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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I think it's clear that absolute justification is impossible. What we're trying to find is a system which gives the best results under normal circumstances. For my money, that means a system which can deal with both physical phenomena and with things like religious belief. the problem with the subjective systems is that logically they're indistinguishable from madness, when we use their own criteria to judge them. Likewise, empiricisim becomes incoherent because it relies on metaphysical statements at the same time as denying that they should exist. The famous quotation from Hume (which one TSR member has in their sig) is the most obvious example of this.
    But how can you distinguish madness from reality without any access to absolute truth? How can anything other than a subjective system be valid?
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    I was struggling to distinguish between truth and justification if I wanted to make justification conceptually necessary for something to be a belief. I think there is less of a problem if it was instead psychological necessity but that's not really relevant anymore if we are going to distinguish between coherence-truth and coherence-justification.

    Grumballcake:
    I admit that coherentism is not a perfect theory. But I think you're looking for the problems in the wrong places. I think unconsciously perhaps your disinclined to even consider coherentism. I admit some of your arguments are good points even if I disagree with them, however I think they are much less effective than you think simply because you're so determined to see coherentism in the worst possible light.

    Coherentism need not be out of touch with reality if you are going to allow, (as almost every version of coherentism I've see does), observations to be propositions in your belief system. If we include interpretations of sense perception in our system of beliefs then that system must necessarily be in touch with reality.

    We would say a schizophrenic is wrong because:

    a) His belief system isn't coherent with the experience we assume he is having (by analogy with what we are seeing/hearing/smelling etc.)

    b) His belief system isn't coherent with my/your belief system.

    There are repercussions from this:

    It may for instance be that with a schizophrenic with startlingly realistic hallucinations we need to say he has a coherent belief system. In a sense his beliefs are justified- (the sense being: justified-for-him). But then of course, even in a non-philosophical context we would want to say his beliefs are justified. We might normally say he's seeing things, but we'd admit he has a justification for his belief that he's seeing pink elephants.

    We might also perhaps have to say (if we are also talking about coherence theory of truth) that his beliefs are in a sense true (true-for-him). But that's nothing more than lip service to the theory. Fundamentally, from your point of view (the only point of view you will ever experience, the only world you are actually directly in touch with) he is wrong, and as wrong as he could be because his beliefs are incoherent with yours. In a sense then truth is subjective- it's "true-for-me only. But the solipsist in me wants to say it's objective too. After all, its not dependent on anybody else what is true for the world I live in. The thing that makes it true is the real world - the world I see, touch, feel, hear, smell and live in. Even if we ignore solipsism, the world you experience is just a conscious experience in your head. Whether there is something like a 'real world' or not, the only world you see is the one in your head. If coherence theory wants to limit truth to just true for the world in your head that's hardly a narrow truth. It includes the whole world after all.

    Lengthy and a little wordy I know, sorry for that, but the idealism makes a lot of sense to me as a background context. Without it though, I think the initial points still stand up (up to "We might also perhaps have to say...")
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    But how can you distinguish madness from reality without any access to absolute truth? How can anything other than a subjective system be valid?
    We're always going to operate pragmatically. Thus, we can say that someone who believes that all the dons at Oxford are monitoring his thoughts and sending messages via a patch of excema on his hand, is probably mad. Plantinga would argue that his belief system has no warrant. Empiricists would say that he has no evidence for that belief. We don't operate subjectively about a whole range of topics - if I step off a cliff, I will fall, however much I don't believe in gravity.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Coherentism need not be out of touch with reality if you are going to allow, (as almost every version of coherentism I've see does), observations to be propositions in your belief system.
    I haven't seen that in any version of coherentism, but let's allow it for now. Personally I think you're trying to have your cake and eat it by redefining coherentism in that way.
    We would say a schizophrenic is wrong because:

    a) His belief system isn't coherent with the experience we assume he is having (by analogy with what we are seeing/hearing/smelling etc.)

    b) His belief system isn't coherent with my/your belief system.
    No, his sense experience is a real observation for him. It's indistinguishable from any of your expereinces except that there is no external stimulus for those perceptions. He doesn't imagine that he sees giant spiders, he sees giant spiders (that aren't there). that's the problem with subjective coherence as a source of justification. Your answer b) is an objectivist version, isn't it? If you have to appeal to a consensus for justification, then you've moved somewhat away from subjectivity, unless you're now arguing for some form of group subjectivity.

