Burden of Proof: Really?
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07-03-2013, 07:58 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(07-03-2013 07:00 AM)Averroes Wrote:  See the examples above.

And see my responses to your examples above, responses you haven't addressed.

Nobody claims nonexistence (well, a few people do, but they're philosophically and logically wrong when they do). Certainly nobody proves nonexistence of anything. I personally think that just about everybody knows this; those who play games with reassigning the burden of proof are just trying to be evasive and/or manipulative.

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07-03-2013, 08:55 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(07-03-2013 07:00 AM)Averroes Wrote:  
Quote:Uhm.. No. The burden of proof isn't on a specific group because of the nature of the claims they generally make (substantiated vs unsubstantiated). It's on anyone that makes a specific claim.
The whole discussion is being detached from its original topic. The question is, is it justified to assume that the "specific claim" (whatever that means) is always the "existence claim" and the default position is nonexistence, or can it sometimes be the other way round? The Burden of Proof argument stands and falls with validity of the former, while I think the latter is true. See the examples above.

Your original question was already answered. The burden is on the one making the claim, regardless of how obvious the claim appears to be. People typically don't question blatantly obvious things, however if they do, it's up to the one making the claim to prove it exists.

I claim there is air, if someone denies it then the burden is on me to show that air exists, and it can be done with a simple experiment.

Apologies for assuming you were a theist. It's just typically theists that have a issue with the burden of proof.

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07-03-2013, 04:02 PM (This post was last modified: 07-03-2013 04:43 PM by Averroes.)
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
Dear Skeptic, I haven't forgotten you :-) It just took me a while before I was able to enjoy a quiet evening with my laptop and philosophy - until now. Here comes my reply.

Quote:
Quote:1)Irrationality of Pi
Person A: "Pi can be written as a fraction of two integers."
Person B: "There are no two integers such that their fraction equals Pi."

I think that most students of math, when confronted with these claims for the first time, will say "well, strictly speaking I dont know, but why not? My guess is A", because they find the existence position more intuitive. They certainly won't believe B by default just because it is a nonexistence claim. They will require proof thereof.

...B allows A to shift the burden of proof to him and now he has to prove, what, that every possible combination of two integers cannot be arranged such that their quotient is Pi?
Clearly, with infinite integers to work with, this cannot be done. Both A and B know this, and you know it too.

Clearly...not. When you need to prove nonexistence in math, there is number of methods smarter than trying all combinations. In the case of Pi it is quite sophisticated, so let's take Square root of 2, that is analogical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_root...ationality Generally, numbers are considered rational or "of unknown type", until their irrationality si proven.

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  
(24-02-2013 04:58 PM)Averroes Wrote:  2)Uncertainty principle
Person A: "There is a way of measuring position and momentum of a particle simultaneously with arbitrary precision."
Person B: "Such method does not exist."

First, experiments eventually leading to the latter had to be carried out before people even concieved such idea at all, let alone taking it seriously.

So what? What does this prove? In your example, person A was wrong. Person B proved him wrong. End of discussion.

The point is, without person B providing evidence for the position of A being erroneous, person A (representing scientific community) would retain their default "existence" position.

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  Is it now your position that claiming god exists is wrong? If your answer is "yes", then what are we doing here arguing about god's existence?

Yes. I'm a "6.9 atheist", to be precise. To answer your second question, we are not arguing about god's existence, or at least I am not, because that isn't what this thread is about. This thread is about whether the Burden of Proof alone as used by atheists is a correct argument, or more precisely, whether the default position in any matter is always and exclusively the nonexistence position and THE claim that has to be proven is always the existence claim, or if it sometimes is the other way round. If the latter is true, Burden of Proof couldnt be used by atheists (which is what I think).

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  
(24-02-2013 04:58 PM)Averroes Wrote:  3)Time
Person A: "Time exists as such."
Julian Barbour: "Time is an illusion, it doesnt exist."

Wonderful example. A makes a claim, now he should prove it. Barbour refutes the claim saying time does not exist. It is now up to A to prove that it does....(...)...person A must prove his claim.


