguments can be brought for and against any proposition, so that there is no good reason to believe one thing over another. Academic skepticism (called 'academic' because it dominated Plato's Academy for a time after Plato's death) isn't as clear, but it seemingly evolved into the idea that nothing is certain, though some beliefs might be more plausible than others.

    The writings of the skeptics were lost in the Latin west during the Middle Ages. But during the Renaissance, the writings of Sextus Empiricus were rediscovered and they caused an intellectual revolution. Skeptical arguments became the rage. Philosophers such as Descartes made it their job to combat skepticism. Theologians, both Catholic and Protestant, employed skepticism in the argument that since nothing can be known, humans must proceed by faith. David Hume, the prototypical British empiricist and seemingly an atheist, argued for what he called "mitigated skepticism", the idea that while our confidence in memory, induction and the uniformity of nature isn't well-founded or entirely certain, we are predetermined by nature (today we would cite evolution) to think in those ways. To some extent, skepticism is what shapes the agenda of epistemology (the theory of knowledge) even today. It's what motivates those 'brain in a vat' arguments.

    As for me, I consider myself a 'fallibilist' (a word coined by Charles Peirce I believe) which I take to be something akin to academic skepticism as I characterized it above. It's the idea that 'true' and false' are intellectual ideals, while in real life all of our beliefs have some degree of uncertainty. (Belief X might seem to probably be true, but some possibility remains that it could be false.) No matter what the belief (even seeming logical/mathematical certainties) we might conceivably be wrong.

    Yes. I think that it's important to recognize that.

    Yes. I couldn't agree more. Science isn't sacred (it's just a human intellectual practice) and it shouldn't be immune from questions and from skeptical examination.

    That's what the philosophy of science should be doing. When scientists claim to know something or to have discovered something, the philosophers of science need to look closely at that the scientists actually did, at how they did it (logically speaking) and at what kind of initial methodological and metaphysical assumptions went into it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
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  3. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, to decide it we should be skeptical in all non absolute & final understandings. More in those which can give more side effects.



    I feel, we can be perceived or take it granted that scientific understandings being acquired(not inherent) sense of right and wrong( evidence based not nature based), so can be much impressed by it and ignore equal skepticism. Whereas we anticipate science is not yet absolute & final and errors, limitations and further changes are always noted.
     
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  5. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    Welcome. Well explained. Yes, it is quite logical, we should doubt or be skeptical in all understandings which are not yet become absolute & final. Since, it may no be possible to achieve it, we can equally doubt or be skeptical for all type of understandings--science or non-science based. We should not take it granted that, any one sysem can no be odd. We can have basically two types of modaliies:
    1. Natural: Insinct: inherent sense of right or wrong (i.e. experience or evolution based)

    2. Social: Science: acquired sense of right or wrong( study based).

    I can not say, which out of above is evidence based and which not since Observational experience based & study based outcome both can serve as evidence.


    I am impressed by "since nothing can be known, humans must proceed by faith." Actually, side effects angle is considered in it. Naturally, if we are not cerain, we may need to opt those sysems which have least or lesser side effects. Moreover, faith also bring reward expectation, motivational placebo(self healing) affect by dopamine release in bring(sci. understood).

    [quoted]Yes. I think that it's important to recognize that.



    Yes. I couldn't agree more. Science isn't sacred (it's just a human intellectual practice) and it shouldn't be immune from questions and from skeptical examination.

    That's what the philosophy of science should be doing. When scientists claim to know something or to have discovered something, the philosophers of science need to look closely at that the scientists actually did, at how they did it (logically speaking) and at what kind of initial methodological and metaphysical assumptions went into it.[/QUOTE]
    Simply, we should not be blindly supporter or biased to anyone system unless we are absolute & final in that. But you can note, we discuss & base skepticism lot in one type of system but not in other type. We might had rarely discussed about banned medicines, misprescripions, negligence and misc. odds related o modern med sysem but much about alt. systems & religion(non yet scientific). How this, bias or perception?
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
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  7. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    A skeptic is someone who doubts whether something is true & doubts whether it is false & sometimes someone who asks questions others will not.
    Once someone knows and/or believes something to be either true or false, they are no longer a skeptic on that.
     