    The other question is whether observation is to have privilege over other levels of belief. If so, how do you escape a return to a version of foundationalism?
    the world you experience is just a conscious experience in your head. Whether there is something like a 'real world' or not, the only world you see is the one in your head. If coherence theory wants to limit truth to just true for the world in your head that's hardly a narrow truth. It includes the whole world after all.
    Except it's special pleading - you're redefining solipsism to mean what you want it to mean, rather than its conventional usage. No-one disputes that you can only know the outside world by your own sensory experience and it's problematic establishing definitively whether anyone else's sensory experiences should count. However, this is where communitarianism can be helpful, in my view, even if we don't extend it as far as the ethnocentricity of post-modernism. Pragmatically, we do believe that other people make reliable observations, especially if we can have analogous experiences ourselves.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    We're always going to operate pragmatically. Thus, we can say that someone who believes that all the dons at Oxford are monitoring his thoughts and sending messages via a patch of excema on his hand, is probably mad. Plantinga would argue that his belief system has no warrant. Empiricists would say that he has no evidence for that belief. We don't operate subjectively about a whole range of topics - if I step off a cliff, I will fall, however much I don't believe in gravity.
    From our subjective point of view he's mad. But I doubt he thinks so. I don't really see your argument here. The reason I don't step off a cliff is because I believe I will fall. But if I didn't believe in gravity, then I might well step off a cliff - I don't see how this is any more a case of 'operating subjectively' than the alternative.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I haven't seen that in any version of coherentism, but let's allow it for now. Personally I think you're trying to have your cake and eat it by redefining coherentism in that way.
    No, his sense experience is a real observation for him. It's indistinguishable from any of your expereinces except that there is no external stimulus for those perceptions. He doesn't imagine that he sees giant spiders, he sees giant spiders (that aren't there). that's the problem with subjective coherence as a source of justification. Your answer b) is an objectivist version, isn't it? If you have to appeal to a consensus for justification, then you've moved somewhat away from subjectivity, unless you're now arguing for some form of group subjectivity.

    The other question is whether observation is to have privilege over other levels of belief. If so, how do you escape a return to a version of foundationalism?
    Except it's special pleading - you're redefining solipsism to mean what you want it to mean, rather than its conventional usage. No-one disputes that you can only know the outside world by your own sensory experience and it's problematic establishing definitively whether anyone else's sensory experiences should count. However, this is where communitarianism can be helpful, in my view, even if we don't extend it as far as the ethnocentricity of post-modernism. Pragmatically, we do believe that other people make reliable observations, especially if we can have analogous experiences ourselves.
    :confused: You have a very strange habit of refusing to look at the argument being given and instead looking at the version you have in a book. It creates a lot of strawmans I think. The argument you should attack is the argument which is as strong as you can make it. After all, we're trying to answer questions here not just do sophistry.
    I don't think I'm redefining cohernetism, but even if I am so long as you understand what I mean what's the problem?

    If the schizophrenic sees real giant spiders then that's fine. But I don't see giant spiders so there's inconsistency with what I want to say is real and what he believes. That's why I say he's wrong.
    There's no need to give special privilage to observations. It's not the observations that are in the belief system anyway, its the interpretation of them. And we can always reinterpret if we need to.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to run off like this but I'm off to the Lake district for 10 days or so so I'm going to have to leave this here for now. Sorry. Talk to you all soon.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    :confused: You have a very strange habit of refusing to look at the argument being given and instead looking at the version you have in a book. It creates a lot of strawmans I think. The argument you should attack is the argument which is as strong as you can make it. After all, we're trying to answer questions here not just do sophistry.
    I don't think I'm redefining cohernetism, but even if I am so long as you understand what I mean what's the problem?

    If the schizophrenic sees real giant spiders then that's fine. But I don't see giant spiders so there's inconsistency with what I want to say is real and what he believes. That's why I say he's wrong.
    There's no need to give special privilage to observations. It's not the observations that are in the belief system anyway, its the interpretation of them. And we can always reinterpret if we need to.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to run off like this but I'm off to the Lake district for 10 days or so so I'm going to have to leave this here for now. Sorry. Talk to you all soon.
    Coming up to see me, eh? Have fun.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    :confused: You have a very strange habit of refusing to look at the argument being given and instead looking at the version you have in a book.
    It's called being an academic, I think. If you're going to use technical words, then you also need to understand how those words are usually used. If you're going to advance coherentism, then you either need to say "I'm using this the way I want to, rather than in the conventional sense" or avoid the term altogether. I'm somewhat disapponted that you wouldn't have learned that already, as you're studying the subject at a decent university. It's entirely excusable in a pub discussion - you wouldn't expect people there to know the terms or how to construct a proper argument. However, in something called a philosophy society, I'd hope for rather more.

