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Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

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Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 16th, 2018, 6:28 pm

If we simply connect the dots between the best theories we currently have, wouldn't a deeper understanding of Truth emerge?
For example, if the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water are mastered separately, many truths about their individual characteristics would emerge. But what if those truths were to be analyzed together? The individual truths should be able to be combined to realize their full potential - and hopefully, a greater Truth a and understanding would emerge.

So I ask, can the conclusions of strong arguments in one aspect of philosophy be understood while simultaneously reviewing/understanding conclusions from other topics, and does this simultaneous understanding of multiple truths lead one toward one ultimate Truth?

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by Scott » December 17th, 2018, 10:50 am

What do you mean by "one ultimate truth"?

It is already common practice for different specific fields of scientific study to inform each other and for some scientific theories to incorporate other confirmed scientific theories and confirmed scientific hypothesis. In fact, many define a theory as a collection of confirmed hypotheses.
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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 18th, 2018, 5:51 am

I don't think any Ultimate Truth could be recognised by us, since we are inherently fallible. There are always limits on the degree of confidence we can have in our knowledge. So even if we held a piece of knowledge that perfectly corresponded to Reality (whatever that is), and even if we considered it to be absolutely true, we would still have to admit that, for all we know, it coud just possibly be wrong. This is inescapable, and may itself be the closest we can get to an Ultimate Truth.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 18th, 2018, 2:26 pm

By one ultimate Truth, I mean that which remains standing when all that can reasonably be proven false has been chiseled away.
Like what remains true after all the respected theories have been applied?
My intuition tells me that truth often corresponds to simplicity.
The theory I am searching for may start off small by stating that it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that "beauty is real."
But I would expect it to have the qualities of a methodology of thinking (or a dialectic) that leads one to think useful, productive thoughts in any situation. I'm hoping for something profound that would significantly alter my daily habits for the better. For instance, if it were stated to be true beyond a reasonable doubt that "no human is pure evil" this would make a significant difference in my and others' worldviews. Maybe the Truth is that "we are each instances of a singular consciousness," I'm just speculating but maybe there is a nugget of Truth that withstands the scrutiny of all the respected theories and I just want to know what it is. Like I said, I am hoping for some dialectic to emerge that might state, "it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that in all situations, it would benefit the individual to keep W in mind and follow steps X, Y, and Z to make good, useful, progress in his endeavors."

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 18th, 2018, 2:57 pm

JaxAg wrote:
December 18th, 2018, 5:51 am
I don't think any Ultimate Truth could be recognised by us, since we are inherently fallible. There are always limits on the degree of confidence we can have in our knowledge. So even if we held a piece of knowledge that perfectly corresponded to Reality (whatever that is), and even if we considered it to be absolutely true, we would still have to admit that, for all we know, it coud just possibly be wrong. This is inescapable, and may itself be the closest we can get to an Ultimate Truth.
Note: I capitalize "Truth" because it is extremely important to me.
I think a pure Truth may be difficult at first to accept, yet it would be abundantly understandable once fully realized. (Like riding a bicycle.) From your comment and your introduction post I can ascertain that you believe that "we are inherently fallible." I honestly don't know that to be true. Other posters seem to hold certain truths to be definitely real as well; but I remain undecided. I am just wondering if there is one Truth or a group or category of Truths that clear up any misconceptions about life - that can pass the test of the philosophical theories. (Just like the statue that would remain after all false-hood has been chipped away.) Maybe there is nothing but more questions or maybe there is a substantial clue into the meaning and purpose of existence.
I have tried to come up with examples but they are just shots in the dark because I am not familiar with most of the theories. A potential candidate would be that "reality always reflects reality" or "all things that have value are real" but as I said, I can't prove them beyond a reasonable doubt. I even came up with an idea that speaking for the group (univocal) and to each member seperately (equivocal) has the power to generate truths such as "I am who I am" and "I have the right to be right."
I'm searching for the theory that can use other theories as (circumstantial) evidence and generate True statements... or at least a theory that can generate at least enough True statements to create a functional worldview and a dialectic for living.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 18th, 2018, 3:44 pm