Does it mean that from now on, you become an a-chronist and truly consider time an illusion, even without knowing any other concept to substitute it with? That you are ready to abandon the idea of time as a separate dimension of reality purely because of the Burden argument? Just curious.

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  ...People are not claiming "nonexistence", they are claiming "existence is unproven so go prove it". For example, Barbour didn't actually claim that there is no such thing as time, nor did he prove that there is no such thing, but rather he claimed that our belief and perception of time is wrong, essentially refuting all of our "proof" that time exists, leaving us at an impasse: we claim time exists because we perceive it but he showed us that our claim is invalid so now we either have to drop our claim (in which case Barbour wins his point without proving anything, he only disproved our claims) or we have to find more proof.


Let's first sum up what our evidence for time (rather than "proofs" - if you have a real proof, you only need one) probably would be: that we all perceive it in a similar manner, that all cultures in the world have independently developed/kept notion of it, and that we've been able to develop advanced physics based on this perception, which can do very fine predictions, and where time deserves its own unique letter. (I'm being spontaneous here...)

Do you suggest that Barbour's claim that our perception is wrong/illusionary is alone enough to consider our "proofs" refuted, even if his claim is unsupported by anything? ("It's all illusion! Period." :-) I hope you didnt really mean that one follows from the other?

Let's instead assume that he supports his claim by saying "It is an illusion, because future hasn't yet happened and past exists only in our memory which happens Now". If he left it like that, it would remain just another insignificant (though interesting) philosophical thought experiment with no real impact, the likes of which hundreds of would-be philosophers have always liked to write long scholarly essays about... It still isn't enough. Because then the question is, whence does this illusion arise? "What can you offer instead?"

What he actually does is that he develops a whole alternative framework for physics, which can do without the concept of time, and it is this framework that he bases his claim upon. If it turns out that this new framework is also capable of explaining all the phenomena current physics can, than time will be simply cut off by Occam's razor (provided his theory doesn't introduce some other, even more obscure concepts). Without this framework, he wouldnt even be invited to a discussion.

Anyway, note what we are discussing: what amount of evidence does a nonexistence claimer - achronist - need to seriously challenge existence claimers (chronists). Not the other way. All our ancestors were chronists - there is surely no point in history where mankind turned from achronism to chronism because of evidence. That is because existence is the default here, we are chronists by intuition, and we struggle to formulate artificial evidence only when forced to (resembles the God debate so much!). I stick to chronism until Barbour's theory is able to explain all that mainstream physics can, and in addition does a couple of correct predictions. On the other hand, I am an a-theist, because there the frameworks and theories able to do predictions and explain the crucial things already exist.
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07-03-2013, 04:55 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(07-03-2013 04:02 PM)Averroes Wrote:  Dear Skeptic, I haven't forgotten you :-) It just took me a while before I was able to enjoy a quiet evening with my laptop and philosophy - until now. Here comes my reply.

Quote:...B allows A to shift the burden of proof to him and now he has to prove, what, that every possible combination of two integers cannot be arranged such that their quotient is Pi?
Clearly, with infinite integers to work with, this cannot be done. Both A and B know this, and you know it too.

Clearly...not. When you need to prove nonexistence in math, there is number of methods smarter than trying all combinations. In the case of Pi it is quite sophisticated, so let's take Square root of 2, that is analogical: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_root...ationality Generally, numbers are considered rational or "of unknown type", until their irrationality si proven.

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  So what? What does this prove? In your example, person A was wrong. Person B proved him wrong. End of discussion.

The point is, without person B providing evidence for the position of A being erroneous, person A (representing scientific community) would retain their default "existence" position.

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  Is it now your position that claiming god exists is wrong? If your answer is "yes", then what are we doing here arguing about god's existence?

Yes. I'm a "6.9 atheist", to be precise. To answer your second question, we are not arguing about god's existence, or at least I am not, because that isn't what this thread is about. This thread is about whether the Burden of Proof alone as used by atheists is a correct argument, or more precisely, whether the default position in any matter is always and exclusively the nonexistence position and THE claim that has to be proven is always the existence claim, or if it sometimes is the other way round. If the latter is true, Burden of Proof couldnt be used by atheists (which is what I think).

