Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
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08-02-2017, 11:40 AM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:26 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  I'm saying we begin our knowledge with the senses yes. perception is how we are aware of objects. Reason identifies and integrates what our senses bring in. Epistemology must begin where knowledge begins, with sense perception. The "ontology of the mind" comes much later and the three axioms that I mentioned are implicit in the concepts "ontology" and "mind". Also "ontology of the mind" is not conceptually irreducible. It depends on prior knowledge, i.e., ultimately, the axioms existence, identity and consciousness. The objectivity of reality is a corollary to these axioms. It's root principle, the primacy of existence, is entailed by the three basic axioms. It is also an axiom, i.e. it is a fact that is implicit in all knowledge. Consider, in order to consider anything one must exist and one must have an object to consider. And, that object must be something specific (identity) and one must have consciousness in order to consider any objects. It follows from these three principles that the objects of consciousness exist and are what they are independent of the activity (consciousness) by which the subject is aware of them. In other words "wishing won't make it so". If we are to have knowledge of reality then the contents of consciousness must conform to reality. Reality does not conform to the activity of consciousness. Next time you cut yourself shaving try wishing that the cut would instantly heal itself. It won't because reality has primacy over consciousness.

It is the axioms which ground our knowledge in certainty. They are undeniably true. They would have to be true in order to deny them. But any denial would be self-refuting. I think you're right that pragmatists have a problem. That's why I'm not a pragmatist but I'm also not a skeptic. I do believe that knowledge is possible, certainty (within a context) is possible and the axioms and the primacy of existence are my starting point, not any theory of mind or other conceptually reducible proposition.

When I say we start with ontology of the mind I'm alluding to a part of my metaphysic that ties in with this. I think minds have the inherent capacity to know certain things infallibly and immediately. Their own existence and the reliability of their reasoning are among these infallible beliefs. I'm not a skeptic either. My epistemology starts with my own existence and the reliability of reasoning. I think you could say objective reality is another foundational belief, but I don't see exactly how you verify your senses here. Is it similar to content externalism? Are you saying the contents of our beliefs are dependent upon the external?

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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08-02-2017, 11:40 AM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:03 AM)Naielis Wrote:  I don't see how definitions solve the problem skepticism poses. How do you know the universe is the thing that is external to you?

Because that is what "external" means. Any definition of the word that does not include the universe is non-functional.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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08-02-2017, 11:51 AM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:40 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 11:03 AM)Naielis Wrote:  I don't see how definitions solve the problem skepticism poses. How do you know the universe is the thing that is external to you?

Because that is what "external" means. Any definition of the word that does not include the universe is non-functional.

That simply isn't true. This materialism needs to be justified.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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08-02-2017, 12:07 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:03 AM)Naielis Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 10:12 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  No, pragmatism holds that whatever works is useful.


Well I'm working from Rorty's pragmatism mostly.

Quote:By having functional definitions.

We know that we exist. We know that we sense something, and that this something is external to us. This is the universe.

None of this is debatable. It is a matter of semantics, not argument; any functional definition of the terms above results in this conclusion.

I don't see how definitions solve the problem skepticism poses. How do you know the universe is the thing that is external to you? That seems to just be assumed. Everything after this is irrelevant unless you can justify this leap.

It is not so much assumed as it is evidenced. It is what works.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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08-02-2017, 12:09 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:51 AM)Naielis Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 11:40 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Because that is what "external" means. Any definition of the word that does not include the universe is non-functional.

That simply isn't true. This materialism needs to be justified.

Why? It needs no more justification than it is the most useful model of reality.
Is it, in fact, the only useful model of reality.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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08-02-2017, 12:20 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 09:42 AM)Naielis Wrote:  Sources: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/
http://www.iep.utm.edu/skepcont/

Pragmatism holds that whatever works is what is true. But the skeptic can show how this view reduces to subjectivism. The skeptic can ask questions like "how do you know what works". They can ask how you are able to falsify anything if you can't verify anything. If the pragmatists answer to these questions is simply that their system works, then they have begged the question. They have assumed they can use their senses to show that something is true about reality external to themselves. But that is the exact claim in question. How does the pragmatist know their senses are reliable? To say that their senses are reliable because we know they work is to appeal to information gained through the senses in order to verify their reliability. This question-begging attempt at a solution shows that the pragmatist is ultimately arguing that reality is subservient to their subjective view. Under pragmatism, a proposition is true if it appeals to the subjects senses. This opens the door for skepticism. If you cannot verify your own or anything's physical existence, then you can't even begin to argue about the physical.

You are overgeneralizing.

"Pragmatism holds that whatever works is what is true."

