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Sarcasm Holds No Support

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Posted by Harvey on July 14, 2003 18:30:26 UTC


Obviously I triggered something negative in you given your sarcastic reply. But, in any case, I'll reply to your post as a serious objection since you won't give me the benefit of doubt to do so with a serious post.

Well, a chair is also a piece of furniture, something to sit on, the place where I spend most of my week...

Great. You elect to take on a pragmatic argument that a chair is helpful to you, so what does it matter if it exists or not. I think you're halfway to understanding theism as a helpful belief system that provides comfort to billions worldwide.

You mean, I must commit to the belief that quarks and leptons exist before I can sit down? Funny, I thought all I needed was to be in front of a chair and bend my knees. I'll pay more attention next time.

You don't have to commit to a quark/lepton ontology, but in order to say something is fantasy (e.g., cartoon characters) you must have some commitment to a non-fantasy ontology to say that something is fantasy. That is, unless you think Bugs Bunny and other cartoon characters are real people.

Harv: You can [believe you have a billion dollars in the bank] if you are justified in holding that belief. Carl: In other words, I can believe I have a billion dollars just as long as I do have a billion dollars. Man, that was deep!

That's not a correct interpretation. You can believe you have a billion dollars if you feel a strong sense of being overall satisfied with that claim. To feel this overall satisfaction you must have something compelling within you that balances out against the lack of coherent and corresponding supposed facts that show the opposite or null conclusion to your claim. In other words, a belief can be justified not only if you have a billion dollars, but if this claim is in dispute (by you) and you feel satisfied that you are right in this dispute. To say that 'snow is white' iff snow is white might be a good metaphysical theory of truth, but it isn't a justification for truth since this is the very claim we want to know how to justify and by which method do we justify it. My pragmatic justification theory tells you how you know you are justified in believing something as true, and it doesn't just include coherence or correspondence with the known 'facts'. The whole issue of satisfaction must be addressed (since, bottomline, this is how we 'know' an event/thing corresponds or coheres with another event/thing).

Satisfactory reasons not forthcoming, would satisfactory funds do?

Here's the deal. Everything you could produce to show that you had a billion dollars in the bank is potentially faulty information. A bank statement can be forged or be in error, showing the cash could mean it is counterfeit or stolen, etc. We can never be fully certain that you or anyone had a billion dollars in the bank since some funny business might have occurred in the presentation. Likewise, we can never be fully certain that you or anyone else isn't a billionaire because you might know something about your financial affairs that others lack some knowledge. As far as we know, you might have a valid claim that any court in the country will honor once the decision is rendered. Instead of making our decisions based on 100% certainty, we base decisions on what we are satisfied in saying is certain. For example, I am 100% satisfied in saying that Bill Gates is certainly a billionaire. Could I be wrong? Well, yes. Any number of things could have taken place in the last few minutes that all means that either Bill Gates no longer exists or that he is no longer a billionaire. So, no information I hold is certain, but I can still be satisfied in saying it is certain.

Harv: For example, if you believe that you feel that you are justly entitled to some trust fund that is not currently in your name, you might have enough overall satisfaction in believing you have a billion dollars in the bank even though it is not in your name. Carl: So I do have a billion dollars after all, only it's in the wrong people's accounts? I knew it! I knew it!

Laugh it up, but consider the efforts made by society to somehow convince us to be satisfied by the truth of the propositions that are made. We have everything from 'famous authors', nobel laureates, 'world-renown', written so many articles in an esteemed journal, etc to even the simple classifications such as Ph.D., published author, certified such n' such, Professor of a famous university, etc. All of these titles are just efforts by the powers that be to convince the people out there that satisfaction is something that they should feel. If satisfaction is felt, then truth is communicated. It's all a scam in some senses, but it's the best we got to being satisfied that what we believe is true.

The criteria for the overall satisfaction in holding this belief is maintained even though others around you might dispute it. I don't think they would dispute it as much as they would be tempted to send for a psychiatrist.

Here's the kicker. Society, not content with people lacking satisfaction, will often apply pressure to individuals that migrate outside the norms of what others consider satisfactory accounts for human knowledge. As a result, people are pressured to adopt beliefs or hide beliefs that perhaps they would otherwise mention or at least continue to hold. It is actually part of our evolutionary heritage to perform this kind of peer pressure mentality since it keeps beliefs that are not overall satisfactory for the human society out of our future evolutionary development. We all have to get rid of the Dr. Dick's if you will, otherwise they might endanger the satisfaction that comes from the current scientific enterprise. I don't think there's much we can do about it, but let's not just pretend that this is not what we are doing.

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