All swans are white.

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Rombomb
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All swans are white.

Post by Rombomb »

The *All swans are white* hypothetical is a simple example that illustrates the problem with justificationism. Note the OP of this thread. Consider the explanation about positive and negative arguments. Note that "supporting a theory" means using a positive argument to "support" a theory (i.e. make it true, or more probably true). Note that "ruling out a theory" means using a negative argument to "rule out" (aka refute) a theory.

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Taylorthephilosopher wrote:It is evidence and only evidence that provides a theory with credibility. Its objective truth isnt knowable, only its quality and quantity of evidence is.
Consider the theory that *All swans are white*. Say I was a justificationist, so I decided to search for evidence to "support" my theory. So I look for some swans. I find 1,000 swans, and I find that they are all white.

Say I a criticial rationalist comes a long and says, "That doesn't make your theory true." I have an idea that we should look on another continent. He does and finds a black swan.

So there is 1000 times more quantity of evidence supporting the *All swans are white* theory than compared to evidence against that theory.

So according to your epistemology, you'd say that the theory that *All swans are white* is "supported" enough to be considered true (or probably true).

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Taylorthephilosopher wrote:Yes, evaluating the strength of evidence to determine an estimated probability of truth is a much more acccurate way of finding knowledge than compared to randomly guessing at the answers.
No, consider the implications of your method on the *All swans are white* theory. At the point that you've found 1,000 swans, and all are white, what is the probability that this theory is true? Say 99%.

Consider the rival theory that *Not all swans are white*. At the point that you've found 1,000 swans, and all are white, what is the probability that this theory is true? Say 1%.

Now lets use another method. Randomly picking which theory is true. Take a coin and flip it. Heads for *All swans are white* and tails for *Not all swans are white*. Say you got tails.


Your argument says that the *All swans are white* theory had a much greater likelihood to be true than compared to its rival theory. But of course it didn't. The method of determining the probability was wrong. It was arbitrary. It was no better than randomly guessing which theory is true.

In fact, in the example I gave, randomly guessing using a coin did better than your probability-determining mechanism.

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A_Seagull wrote: The fallacy is the idea that human knowledge is created by guessing ideas and ruling them out by criticism. Or at least it is a fallacy that this is the fundamental process.

What is fundamental is the process of pattern creation, which is a form of data compression.

What is the process of ' guessing ideas'? It is the consideration of possible patterns.
So if you have an idea, and if I try to search for counter-examples, and say I find one, you're saying that the guessed counter-example is a pattern?

For example, lets say someone say 10 swans and noticed that they are all white. Of course there are other shared qualities, but he chose the color of their feathers. How does your knowledge-creation theory explain why he chose the white quality instead of the other possible qualities, e.g. they each have 2 legs?

Now consider this, what could make this theory false? A criticism. Say this person says, I should look for a swan that isn't white, say on another continent. This is a guess. So he searches and say he finds a black swan. This criticism acts against the theory (aka guess) that *all swans are white*, thus rendering the theory false. So how does your knowledge-is-created-by-noticing-patterns theory explain how this person created the guess that there might be a black swan and that he should look for them on another continent?
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.
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Taylorthephilosopher
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Taylorthephilosopher »

You have a 100 sided dice with 99 sides marked X and 1 side marked Z. A prediction (theory) that says the Dice will land on X is highly likely to be accurate. The dice lands on Z. The theory was false. But the probability it was true (very likely) was accurate. Probability is not dependent on the truth, it is only dependent on evidence.

Theories do not arise out of randomness. They are the result of a person who wishes to explan a phenomena, and then develops a hypothesis based on their past experiences (evidence). This hypothesis only becomes a theory after experiments establish that the hypothesis can repeatedly predict reality (more EVIDENCE).

A theory never becomes fact, it only increases in probability as evidence grows in its favor.
Rombomb
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Rombomb »

Taylorthephilosopher wrote:You have a 100 sided dice with 99 sides marked X and 1 side marked Z. A prediction (theory) that says the Dice will land on X is highly likely to be accurate. The dice lands on Z. The theory was false. But the probability it was true (very likely) was accurate. Probability is not dependent on the truth, it is only dependent on evidence.