Obviously, I didn't read your OP with sufficient care before firing off a response. I must apologise for that. I now understand that you are seeking a truth that is 'beyond reasonable doubt', rather than demanding absolute certainty. This is a quest worth following, in that success is not ruled out at the outset.
Tautological statements such as 'I am who I am', 'Brexit means Brexit', have the benefit of being undeniably true, but the drawback is that they contain no information. The fundamental axioms of logic and mathematics, by contrast, are not quite tautological, so they do contain some information, yet they are so blindingly obvious that it is near impossible to imagine how they could not be true. Is this the kind of thing you are looking for, with maybe something more human-related in them?
Such a foundational truth might not appear to have a lot of meaning in itself, but might form a base that could be built on, in the way the entire edifice of mathematics is built on all-but-useless statements like A*1 = A.
I used to hope for such a foundational truth in political morality, until I got into a discussion with a self-styled 'Nazi philosopher'. (this was around 1970) It quickly became apparent to both of us that we could not develop a meaningful debate, because we lacked a basic ethical value on which to build, or against which to test our claims.. I was starting from the principle that all human lives are of equal value; he started from a duty of loyalty to family, nation and race. I could not claim that his moral foundation was wrong in the sense of being factually incorrect, logically inconsistent, etc. I could only declare that I found his belief-system utterly repellent. And he held precisely the same attitude to mine.

Ethical truths are possibly closer to aesthetics than to logic. 'Truth is beauty, beauty truth' as Keats wrote. 'This is all ye know, and all ye need to know'. Which is fine, but if I ever need to visit a doctor, I hope she's studied medical science as well as poetry!

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 18th, 2018, 4:33 pm

TryingMyBest wrote:
December 18th, 2018, 2:57 pm
From your comment and your introduction post I can ascertain that you believe that "we are inherently fallible." I honestly don't know that to be true.
In what follows, I propose to to use the word 'infallible' as an absolute. I hope you will allow this, for the sake of this argument. There is a vast continuum of fallibilty, I suggest, from the total genius to the blithering idiot. An infallible being, on the other hand, must be completely infallible, by which I mean totally incapable of believing an untrue statement.
If this definition is accepted, I claim the following : In any universe that contains beings that are capable of conscious self-appraisal, every such being must belong to exactly one of the following four sets:

A: Fallible beings who believe themselves to be fallible.
B: Fallible beings who believe themselves to be infallible.
C: Infallible beings who believe themselves to be infallible.
D: Infallible beings who believe themselves to be fallible.

It should be immediately obvious that set D has no members. An infallible being cannot beleive something which is not true.
This leaves three possible sets, of which only one, set A, contains beings that are fallible. Consequently, any being that believes itself to be fallible truly is fallible. This is one thing about which the fallible being can be absolutely certain; since I believe that I am fallible, I know for sure that I am fallible..
Conversely, suppose that some being believes itself to be infallible.. Such a being must either be able to show that the argument I have presented is erroneous, or else answer the question " What evidence of your infallibility do you have, apart from your belief? 'How do you know you are not a member of set B? After all, every member of set B believes itself to be a member of set C.?' If the being cannot present strong evidence of infallibilty, and also admits that my reasoning is not at fault, then it must admit that it could possibly be a member of set B. Which means it concedes that it has some capability of believing something that is not true.. In which case it must relegate itself to set A, along with the rest of us fallible (but not necessarily stupid) beings.
Are you still unsure of your fallibility?

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 18th, 2018, 6:32 pm

I will answer your question while trying to keep in line with the thread's topic about searching for Truth (beyond a reasonable doubt):
I am sure of my fallibility at times and I am sure of my infallibility at times.

I propose that I am capable of mistakes or being erroneous, but the search for Truth is not. I think that an honest search for Truth requires infallibility, either by an individual or a collection of thinkers. Because each additional claim either adds to what truth is or clarifies what truth is not. The process is infallible, and therefore someone honestly participating in this process is (at least temporarily) infallible.

What if a person argued, "I have no beliefs except that which is true"?
This would eliminate B and D and leave us only with A and C.
So, in guessing the number of gumballs in the machine, I am fallible and admit it (A).
But in my honest attempt to know Truth, whatever it happens to be, I am infallible and believe it (C).
So, strictly speaking, I am sometimes A and sometimes C.

