Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group Message Board › Dialogue between Derik and Bill (but others are welcome) related to the book

Dialogue between Derik and Bill (but others are welcome) related to the book on the Mind-Body Problem and other matters

Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 168
My concept of justification does not. When I said, "is justified by a lower-level platform of beliefs, one of which is...", I am necessitating only coherence with the beliefs on the layer below it. This common manner of justification manifests in countless colloquialisms we use as humans, foremost among which is, "That makes sense."

But what good would the quoting of one of those other beliefs be in demonstrating the necessity of (justifying or legitimizing) the belief in question unless there was a logical (syllogistic) connection between that one belief and the beliefs being used to justify or legitimize it? If I believe my car is in my garage, my belief that I have a garage is a related belief, but it is useless in justifying or legitimizing my belief that my car is in it. I don’t need a “platform” of related beliefs; I just need two good ones (considered already legitimized) that satisfy a logical syllogism. But those two good ones need also to stand up to the test of the rules of evidence, or be logically consisted with ones that do.

Logic at its most primitive is coherence and coherence alone.

Somewhere in your head, a belief is rattling around that "The conclusion of a syllogism in which the premises are accurate is 'correct'". Take note, this is a belief. Another belief: "I parked my car in the garage last night." Another: "When I park my car somewhere at night, it stays there until the morning." Another, "My car is in my garage this morning." All you can say about your beliefs in the above example is that your belief system is coherent. That's all anyone can ever say to "justify" any beliefs!

But why do you call it "justification"? To show that some beliefs are connected to other beliefs does not in any way demonstrate that those beliefs are "correct." When people thought that the earth was flat, they had large numbers of beliefs that were consistent with this belief.

Do you not see that "Conclusions of syllogisms are true when their premises are true" is a belief like any other? This being so, all our belief systems can be is coherent!

And so, what I've been asserting for a few pages now is that there are layers of prior coherence that give justification to the layers above it, as in my example of [REUEP coheres with "Death can be early" coheres with "People die"]. Way down deep at the lowest of these layers, all of us have a belief that is necessarily based on no empirical evidence that serves as the basis of all coherence: idealism, physicalism, or theism.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,820
Derik,
Sorry it took so long to respond. I’ve been very busy.
My­ concept of justification does not. When I said, "is justified by a lower-level platform of beliefs, one of which is...", I am necessitating only coherence with the beliefs on the layer below it. This common manner of justification manifests in countless colloquialisms we use as humans, foremost among which is, "That makes sense."

But what good would the quoting of one of those other beliefs be in demonstrating the necessity of (justifying or legitimizing) the belief in question unless there was a logical (syllogistic) connection between that one belief and the beliefs being used to justify or legitimize it? If I believe my car is in my garage, my belief that I have a garage is a related belief, but it is useless in justifying or legitimizing my belief that my car is in it. I don’t need a “platform” of related beliefs; I just need two good ones (considered already legitimized) that satisfy a logical syllogism. But those two good ones need also to stand up to the test of the rules of evidence, or be logically consisted with ones that do.

Logic at its most primitive is coherence and coherence alone.
Now you are introducing another term, "coherence," your meaning of which I do not yet know. And I do not know what you mean by "logic at its most primitive." So my experience is that each time that I try to make something clear, with consistent terminology, a new, undefined term arises, presumably demonstrating that what I have said is not accurate, but instead leading to more confusion (at least in my mind). The basic idea of logic (perhaps logic at its most primitive?) is that it is possible, by following certain rules, to demonstrate that propositions are either consistent with each other or inconsistent with each other, inconsistency referring to existence of contradiction, namely, the situation in which one is saying that "A is true" and “A is not true." And the importance of being able to do this is that a model that has such a contradiction in it is unable thereby to produce a prediction. Propositions are our linguistic models of beliefs that a person might or might not have. I am of course using the terminology that is used in the Book1, and lifting part of it out of that context can indeed lead to further confusion if inappropriate meaning is assigned to those words.

