Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
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11-08-2015, 06:48 PM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(11-08-2015 03:09 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Knowledge = belief that is justified and true
How do you distinguish a non knowledge belief from a knowledge belief?
Surely a non knowledge belief is also assumed by the believer to be justified and true.

I see the difference with regards to the "plausible" alternatives.

If you recognise that there are "plausible" alternatives and you choose to accept one alternative and reject the others then this is a belief. You choose to close your mind to the alternatives. It's a position of closemindedness.

If you don't recognise any plausible alternatives then you don't generally proclaim to hold a belief, you tend to just state your position to be a fact. You believe it to be a fact and you state it as a fact rather than a belief. i.e. Evolution is a fact, General Relativity is a fact.

If you recognise that there are other "plausible" alternatives then you claim to hold a belief rather than have knowledge of a fact. You would say "I believe that life exists on other planets" rather than "it is a fact that life exists on other planets".

The issue then comes with regards to what is meant by "plausible". A YEC would see that it is plausible that their god created the Universe 10,000 years ago and created light from other stars in-transit. They would consider our position as one of belief because they think we are closing our mind to this "plausible" YEC story.
We on the other hand don't consider the YEC as being even plausible, we don't need to qualify our stance on a 14 Billion year old universe as being a belief, we state it as a fact.
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11-08-2015, 07:04 PM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(11-08-2015 03:45 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(11-08-2015 03:28 PM)unfogged Wrote:  An agnostic atheist can believe that god doesn't exist so that doesn't work.
I'm interested in your stance.
You recognise that you have no knowledge of god's existence or non existence, but you choose to believe that god doesn't exist.

What criteria have you used to make this belief and how does this differ from an epistemology?

I didn't say that was my stance but I am sympathetic to the argument that the lack of evidence for a god existing can be taken as evidence that none do, at least none that actually interact with the universe. Absence of evidence where some is reasonable to expect can be evidence of absence.

Part of the problem here is obviously the definition of terms. When I say "know" I'm talking about belief based on evidence and with a high degree of certainty and "belief" is only thinking something is more likely than not. If somebody told me that they thought that the lack of evidence for a god made it less than 50% likely that one exists then it would be fair to say that they believed god did not exist but were still agnostic because they have a low degree of certainty in that belief.

If you are using gnostic/agnostic as black and white terms then we are speaking different languages. The line between believing and knowing is far too blurry for that to be useful. Theist/atheist is a dichotomy depending only on the answer to the question "do you believe a god exists?". Gnostic/agnostic is a spectrum that tries to answer how certain you are.

Atheism: it's not just for communists any more!
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11-08-2015, 08:06 PM (This post was last modified: 12-08-2015 05:22 AM by Matt Finney.)
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(11-08-2015 06:48 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(11-08-2015 03:09 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Knowledge = belief that is justified and true
How do you distinguish a non knowledge belief from a knowledge belief?
Surely a non knowledge belief is also assumed by the believer to be justified and true.

I see the difference with regards to the "plausible" alternatives.

If you recognise that there are "plausible" alternatives and you choose to accept one alternative and reject the others then this is a belief. You choose to close your mind to the alternatives. It's a position of closemindedness.

If you don't recognise any plausible alternatives then you don't generally proclaim to hold a belief, you tend to just state your position to be a fact. You believe it to be a fact and you state it as a fact rather than a belief. i.e. Evolution is a fact, General Relativity is a fact.

If you recognise that there are other "plausible" alternatives then you claim to hold a belief rather than have knowledge of a fact. You would say "I believe that life exists on other planets" rather than "it is a fact that life exists on other planets".

The issue then comes with regards to what is meant by "plausible". A YEC would see that it is plausible that their god created the Universe 10,000 years ago and created light from other stars in-transit. They would consider our position as one of belief because they think we are closing our mind to this "plausible" YEC story.
We on the other hand don't consider the YEC as being even plausible, we don't need to qualify our stance on a 14 Billion year old universe as being a belief, we state it as a fact.

You raise a good point. I imagine that most people believe that their beliefs are justified, and of course people believe their beliefs are true (that's the definition of belief), so it would follow that most people believe that their beliefs would qualify as knowledge.

And you're right, none of us can know whether our beliefs are knowledge or not, but I don't think stating beliefs as facts helps with the problem. I say this because someone could believe something to be a fact that is actually untrue, and we certainly can't call that knowledge. There is perhaps no solution to the problem of knowledge. If some of our beliefs are true, then we have some knowledge, if none are true, then we have no knowledge.

Even though we can't know whether our beliefs are knowledge or not, I still believe, as most of us do, that I have at least some knowledge. Obviously we can all have knowledge of our own existence (Descates' "Cogito ergo sum"), but I also believe that I have knowledge that my wife is a person and not a ultra-realistic robot that is indistinguishable from a person. If my wife is a person, then my belief is knowledge, if she's a robot, then I don't have knowledge that she's a person. I believe that water is made of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, if that's true, then it's knowledge.

