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Re: Justificationism

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  • a b
    On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 8:05 PM, Anonymous Person ... FWIW my reading would be Deutsch is saying is if you underrate the role of Explanation there will be
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 1, 2013
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      On Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 8:05 PM, Anonymous Person
      <unattributedemail@...> wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > I don't understand this debate about Deutsch being a justificationist.
      > Doesn't Deutsch openly declare himself in favor of justificationism in
      > The Fabric of Reality? Here are some quotes:
      >
      > > Most contemporary philosophers are crypto-inductivists. What makes
      > > matters worse is that (like many scientists) they grossly underrate the role
      > > of explanation in the scientific process. So do most Popperian
      > > anti-inductivists, who are therebys= led to deny that there is any such thing
      > > as justification (even tentative justification). This opens up a new
      > > explanatory gap in their scheme of things>
      > In this passage, Deutsch says rejecting all justification creates any
      > explanatory gap in the thinking of Popperian anti-inductivi


      FWIW my reading would be Deutsch is saying is if you underrate the
      role of Explanation there will be ramifications down the line. In the
      case of Popperian's the outcome may actually be worse, because
      popperians know justiciationalism is refuted (i.e. if get it about
      justification but don't get it about explanation, you put yourself In
      the position of not having justification and not having Explanation in
      its place. Or not fully...there will be gaps.

      Which kind of puts the spot onto whether the philosophy would regard
      justificationalism as better than nothing. It's a silly question in a
      lot of way, but the answer still has to be yes.

      > > I believe that we can justify our expectation that the Floater would be
      > > killed. The justification (always tentative, of course) comes from the
      > > explanations provided by the relevant scientific theories. To the extent
      > > that those explanations are good, it is rationally justified to rely on the
      > > predictions of corresponding theories.
      >
      > An additional point in this passage is that it mixes up the difference
      > between justifying an idea and justifying a course of action. First it
      > talks about "justify our expectation". Then "the justification". But
      > then "it is rationally justified to rely on". An expectation is ano
      > idea, that first sentence is about justifying an idea. Relying is an
      > action, the third sentence is about justifying an action. The middl
      > sentence doesn't specify either way.

      I think he's trying to help the reader to to an understanding of
      justificationalism at a deeper more subtle level. It's a shame he
      hasn't done this more frequently because there is definitely a need .

      He's demonstrating that's not about the word...this isn't about
      banning words and hissing at those who transgress. I think he's
      extending guidance and help to people who are trying to learn. It's
      not a linguistic matter, which means that just jumping on people
      when they use the word isn't going to work, and people need to keep an
      eye on themselves about that, because if tthey catch themselves doing
      that, the meaning will be there are still gaps in their own
      understanding.

      The philosophical position is that Justification, that word, that
      concept is a problem *when* when the logic or reasoning or argument
      depends on that justification. Where he uses it above, it is
      redundant. It is used illustratively
    • Alan Forrester
      ... David criticises justificationism is BoI. And in FoR he criticised the idea that knowledge rests on foundations, which is similar to justificationism. ...
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 1, 2013
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        On 31 Dec 2012, at 20:29, Anonymous Person <unattributedemail@...> wrote:

        > I don't understand this debate about Deutsch being a justificationist.
        > Doesn't Deutsch openly declare himself in favor of justificationism in
        > The Fabric of Reality?

        David criticises justificationism is BoI.

        And in FoR he criticised the idea that knowledge rests on foundations, which is similar to justificationism.

        > Here are some quotes:
        >
        >> Most contemporary philosophers are crypto-inductivists. What makes matters worse is that (like many scientists) they grossly underrate the role of explanation in the scientific process. So do most Popperian anti-inductivists, who are thereby led to deny that there is any such thing as justification (even tentative justification). This opens up a new explanatory gap in their scheme of things.
        >
        > In this passage, Deutsch says rejecting all justification creates an explanatory gap in the thinking of Popperian anti-inductivists.

        The substance of his objection is not that the Popperian anti-inductivists don't explain the justification of knowledge but that they don't explain the growth of knowledge as an emergent part of physics. That's not a justificationist objection.

        >> I believe that we can justify our expectation that the Floater would be killed. The justification (always tentative, of course) comes from the explanations provided by the relevant scientific theories. To the extent that those explanations are good, it is rationally justified to rely on the predictions of corresponding theories.
        >
        > An additional point in this passage is that it mixes up the difference
        > between justifying an idea and justifying a course of action. First it
        > talks about "justify our expectation". Then "the justification". But
        > then "it is rationally justified to rely on". An expectation is an
        > idea, that first sentence is about justifying an idea. Relying is an
        > action, the third sentence is about justifying an action. The middle
        > sentence doesn't specify either way.
        >
        > The Popperian anti-inductivists who reject all justification reject
        > all justification *of ideas*, but this does not necessarily apply to
        > other meanings of the word. Their position on justification is about
        > epistemology, not actions.

        To take an action you have to create knowledge about the results of your actions and how they are related to what you hope to accomplish. So epistemology is relevant to judging actions.