Theories do not arise out of randomness. They are the result of a person who wishes to explan a phenomena, and then develops a hypothesis based on their past experiences (evidence). This hypothesis only becomes a theory after experiments establish that the hypothesis can repeatedly predict reality (more EVIDENCE).

A theory never becomes fact, it only increases in probability as evidence grows in its favor.
Not true. And I've already criticized this (multiple times with you specifically), and you've ignored my criticism. If you intend to continue ignoring my criticism, please don't talk to me.

Evidence is only used to refute theories. It cannot be used to support theories.

If you disagree with me, then criticize my criticism. If you don't understand my criticism, then ask me clarifying questions so that you can understand.

Don't just talk "at" me as though my ideas don't matter. Its a waste of my time. I see no benefit for me.



Consider what it means to "support" a theory.

Say you have theory A that explains something about reality.

Lets say a scientist does an experiment and gets some evidence, say that the evidence is consistent with theory A (meaning that it doesn't contradict the theory). Say the scientist is a justificationist, so he says that this evidence "supports" theory A. Now lets say 999 other justificationist scientists do the same experiment too, and they get the same result -- meaning that their evidence doesn't contradict theory A. And so they claim that the evidence "supports" theory A.

Now lets say a critical rationalist scientist brainstorms a rival theory that explains the reality that theory A explains, call it theory B. And say that theory B also doesn't contradict the evidence. So both theory A and theory B are not ruled out by the evidence. Yet theory A and theory B are rivals. So which is right?

Also, which theory does the evidence "support"? A or B? Well, before theory B was created, the evidence "supported' theory A. And after theory B was created, the evidence "supported" both of the theories. Well what the heck does this mean? Absolute nothing!

So what should be done? A new experiment should be designed that could rule out one of the theories. The experiment would be designed such that if the result goes one way, theory A is falsified leaving theory B unfalsified, and if the result goes the other way, then theory B is falsified leaving theory A unfalsified. So lets say an experiment was designed and executed, and the result went the first way, meaning that theory A is now falsified leaving theory B unfalsified.

So what did it mean for the earlier evidence to "support" theory A? Absolutely nothing. Its stupid.

The earlier evidence doesn't support anything. All it can do is contradict (rule out) a theory. And it didn't rule out theory A, nor did it rule out theory B (which had not been invented yet).
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.
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Taylorthephilosopher
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Taylorthephilosopher »

I have repeatedly criticised your idea and each time I do so I take a different approach because I assume you didnt understand the last one.

Let me try again; The refutation of a theory accomplishes only one thing= knowledge of what is NOT TRUE. Refutation of a thoery does not result in knowledge concerning what IS TRUE.

Evidence can be in denial, but it can also be in support.

The statement that a theory has evidence in support of its claims does not mean that the theory has evidence that proves its claims true.

How do you think the theory of evolution has gained widespread acceptance? By the refutation of other theories? No, by the accumulation of evidence in support of its claims. The fossil record is a perfect example.
Supine
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Supine »

I like the points I've read in posts 2, 3, and 4. You both should give yourselves a pat on the back.
Rombomb
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Rombomb »

Taylorthephilosopher wrote:Let me try again; The refutation of a theory accomplishes only one thing= knowledge of what is NOT TRUE. Refutation of a thoery does not result in knowledge concerning what IS TRUE.

Evidence can be in denial, but it can also be in support.

The statement that a theory has evidence in support of its claims does not mean that the theory has evidence that proves its claims true.
Agreed. And I already know this meaning that you're conveying. I'll rephrase and you tell me if I understood you correctly:

Evidence can be consistent with a theory.

Thats what you mean by "evidence supports a theory", right?
Taylorthephilosopher wrote: How do you think the theory of evolution has gained widespread acceptance?
I don't care about why a theory gained widespread acceptance. You're talking about the psychological motivation of people. That isn't what epistemology (nor science) is about.
Taylorthephilosopher wrote: By the refutation of other theories? No, by the accumulation of evidence in support of its claims. The fossil record is a perfect example.
So now you're saying that the accumulation of evidence in support of a theory is the reason that most people accepted the theory. I am not criticized this claim. I agree with you. Most people think in terms of "support" -- they are justificationists.