If it works, then it works. That seems to be the basis. The pragmatist may not be interested in why or how. So, someone asking "how do you know what works" would have a very simple answer of "I observed it working." Someone asking a pragmatist "how do you know it works" would probably also answer "I observed it working." Because there is no need for an answer beyond that to the pure pragmatist.

"They can ask how you are able to falsify anything if you can't verify anything."

Non sequitur. Pragmatists not wanting to verify how and why something works, does not mean that they can't falsify or verify anything. They choose not to. There is a big difference.

"If the pragmatists answer to these questions is simply that their system works, then they have begged the question."

It begs the question to the skeptic, but not the pragmatist.

"They have assumed they can use their senses to show that something is true about reality external to themselves."

We all have to make that assumption (axiom) if we want to know anything about the universe in which we live. This isn't limited to the pragmatist.

"How does the pragmatist know their senses are reliable? To say that their senses are reliable because we know they work is to appeal to information gained through the senses in order to verify their reliability."

All knowledge attained by humans requires the human senses, even if only through interpretation of data and evidence attained via technology that exceeds the limits of the human senses. Once again, it is impractical and impossible to expect to be able to verify the reliability of the human senses from a perspective that is independent of humanity.

"This opens the door for skepticism. If you cannot verify your own or anything's physical existence, then you can't even begin to argue about the physical."

Having senses to observe reality, verifies the physical existence of yourself and other things. So yes, the pragmatist can argue about the physical nature of reality. It is an absurdly reductionist argument to say that being pragmatic means forfeiting the ability to verify, falsify, or discuss reality.


What other method does one have for determining their own existence if not through the use of their senses? What human has supernatural powers to be able to access extra-sensory objective means of attaining knowledge and perspective?

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08-02-2017, 12:27 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:51 AM)Naielis Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 11:40 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Because that is what "external" means. Any definition of the word that does not include the universe is non-functional.

That simply isn't true. This materialism needs to be justified.

What justification do you think materialism needs? What burden of proof are you establishing in order to accept this materialism as justified? And why are you establishing it? What deficiency does a materialistic worldview have with respect to describing and explaining reality?

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08-02-2017, 01:15 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 11:51 AM)Naielis Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 11:40 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Because that is what "external" means. Any definition of the word that does not include the universe is non-functional.

That simply isn't true.

Yes, it is.

(08-02-2017 11:51 AM)Naielis Wrote:  This materialism needs to be justified.

I will assume that, when you say "materialism", you mean "the position that the universe is external to us". Materialism is also trivial, and largely a matter of semantics (it is an ontological position, and all ontological positions are inherently semantic), but not immediately relevant to the main point.

Again, no, it doesn't, because it is a matter of definition.

You will excuse me for essentially copying and pasting a post I made on another forum to describe this. It's just easier this way.

My keyboard is not part of my body. It is not connected to my brain, it does not transmit sensory data directly to it, and I only interact with it, "experience" it if you like, by any means whatsoever when I place my hands on it. Any definition of "internal" which includes the keyboard, or any other entity with similar properties, is therefore worthless. The keyboard is external for any functional, meaningful definition of the word "external".

When people say "you can't prove that the universe isn't internal", it is a worthless statement. It stretches the meaning of the word "internal" until it becomes unrecognizable and non-functional. It no longer meaningfully describes anything that anyone would actually recognize as internal, and is only done to sound grand and impressive rather than actually be a meaningful description of something. That the statement can be made at all is only due to the fact that human language is quite easily abused, and a lot of people are very good at abusing it.

Solipsism, and all other similar positions, are just people playing pointless word games. They are semantic at best.

They are not meaningful objections to anything.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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08-02-2017, 01:16 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 12:27 PM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 11:51 AM)Naielis Wrote:  That simply isn't true. This materialism needs to be justified.

What justification do you think materialism needs? What burden of proof are you establishing in order to accept this materialism as justified? And why are you establishing it? What deficiency does a materialistic worldview have with respect to describing and explaining reality?

It allows him to sneak in his “necessary being”.

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08-02-2017, 01:33 PM
RE: Skepticism is a Problem for the Pragmatist
(08-02-2017 12:07 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(08-02-2017 11:03 AM)Naielis Wrote:  Well I'm working from Rorty's pragmatism mostly.


I don't see how definitions solve the problem skepticism poses. How do you know the universe is the thing that is external to you? That seems to just be assumed. Everything after this is irrelevant unless you can justify this leap.

It is not so much assumed as it is evidenced. It is what works.

It's evidenced that the universe is the only thing one can refer to as external? I'm a dualist. I don't think the physical is the only substance. I've generally been drawn towards substance dualism, but I acknowledge some uncertainty in this area.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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