I cannot accept that an honest search for truth, without a previously held belief set, can be fallible. Because whichever way the "true" wind blows is where I go. Once/if Truth is recognized, is understood and leads to a method of everyday living, C might be applied more often.
I am not omniscient, but I do have the power of not speaking about things of which I am ignorant. Is someone who is a "mute" infallible because he never makes false claims?

An honest search for Truth can only infallibly lead towards Truth, any error along the way simply adds to the clarification of the Truth.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 18th, 2018, 7:51 pm

We are obviously using completely different ideas of 'infallibility' here. When I embark on a 'search' for a new truth, or an effort to understand something difficult, I start with the recognition that my current level of understanding is inadequate. (Why else would I bother searching for a better one?) I know that I will spend time poking into corners where my quarry isn't hiding. I expect there will be times when I feel sure I have discovered a really important ruth, and times when I realise that my new 'discovery' was compleetely wrong.
This process sometimes turns up a useful insight, and sometimes (more often) turns up nothing but rubbish. The search is not infallible. The method is not infallible. The 'truths' it turns up are at best partial, and occasionally completely wrong. This is normal. In fact, I experience this as beautiful.
Infallibility, in my scheme, would feel like buying a book of Sudoku puzzles with the answers already filled in.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 18th, 2018, 10:17 pm

TryingMyBest wrote:
December 18th, 2018, 6:32 pm


I propose that I am capable of mistakes or being erroneous, but the search for Truth is not. I think that an honest search for Truth requires infallibility, either by an individual or a collection of thinkers. Because each additional claim either adds to what truth is or clarifies what truth is not. The process is infallible, and therefore someone honestly participating in this process is (at least temporarily) infallible.

What if a person argued, "I have no beliefs except that which is true"?
How would the person be able to know what is true, without first searching?
This would eliminate B and D and leave us only with A and C.
So, in guessing the number of gumballs in the machine, I am fallible and admit it (A).
But in my honest attempt to know Truth, whatever it happens to be, I am infallible and believe it (C).
So, strictly speaking, I am sometimes A and sometimes C.
Oh. Right. You are using the word infallible where I would use something like 'unfailing' or 'faithful'. Is that right?
Is someone who is a "mute" infallible because he never makes false claims?
Not the way I use the word. For me, an infallible being would be one that is incapable of believing something that is untrue: ie is incapable of holding wrong beliefs as truths. For example, a person who could possibly be wrong about some things, but who believes 'I am infallible' belongs in set B. Only a being that cannot possibly hold a false belief belongs in set c.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 18th, 2018, 11:54 pm

@JaxAg By that reasoning, I am infallible and believe myself to be infallible. I grant you that.

I also want to reiterate that the search for truth for truth's sake is still a perfect game.

I wish to go back now to @Scott 's question about what I meant about "one ultimate truth".
Firstly, I am interested in more than one if they are available. Secondly, by ultimate, I mean: being or happening at the end of a process, the best achievable or imaginable of its kind, or a final or fundamental fact or principle. Thirdly, by truth, I am only willing to say that the truth is the truth.

I am interested, if it now exists or if new hypotheses and theories are emerging, regardless of their popularity, a provable (beyond a reasonable doubt) theory that describes that which is true.

I cannot pre-script which truth may be arising, so I don't know exactly what to ask for. I am interested in all theories that can hold up to the same standard of proof that my country uses to strip away someone's freedom: that it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

An ultimate truth could be the collection of truths that remain true in each and every decent theory. (Like factoring in math and identifying the common prime factors.)
An ultimate truth could be the metaphorical statue that remains when all false objects/assertions have been chiseled away from reality.
An ultimate truth could be the sum total of all things true and their relationships with each other.
An ultimate truth could be a set of word-formulas/equations that serve to derive and to be the foundation of human understanding and knowledge.
An ultimate truth could be something useful, such as something to keep in mind in our daily lives that help us reach our potential.
An ultimate truth could be a method of thinking/behaving (or a dialectic) that, when followed, always leads one into more favorable circumstances.
An ultimate truth could be a simple statement of fact, such as "reality reflects reality" but would have to stand up to and be confirmed by the state-of-the-art theories that currently exist.
I imagine that an ultimate truth would have to be true at all times.