    I don't think I'm avoiding your points at all - I believe I''ve been showing that you don't have a coherent or consistent position. I've done so by drawing on existing academic study into the thing called coherentism. That might irritate you because you haven't really read much about it, but it's not grounds to say that I'm merely "quoting from a book" or constructing strawmen. I should also point out that I have some formal training in schizophrenia and have worked in mental hospitals too. I've had a patient have a full-blown hallucination in front of my eyes, so I know a bit about hallucinations and perception. So, if someone says "schizophrenia" and then talks about multiple personalitries, I'll instantly know that they know nothing about the subject at all. It's similar with philosophical labels. If someone tosses technical words around loosely (perhaps in order to impress) and then gets upset if you point out the flaws in the theories they've named, it's not entirely the critic's fault.

    Now I've vented my spleen a littel, let's assume that this coherentism you're advancing is not the same as in the textbooks...

    What are you proposing exactly? So far I think you've said:

    a) It's a subjectivist viewpoint
    b) Justification is by a beliefs coherence with other beliefs
    c) Coherence is subjective and can thus be any evaulative function chosen by the subject.

    So, does this say anything at all? Is it any better than the Mad Hatter's use of language?

    I contend that it does not. That doesn't worry the subjectivist, because he is God in his own world. He can sit smugly and tell anyone else that his belief system is coherent because it treats as justified all beliefs which contain the letter 's'. As long as a belief has an 's' in it, it is true. Oh damn! The word 'true' doesn't have an 's'. Don't worry, though - 'false' does.
    If the schizophrenic sees real giant spiders then that's fine. But I don't see giant spiders so there's inconsistency with what I want to say is real and what he believes. That's why I say he's wrong.
    Yet you cannot perceive his sense experience, merely your own, so at best all you can say is that he's wrong-for-you.
    There's no need to give special privilage to observations. It's not the observations that are in the belief system anyway, its the interpretation of them. And we can always reinterpret if we need to.
    I can see your point and I agree to a certain extent. We are never clear what we have actually seen. It's always interpreted in a paradigm. So I think I catch a ball, but I actually interact with a very large number of fundamental particles of which I'm unaware.
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    Welcome to the following new members: WiseGuy; angadchawla; ofholyname; Wise One; farenheit; Jacques Derrida; friendsfanatic; nozick; gezzar; KizD; asmodexx; AdamC; ProfessorFitBoy; HearTheThunder

    ZarathustraX
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    Yayy I'm here. Philosophy at college is great :cool:
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    (Original post by Zarathustra)
    Welcome to the following new members: WiseGuy; angadchawla; ofholyname; Wise One; farenheit; Jacques Derrida; friendsfanatic; nozick; gezzar; KizD; asmodexx; AdamC; ProfessorFitBoy; HearTheThunder

    ZarathustraX
    Ah, we are growing. So lets prove that the thread doesn't just lay down and die when Calvin goes away. Anyone want to share their philosophical musings? Earn your shiny new logos?
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    Oui - "mind" and "brain" - seperate? does the mind really exist or is it just the brain?
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    (Original post by HearTheThunder)
    Oui - "mind" and "brain" - seperate? does the mind really exist or is it just the brain?
    I'd say the 'mind' is a level of interpretation of the physical processes that go on in the brain - i.e the 'brain' is all the neurons and gray matter and neurotransmitters, while the 'mind' is the way in which bits of the brain act as representations of the world, and, crucially, of themselves. Dualism is just theistic wishful thinking :p:
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    Dualism is just theistic wishful thinking :p:
    yep, its still pretty popularist :rolleyes: ... but that doesn't make it correct
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    Ah, we are growing. So lets prove that the thread doesn't just lay down and die when Calvin goes away. Anyone want to share their philosophical musings? Earn your shiny new logos?
    where has calvin disappeared to?
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    (Original post by Socrates)
    where has calvin disappeared to?
    he'll be back soon

