Friday, December 18, 2015

Naive evidentialism and transcendental argumetation

If it turns out that we can't avoid realism about the external world because the alternative is self-undermining, does that mean that the evidence supports realism, or does it mean something else? It seems to me that the case for realism is transcendenal rather than evidential.

Are there certain things we have to presuppose before evidence even becomes an issue? If so, there are positive claims that don't require evidence, and naive evidentialism is false.

20 comments:

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "If it turns out that we can't avoid realism about the external world because the alternative is self-undermining, does that mean that the evidence supports realism, or does it mean something else?"

I would think it just means that we can't talk about realism without talking about evidence.

VR: "It seems to me that the case for realism is transcendenal rather than evidential."

The case for realism is, as you pointed out above, the alternative is self-undermining. If "we" are going to talk about "something," then we've accepted realism. But there are more interesting things to talk about than that transaction which enables our conversation to go on, no?

VR: "Are there certain things we have to presuppose before evidence even becomes an issue?"

I would grant whatever the minimum set would be. I'd suggest, Existence, Self, External World, Other Minds. Maybe we need more, or some of these are redundant. Doesn't seem like the kind of thing that should stop the show, though.

VR: "If so, there are positive claims that don't require evidence, and naive evidentialism is false."

Who cares? We can only know what we can know, and asking for more (when there is so much more to be discovered and understood) just seems like a kind of fatalism.

Gyan said...

If one can not accept the external world (that we can see) without a great deal of hamming and hawing how can one accept an unseen God?
The case for theism is absolutely dependent upon strong realism. Consider the presuppositions for the traditional proofs for theism.

Gyan said...

Insanity being the alternative to realism, the truth of realism or our acceptance of it carries no implication for the truth of any other proposition that is not equally self-evidently absurd.

Victor Reppert said...

But if people are going to make general statements about the need for evidence, then those statements have to be applied to "positive" claims like realism as well as the claims of theism.

Are you familiar with Alvin Plantinga's argument that if you accept the arguments for other minds, then arguments for theism have to be accepted for the same reasons?

My main argument is that if we are to accept science we have to be realists about the mind and mental causation. But if we are materialists, we can't be. So if we are going to accept science we have to deny materialism.

Aron Zavaro said...

Why exactly is the external world skepticism self-undermining? I would love it if this were true, but I don't see it.

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "But if people are going to make general statements about the need for evidence, then those statements have to be applied to "positive" claims like realism as well as the claims of theism."

This seems like a practice grasping for a problem.

The "need for evidence" is general EXCEPT for axioms. In general, axioms are a) assumed without evidence, and b) productive after they've been assumed (or necessary for the production that follows from them).

This is simple and should be uncontroversial.

VR: "Are you familiar with Alvin Plantinga's argument that if you accept the arguments for other minds, then arguments for theism have to be accepted for the same reasons?"

I am not. It doesn't seem like it passes the same test that other minds does, though. If I accept other minds, I have a great explanation for what follows. If I accept theism, I am stuck with ad hoc rationalizing for what follows. So, theism as a required axiom seems to fail in the way that other minds does not. Again, this seems simple and uncontroversial.

VR: "My main argument is that if we are to accept science we have to be realists about the mind and mental causation."

Okay. This seems to be compatible with the evidence.

VR: "But if we are materialists, we can't be. So if we are going to accept science we have to deny materialism."

Your objection can be characterized as "it doesn't make sense to me, therefore it fails." This is not the standard, and can be easily dismissed because it objects (stands in the way of) a pursuit of knowledge which is otherwise highly productive.

It seems that you are stubbornly demanding that your position be irrelevant. I don't know why you would insist on being right about that.

John Mitchell said...

The fundamental problem of the various anti-realist positions regarding the notion of the 'external world', like for example idealism in its various forms, seems to me to be the question how it can be consistently maintained that the world, as we experience it, is a construct of a mind that itself is a part of said world.

I dont know much about Berkeley but in Kant and later Schopenhauer there seems to be the admission of the existence of some kind of 'underlying reality'.
I never fully understood in which relation 'the mind' stands to this 'underlying reality', given that causality seems to me to be a product of the phenomenal world, the world of experience.

planks length said...

It seems to me that the fundamental problem with denial of realism as to the external world is that it is bo-o-o-o-r-ing.

What is there left to discuss? All is in the mind - nothing is objective - who cares what you think? (Who cares what I think, for that matter?)

John Mitchell said...

"It seems to me that the fundamental problem with denial of realism as to the external world is that it is bo-o-o-o-r-ing.

What is there left to discuss? All is in the mind - nothing is objective - who cares what you think? (Who cares what I think, for that matter?)"

It simply does not follow from the denial of the reality of the external world that 'nothing is objective'.

I always thought that the most reasonable thing to do when confronted with a discussion about something one deems to be boring would be to stay out of it and do something one considers more interesting but thats just me.

I can at least promise than when Dr. Reppert and you want to discuss whether one should eat meat offered to idols, i will happily refrain from commenting.

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "The fundamental problem of the various anti-realist positions regarding the notion of the 'external world', like for example idealism in its various forms, seems to me to be the question how it can be consistently maintained that the world, as we experience it, is a construct of a mind that itself is a part of said world."

While not a student of this "problem," I believe the basic position for those who deny knowledge of an external world is that all that exists is the self as a disembodied mind. I agree that this introduces all kinds of questions, but if one wants to demand evidence for more than the existence of the self I agree that withdrawing to this position is, well, incorrigible.

Mitchell: "I dont know much about Berkeley but in Kant and later Schopenhauer there seems to be the admission of the existence of some kind of 'underlying reality'."