Somewhere in your head, a belief is rattling around that "The conclusion of a syllogism in which the premises are accurate is 'correct'". Take note, this is a belief. Another belief: "I parked my car in the garage last night." Another: "When I park my car somewhere at night, it stays there until the morning." Another, "My car is in my garage this morning." All you can say about your beliefs in the above example is that your belief system is coherent. That's all anyone can ever say to "justify" any beliefs!
Those are three separate existential beliefs, each one of which could be accurate, somewhat accurate, or inaccurate. So in this case, by “coherence” you are meaning “logically consistent” or “free of contradiction, in a situation in which if the first two are accepted as accurate, the third would most likely also be accurate. But that is not what you were meaning by “coherence” earlier. You were not referring to the rules of logic, but just the fact that propositions (modeling beliefs) have words in them the definitions of which imply additional beliefs. My belief that my car is in my garage implies my belief that I have a car and a garage. But it doesn’t do anything toward legitimating my belief that my car is in my garage. You are confusing “implication” with “justification” or “legitimization.”

So by "coherence," you sometimes mean "consistent," or free of contradiction, and other times mean “implied.” And yes, the rules of logic clarify only whether a set of propositions is free of contradiction (leaving aside the issue of fuzzy logic). It is the rules of evidence that increase the confidence in the degree of accuracy of the propositions, that is, the degree of accuracy that the propositions, as a model, model some aspect of "reality." There is some degree of uncertainty in all models of the way the world is, and probably some degree of inaccuracy and imprecision.

If I say, Derik “You have three legs; anyone with three legs has difficulty walking; therefore (I know) you have difficulty walking,” there is logical consistency, according to the rules of logic. However, there is not accuracy, according to the rules of evidence. And it doesn’t help to say that what I have said just implies that I believe that you exist and that legs exist and that walking occurs. To refer to consistency, accuracy, and implication all as “coherence” does not help in understanding anything. It just leads to further confusion. Also, legitimization is simply giving one’s reason for believing something, but that reason may have problems with it, as in the example, wherein, if I were trying to legitimate my belief that you have trouble walking, you would not accept my legitimization because the legitimization involved demonstrating that the belief followed from two other accepted beliefs by virtue of the rules of logic and you did not accept the two other beliefs.

But why do you call it "justification"? To show that some beliefs are connected to other beliefs does not in any way demonstrate that those beliefs are "correct." When people thought that the earth was flat, they had large numbers of beliefs that were consistent with this belief.

Do you not see that "Conclusions of syllogisms are true when their premises are true" is a belief like any other? This being so, all our belief systems can be is coherent!
No, they can also be more or less accurate, generating predictions that turn out to be what actually happens. The rules of logic (increasing our consistency) are different from the rules of evidence (increasing our accuracy).

And so, what I've been asserting for a few pages now is that there are layers of prior coherence that give justification to the layers above it, as in my example of [REUEP coheres with "Death can be early" coheres with "People die"]. Way down deep at the lowest of these layers, all of us have a belief that is necessarily based on no empirical evidence that serves as the basis of all coherence: idealism, physicalism, or theism.
Here again you are using “justification” and “coherence” as if they are the same thing, when how you use “coherence” means more things than just “justification,” even if you do mean the same thing by “justification” and “legitimization” (though at times it seems that you don’t).

Regarding your most fundamental beliefs, I believe there is another alternative, as is explained in the Mind-Body Problem book, but it is not easy to conceptualize this alternative. That is why it takes a book rather than a sentence or a paragraph. The three alternatives you list I believe are the product of the flawed “Physico-Mental Model” that everyone naturally tends to use, as spelled out in the book.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,821
Implication: Shows you believe something, whether crazy or not
Consistency: Shows your beliefs are logically consistent, whether crazy or not
Legitimization: Is your effort to show that your belief is not crazy, and your effort may be effective or not. One way is to demonstrate the consistency with other beliefs we both agree on, that is, to show that to believe otherwise would be inconsistent with those other beliefs.
Coherence: Your term that seems to mean different things at different times.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 169

Somewhere in your head, a belief is rattling around that "The conclusion of a syllogism in which the premises are accurate is 'correct'". Take note, this is a belief. Another belief: "I parked my car in the garage last night." Another: "When I park my car somewhere at night, it stays there until the morning." Another, "My car is in my garage this morning." All you can say about your beliefs in the above example is that your belief system is coherent. That's all anyone can ever say to "justify" any beliefs!