  8. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    459
    Yes, but how can he believe if nothing is absolute & final?
     
  9. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    ^^^
    Most do not believe nothing is absolute. Not certain what you mean by final.

    I know 1 thing for certain. I know I exist. I may be what I seem to be or maybe I am in an artificial simulation or maybe something else I am not perceiving. If I did not exist, I could not be thinking about it. It will always be true that I exist at this place & time.
    I am reasonably certain something else exists tho it may not be what I perceive it to be.
    I am certain 2 + 2 = 4, here, there, everywhere for all time.
    I am certain whether I am happy or sad.
    I am certain there cannot be a square triangle.
    I am certain that when I scratch an itch, 98% of the time the itching stops.
    I am certain the language I am using is not Spanish or Chinese.

    If someone believes nothing is absolute, they must be a skeptic about everything. Including 2 + 2 = 4 & that they exist. We might then think they believe nothing but if someone does not believe 2 + 2 = 4, they must believe it is possible for 2 + 2 to = something else. If they do not believe they exist, they must believe it is possible they do not exist. Tho believing possibilities is different from believing truth.

    <>
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  10. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    459
    Your above post can suggest absolute exist. If so, why we tend to anticipate nothing can be absolute in science? Is it not underestimating science
    by anticipating nothing can be absolute in science?
     
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    We shouldn't confuse the fixed values and immutable standards of abstract systems (which have been set by edict or agreement) with the non-invented affairs of nature. "Absolute" cannot be modified by relationship to something else. But science studies a contingent, changing world wherein the status and identity of things can vary according to perspective, scale, location, time, context, etc. In addition, that world is filtered through our cognitive preconceptions, interpretative biases (like theory-ladenness), and representational approaches of human consciousness. A forecast that the future will exhibit nothing radically unexpected or will lack the capacity to fundamentally revise current knowledge is a belief / regularity extracted from events and tendencies of the past rather than something "proved" by already having played out to the end. Arguably a good, practical dogma to go by -- but dogma nevertheless.

    Reasoning from particular facts to general principles (induction) is heavily attributed to science by tradition (as if that's ludicrously all that transpires in the enterprise). But sensation-wise we live in a realm of immediate, moment-by-moment experiences. Not a reason-construct of eternal universals and invariables, a physics model, or some "absolute world" as offered for centuries by intellect -- a fixed or unchanging Platonic domain. The latter species will only ever have argument or inference to appeal to, not the evidence of sensation or being manifested phenomena (by definition, it discards such appearances for its own manner of existence, which can only be described slash symbolically formulated).

    - - -
     
  12. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    ^^^
    And science, of course, deals with a changing world/universe. When science determines something about the world/universe, it is for that time & place.

    <>
     
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    7,462
    Not really.

    Firstly, science does not deal in mathematical proof, so it cannot be absolute in the sense of logical truth.

    Secondly, it is a collective endeavour that relies on what is reported about phenomena in the physical world, to enable models of reality to be constructed. Experience shows these models have often been found to have flaws, or to be incomplete. Therefore the scientist must be open to the possibility of new information coming to light that invalidates his model. He can never be sure that no such information will be found. Therefore, no model can be said to be indisputably, i.e. absolutely, correct.
     
  14. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    459
    Ok, if so, it is justified that we should always be skeptic even in science understandings.
     
  15. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    459
    Means, skepticism even in all science understandings are justified.
     
  16. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    459
    Does it mean, we should be skeptic in all science understanding because it can always replace by new understandings?
     
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    7,462
    Yes, but using scepticism in its strict scientific sense of withholding absolute conviction, not the everyday lazy use of it as a synonym for disbelief.

