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Thread: Epistemic Responsibility

  1. #61
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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by ashurbanipal View Post
    Beliefs that present themselves should be met with skepticism and tested against this kind of standard, and rejected if they violate it. I suspect if everyone could follow this test reasonably well, there'd be considerably less nonsense in the world. Of course it's not perfect. We are still learning ethical truths (including truths about belief-formation and acquisition).
    I agree with almost everything you said, up until this point. Many, many religious people acquire their ethics from their religion. Frequently this involves some version of divine command theory where their god's/religions tenets will bump up against 'common sense' ethics and their religion wins every single time. For most people, the big basics like not murdering or raping are pretty hard for a religion to knock over, but when it comes to the more subtle stuff like concepts of purity or "God's plan", they are pretty much immune to this process you've described.

    I'm not just talking about uneducated or ignorant people who are fed a religious doctrine and cling to it because that is all they know. I'm talking about reasonably educated, reasonably intelligent people who would NEVER permit themselves to use the same epistemology for the rest of their lives as they do for their religion, and with serious consequences.

    The pastor of a church who recommends people off to gay conversion therapy to fix them.
    The imam who tells a woman she must cover herself in public to protect men.
    The man whose empathy is blunted towards refugees because "suffering is part of God's plan" and "all this will soon pass away."
    The woman who is deeply suspicious of all science because some science contradicts her holy scripture.

    None of those people would be likely convinced by a vision from an angel to murder someone. Nevertheless, beliefs about sexual purity, the nature of suffering, and the primacy of scripture are all part of the ethic they use to measure challenges to their beliefs or the adoption of new beliefs. Simply testing beliefs against an ethical standard doesn't work well if the ethical standard includes loopholes like divine command theory, or if the ethical standard is bent by existing held religious beliefs. Over time, new beliefs supported by old beliefs can turn a person's ethics inside-out.

    I think even the best-intentioned thinkers need something a little more than just a gut-check of ethics.

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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by ataraxia View Post
    I think the answer is better science education.

    And by that, I don't just mean force feeding kids a bunch of science facts and information. I mean getting them to start thinking like a scientist does. It is a particular kind of mindset that is at the same time both very open minded, and yet also highly critical. I think if you don't have the mindset, it's impossible to explain it philosophically.
    How do you respond to Northern Light's assertion that within the scientific community, scientists of comparable repute often disagree on theories, levels of veracious evidence, etc? (paraphrase very approximate)
    Last edited by Ouroboros; 06-05-19 at 04:07 PM.

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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by VINLO View Post
    To be clear, I am not credited with those axioms-- they are the invention of Mike McHargue, who created them as a scaffold for him to re-enter Christianity from atheism. Honestly he's barely a Christian by the standard Evangelical definition. He's closer to an igtheist mystic in the Christian tradition with a heavy, heavy lean towards physicalist explanations for the experiential components of his belief. (A very different kind of "Christian".)

    I find these axioms an excellent start point for an epistemically responsible theism. Developing such a theism/religion necessitates more than just physicalist redefinition of terms, though. These offer a kind of bedrock for belief with a built-in anti-dogmatic, anti-doctrinal failsafe: uncertainty.

    Dogma, doctrine, and orthodoxy are the moral virus in the veins of religion. Igtheistic uncertainty is the vaccine. Are you really going to blow yourself up in a plane if you're uncertain that you'll go to a virgin-laden paradise? Are you really going to torture gay people if you're uncertain that God has forbidden their homosexuality?

    Perhaps less virulent of an example, are you even going to make any effort to levy others into your beliefs if you make no claim to any exact nature of God beyond "it feels like God might be X, with no supposition that he is anything MORE than Axiom 2..."?
    Could you clarify how igtheistic uncertainty differs from the trinity of William James's functions to which you referred earlier: that of "live/ forced/ momentous?"

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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by ataraxia View Post
    Hmmm.

    I donít know. Maybe. I guess personally I just donít have the religious bug, so it just seems like extreme mental gymnastics to try to make something stick that just doesnít want to stick. I guess if you want to make it work that badly, this is one way to think about it.