Those are three separate existential beliefs, each one of which could be accurate, somewhat accurate, or inaccurate.


Bill. There are FOUR beliefs in the above example. It is essential that you see the first belief is made of the same belief-stuff as the other three. Instead, you are making the unfortunate distinction that the rules of logic and the rules of evidence are somehow "privileged beliefs".

If you examine closely the deep reverence with which you mention "rules of logic" and "rules of evidence", you would see that you hold these beliefs at a very, very fundamental layer--probably quite near to your most fundamental belief--but you must realize that they are only "rules" because you have a belief that they are rules?

- - -

Per your scree about my introduction of new terms: "coherence", like "justification" and all of the other terms I use, has a specific definition and use in the philosophical community. In the future, before commenting on the novelty of my use of philosophical terms, perhaps a quick search of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or some other such online resource could resolve further confusion? Or should all we do and say on this message board be set apart as an island unto itself, divorced from the broader body of knowledge and thought contributed by others over the centuries?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,822
Derik,
Bill. There are FOUR beliefs in the above example. It is essential that you see the first belief is made of the same belief-stuff as the other three. Instead, you are making the unfortunate distinction that the rules of logic and the rules of evidence are somehow "privileged beliefs".
Now you are introducing another undefined term, “privileged beliefs.” I have no idea what you mean by that. And I don’t know what kinds of “belief stuff” there are.

If you examine closely the deep reverence with which you mention "rules of logic" and "rules of evidence", you would see that you hold these beliefs at a very, very fundamental layer--probably quite near to your most fundamental belief--but you must realize that they are only "rules" because you have a belief that they are rules?
Well, I think I know what you mean by “reverence,” and you are right, but only because I have learned that they work. It is only by virtue of the rules of logic and the rules of evidence that we have most of what we have today and have gone way beyond what we could otherwise have accomplished. We are very far along from the way we were 3000 years ago (before the rules of logic were begun to be developed to a significant extent), and even 300 years ago (before the rules of evidence were begun to be developed to a significant extent). And our second exponential change, based upon those highly effective rules, is continuing to accelerate. What you are looking at this moment is a good example. And they are indeed “rules,” procedures to follow in an effort to get certain desired results. I am not able to believe that you believe those rules to be ineffective or to be rules that should be discarded. And remember that they are rules to be used only when trying to do certain things. We don’t need them when we are enjoying art, watching drama or comedy, or making love.

- - -

Per your scree about my introduction of new terms: "coherence", like "justification" and all of the other terms I use, has a specific definition and use in the philosophical community. In the future, before commenting on the novelty of my use of philosophical terms, perhaps a quick search of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or some other such online resource could resolve further confusion? Or should all we do and say on this message board be set apart as an island unto itself, divorced from the broader body of knowledge and thought contributed by others over the centuries?
Yes. The dictionaries contain lists of meanings that our various words have for some groups of people, those meanings gradually changing over time. It is easy to outsource your explanations to what other people have written, there being thousands of such people whose writings can be referenced, but on this message board what is most helpful is if we share and compare our own ideas with those of others, and explore the differences. It will be fine if you C&P one of those definitions and say that that is how you are using the word in the current discussion. But to say the equivalent of “if you don’t understand me, go study what someone else has written” would seem to me to be a leaving of the dialogue. I have benefitted by all that I have read over my lifetime, but what is important to me is how I put all of that together in my own mind as my own set of existential and ethical beliefs, and then to share and compare those beliefs with the beliefs of others. That helps me to attain more precision and accuracy in my own beliefs, and a better ability to convey them.

Of course in the above I was only referring to our dialogues. We can also post on this message board wonderful presentations (including videos) of the ideas of others to further stimulate our own thinking. And we can use the message board for passing along information to one another. But if we are talking about the sharing and comparing of our beliefs in order to learn from the process, then outsourcing to third parties instead of presentation of what is in one’s own mind represents a loss, I believe.

