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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Truth Knowledge and Julian Sanchez

He wrote

But if there really is no timeless frame of reference, then the only sense in which it’s at all coherent to talk about knowledge and certainty is internal to an epistemic system. There is nothing transcendent to lose—all we could ever have meant by “truth” or “knowledge” all along, if we were succeeding at meaning anything, was the domesticated local version.
I comment

I just arrived (from Brad DeLong) to this clearly ongoing investigation. I will boldly assert that there is an elementary error right at the end

"all we could ever have meant by “truth” or “knowledge” all along, if we were succeeding at meaning anything, was the domesticated local version. Just click your heels"

Up until then, you (Sanchez) have argued that there can't be unconditionally objective knowledge -- justified true belief. For what my opinion is worth, I agree that there can't be knowledge except for knowledge within a system (you put it better).

Suddenly, however, you assert that if there can't be objective justified true belief, then there can't be objective truth or objectively true beleifs.

How did that follow ? You prove that there can't be epistimelogically objective truths and then casually assert that there can't be ontologically objective truths either.

I don't follow.

I am thinking of moral questions. I assert that evidence and logic can give us no guidance on questions in pure ethics (more or less by definition of "pure ethics"). There are statements in pure ethics which I believe with no doubt. I am sure they were true before I existed, will be true after I die and would be just as true if I changed my mind.

For example, I don't think it would be a good thing to torture everyone for the rest of time while also artificially inseminating people so there would be more and more people to torture. If I were presented with such a world, I might doubt the evidence of my eyes and hope I was dreaming, but I would not doubt that what I seem to see is bad.

What am I supposed to say about my beliefs ? I admit nothing along the lines of knowledge at all and have faith in the absolute objective truth of my beliefs.

There seems to be a strong belief that we should not believe something if that belief is unsupported by evidence. Note the word "should." The argument against faith in objective moral truth is based on an assertion of objective moral truth.

One might think that absolute confidence in a statement and absolute confidence that it has nothing to do with evidence and logic can't fit in the same mind. I have both beliefs. I exist. There must be room in your philosophy for my existence -- you might find me appalling or pathetic, but you better not try to convince yourself that I don't exist.

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