    Wiki offers 3 everyday meanings of scepticism:
    1. an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object;
    2. the doctrine that true knowledge or some particular knowledge is uncertain;
    3. the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism that is characteristic of skeptics (Merriam–Webster).
    Meaning (1) would NOT be what is meant here. It is meaning (2) that applies.
     
  18. sowhatifit'sdark Valued Senior Member

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    How does one determine one's own level of conviction? For example, many people will assert that they have open minds but do not. They may even believe what they are saying about whatever the specific topic is at the time. Further, how does one add up all the various ideas involved in a conclusion when determining conviction. There are one's epistemological beliefs: around empiricism as the (only) route to knowledge. There are the specific beliefs about one's own memory, ability to interpret research. There are beliefs about the meanings of the words related to a specific item of knowledge. Etc. IOW does one add up all these various lacks of absolute conviction and how does this work out in percentages on a given belief a scientist would have? Isn't it better to focus on actions instead of self-reported levels of conviction? If a person, scientist or religious person or combination or anyone, ACTS as if something is true, is that not a better measure of what they believe. I mean, what difference is it to me if a scientist claims to have no absolute conviction but hits me because she thought I was doing X, or this scientist votes for someone horrible, or this scientist dismisses a position as irrational or based on hallucination. Even the latter is a fully carried out social act with consequences.
     
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  19. Michael 345 Bali tonight Valued Senior Member

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    6,509
    Experience

    They can lie. What's new?

    They can be mistake in their belief

    I tend not to over think / analyse most areas of my decision making and go with my scientific gut feelings (experience)

    That pattern of behaviour fits a hypocrite or a self delusion

    Thought bubble - how would a self delusional hypocrite act????

    For the detection of hypocrites absolutely

    The differences are
    • If you were doing X and hitting was justified - you were justifiably hit
    • If you were doing X but hitting was not justified - you were unjustifiably hit
    • If you were not doing X - she was mistaken and you were mistakenly unjustifiably hit
    Bottom line you were hit. You need a independent witness to provide proof of which senerio is correct

    Not sure what the rest of the babble is so will leave it

    Hope I have provided some guidance but I am skeptical about your rationality

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  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I'd have thought my phrase "absolute conviction" was clear enough in the context.

    No, I don't think actions are the only thing that matters. To take an example from another field, in English law you can have a civil judgement given against you on balance of probabilities, whereas a criminal conviction verdict has to be established beyond reasonable doubt. The action resulting from both is the same (you lose the case), but the degree of certainty is quite different. Do we think that distinction is unimportant? Judges certainly don't.

    Furthermore, in the context of science, it seems to me that ignoring the limitations to the trust we place in the various models we use opens one up to incorrect thinking about science. Popper's idea of falsifiability - and hence the provisional nature of its models - is central to science. "Truth" is virtually absent from the science lexicon. That is because all "truth" about nature is merely provisional: all we have are models of reality, not reality itself. Furthermore it is common in science to have several different models for the same thing, which one uses according to the problem at hand. Not easy to determine what the scientist "believes" in such cases, I should have thought.
     
  21. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    459
    Yes but not true knowledge. True knowledge can not be uncertain. Any particular knowledge which is still open to new understanding can be uncertain and so should attract scepticism in it.
     
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    I doubt that "true knowledge" is a useful concept.

    On the one hand you have "truth", i.e. that which can be proved logically true. This is mostly the province of mathematics, logic and philosophy.

    On the other, you have "knowledge", which is a far more general thing, encompassing all kinds of complete and partial information, of various degrees of certainty or probability.

    Attempting to combine these two concepts into a hybrid seems to me bound to create a muddle.
     
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  23. KUMAR5 Registered Senior Member

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    Sorry, why to complicate this issue? Simply, whatever understanding is absolute which can not be changed further, need no scepticism whereas what is not absolute and still open to new understanding, need scepticism.
     

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