Per your recommendation, I did look up “scree”:
“Scree, or talus, is accumulation of broken rock fragments at the base of crags, mountain cliffs, or valley shoulders.” So I guess in your mind my statements lie in broken fragments at the base of your mountain of knowledge, or something like that? (Just in case, let me label this last entry as a “joke.” I occasionally get into trouble when I try to joke.)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,830
Well, hopefully our dialogue is not over. There certainly are unclear issues as to why we differ in our beliefs.

BTW, I looked up "scree" in Urban Dictionary and it apparently also refers to angry, frustrated, insulting communication. I have noticed that there are times when you, by your words, imply that I am upset or intolerant. This is supposed to be in contrast to your reasoned approach. If that is what you are trying to convey, I would have to disagree, and say that I don't think that is an accurate picture of what I attempt to do. But I don't require either of us to be perfect in our communication or to have no investment in the effort to make our ideas clear and to make progress in being understood.

I still think that further exploration would be valuable. We both use the word "fundamental," but I have been puzzling over what we mean by the word (and whether we mean the same thing). What is a fundamental belief? What makes it fundamental? Is it how the belief was acquired? What its logical relationships with other beliefs are? How strongly we believe it? Are there certain assumptions hidden in our very use of the word? Do we mean the same thing as "axiomatic beliefs"? Are there beliefs more fundamental than axioms? Is a fundamental belief one that cannot be legitimated? Is a fundamental belief arbitrary? My impression is that you believe it is, and that you are choosing your fundamental belief(s) by virtue of the feeling produced by doing so, e.g., "hope." Is this correct?

At any rate, I hope to see you back some day.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,831
Derik,

I was reviewing the following, and believe I did not do justice to your points. I will present it first, intact, and then try to respond more precisely and with more understanding of what I think you are saying:


Somewhere in your head, a belief is rattling around that "The conclusion of a syllogism in which the premises are accurate is 'correct'". Take note, this is a belief. Another belief: "I parked my car in the garage last night." Another: "When I park my car somewhere at night, it stays there until the morning." Another, "My car is in my garage this morning." All you can say about your beliefs in the above example is that your belief system is coherent. That's all anyone can ever say to "justify" any beliefs!

Those are three separate existential beliefs, each one of which could be accurate, somewhat accurate, or inaccurate.


Bill. There are FOUR beliefs in the above example. It is essential that you see the first belief is made of the same belief-stuff as the other three. Instead, you are making the unfortunate distinction that the rules of logic and the rules of evidence are somehow "privileged beliefs".

If you examine closely the deep reverence with which you mention "rules of logic" and "rules of evidence", you would see that you hold these beliefs at a very, very fundamental layer--probably quite near to your most fundamental belief--but you must realize that they are only "rules" because you have a belief that they are rules?

Now here is my current response:


Somewhere in your head, a belief is rattling around that "The conclusion of a syllogism in which the premises are accurate is 'correct'". Take note, this is a belief.
­Actually, the meaning of this sentence in quotes is unclear, and might or might not be something I would agree with.

The word “correct” can have more than one meaning. It can mean that the conclusion has the truth value of “true” (not “false”) in a logical system, whether describing the way the world is or not, in which case the statement in quotes would be simply a definition, assuming that by the word “accurate” you also mean having the truth value of “true.”

The word “accurate,” however, is more often used to describe the degree to which an existential proposition leads to or is able to lead to predictions as to what will happen, including what will happen if one does certain things. In that case the word “correct” would most likely also mean the same thing as “accurate,” and would be descriptive of an existential proposition. In that case one would have to say that “The conclusion of an appropriately constructed syllogism in which the premises are considered to be accurate has a probability of being accurate that is increased compared to its probability of being accurate if no such syllogism can be constructed.

Another belief: "I parked my car in the garage last night." Another: "When I park my car somewhere at night, it stays there until the morning." Another, "My car is in my garage this morning." All you can say about your beliefs in the above example is that your belief system is coherent. That's all anyone can ever say to "justify" any beliefs!

Those are three separate existential beliefs, each one of which could be accurate, somewhat accurate, or inaccurate.