So I ask you once again, does a review of the state-of-the-art theories reveal or result in ultimate truths that are provable "beyond a reasonable doubt"?
Thank you for participating in this thread. I will study any theories that you recommend to me.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 19th, 2018, 6:27 am

TryingMyBest wrote:
December 18th, 2018, 11:54 pm
@JaxAg By that reasoning, I am infallible and believe myself to be infallible. I grant you that.
@TryingMyBest. No. My reasoning demonstrates exactly the opposite. Since set D must by definition be empty, there remain only three sets, A B and C, which must between them contain all possible self-reflective beings in the universe. Of these three sets only one, set A in my scheme, contains beings who are fallible; namely, beings who believe they are fallible. This proves beyond doubt that if you believe yourself to be fallible, then you are indeed fallible. But the implication is that there are then few other things about which you can claim absolutely certain knowledge. (and possibly none at all)
Beings that believe themselves infallible, on the other hand, cannot conclude anything at all from this belief. All members of both sets B and C believe that they are infallible. By definition, no member of set B believes itself to be a member of set B. In other words, believing yourself to be infallible proves nothing at all. You would need some other firm evidence of your infallibilty. Have you got any?

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by TryingMyBest » December 19th, 2018, 5:46 pm

@JaxAg I mistyped. I should have typed "I am fallible and believe myself to be so." But only in the sense that I am not perfect. I am imperfect in the sense that I don't know which truths exist beyond a reasonable doubt. I need to believe in something so that I may keep the truth in mind and follow true steps toward true success. Without these, I could be acting in a way that is self-defeating. Without the truth to guide me I feel like I am blindly blundering through life. =(

Though, I'm right for asking the question and seeking the answers.

Concerning fallibility: Whatever I believe, I think is actually true. Yet some things I believe without having proof that it is true. (I will give an example in a moment.) These beliefs, when/if proven untrue, prove that I am capable of believing in something that is not true (I would then consider myself fallible).
The example: I believe (and hope) that there exist essential truths waiting to be learned and accepted. And I believe that living in accordance with these truths would benefit me. If my belief is wrong, then there is proof that I am infallible. If I am right, there is only proof that I am not always fallible. I can't believe things if I think they are untrue, there is a link between thinking and believing for me.

Honest question: Do your beliefs about your own fallibility help you keep things in perspective and guide you towards progress? Perhaps this theory can withstand proof beyond a reasonable doubt but I'm wondering how it's helpful to frequently doubt your own beliefs, based on the belief that you are fallible. Or do you have no beliefs except that you are fallible?
I am sincerely looking for an idea that is believable and useful, if this is one of those, then I am asking you to explain how it is.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by JaxAg » December 19th, 2018, 6:24 pm

I take fallibility only as a starting point. We all believe what we believe. Obviously. We don't know when our ideas are wrong. That's pretty much the definition of being wrong. But remembering that it is normal to be wrong, that it is ok to make mistakes, is something I wish I had been taught in childhood. That would have made my life a lot easier. Being open to the possibility that you might be wrong; being able to admit it, learn from it, and change your mind instead of getting defensive and doubling down on your errors, is a wonderful ability, which we should teach our children from early. But that would involve teaching them that it is normal for grown-ups to be wrong too; that it is healthy to question the things your political and religious leaders tell you. That's a dangerous thing to encourage in your citizens if you like having power.

I hope that helps you in your search. Good luck with it.

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Re: Can Circumstantial Evidence in Philosophy Lead to Truth "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"?

Post by h_k_s » December 20th, 2018, 12:16 pm

TryingMyBest wrote:
December 16th, 2018, 6:28 pm
If we simply connect the dots between the best theories we currently have, wouldn't a deeper understanding of Truth emerge?
For example, if the elements of earth, wind, fire, and water are mastered separately, many truths about their individual characteristics would emerge. But what if those truths were to be analyzed together? The individual truths should be able to be combined to realize their full potential - and hopefully, a greater Truth a and understanding would emerge.

So I ask, can the conclusions of strong arguments in one aspect of philosophy be understood while simultaneously reviewing/understanding conclusions from other topics, and does this simultaneous understanding of multiple truths lead one toward one ultimate Truth?
In Philosophy you need to be able to live with doubt.

Nothing is cut and dried in Philosophy.

Deductions are more cut and dried than inferences of course. Both are considered reasonable a-posteriori truth.

We can argue about what is and is not a-priori all day long.

I consider a-priori simply "self evident" truths.

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