47

First, I would say that many supporters of science are too proselytizing, too reluctant to admit the ambiguities and necessary limits of science. This merely harms their own case by opening them up the same skeptical attacks so easily employed against religion. Second, I would observe that science and religion are by no means mutually exclusive. It is only ...


22

Turn the is vs. ought problem on it head. Science, when it is being most scientific, only provides instrumental oughts; religion, when it is being most religious, provides only moral oughts. Science can tell you that if you want to avoid X degrees of global warming you should (instrumentally) reduce carbon emissions by Y amount; but not whether the harm ...


21

Your sceptic must understand what the symbols 1+1 means otherwise he is not justified in claiming that 1+1 is two. For example there are number systems in which there isn't a 1, or certain operations are undefined, or 1+1=0. But one could also imagine that the symbol '1' means a drop of water, and '+' means physical addition, so that 1+1 means add one drop ...


15

Your question is about metaphysical realism and skepticism. There are indeed radical sceptic arguments against realism such as Descartes's demon, brain in a vat or the idea that one is actually dreaming, but also reasons to resist these arguments. First note that there can be no empirical evidence for or against such radical scepticism because these ...


11

Couldn't anybody find some reasons for proving/disproving it? I think it is "dissolved" and not "unsolved". Radical skepticism with regard to the possibility of ultimate philosophical grounding is based on an abstractive fallacy. It is somewhat misleading coherence to present the radical skeptic position in terms of an argument, because in presenting an ...


11

My first comment provides the starting point for my answer. This is something that's far easier to discuss in person than it is over the limiting format of Stack Exchange. What gives people hope is an incredibly personal concept. One size wont fit all. However, if I were to cold-call this and provide an answer, it would be in the form of Alan Watt's ...


10

A reasonable proof in ZFC would be to prove 1 + 1 = 2 for the corresponding ordinal numbers. The first few ordinal numbers in ZFC are 0:={}, 1:={0} and 2:={0, 1} with the order 0 < 1 on {0, 1}. The sum of two ordinal numbers is the disjunct union of the two well-ordered sets, with the concatenation of the well-orders as the well-order for the sum. For ...


10

Descartes was the modern founder of what is called foundationalism about knowledge, the idea that we must find a secure self-evident ground from which all the rest of our knowledge can be justified. Many classical philosophers (e.g. Plato, Kant, Frege, Husserl) shared this belief, and some continue to share it. The alternative, they believe, is universal ...


8

This question reminds me that what is so unfortunate about our society is its pessimistic attitude to philosophy and knowledge. We ought to cheer up a bit. "How can a non-religious person justify or rationalize hope or optimism in an absurd world?" Who says it's an absurd world? You'd have some difficulty proving the case.It is a conjecture. Why be ...


8

How can a non-religious person justify or rationalize hope or optimism in an absurd world? Can you acknowledge the absurd and still be hopeful and optimistic? I feel like you either can acknowledge the absurd, or lie to yourself. As you've noticed, bad things happen for no reason. But there is flip side to this randomness and absurd: good things ...


7

I think that we have to turn to the great philosopher Rumsfeld, who famously opined about "known knowns", "known unknowns", and "unknown unknowns." The size of what we don't know about the universe is an unknown unknown; we necessarily have no way of knowing how much (or how little) there is we don't know. So: all the more reason to examine rigorously ...


7

You are right this is difficult, even for an educated person, as science is too vast for a single human being, and experiments may be difficult to replicate. We are told we have experimental proof that Higgs boson exists, but who can build its own LHC to check for himself ? So we have to trust scientists and science books and it could be seen as no ...


7

In my opinion, the best response to ontological uncertainty is to strive to live in a way that is meaningful regardless of the true nature of reality. While it may seem implausible, it may be less so than it seems. Consider the following --we don't know how our universe originated, we don't know what its fate is, we don't know with any certainty our own ...


7

Putnam certainly deserves credit for the colorful realization, but philosophically brain in a vat/isolated brain issues are traced back (including by SEP) to Cartesian evil demon , which predates not only Putnam, the Matrix and other modern implementations of non-stop hallucinations, but even 1812 and Frankenstein. Even before Descartes Avicenna's Floating ...