Bill. There are FOUR beliefs in the above example. It is essential that you see the first belief is made of the same belief-stuff as the other three. Instead, you are making the unfortunate distinction that the rules of logic and the rules of evidence are somehow "privileged beliefs".

Rules are procedures, not beliefs. Rules are ways of doing things. The rules of logic have only to do with the consistency of propositions within a logical system. The propositions can be consistent with one another but have no relationship to the way things really are. The other three propositions are modeling existential beliefs. Propositions are made of language, which is a very imperfect method of modeling beliefs, because most words can have more than one meaning, and because definitions of words draw artificial lines within the set of entities that those definitions are dealing with, such that there is often ambiguity as to whether a particular entity is within or outside the bounds of the definition. That is why we so frequently “talk past each other.”

If you examine closely the deep reverence with which you mention "rules of logic" and "rules of evidence", you would see that you hold these beliefs at a very, very fundamental layer--probably quite near to your most fundamental belief--but you must realize that they are only "rules" because you have a belief that they are rules?
They are rules because they tell you the procedures to follow. They are not beliefs. As I have said, I revere them, as do others, because they work. Before we started using them, we lived drastically differently than the way we do now. Those rules of logic and rules of evidence have given us science and technology. We are talking, hi-tech chimps. I maintain we can go even further, and that we are doing so, though it is hard to see this change occurring because the change, which will be exponential, is just beginning. So the rules of logic and the rules of evidence are not beliefs, but procedures. I do indeed, however, have the belief that those rules work well and enable us to do things we would not be able to do without them.

So I believe my previous response was not as well thought out as this one. I will be interested in knowing if you disagree with any of these responses and, if so, why.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 170
Hi, Bill, it's been awhile! What with a busy and travel-heavy start to the year, some things had to give and I suppose my activities here were among them. All the same, hope you've been well and congrats on nearing 300 members in this group!

With the beneficial externality that goes with such an extended break, I read over the last page of this thread and noticed you had posted a couple of other additions. Taking a step back from it all, the overall proposition I was contending for was something similar to what follows:

Justification is the act of showing a supervenient (less fundamental) belief that I hold is coherent with all subvenient (more fundamental) beliefs.

This makes the "three beliefs or four beliefs" portion of the discussion particularly relevant. You justify a belief that your car is in the driveway by showing those beliefs cohere with sensory-based beliefs about past (seeing, parking, etc.) AND beliefs around the efficacy of the rules of logic / evidence. Laid out more clearly...

Subvenient / more fundamental beliefs (important to note these are not presented as layers of strata as before, just an unordered list):
- I parked my car in the garage last night
- When I park my car somewhere at night, it stays there until morning
- My first two beliefs form the structure of a syllogism, one of nine rules of logic
- Using the rules of logic/evidence consistently lead to accurate beliefs
- Accurate beliefs are better than inaccurate beliefs
- and many others...

Supervenient (less fundamental) belief:
- My car is in the driveway this morning

I can only justify the latter belief by showing it is coherent with all of the former beliefs. What other ways are there to justify anything? Justification is coherence and only coherence.

- - -

I should probably stop there, but I can't resist linking this all back to the prior part of our discussion. Legitimization is a form of justification--a sub-type, if you will--by which one justifies supervenient ethical beliefs by showing they are coherent with one's subvenient beliefs, both ethical and otherwise.

As an example, let's take an ethical form of the above, just in reverse.

Supervenient / less fundamental belief:
- I should park my car in the garage overnight instead of the street

Subvenient / more fundamental beliefs:
- I have a choice of where to park my car at night
- I parked my car in the street last week for a night
- The next morning, my neighbor complained it blocked their driveway
- I should avoid doing things that upset my neighbor whenever possible
- Parking my car in the garage would avoid upsetting my neighbor
- The prior beliefs could be formed in a logical if-then structure
- Using the rules of logic/evidence consistently lead to accurate beliefs
- Accurate beliefs are better than inaccurate beliefs
- and many others...

And so we legitimize the former, supervenient belief with all of the latter, subvenient beliefs.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,832
Good to see you back Derek. Sorry it has taken a while to reply.

