[XTalk] Re: Proof
- --- David C. Hindley wrote:
> "Possible" means that a hypothesis' premises are not contradicted.I'm afraid you're mixing up two things, Dave. If a contradiction can
> This is an open ended statement, though... Since hypotheses
> inferred from evidence usually means that the critic has
> consciously selected a subset of the total available data when
> formulating the hypotheses, it is possible that contra[dic]tions
> can be found.
be found to a hypothesis H, then H is not possible, even if an
advocate of H doesn't select that contradictory evidence as part of
their data. You're mixing up the universe of available evidence with
the sub-universe of evidence selected by an advocate of H.
Probability within the latter is of no interest.
It's evident also that you don't really disagree with the logical
definition of 'possible' as meaning a probability > 0; it's just
that you're concentrating on epistemological issues that don't
effect the definition.
> Yet this is still a problem because the nature of historicalYou seem to be trading on an ambiguity in the word 'select'. So
> evidence means it is not randomly selected and the limits of the
> universe populations are not known, meaning that a "contradiction"
> may not be provable in cases where probability is concerned.
that we can be clear about this, let's define the universe
of "immediately available" evidence as that which has so far been
unearthed and publicized. This evidence has been "objectively
selected", because no one person or cohesive group of people has
been solely responsible for digging it up and presenting it. If the
word 'selected' as at all applicable in this situation, I think is
IS correct to say that this evidence has been "randomly selected",
though not "scientifically selected", because the immediately
available evidence is not a scientific sample of the totally
available evidence (some of which still buried).
> "Probable" means that a hypothesis can be confirmed by means ofI'm not sure what you mean by "statistical syllogism", but in any
> statistical analysis. In logical terms, this would be called a
> statistical syllogism.
case, "H is probable" cannot mean that H "can be confirmed" in any
way whatsoever, since to "confirm" H is to _prove_ H, and if H can
be proven, then it isn't merely "probable" - it's quite certain.
> However, statistical syllogisms have some serious limitations.What are you calling "the universe population"? Do you mean that the
> Historical hypotheses are generally not amenable to statistical
> analysis on the grounds that the universe population is not known
> nor can it be reliably estimated.
number of possibilities is incalculable - as opposed to the toss of
a coin, where the number of possible outcomes is calculable?
> Historical evidence is not drawn from a known universe, and theNeither of these conjuncts strikes me as correct, as stated. As
> evidence is not randomly selected.
for "not randomly selected", see earlier discussion. We aren't
talking about the evidence selected by an individual, but about the
total evidence immediately and publicly available. Surely THAT has
been "randomly selected". As for "not drawn from a known universe",
I would suggest that the "universe" in question is that of human
action, and as such it's as knowable (or unknowable) as any
prediction of future human action. Take your possible response as a
case in point. You can either fail to respond to this point, or
basically agree with me, or basically disagree. This is a "known
universe", though not as well-defined (because the possibilities
fall along a spectrum, as opposed to being discrete) as the
statistical examples you cite.
Mt. Clemens, MI
- I know this is off topic, however, during the past few days I noticed the
discussion going on about the use of copyrighhted material. Anyway, my
question is this, how do I properly cite a web page I used information from
in an academic paper. I am a student and an interested historical Jesus
individual. I realize this is off topic so please send reply to me off the
Thomas G. Barnes