Earlier, I said that I don't believe things until I know them. I need to revise that. A more accurate description is that I don't believe things until I believe that they qualify as knowledge.
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12-08-2015, 08:16 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(11-08-2015 05:19 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(11-08-2015 04:38 PM)Grasshopper Wrote:  Yes, I believe all kinds of things that I don't know (and know that I don't know), because that's what the word "believe" means. I believe that the St. Louis Cardinals will win the NL Central Division this year. I believe that Beethoven was a better composer than Haydn. I believe that there are no gods. I believe that OJ Simpson probably killed his wife. I believe that the "Jesus" of the Gospels was based on a real person, but that the Gospels themselves are largely fiction. I do not claim knowledge or certainty on any of those points

Obviously, it is possible for a person to think that they "know" something and be wrong. You would call this an unjustified belief or a false belief, and so would I. But it's not the only kind of belief. Your use of the word is extremely specialized, and not the way most people use it. There is such a thing as an agnostic theist. A person who assigns a 90% probability to God's existence and one who assigns a 10% probability are both agnostics, but the first one is a theist and the second one is an atheist. I am in the second category, although my probability would be lower than 10%. Anyone who claims 100% or 0% is fooling himself.

For those of us interested in truth, probability is something we calculate, not assign. For myself, if I know something is a guess, I don't call it a belief.

As Matt Dillahunty says "I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible."

Basically Matt is saying that he wants his beliefs to be knowledge. One method of doing this is to recognize that guesses =/= truth. If you know it's a guess, you should discard it as a belief. A hypothesis is not the same as a belief.

I am also interested in truth, and I am not "guessing" on any of my examples. I am assigning probabilities as best I can. It is not always possible (in fact, it's hardly ever possible) to calculate probabilities.

Again, you can define belief however you like. But if you want to have useful communications with others, it's best to use the common definitions. I believe that you are not doing that.

Big Grin
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12-08-2015, 08:38 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(12-08-2015 08:16 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(11-08-2015 05:19 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  For those of us interested in truth, probability is something we calculate, not assign. For myself, if I know something is a guess, I don't call it a belief.

As Matt Dillahunty says "I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible."

Basically Matt is saying that he wants his beliefs to be knowledge. One method of doing this is to recognize that guesses =/= truth. If you know it's a guess, you should discard it as a belief. A hypothesis is not the same as a belief.

I am also interested in truth, and I am not "guessing" on any of my examples. I am assigning probabilities as best I can. It is not always possible (in fact, it's hardly ever possible) to calculate probabilities.

Again, you can define belief however you like. But if you want to have useful communications with others, it's best to use the common definitions. I believe that you are not doing that.

Big Grin

Fair enough. I just don't see how someone can believe something that they know they don't know. I think most people believe that their beliefs are knowledge. If someone believes that they have beliefs that aren't knowledge, then they must either think that the beliefs are untrue, or that they are unjustified. They can't believe that their beliefs are untrue because the contradicts the definition of belief, and how many people go around claiming that their beliefs are unjustified?

I think you're conflating hypothesis with belief. Someone can have a hypothesis that god exists and still be an atheist. It also seems to me, at least on the arguments they present, that our friends Tomasia and drewpaul hypothesize that god exists, rather than believe. Maybe they are not presenting their position well, or perhaps I'm just misunderstanding their position based on what they type. It looks like Tomasia has cleared up his position as a firm believer, perhaps drewpaul will do the same.
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12-08-2015, 09:16 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(12-08-2015 08:38 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  
(12-08-2015 08:16 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  I am also interested in truth, and I am not "guessing" on any of my examples. I am assigning probabilities as best I can. It is not always possible (in fact, it's hardly ever possible) to calculate probabilities.

Again, you can define belief however you like. But if you want to have useful communications with others, it's best to use the common definitions. I believe that you are not doing that.

Big Grin

Fair enough. I just don't see how someone can believe something that they know they don't know. I think most people believe that their beliefs are knowledge. If someone believes that they have beliefs that aren't knowledge, then they must either think that the beliefs are untrue, or that they are unjustified. They can't believe that their beliefs are untrue because the contradicts the definition of belief, and how many people go around claiming that their beliefs are unjustified?

I think you're conflating hypothesis with belief. Someone can have a hypothesis that god exists and still be an atheist. It also seems to me, at least on the arguments they present, that our friends Tomasia and drewpaul hypothesize that god exists, rather than believe. Maybe they are not presenting their position well, or perhaps I'm just misunderstanding their position based on what they type. It looks like Tomasia has cleared up his position as a firm believer, perhaps drewpaul will do the same.

I think you're using "belief" differently than most people do. Period. What you're describing sounds like unnecessarily complicated gobbledygook to me, and I'd be willing to bet it sounds like that to most others as well.

If I know something, and know that I know it, I don't call that "belief", and I don't think anyone else does either. I call it knowledge. To go back to one of my own examples, I said I believe that the St. Louis Cardinals will win the NL Central Division this year. I don't have to "believe" that they won it last year -- I know they did. That's the difference between belief and knowledge. I can have varying kinds of beliefs, some stronger than others, but if I'm certain of something, I don't call it a belief.