    But I think itís a sort of optical illusion. God to me just seems Like a sort of personification or apotheosis of the ultimate platonic ideals (or should I say Plotinusí The One). Itís a convergence of ideas and ideals taken to their abstract extreme and then personified and deified and given some hypothetical external existence. I donít see any use in that.
    I would tend to trace God from the image of the "sky-father boss of everything" that we get in tribal societies, and to view God's assimilation of Platonic ideals and such to be secondary in nature.

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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by ataraxia View Post
    There are a lot of things we THINK we need. But sometimes, all it takes is a little paradigm shift in our thinking, adapting a different perspective, to realize it falls away easily and we don't need it all that much after all. This idea of a "need to believe" and "ultimate truth" as an inevitable part of human nature may just be a weird byproduct of certain traditional cultural paradigms and ways of thinking we have grown up with. But humanity has reached a stage where that is no longer compatible with more useful ways of thinking we have learned just in the past 2-3 centuries. So it may be time to revisit the earlier ways of looking at things and seeing if it was even the right way to look at things in the first place. It seems what you are describing here is just the discomfort, the cognitive dissonance, that comes from adapting more modern and useful ways of looking at the world, and finding that they are hard to reconcile with many of the old paradigms and worldviews. You are thinking there MUST be some way to reconcile these two. The inability to do so is making you uncomfortable. You want to salvage the old model in some way or other. You are using the perspectives and vocabulary of the new paradigms to look at the old ones, and they no longer make sense. But you feel like you need it, and wouldn't be able to live without them. You really don't. It's like the smoker who thinks he can't live without his cigarettes. Psychologists often use "cognitive behavioral therapy" (CPT) to show them that with being able to think about things slightly differently, you don't find necessarily clever new ways to fill that inevitable "need". You may find you don't need it at all.
    But does the same paradigm shift work for every individual?

    I appreciate the citation of the smoker's dependence, since by luck or design it reminded me of James's mention of a similar topic in VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE.

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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by Ouroboros View Post
    How do you respond to Northern Light's assertion that within the scientific community, scientists of comparable repute often disagree on theories, levels of veracious evidence, etc? (paraphrase very approximate)
    First, let's review what a theory is. A theory is a model that explains a set of facts.. about 'why do we observe what we observe'. Thefirst part of thinking like a scientist is 'this is what we observe'. The next set is coming up with an idea about 'why do we see what we see'.. That why is known as a hypothesis. Then comes 'how do we test our hypothesis'? Through experiments and observations, and making predictions about what will be found. If the predictions match up with what is seen, then the hypothesis is not falsified. As more is found, and tested, the stronger the hypothesis comes , until it is a theory. The disagreement is a way to 'let's see if the test was valid, and confirmation bias did not creep in'. Also, there could be alternate explanations for the same data found, and part of the scientific process is eliminating an alternate view. That's part of testing the model.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hannah Arendt
    "The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist."

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    Re: Epistemic Responsibility

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMOSS View Post
    First, let's review what a theory is. A theory is a model that explains a set of facts.. about 'why do we observe what we observe'. Thefirst part of thinking like a scientist is 'this is what we observe'. The next set is coming up with an idea about 'why do we see what we see'.. That why is known as a hypothesis. Then comes 'how do we test our hypothesis'? Through experiments and observations, and making predictions about what will be found. If the predictions match up with what is seen, then the hypothesis is not falsified. As more is found, and tested, the stronger the hypothesis comes , until it is a theory. The disagreement is a way to 'let's see if the test was valid, and confirmation bias did not creep in'. Also, there could be alternate explanations for the same data found, and part of the scientific process is eliminating an alternate view. That's part of testing the model.
    That's the paradigm, but whether it works in real life is my question.

    Some hypotheses, for instance, cannot be tested so as to eliminate alternate views. Let's assume that you credence a particular theory of evolution that favors one particular mechanism by which evolution proceeds. You may believe that there is enough physical evidence that proves the superiority of your camp's theoretical mechanism over any other proposed mechanisms. But how do you prove to another reasonably intelligent person, who favors another mechanism, that you are not guilty of confirmation bias, given that evolution cannot be placed on a centrifuge and sorted out.?

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