        >> CRYPTO-INDUCTIVIST: Very interesting. I now understand the role of a theory's refuted rivals in the justification of its predictions.
        >
        > This one is justification of ideas (predictions).
        >
        >> DAVID: No. Our justification does not depend on whether a particular anomaly happens in the past. It has to do with whether there is an explanation for the existence of that anomaly.
        >
        > and
        >
        >> But if I were wrong about that, indeed even if we were entirely unable to explain this remarkable property of reality, that would not detract one jot from the justification of any scientific theory. For it would not make the explanations in such a theory one jot worse.
        >
        > In The Fabric of Reality, Deutsch proposed explanation as the new
        > criterion of justification. It's his replacement for induction.
        >
        >> An analogous gap exists in Popperian epistemology. Its critics wonder why the scientific method works, or what justifies our reliance on the best scientific theories. [...] For Popperians to reply that there is no such thing as justification, or that it is never rational to rely on theories, is to provide no explanation.
        >
        > Again, Deutsch presents himself as a critic of Popperian epistemology,
        > and as intentionally rejecting the Popperian position on
        > justification.

        David's criticism of the idea of foundations in FoR applies with just as much force to particular arguments. The idea of explaining everything from foundations would leave the foundations unexplained. In an individual argument there can never be any possibility of proving the argument true or probably or anything like that. To say you had done that would be to leave out the possibility that you have made some assumption that you would have to discard if it was properly explained and that discarding this assumption would refute the argument. I think the logic of the anti-foundational argument in FoR implies that justification should be totally removed from all of our ideas about knowledge root and branch.

        I don't think it would be necessary to make many changes to the ideas explained in David's books as a result of making that change. Many of the instances of the word 'justification' could be replaced with 'explanation' and the argument would be non-justificationist. Some instances of 'justification' in the books are in scare quotes and so they would remain the same since they are compatible with the complete rejection of justificationism. There is one instance that I know of that would have to be completely deleted. (The Hermes quote from BoI you posted in another message.)

        Alan
      • David Deutsch
        ... The only places in BoI where justification is mentioned are: (1) Many places where I m giving arguments against justificationism. (2) pp210-11, 328 and 395
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 1, 2013
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          On 1 Jan 2013, at 19:09, Alan Forrester <alanmichaelforrester@...> wrote:

          > David's criticism of the idea of foundations in FoR applies with just as much force to particular arguments. The idea of explaining everything from foundations would leave the foundations unexplained. In an individual argument there can never be any possibility of proving the argument true or probably or anything like that. To say you had done that would be to leave out the possibility that you have made some assumption that you would have to discard if it was properly explained and that discarding this assumption would refute the argument. I think the logic of the anti-foundational argument in FoR implies that justification should be totally removed from all of our ideas about knowledge root and branch.
          >
          > I don't think it would be necessary to make many changes to the ideas explained in David's books as a result of making that change. Many of the instances of the word 'justification' could be replaced with 'explanation' and the argument would be non-justificationist. Some instances of 'justification' in the books are in scare quotes and so they would remain the same since they are compatible with the complete rejection of justificationism. There is one instance that I know of that would have to be completely deleted. (The Hermes quote from BoI you posted in another message.)

          The only places in BoI where justification is mentioned are:

          (1) Many places where I'm giving arguments against justificationism.

          (2) pp210-11, 328 and 395 where it's a different meaning of the verb 'to justify', namely the everyday meaning 'to classify something as just' (i.e. legitimate, morally right): E.g. "If the political process is seen as an engine for putting the right rulers in power, then it justifies violence, for until that right system is in place, no ruler is legitimate; and once it is in place, and its designated rulers are ruling, opposition to them is opposition to rightness".

          (3) Only one other place: p226, the Hermes quote I think you're referring to: "But, in truth, beliefs cannot be justified, except in relation to other beliefs, and even then only fallibly." But there it is referring to deduction. Beliefs can be deductively entailed by other beliefs.

          Perhaps I should have said that. But in any case, I don't think it could possibly be mistaken for a claim that ideas can be "designated as true (or at least ‘probable’) by reference to some authoritative source or touchstone of knowledge" (which is what I call justificationism), could it? So what mistake could it be mistaken for?

          -- David Deutsch
        • Alan Forrester
          ... One possible confusion if that sentence was taken in complete isolation from the rest of the book is the idea that you have some kind of proof that if you
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 2, 2013
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            On 2 Jan 2013, at 01:53, David Deutsch <david.deutsch@...> wrote:

            > On 1 Jan 2013, at 19:09, Alan Forrester <alanmichaelforrester@...> wrote:
            >
            >> David's criticism of the idea of foundations in FoR applies with just as much force to particular arguments. The idea of explaining everything from foundations would leave the foundations unexplained. In an individual argument there can never be any possibility of proving the argument true or probably or anything like that. To say you had done that would be to leave out the possibility that you have made some assumption that you would have to discard if it was properly explained and that discarding this assumption would refute the argument. I think the logic of the anti-foundational argument in FoR implies that justification should be totally removed from all of our ideas about knowledge root and branch.
            >>
            >> I don't think it would be necessary to make many changes to the ideas explained in David's books as a result of making that change. Many of the instances of the word 'justification' could be replaced with 'explanation' and the argument would be non-justificationist. Some instances of 'justification' in the books are in scare quotes and so they would remain the same since they are compatible with the complete rejection of justificationism. There is one instance that I know of that would have to be completely deleted. (The Hermes quote from BoI you posted in another message.)
            >
            > The only places in BoI where justification is mentioned are:
            >
            > (1) Many places where I'm giving arguments against justificationism.
            >
            > (2) pp210-11, 328 and 395 where it's a different meaning of the verb 'to justify', namely the everyday meaning 'to classify something as just' (i.e. legitimate, morally right): E.g. "If the political process is seen as an engine for putting the right rulers in power, then it justifies violence, for until that right system is in place, no ruler is legitimate; and once it is in place, and its designated rulers are ruling, opposition to them is opposition to rightness".
            >
            > (3) Only one other place: p226, the Hermes quote I think you're referring to: "But, in truth, beliefs cannot be justified, except in relation to other beliefs, and even then only fallibly." But there it is referring to deduction. Beliefs can be deductively entailed by other beliefs.
            >
            > Perhaps I should have said that. But in any case, I don't think it could possibly be mistaken for a claim that ideas can be "designated as true (or at least ‘probable’) by reference to some authoritative source or touchstone of knowledge" (which is what I call justificationism), could it? So what mistake could it be mistaken for?

            One possible confusion if that sentence was taken in complete isolation from the rest of the book is the idea that you have some kind of proof that if you have an argument saying that idea A is a consequence of idea B that idea is justified in the problematic sense by virtue of the laws of logic or something like that. Our knowledge of those laws and of other background assumptions used in an argument are all totally unjustified and so if you had been making that claim you would be wrong.

            Making the claim that you're a justificationist using one sentence that could be interpreted as justificationist if it was taken in isolation is a bad negative interpretation. That interpretation doesn't make sense in the light of your condemnation of justificationism in the rest of the book.

            Alan
          • David Deutsch
            ... [...] ... I agree that it implies it. And I also agree that in FoR I didn t make that case strongly enough. But making that case strongly and
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 2, 2013
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              On 2 Jan 2013, at 13:26, Alan Forrester <alanmichaelforrester@...> wrote:
              >
              > On 2 Jan 2013, at 01:53, David Deutsch <david.deutsch@...> wrote:
              >
              >> On 1 Jan 2013, at 19:09, Alan Forrester <alanmichaelforrester@...> wrote:

              [...]

              >>> I think the logic of the anti-foundational argument in FoR implies that justification should be totally removed from all of our ideas about knowledge root and branch.

              I agree that it implies it. And I also agree that in FoR I didn't make that case strongly enough.

              But making that case strongly and comprehensively is a major theme of BoI.

              >>> I don't think it would be necessary to make many changes to the ideas explained in David's books as a result of making that change. Many of the instances of the word 'justification' could be replaced with 'explanation' and the argument would be non-justificationist. Some instances of 'justification' in the books are in scare quotes and so they would remain the same since they are compatible with the complete rejection of justificationism. There is one instance that I know of that would have to be completely deleted. (The Hermes quote from BoI you posted in another message.)
              >>
              >> The only places in BoI where justification is mentioned are:
              >>
              >> (1) Many places where I'm giving arguments against justificationism.
              >>
              >> (2) pp210-11, 328 and 395 where it's a different meaning of the verb 'to justify'

              [...]

              >> (3) Only one other place: p226, the Hermes quote I think you're referring to: "But, in truth, beliefs cannot be justified, except in relation to other beliefs, and even then only fallibly." But there it is referring to deduction. Beliefs can be deductively entailed by other beliefs.
              >>
              >> Perhaps I should have said that. But in any case, I don't think it could possibly be mistaken for a claim that ideas can be "designated as true (or at least ‘probable’) by reference to some authoritative source or touchstone of knowledge" (which is what I call justificationism), could it? So what mistake could it be mistaken for?
              >
              > One possible confusion if that sentence was taken in complete isolation from the rest of the book is the idea that you have some kind of proof that if you have an argument saying that idea A is a consequence of idea B that idea is justified in the problematic sense by virtue of the laws of logic or something like that. Our knowledge of those laws and of other background assumptions used in an argument are all totally unjustified and so if you had been making that claim you would be wrong.

              Exactly.

              > Making the claim that you're a justificationist using one sentence that could be interpreted as justificationist if it was taken in isolation is a bad negative interpretation.

              Indeed. And a bad argument, since that level of extreme reinterpretation could be used to reinterpret anything at all as something else.

              > That interpretation doesn't make sense in the light of your condemnation of justificationism in the rest of the book.


              Right. But notice that the interpretation of that remark as justificationist is not only inconsistent with the *rest* of the book. The remark is, in that very location, part of an anti-justificationist argument -- namely the very argument that you called (in this thread On 1 Jan 2013, at 21:00) the second of your "several criticisms of justificationism":

              >>>> either you keep making justificationist arguments forever or you give up and use unjustified premises in which case your idea is unjustified and you get nothing from all this justification

              That being so, what would be the benefit of completely deleting that passage from BoI as you advocate above?

              -- David Deutsch
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