    (Original post by Calvin on 17-09-2005 )
    Anyway, I'm sorry to run off like this but I'm off to the Lake district for 10 days or so so I'm going to have to leave this here for now. Sorry. Talk to you all soon.
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    (Original post by gezzar)
    yep, its still pretty popularist :rolleyes: ... but that doesn't make it correct
    'popularist' huh? :p: It doesn't even mean it makes much sense. Any dualists want to prove me wrong? *Looks around with a hopeful, disarmingly innocent smile*
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    I'd say the 'mind' is a level of interpretation of the physical processes that go on in the brain
    Ah, an epiphenomenalist. The problem with the discussion is that you can't tell (yet) whether a brain is having thoughts or not. I believe that NMR studies are starting to show promise though and that certain thoughts can be related to particular areas of the brain.

    What's not clear is how much phenomena like muscle memory play a part. Certain repetitive actions (like playing the piano) require action faster than it can be transmitted by the brain to the nerves, get feedback etc. We know we can do it, so it's been a quest to find out how it happens exactly.

    I don't think that we can dispute that damage to the brain can and does cause personality changes. However, there's increasing evidence that thinking also changes the brain, so there's an interaction between the two.

    As a theist, I believe that mind is tied to body, as is soul. They're simply three different windows on to the same room. We can't discuss one without talking about the others.
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    Howdy guys. Lake district was lovely Wanderer, rained a lot but always when I was inside by a fire so no complaining from me.

    Good idea Hear the Thunder Me and Grumballcake can stop banging our heads against walls.

    I'm calling shot-gun on idealism. This whole real object thing doesn't make any sense to me. As far as I see the only reason the concepts like physical world and real objects are still around are because of the mental laziness of most lay people. What the heck is an object if it isn't the mental representations I have of it. If it's just the mental representation then lets do away with this whole misleading 'real' idea and come up with a new word so everybody is straight on just what we mean- perceivable.
    We have as far as I can see neither evidence nor need to posit souls as a thing.
    And dualism only remains as a result of sciences difficulty in explaining consciousness. It's a god of the gaps if you will.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I'm calling shot-gun on idealism.
    I have no idea what you mean.
    This whole real object thing doesn't make any sense to me. As far as I see the only reason the concepts like physical world and real objects are still around are because of the mental laziness of most lay people.
    Including most professional philosophers through the ages, it would seem. Your problem, as I see it, is that you assume that you can have a mental representation of something. But you have no evidence that you do - at least, no evidence which can convince anyone else (by your own rules). You have a null system. It has no explanatory power, nor predictive power. No matter how rudely you treat its critics, you have yet to demonstrate how this system adds any understanding. I don't dispute that we construct mental models based upon sensory perceptions, nor that we use language to communicate via shared axioms.

    The sole means you have of communication is by a shared system of conventions, as observed by Wittgenstein and by a newer group of communitarian thinkers like MacIntyre and Fergusson, for example. It's becoming obvious to a lot of people that systems of thought and communication are based upon a community of understanding. You know that red is red because you learned it within your community. In another community, the colour will have a different word and might span a different frequency range. It's possible that some systems of thought are incommensurable and there are certainly thinkers who argue for that.

    People talk about reality because it's clear to them that the universe existed before my thoughts and will exist after them. I may understand the universe through my perceptions, but it does not depend on them and it is largely indifferent to what I think - most of it is indifferent to what I do too (as it's too far away). One problem with idealism is that it does not explain life or death - it just pretends the problem doesn't exist.
    What the heck is an object if it isn't the mental representations I have of it.
    No. You're arguing what is an object to me, if not my mental representation. That's not the same thing at all. You are not God, nor the universe, you are just a part of something bigger. "What are you to it?", we might equally ask.
    And dualism only remains as a result of sciences difficulty in explaining consciousness. It's a god of the gaps if you will.
    So you're claiming perfect knowledge too? Or merely relying on an eschatological hope that all things can be known and will be known. How does Heisenberg fit into this, by the way? Even if you could postulate a time in the infinite future when science knows all, how can you act as if that's already the case? Science has been dramatically wrong for most of its history, so what makes you so sure that you now have all you need? Have you read Thomas Kuhn? I can't remember.
 
 
 
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