On Epistemic Assumptions (Quora)


I hold no presuppositions

I hold no presuppositions.

Yes you do. You must presuppose logic to make sense of the world.

No I don’t. I am just fine positioning my degree of confidence in logic to the degree that I perceive it to have worked in the past.

See! You are presupposing induction! You have presumed a priori that induction will work in the future! That’s circular!

No it isn’t. Induction is assessing what seems to work best to explain or predict. Rationality is epistemically following what seems to work best to explain or predict. The essence of induction and rationality is following what works best to explain or predict. We can test induction and rationality by intentionally following what does not seem to work, assessing the perceived consequences, then comparing those consequences to the consequences we perceive when we do follow what works. If induction suddenly ceases to work, at that point I can presuppositionallessly abandon induction for something that works better (if found). Until then, I will position my degree of confidence in induction to the degree that I perceive it to work.

But you don’t know whether you are a brain in a vat! Maybe the regularity you perceive is all an illusion!

The possibility that I am a brain in a vat does not force me to adopt presuppositions. I retain the ability to limit my degree of belief to the degree that the object of my belief seems to work.

Remember, epistemically fallible humans are not responsible to uncover truth. If we wish to follow what seems to work, we are only responsible for following what seems to work, Remember the boy who cried “wolf” was justifiably ignored by the villagers after the boy’s many lies, even though an actual wolf did indeed finally attack the flock. The villagers were not delinquent in their epistemic duties. 

But your statement that you hold no presuppositions is an absolute truth-claim! That is your presupposition!

Nope. If you need me to preface all of my statements with “The following statement I hold to a high, but non-absolute degree of confidence”, I will. But do you really want to hear this repeated ad nauseum? I might be wrong about everything I state. Simply provide evidence/argumentation to that effect.

But if you could be wrong about something, then you don’t actually know that something! 

Not if you speak the same English spoken by over a billion individuals who have conventionally assigned the linguistic tag “knowledge” to the meaning “something believed with a high degree of justified confidence”. To intentionally equivocate between this conventional meaning and some private meaning that restricts the use of “knowledge” only in contexts in which one can not be wrong is dishonest. 

But I “know” some things with absolute confidence since my god transmits that knowledge to me directly!

Then you’ll be able to explain how you’ve assessed the reliability of the tools you used to assessed the reliability of the mechanism of that transmission…and then how you assessed the reliability of the tools you used to assess the tools you used to assess the reliability of the mechanism of that transmission…ad infinitum. If you can’t, then you don’t have absolute knowledge since your assessment of the reliability of your knowledge has no infallible foundation accessible to you as evidenced by your silence on the matter.

Why do you hate God so much?

It might have something to do with his advocates mendaciously claiming I hold presuppositions when I’ve made it explicit I don’t.

For more on the silly notions of Presuppositionalism, visit this site.