Sunday, December 13, 2015

Positive claims require evidence

'Positive claims demand evidence'.

OK, here's a positive claim for you. "My sense experience gives me veridical knowledge of a physical world independent of my mind."

What is the evidence for this one?

9 comments:

Cal Metzger said...

VR: "My sense experience gives me veridical knowledge of a physical world independent of my mind."

Is your claim that a physical world exists outside of your mind? This is a necessary premise -- we accept it to avoid solipsism.

Is your claim that you veridical knowledge of a physical world independent of your mind? This is testable through those things that exist in the physical world (evidence) -- which basically involves testing for consistency, inter-relatedness, and intersubjectivity.

From where I sit, every time an apologist likes to declare that they have evidence for their beliefs what they really mean is they'd like to point to the thorniest and least productive aspects of epistemology.

jdhuey said...

Pick up any reasonably good book on the current state of neuroscience and it will have ample evidence regarding the perceptial systems that give us our mental simulation that enables us to navigate reality with a good chance of not being killed. One of the things that you will read is that our sense do not, in fact, give us veridicial knowledge of reality: our perceptual systems give us very useful lies about reality. This is shown most clearly with optical illusions.

Crude said...

Is your claim that a physical world exists outside of your mind? This is a necessary premise -- we accept it to avoid solipsism.

"I don't like the consequences if I don't accept it, and I like the consequences if I do, therefore I accept it" isn't evidence. It's a confession that evidence is utterly irrelevant when it comes to some pretty substantial claims about the world.

Furthermore, the alternative to solipsism is not 'physicalism'. We can have all kinds of 'isms' in place of solipsism if we're going to bite that particular bullet, including idealism, neutral monism, and - wait for it... dualism.

Is your claim that you veridical knowledge of a physical world independent of your mind? This is testable through

No, it's not. See above.

Seriously guys. The modern state of the common atheist argument structure is a sad thing indeed.

Cal Metzger said...

Crude: ""I don't like the consequences if I don't accept it, and I like the consequences if I do, therefore I accept it" isn't evidence. It's a confession that evidence is utterly irrelevant when it comes to some pretty substantial claims about the world."

Evidence doesn't exist if the world doesn't exist. All we would have are experiences. I am making the point that we must make an assumption that an external reality exists if we want to have a discussion about how some of our experiences correspond to an external reality. If you don't want to talk about an external reality, then you can enjoy your conversation with all the other solipsists; I'm sure you'll have a stimulating time with yourself.

Crude: "Furthermore, the alternative to solipsism is not 'physicalism'."

I didn't say or even imply that it was. Notice all the my not using the term "physicalism" and stuff.

Crude: "No, it's not. See above."

Blah blah. I did. Not much there, now, is there?

JDR said...

I think I see my uncle Bob down the street. When I get closer I realize it is someone else. Ergo, I am not in control of what I experience. It is not merely the experience, it is also the possibility of error on my part.

Gyan said...

Cal Metzger is absolutely right that
"we must make an assumption that an external reality exists if we want to have a discussion about how some of our experiences correspond to an external reality."

Indeed, it is not even an assumption. One's sense of selfhood is realized by one's interaction with the external world. An infant knows there are external things before he realizes himself to be a self. Stanley Jaki builts up a whole metaphysics out of this in Means to Message.

But VR keeps on peddling this idea without replying to the obvious rejoinders that have been made.

Gyan said...

All these ism's-- idealism, neutral monism, etc etc fail the test that Fr Jaki proposed in Means to Message that any philosophy must justify the means that are inevitably used in communicating the said philosophy to other sentient beings.

Only the metaphysics that "things exist independent of us" is sufficient, both for everyday life and high sciences. All this talk of idealism, monism etc is muddling the issue with failed pseudo-philosophies.

Victor Reppert said...

But the question I was posing had to do with the role of evidence. 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?

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.

Gyan said...

All knowledge or even talk of knowledge is consequent to registering of (external) things , including the knowledge of self.
I don't know what precisely you mean by naive evidentialism.