What we see is that there continues to be at least the appearance of significant difference of opinion between you and me regarding something, though what that something is is not real clear.

I believe that one of the things that is happening is that, whereas I try to have a very simple and clear lexicon that is internally consistent, you intertwine it with your lexicon that has, in my opinion, somewhat ambiguous terms.

You have been using the word, “fundamental.” I don't believe that you have clearly defined this. You also use the terms “supervenient,” “subvenient,” and “justify.” And you intertwine these words with mine in what I consider to be a confusing manner.

I also think that implied in your writing is the idea that we develop our beliefs somewhat like the development of a logical tree. However, I think that my explicitly stating this would lead to your agreeing with me that this is not how we develop our beliefs. (We will have to wait and see.) I believe that there is no necessary connection between how we develop our beliefs and how we legitimate them.

In the “Mind-Body Problem” book, I gave a description, that I believe is fairly accurate, of how our beliefs develop as little clusters of beliefs with those clusters growing and gradually merging with each other to form larger belief systems or colliding with each other and thus resulting in some changing of belief. Also, there is the variable that has to do with the “strength of” or “confidence in” the belief, as well as the one that has to do with its “precision.”

In this context, I use the single term “legitimization,” and have a particular meaning for it. What I say is that if I have a particular belief and you ask me why I have that belief, my answer to you is my attempted legitimization of the belief. I am essentially saying that my belief meets a criterion that is acceptable to me, and I describe it or at least allude to it. The way that I use “legitimization” also means that I would make the assumption that you would also have the same criterion for legitimization. But if you did not have that criterion of legitimization, then my effort at legitimization of my belief, for you, would not be successful.

You are tangling up this concept with a poorly defined word, “justification,” and even saying that “legitimization” is a kind of “justification,” but without any description within your lexicon that would clarify why you would be making that statement. For instance, I do not have any idea why you would not agree to the opposite, namely, that “justification” was really a kind of “legitimization.”

I have noted before that what I have attempted to describe has become entangled with a set of concepts that you use that includes “supervenient.” As you have described it, this concept really has nothing to do with my concept of “legitimization.”

You are referring to the fact that if I believe I have seen a car or a ghost, then I must also believe that there are such things as cars or ghosts. There are indeed such connections, but they do not have anything to do with whether the belief that there are cars or ghosts is correct, any more than the belief that I have seen a car or that I have seen a ghost is correct. The fact that one of my beliefs implies that I have another belief is not relevant to the issue as to whether those beliefs are “correct,” or “accurate,” or meet a criterion for legitimization that you and I both accept.

I hope this clarifies what is happening to some extent, and I will look forward to hearing from you with regard to your thoughts about what I have written.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 171
Thanks for your reply, Bill. I agree that we'd both be well served by trying to systematically untangle where we're currently tangled.

In my mind, the best place to start is to try for agreement on what we mean by the most basic term we've been using time and again in this discussion: "belief".

Take the below from your last post as an example...


You are referring to the fact that if I believe I have seen a car or a ghost, then I must also believe that there are such things as cars or ghosts. There are indeed such connections, but they do not have anything to do with whether the belief that there are cars or ghosts is correct, any more than the belief that I have seen a car or that I have seen a ghost is correct. The fact that one of my beliefs implies that I have another belief is not relevant to the issue as to whether those beliefs are “correct,” or “accurate,” or meet a criterion for legitimization that you and I both accept.

The first part of the paragraph lists a few beliefs:
- I have seen a car
- Cars exist
- I have seen a ghost
- Ghosts exist

I think we're both agreed that, as written, these are beliefs.

Now, in striving for the agreement about what we mean by beliefs I mentioned above, I would like to also point out that some things you reference later in the paragraph are also beliefs. Examples:
- Beliefs can be correct
- Beliefs can be incorrect
- Beliefs cannot be both correct and incorrect
- A belief can be relevant to another belief
- A belief can be irrelevant to another belief
- A belief cannot be both relevant and irrelevant to the same other belief

So a modest goal for this post... can we both agree that this latter set of statements are what we'd both call "beliefs"?
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