7

Actually, by using writing I believe you've picked the worst, or most confusing example for exploring improbability and skepticism. I largely agree with Ben Piper. Writing itself is highly and very intentionally improbable. We create symbols that are not readily confused with the products of natural events. By this means we create communicable "meaning," ...


6

That we can very reliably make predictions on the basis of what we do know (or, rather that in the past we have been able to) is the best counterargument I know of against that argument. Although this appears in various guises everywhere from Popper to coherentism, the simple observation that we routinely do not walk into walls (and manage to build fairly ...


6

No fallacy; the reasoning is relatively sound, although the manner in which the issue is framed is a bit confused (from a traditional philosophical perspective.) Skepticism is generally used in an epistemological context, not in an ethical one. This is not necessarily a problem, since most ethical theories have some reliance on knowledge. For the purposes ...


6

The Münchhausen Trilemma is unsolved, because noone successfully solved it yet. There are, for all three options: Coherentism, Infinitism and Fundamentalism, philosophers who hold one of the views, but each faces lots of difficulties.


6

In 1914, C. S. Peirce said (Coll. Papers (1931) I. i. iii. 70): Fallibilism is the doctrine that our knowledge is never absolute but always swims, as it were, in a continuum of uncertainty and of indeterminacy. Those who uphold it must, to avoid contradiction, hold fallibalism as dogma. Pascal said it well in his Pensées (S25/L406): Nous avons une ...


6

How about this? The celebrated Arab commentator Avicenna (ibn Sīnā, 980–1037) confronts the LNC [Law of Noncontradiction] skeptic...: “As for the obstinate, he must be plunged into fire, since fire and non-fire are identical. Let him be beaten, since suffering and not suffering are the same. Let him be deprived of food and drink, since eating and ...


5

For example he said that you cannot know your pain because you cannot doubt that you are in pain. I don't quite understand this thinking and am wondering if anyone can clarify this concept. I'm not sure I can write it any more than Wittgenstein, but I'll try to unpack it a bit: Another way in which the grammars of "I have toothache" and "He has toothache"...


5

Popper was a fallibilist, not a skeptic. Fallibilism is the heart of one influential response to skepticism. Fallibilists hold that people often have sufficiently strong justification to know that there is for example a tree in the yard. According to fallibilists, a skeptical argument about knowledge relies on setting the standard of justification for ...


5

This problem was solved by Karl Popper, who had an improved variant of this trilemma that he called Fries's trilemma, see "Logic of Scientific Discovery" escpecially Section 29. The solution is to accept the idea that proof is impossible and to drop proof as a standard. Rather, knowledge is created by conjecture and criticism. Criticisms are themselves ...


5

It is true by definition, in fact i would write it like this 2=1+1 because you are defining number 2. By the way, proves or demonstrations are just ways to simplify expressions to reach definitions, so we can be sure that premises were correct.


5

Your question has some good answers already, so I would just like to mention one more facet regarding the wrongness of belief. Isaac Asimov wrote a wonderful essay, titled The Relativity of Wrong, that you might want to take a look at. In short, even though everything we know may be wrong in some aspect, we can confidently state that we are less wrong today ...


5

It seems that we have many questions in one here, and my answer is certainly one of many possible. I'd like to quote Charles Sanders Peirce, from an article called "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities" (http://www.peirce.org/writings/p27.html), where he states his disagreement with the Cartesian principle of universal doubt: We cannot begin with ...


5

Perhaps an alternative would be to differentiate between a belief which is only valuable if it is true and a belief which still retains value even in the presence of inaccuracies. One requires the belief to be assumed (potentially axiomatically), while the other permits some freedom to not make that assumption. For example, many find science to retain ...


5

Perhaps, it's a false dichotomy: Goethe, for example wrote in his diary of his travels in Italy: Tonight I attended a meeting of the Academy of the Olympians...the motion proposed by the President was: which has been greater benefit to the Arts - Invention or Imitation? Not a bad idea, for if one treats the alternatives as exclusive, one can go on ...


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