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  Wonderful example. A makes a claim, now he should prove it. Barbour refutes the claim saying time does not exist. It is now up to A to prove that it does....(...)...person A must prove his claim.


Does it mean that from now on, you become an a-chronist and truly consider time an illusion, even without knowing any other concept to substitute it with? That you are ready to abandon the idea of time as a separate dimension of reality purely because of the Burden argument? Just curious.

(28-02-2013 09:22 AM)Aseptic Skeptic Wrote:  ...People are not claiming "nonexistence", they are claiming "existence is unproven so go prove it". For example, Barbour didn't actually claim that there is no such thing as time, nor did he prove that there is no such thing, but rather he claimed that our belief and perception of time is wrong, essentially refuting all of our "proof" that time exists, leaving us at an impasse: we claim time exists because we perceive it but he showed us that our claim is invalid so now we either have to drop our claim (in which case Barbour wins his point without proving anything, he only disproved our claims) or we have to find more proof.


Let's first sum up what our evidence for time (rather than "proofs" - if you have a real proof, you only need one) probably would be: that we all perceive it in a similar manner, that all cultures in the world have independently developed/kept notion of it, and that we've been able to develop advanced physics based on this perception, which can do very fine predictions, and where time deserves its own unique letter. (I'm being spontaneous here...)

Do you suggest that Barbour's claim that our perception is wrong/illusionary is alone enough to consider our "proofs" refuted, even if his claim is unsupported by anything? ("It's all illusion! Period." :-) I hope you didnt really mean that one follows from the other?

Let's instead assume that he supports his claim by saying "It is an illusion, because future hasn't yet happened and past exists only in our memory which happens Now". If he left it like that, it would remain just another insignificant (though interesting) philosophical thought experiment with no real impact, the likes of which hundreds of would-be philosophers have always liked to write long scholarly essays about... It still isn't enough. Because then the question is, whence does this illusion arise? "What can you offer instead?"

What he actually does is that he develops a whole alternative framework for physics, which can do without the concept of time, and it is this framework that he bases his claim upon. If it turns out that this new framework is also capable of explaining all the phenomena current physics can, than time will be simply cut off by Occam's razor (provided his theory doesn't introduce some other, even more obscure concepts). Without this framework, he wouldnt even be invited to a discussion.

Anyway, note what we are discussing: what amount of evidence does a nonexistence claimer - achronist - need to seriously challenge existence claimers (chronists). There is no point in history where mankind turned from achronism to chronism because of evidence. Our ancestors were chronists, we are born chronists. Existence is the default.
If person 1 says "a" exists and person 2 says "a" does not exist, both are making claims which require evidence. However person 2 need not make this claim but simply reply - perhaps you are right but I would need some evidence to believe "a" exists. The burden of proof does not depend on the bizarreness of a claim. Only the quality of evidence needed depends on the quality of the claim. All claims need evidence to be accepted.
We are not born believing anything. We learn from evidence as we develop. We become chronists when we see evidence that time exists - eg by seeing examples of consistent causal relationships.
I became a theist because people I trusted repeatedly told me a god existed. This was my evidence. It was not until much later that I realized that this evidence was not extraordinary enough for me to continue believing this extraordinary claim.
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07-03-2013, 05:27 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(07-03-2013 08:55 AM)Aspchizo Wrote:  
(07-03-2013 07:00 AM)Averroes Wrote:  The whole discussion is being detached from its original topic. The question is, is it justified to assume that the "specific claim" (whatever that means) is always the "existence claim" and the default position is nonexistence, or can it sometimes be the other way round? The Burden of Proof argument stands and falls with validity of the former, while I think the latter is true. See the examples above.
Your original question was already answered.
No. On the contrary, I have yet to see a convincing argument.
(07-03-2013 08:55 AM)Aspchizo Wrote:  The burden is on the one making the claim, regardless of how obvious the claim appears to be.
People repeat this often here, but stated like this, it doesn't actually say anything. A dispute is always one claim against another, so for this principle to grow teeth, you need to specify a universal rule stating which kind of claim has the burden attached. The proposed universal rule is "The burden is on the one making existence claim", which I dispute. I don't have another proposal for universal rule, so until I am shown one, or convinced about validity of this one, I assume there is none and refute the whole Burden of Proof thing. I guess this is an agreeable approach, especially for my oponents in this debate :-)