But we're not talking about why people believe certain theories over others. We're talking about whether evidence "supports" or "rules out" theories. You are conflating *what evidence does* with *the fact that people have psychological motivation to believe an existing theory if the current evidence is consistent with the existing theory*.

-- Updated March 16th, 2013, 5:49 am to add the following --
Supine wrote:I like the points I've read in posts 2, 3, and 4. You both should give yourselves a pat on the back.
Is that sarcasm?
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.
Supine
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Supine »

Rombomb wrote: Is that sarcasm?
No. :|

I thought some good points were made.
Rombomb
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Rombomb »

Rombomb wrote: Is that sarcasm?
Supine wrote: No. I thought some good points were made.
I thought that it might be sarcasm because...

If some points were good, then that means some weren't good, which means that those one's are flawed. But you didn't specify what the flaws were.
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.
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Taylorthephilosopher
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Taylorthephilosopher »

RonBomb, you appear to think that evidence must conclusively prove or disprove a claim.

If this was the definition of evidence, then you would be right about "support" of a theory (couldn't be achieved).

Support means assistance, not providing complete subsistence. The improvement in likelihood is what evidence attempts to achieve when it is in affirmation and not denial.

For theories, varied degrees of likelihood are achievable through evidence in support.
Rombomb
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Rombomb »

Taylorthephilosopher wrote:RonBomb, you appear to think that evidence must conclusively prove or disprove a claim.
What does "conclusively prove" mean? What does "conclusively disprove" mean?
Taylorthephilosopher wrote: If this was the definition of evidence, then you would be right about "support" of a theory (couldn't be achieved).

Support means assistance, not providing complete subsistence. The improvement in likelihood is what evidence attempts to achieve when it is in affirmation and not denial.

For theories, varied degrees of likelihood are achievable through evidence in support.
Now you're saying "degrees of likelihood" when before you said "likelihood that a theory is true" and "probability that a theory is true". They mean the same thing. My criticism of the idea that we can calculate the probability that a theory is true based on current evidence, applies to your "degrees of likelihood" idea.

So instead of addressing my criticism, you've just changed the words of your already criticized idea.
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.
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Taylorthephilosopher
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Taylorthephilosopher »

Rombomb wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

What does "conclusively prove" mean? What does "conclusively disprove" mean? (Nested quote removed.)

Now you're saying "degrees of likelihood" when before you said "likelihood that a theory is true" and "probability that a theory is true". They mean the same thing. My criticism of the idea that we can calculate the probability that a theory is true based on current evidence, applies to your "degrees of likelihood" idea.

So instead of addressing my criticism, you've just changed the words of your already criticized idea.

"Conclusively" means putting an end to doubt.

A dice has six sides, numbered one, two, three, four, five, and six. A theory says that side "two" will be the result of a roll of the dice has a 1 in 6 probability of being true. 8)
Rombomb
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Re: All swans are white.

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Rombomb wrote:What does "conclusively prove" mean? What does "conclusively disprove" mean? (Nested quote removed.)

Now you're saying "degrees of likelihood" when before you said "likelihood that a theory is true" and "probability that a theory is true". They mean the same thing. My criticism of the idea that we can calculate the probability that a theory is true based on current evidence, applies to your "degrees of likelihood" idea.

So instead of addressing my criticism, you've just changed the words of your already criticized idea.
Taylorthephilosopher wrote: "Conclusively" means putting an end to doubt.
Please quote the part of what I said that led you to believe that *I* believe its possible to "conclusively prove or disprove" a theory.
Taylorthephilosopher wrote: A dice has six sides, numbered one, two, three, four, five, and six. A theory says that side "two" will be the result of a roll of the dice has a 1 in 6 probability of being true. 8)
What is this about? I've already criticized your dice idea. Why don't you address my criticism instead of repeating this already criticized idea?
We are all fallible -- anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.
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Idrinkthereforeiam
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Re: All swans are white.

Post by Idrinkthereforeiam »

I'm with Supine. I was swayed to either side of the argument alternately until post number 11 when Taylor (sorry mate) stopped making sense. I'm sorry I don't have more to say about the topic but I think my understanding is too basic to contribute anything original of worth just yet.
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