If this the case I would assume that this means that they accept an underlying reality (external world) axiomatically, and have not "solved" the problem of the dedicated solipsist.

Mithcell: "I never fully understood in which relation 'the mind' stands to this 'underlying reality', given that causality seems to me to be a product of the phenomenal world, the world of experience."

I share your confusion toward the approach which considers the mind being the subject of existence, rather than an object in it.

Victor Reppert said...

I don't at all see why I am opposed to a line of inquiry if I think it ultimately is going to fail because it is looking for something that is incoherent. Do I have to believe that a line of inquiry will reach its hoped-for goal to think the line of inquiry is worthwhile?

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "I don't at all see why I am opposed to a line of inquiry if I think it ultimately is going to fail because it is looking for something that is incoherent."

Well, if we agree that something is incoherent, and there is no evidence for that thing, then I would agree with you about that something.

If you believe something is incoherent, and I don't, then you need to persuade me. Right now, I'm not even persuaded.

Lastly, even if we both agree that something is incoherent, but we have evidence for it, then both of us need to change our thinking.

Don't you agree?

John Mitchell said...

"Mitchell: "I dont know much about Berkeley but in Kant and later Schopenhauer there seems to be the admission of the existence of some kind of 'underlying reality'."

If this the case I would assume that this means that they accept an underlying reality (external world) axiomatically, and have not "solved" the problem of the dedicated solipsist."

I don't think Kant wanted to do away with solipsism i dont even think that's possible, if somebody wants to hold to solipsism you can't really help him
Kant, it seems to me, maintained that if there is an object as it appears then there has to be the object as it is in itself. We simply have no real access to anything beyond mere phenomena.



"Lastly, even if we both agree that something is incoherent, but we have evidence for it, then both of us need to change our thinking. "

You do realize that there can be evidence for a falsehood??
And besides that if materialism is the issue, there really isn't any good evidence for its truth.
There is wonderful evidence for the existence of brains, synapses, neurons and the like.
If materialism is supposed to be the position that all phenomena are basically just material (physical) interactions, then i dont see any good evidence for that.

Cal Metzger said...

Mitchell: "You do realize that there can be evidence for a falsehood??"

No, I don't, except in a way that is tangential to what I mean.

By "evidence" I mean "all the evidence," and in relation to that theory (explanation) that prevails.

Let's be clear that by "evidence" I don't mean something like a falsehood (which sounds like a lie or some kind of testimony). I think that the confusion over the term "evidence" in something like legal proceedings and the way the term is used in discussions about knowledge (and particularly science) is a real source of problems in these discussions, and so I like to distinguish the two most popular usages; by evidence, I don't mean legal evidence: I mean evidence the way that it's used in basic science.

But what's your point regarding the evidence (in the way I explain above) and my statement to VR -- that "even if we both agree that something is incoherent, but we have evidence for it, then both of us need to change our thinking."?

Mitchell: "And besides that if materialism is the issue, there really isn't any good evidence for its truth."

Materialsm is a philosophical position that goes farther than I would. I don't really think it serves much purpose in these discussion other than to attempt to strawman the kind of position that I am defending. (I'm not suggesting that you're strawmanning my position, but that's what I often see.)

Mitchell: "There is wonderful evidence for the existence of brains, synapses, neurons and the like."

I agree.

Mitchell: "If materialism is supposed to be the position that all phenomena are basically just material (physical) interactions, then i dont see any good evidence for that."

I am not what I think most people characterize as a materialist, but I do subscribe to the idea that all interactions -- including our thoughts and this discussion, etc. -- are the result of physical things interacting. If that is what you take issue with, then I disagree - I think all the evidence points to the fact that our discussion is based on the result of physical objects interacting.




Gyan said...

"Alvin Plantinga's argument that if you accept the arguments for other minds, then arguments for theism have to be accepted for the same reasons?"

The very notion of argumentation presupposes other minds.

Gyan said...

Carl Metzger,
" axioms are a) assumed without evidence, "

Only if we are playing games. To have a solid foundation for sciences, the axioms must be self-evident.

Cal Metzger said...

Gyan: "To have a solid foundation for sciences, the axioms must be self-evident."

Well, what I meant is that accepting that some of our experiences relate to an external world is not something that can be resolved by the evidence itself. But I agree that the evidence has to be, well, evident.

Gyan said...

The external world must be affirmed BEFORE any (sane) argumentation can even commence.
This affirmation is not to be classed as either a presupposition or an axiom.

Gyan said...

John Mitchell:
"We simply have no real access to anything beyond mere phenomena."

"One's knowing is meaningless unless one knows something, that is unless one's knowledge touches on reality. Elementary as this truth may appear, it has been stolen from Western rationality ever since Kant made his mark"
Stanley Jaki "Road to Science and Ways to God"

anonymous22056 said...

Sorry to jump in here, but the fact is that there is nothing about the Berkelian immaterialist position that is self-undermining or incoherent. Furthermore, immaterialism, as Berkeley understood it, is a form of realism, for the world, though composed of ideas, is still objectively the same (or as much the same as it is on materialism) given that it is the creation of one specific mind who keeps it the same for all other minds, thereby making it objectively real for the other minds.


The external world must be affirmed BEFORE any (sane) argumentation can even commence.

Completely false, and question-begging to boot, for it assumes some sort of materialism. The fact is that immaterialism could be true, and thus only minds and their ideas could exist, and yet argumentation could still occur just as it does now. You will need an actual argument or evidence to support your above assertion, not just the use of CAPS.

I note as well that while no argumentation could occur without minds existing (or at least a mind), it could occur without matter existing, and so the burden of proof is on the materialist to prove that matter actually does exist before the immaterialist needs to accept his contention. Good luck!

22056
www.investigativeapologetics.wordpress.com