(07-03-2013 08:55 AM)Aspchizo Wrote:  I claim there is air, if someone denies it then the burden is on me to show that air exists, and it can be done with a simple experiment.
No doubt. But what exactly do you achieve by this? If the claim whose validity I oppose is "The burden is always on the one making the existence claim", any number of examples in favor of it isn't enough, while I need to find a single one counterexample in order to win. I therefore suggest focusing on refuting my counterexamples.
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07-03-2013, 05:58 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(28-02-2013 07:33 AM)Averroes Wrote:  Consider again the case of Pi: you can say you believe there are no such two integers whose fraction equals Pi, but you can also take a stronger position - you can say you know that, and you can do the proof. And only then you will convince anybody.

No. I can't say that I know something when I don't.
I don't know that there is no god; I think there probably isn't one but I really don't know that.

If there is a god, I can say I think it is irrelevant.
It's usually why I don't argue with people; they always want to take some kind of stand while I don't think it matters if there is a god or not.
I don't need to convince anyone that I just don't care. Shy

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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07-03-2013, 06:13 PM (This post was last modified: 07-03-2013 06:21 PM by Adenosis.)
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(07-03-2013 05:27 PM)Averroes Wrote:  No. On the contrary, I have yet to see a convincing argument.

People repeat this often here, but stated like this, it doesn't actually say anything. A dispute is always one claim against another, so for this principle to grow teeth, you need to specify a universal rule stating which kind of claim has the burden attached. The proposed universal rule is "The burden is on the one making existence claim", which I dispute. I don't have another proposal for universal rule, so until I am shown one, or convinced about validity of this one, I assume there is none and refute the whole Burden of Proof thing. I guess this is an agreeable approach, especially for my oponents in this debate :-)

No doubt. But what exactly do you achieve by this? If the claim whose validity I oppose is "The burden is always on the one making the existence claim", any number of examples in favor of it isn't enough, while I need to find a single one counterexample in order to win. I therefore suggest focusing on refuting my counterexamples.

In any case where someone claims something exists, that person is required to give reason why that claim should be accepted. Also, a dispute is not always one claim against another. One of the main disputes on this forum is about one claim, 'There is a god'. Most of us (with the exception of the gnostics) are not making a counter-claim, we are reserving belief in claim because no evidence is ever given in support of the claim.

If I tell a rational person I have a dog with three legs, which is certainly possible, do you think they will say with certainty I do not? No, they might take my word for it, or they will reserve belief in my claim until I provide proof of the claim. The other person is not making a counter claim unless they say "You do not have a dog with three legs".

Time is a good example, this was very recently brought up in another thread... Someone is claims time doesn't exist, while the other claims it does exist.

The person claiming time exists could easily bring up time dilation to settle the issue. Relative changes in velocity and strength of gravitational fields causes changes in relative time. Orbitting satellites clocks tick at different rates relative to the clocks on earth, this change has to be accounted for using einsteins theories of relativity. Time can be manipulated, proving that it is a property of space (Hence SpaceTime). Like other things, perception of time can vary between individuals as well. Your perception of time is dependant on the firing rates of neurons in the brain. While most peoples perception of time is pretty much the same, some experience a huge changes.

E.g. Easily catching fly out of thin air (read about this somewhere, looking for it now), or experiencing five minutes as one second (time flies by).

Time is certainly a property of our universe that exists. So the one claiming time doesn't exist would have to adress these points, or if they're rational, will shift from belief in non existence to existence of time.

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07-03-2013, 07:10 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
Quote:If person 1 says "a" exists and person 2 says "a" does not exist, both are making claims which require evidence.