People who say they believe in God are not all 100% certain of God's existence. In fact, I would say that anyone who claims to be 100% certain of that is deluding himself. Most of them have doubts. It doesn't make them atheists. By your definition, there is no such thing as a theist or an atheist. We're all agnostics (sorry, KC, I know you've already said all this). But then none of the terms are very useful. The way most people use them, the majority of people are either theists or atheists. But you don't draw the line between them as "anything less than 100% is an atheist". That's just wacky.
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12-08-2015, 10:01 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(12-08-2015 09:16 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(12-08-2015 08:38 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  Fair enough. I just don't see how someone can believe something that they know they don't know. I think most people believe that their beliefs are knowledge. If someone believes that they have beliefs that aren't knowledge, then they must either think that the beliefs are untrue, or that they are unjustified. They can't believe that their beliefs are untrue because the contradicts the definition of belief, and how many people go around claiming that their beliefs are unjustified?

I think you're conflating hypothesis with belief. Someone can have a hypothesis that god exists and still be an atheist. It also seems to me, at least on the arguments they present, that our friends Tomasia and drewpaul hypothesize that god exists, rather than believe. Maybe they are not presenting their position well, or perhaps I'm just misunderstanding their position based on what they type. It looks like Tomasia has cleared up his position as a firm believer, perhaps drewpaul will do the same.

I think you're using "belief" differently than most people do. Period. What you're describing sounds like unnecessarily complicated gobbledygook to me, and I'd be willing to bet it sounds like that to most others as well.

If I know something, and know that I know it, I don't call that "belief", and I don't think anyone else does either. I call it knowledge. To go back to one of my own examples, I said I believe that the St. Louis Cardinals will win the NL Central Division this year. I don't have to "believe" that they won it last year -- I know they did. That's the difference between belief and knowledge. I can have varying kinds of beliefs, some stronger than others, but if I'm certain of something, I don't call it a belief.

People who say they believe in God are not all 100% certain of God's existence. In fact, I would say that anyone who claims to be 100% certain of that is deluding himself. Most of them have doubts. It doesn't make them atheists. By your definition, there is no such thing as a theist or an atheist. We're all agnostics (sorry, KC, I know you've already said all this). But then none of the terms are very useful. The way most people use them, the majority of people are either theists or atheists. But you don't draw the line between them as "anything less than 100% is an atheist". That's just wacky.

I still think that many people believe that they know that god exists. If someone claims to believe that god exists, then they are a theist. If they claim uncertainty, then they are agnostic. These are simple definitions.

You really believe that it is a fact that the Cardinals will win, or is it merely your hypothesis?
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12-08-2015, 10:02 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(12-08-2015 08:38 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I just don't see how someone can believe something that they know they don't know. I think most people believe that their beliefs are knowledge. If someone believes that they have beliefs that aren't knowledge, then they must either think that the beliefs are untrue, or that they are unjustified. They can't believe that their beliefs are untrue because the contradicts the definition of belief, and how many people go around claiming that their beliefs are unjustified?

I agree with Grasshopper that you are using an extremely strict view of the terms. In my experience people use "believe" for anything that they think is more likely true than not. Even if they understand that they don't "know" it because they have some questions or missing details they still rate it as probably true.

Back to the court analogy, belief applies whenever there is a preponderance of the evidence while knowledge requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

I disagree slightly with Grasshopper with regard to not saying you believe something if you know it because if you know it then you also believe it. Knowledge is a subset of belief and while, for example, I would probably say that I know the earth orbits the sun it would not be wrong to say that I believe it.

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12-08-2015, 10:09 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(12-08-2015 10:02 AM)unfogged Wrote:  
(12-08-2015 08:38 AM)Matt Finney Wrote:  I just don't see how someone can believe something that they know they don't know. I think most people believe that their beliefs are knowledge. If someone believes that they have beliefs that aren't knowledge, then they must either think that the beliefs are untrue, or that they are unjustified. They can't believe that their beliefs are untrue because the contradicts the definition of belief, and how many people go around claiming that their beliefs are unjustified?

I agree with Grasshopper that you are using an extremely strict view of the terms. In my experience people use "believe" for anything that they think is more likely true than not. Even if they understand that they don't "know" it because they have some questions or missing details they still rate it as probably true.

Back to the court analogy, belief applies whenever there is a preponderance of the evidence while knowledge requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

I disagree slightly with Grasshopper with regard to not saying you believe something if you know it because if you know it then you also believe it. Knowledge is a subset of belief and while, for example, I would probably say that I know the earth orbits the sun it would not be wrong to say that I believe it.

The things is, we already have a word for educated guess - hypothesis.

belief = you think it's true
hypothesis = guess with limited or suggestive evidence

If you know you're guessing, you don't also believe it's a fact.
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12-08-2015, 10:26 AM
RE: Questions for Tomasia and drewpaul
(11-08-2015 03:05 PM)Matt Finney Wrote:  When our beliefs are justified and match reality, we call them knowledge.

This is simply not true. There are justified true beliefs which are not knowledge. Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?

There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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