I happily agree. Some people here dont, though.
(07-03-2013 04:55 PM)sandman Wrote:  However person 2 need not make this claim but simply reply - perhaps you are right but I would need some evidence to believe "a" exists....(...)...All claims need evidence to be accepted.
(07-03-2013 04:55 PM)sandman Wrote:  We are not born believing anything. We learn from evidence as we develop. We become chronists when we see evidence that time exists - eg by seeing examples of consistent causal relationships.
I became a theist because people I trusted repeatedly told me a god existed. This was my evidence. It was not until much later that I realized that this evidence was not extraordinary enough for me to continue believing this extraordinary claim.
We seem to agree that from a strictly logical view, the default position is always "I dont know", and anything else is a claim that has to be supported. Does someone say that two integers exist such that their fraction yields Sqrt(2)? Let him show them (or an abstract proof) to us. Does someone claim they dont exist? Let him show the proof as well. But then reality comes into it. As I have written earlier myself, we are not perfectly logical beings, we rather construct our model of reality by processing signals from our erroneous senses, from trial-error and feedback, from watching elders, generally from exprience... that gives us some prejudice and bias. When I wrote about being born this or that, or the default position in something being this or that, it was an artistic license/shorthand for describing this process of shifting position from "I dont know" to "Something exists" by means other than conscious rational decision following weighing the evidence. It can easily happen without the subject even wording the question to themselves, like in the case with time. So when chronists and theists are asked to justify their position and bear their burden, they may say "all my lifelong experience points me to my position". In their eyes, they've met their burden, and require counterevidence to be convinced otherwise. If anyone is tempted to reply "I'm not interested in their eyes and I dont acknowledge subjective experience as evidence", then please remember that we are biased humans interacting with biased humans (including you), not machines, and also ask yourself whether you have in accord with your attitude already become an achronist.
But this at the same time means that if we tolerate "experience" as means of meeting the burden of proof, it gets too easy to meet it and the whole tool becomes useless. If the "nonexistence side" then wants to convince anyone, they have to show some actual evidence themselves.
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07-03-2013, 07:20 PM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
(07-03-2013 05:58 PM)kim Wrote:  
(28-02-2013 07:33 AM)Averroes Wrote:  Consider again the case of Pi: you can say you believe there are no such two integers whose fraction equals Pi, but you can also take a stronger position - you can say you know that, and you can do the proof. And only then you will convince anybody.

No. I can't say that I know something when I don't.
I don't know that there is no god; I think there probably isn't one but I really don't know that.

If there is a god, I can say I think it is irrelevant.
It's usually why I don't argue with people; they always want to take some kind of stand while I don't think it matters if there is a god or not.
I don't need to convince anyone that I just don't care. Shy
Let's forget God and focus on the Burden of Proof argument, which can be about anything. Is it true, that the burden is always on the one claiming existence? That is the issue. I say No.

If you dont know about irrationality of Pi, or Sqrt(2) which is easier, you will know after you read and understand these proofs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_root...ationality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_that_...irrational
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08-03-2013, 01:33 AM
RE: Burden of Proof: Really?
Perhaps a more useful way to structure questions in this discussion might be "what is ____?"

For what reason do people primarily cite the burden of proof? Is it not to encourage one who makes a claim to express evidence which supports his/her/its claim if he/she/it has any, and express he/she/it has none if he/she/it has none? When we seek to learn evidence or its absence pertaining to a given claim, are we not seeking to learn the existence/nonexistence of that which is evident/not evident? That is, are we not looking to learn if proposed statements and ultimately our logic correspond accurately to the universe we perceive?

If that is indeed the intent behind citing the burden of proof, then perhaps a question rather relevant to Averroes's inquiry would be: What is "the burden of proof"?

One example as an attempt to make clear what I'm getting at pertains to something Aseptic Skeptic said, that "There is a difference between "belief" and "Knowledge". These words both pertain to thoughts, though one describes thoughts representing fact, and the other describes thoughts representing unsubstantiated claims. Do not both, however, exist as energy/brain matter, and thus are they not materially the same conceptual thing just in different instances with different conditions?

What material thing does "the burden of proof" represent? Does that thing only exist as a result of one claiming something exists? My interpretation of Averroes's original inquiry is that it is parallel with that last question.

My own question: What evidence is there that "the burden of proof" exists?
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