The Instigator
KRFournier
Pro (for)
Losing
50 Points
The Contender
Vi_Veri
Con (against)
Winning
54 Points

All knowledge is founded on faith - 2

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 19 votes the winner is...
Vi_Veri
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/4/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,280 times Debate No: 9717
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (74)
Votes (19)

 

KRFournier

Pro

This debate has a numerical suffix in the resolution to distinguish it from my first debate on this subject. (http://www.debate.org...).

-----

The term faith has many contextual uses, but for my purposes, I refer to the following definition:

Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. [1]

The term faith, insofar as this debate is concerned, is synonymous to belief. The resolution can therefore be properly understood to say, "All knowledge is founded on unproven, or unjustified, belief."

The phrase "founded on" can be understood in this debate to mean "based upon" or "ultimately relies upon." In other words, I am arguing that all knowledge is justified by either faith directly, or by other knowledge that is itself justified by faith.

The most popular theory of knowledge is the tripartite theory [2], which identifies knowledge as that which is simultaneously believed, true, and justified. For example, if it is true and justified, but not believed, then it is not knowledge. The theory is practical and most often taken for granted. That is to say, people generally accept this theory of knowledge subconsciously.

In practice, we must acknowledge and address a flaw with the tripartite theory: the regress problem. The problem is best described in the following syllogism, which I have shamelessly copied and pasted from my source [3]:

1. Suppose that P is some piece of knowledge. Then P is a justified true belief.
2. The only thing that can justify P is another statement – let's call it P1; so P1 justifies P.
3. But if P1 is to be a satisfactory justification for P, then we must know that P1.
4. But for P1 to be known, it must also be a justified true belief.
5. That justification will be another statement - let's call it P2; so P2 justifies P1.
6. But if P2 is to be a satisfactory justification for P1, then we must know that P2
7. But for P2 to count as knowledge, it must itself be a justified true belief.
8. That justification will in turn be another statement - let's call it P3; so P3 justifies P2.
9. and so on, ad infinitum.

Philosophically, there are many answers, but I contend that any answer to this epistemological riddle ultimately serves to support my resolution. In short, any attempt to solve the regress problem will place faith as the source of knowledge. Let's consider four possible responses to the regress problem:

1. Foundationalism [3]

Foundationalism is perhaps the most straight forward solution. It simply asserts that all justified true beliefs will ultimately be justified by basic beliefs, or presuppositions. These basic beliefs are not justified, but assumed, without logical proof or material evidence, i.e., faith. Thus, foundationalism solves the problem by explicitly relying on faith.

2. Coherentism [3]

Coherentism attempts to solve the problem by allowing justified true beliefs to ultimately be justified by themselves. At first glance, this appears to be begging the question, and indeed, circular reasoning is the whole point. Coherentists would say that so long as a system of belief is internally consistent, then the beliefs therein constitute knowledge.

However, the problem of faith remains. Coherentism replaces a foundation of unproven beliefs with an unproven system of belief. It is quite possible to have a set of beliefs that all cohere quite well together but are all untrue. Therefore, acceptance of any coherent system implies faith in that system as a whole, thereby affirming the resolution.

3. Reliabilism [4]

Reliabilism attempts to solve the problem by changing the mode of justification altogether. Instead of a belief being justified by another justified true belief, the reliabilist argues that a belief is justified if it is formed using a reliable belief-formation mechanism.

The obvious problem is: how do we KNOW what is reliable and what is not reliable. In short, the reliability of belief-formation mechanisms themselves are beliefs and must be themselves justified. In short, reliabilism does not solve the problem as much as dress it different clothes. The same regress problem presents itself albeit with different wording. Each reliability mechanism must be justified by another reliability mechanism ad infinitum. The only solution is to accept one's reliability measurements on faith.

4. Infinitism [3]

Infinitism simply acknowledges the regress problem and makes no effort to resolve it, arguing instead that there will never be adequate justification for knowledge. The problem with infinitism is that it has no practical application. If employed in debate, it will either lead to skepticism or be subconsciously abandoned. Either way, the infinitist will turn to faith.

In the case of skepticism, the infinitist will insist that nothing can be known. But how can the skeptic KNOW that nothing can be known. Skeptcism is ultimately self-refuting, since it can only be true if it is false. Therefore, commitment to skepticism is faith.

The infinist who rejects skepticism is in a philosophical bind also, since simultaneously rejecting skepticism and acknowledging the regress problem is logically incompatible. Therefore, the infinist will have to rely, consciously or subconsciously, on one of the other solutions to the regress problem. Since I have already shown the other solutions to rely on faith, skepticism-free infinitism relies on faith also.

CONCLUSION

For some astute readers, perhaps this problem has always been obvious, but in the heat of debate, the term "faith" is a loaded gun cocked at the ready. The old adage, "faith is believing what you know ain't true," fails to account for the real epistemological issues we face in our pursuit of knowledge. The harsh reality is that we all, in practice, rely on faith. There is no neutrality, only bias. I have shown that there is no solution to the regress problem that can avoid faith. Indeed, for the limited human mind, faith is necessary.

I affirm that all knowledge is acquired from faith.

SOURCES
1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
2. http://www.theoryofknowledge.info...
3. http://en.wikipedia.org...
4. http://www.theoryofknowledge.info...
Vi_Veri

Con

I thank KRF for all of his patience!

This will be quick and easy....

We will be assuming the materialistic view of the mind, that everything is physical, and thus the mind is physical (a manifestation of the brain).

Let me reiterate: "Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

My opponent attacks Foundationalism as an improper answer to the faith problem. In fact, Foundationalism does rest on material proof - proof we call Qualia. Qualia is a conscious experience, like the taste of red wine, or the scent of perfume, or the sight of "redness".

Philosopher Daniel C. Dennett writes that qualia is "an unfamiliar term for something that could not be more familiar to each of us: the ways things seem to us."

These, are, in fact the most material of material. They are the foundation of proof, and thus logically deduced as A= A.

One does not need faith to proclaim, "It seems to me that I am witnessing [insert qualia here]."

Such qualia proof of "seemingness" is foundational to all knowledge.

It is quite logical, in fact, to deduce that what something seems is what it seems. Again, logically, A=A.

Foundationalism does not rest on faith.

Proof, you ask? What more proof does one need than the qualia, the actual physical manifestation of how things seem in the world?

To say that something "seems" as something does not rest on faith.
Debate Round No. 1
KRFournier

Pro

My opponent begins her argument by stating, "We will be assuming the materialistic view of the mind, that everything is physical, and thus the mind is physical (a manifestation of the brain)."

Assume: To take for granted; suppose [1]

My opponent begins the argument with a presupposition, a FOUNDATION upon which she will JUSTIFY the arguments that follow it. That is to say, she will be using faith to argue that foundationalism doesn't require faith.

Vi_Veri's argument is logical, given her starting point. Assuming the mind is material, then our conscious experiences (qualia), which take place in the mind, are also material. Thus, what something "seems" to be is material evidence for what it "is." Such material evidence, therefore, eliminates faith.

Except, her argument is based on faith.

The only way her conclusion--that foundationalism does not rest on faith--can be KNOWN is if she justifies it with other KNOWLEDGE. Thus she will have to do more than just ASSUME a materialistic mind, she must JUSTIFY it.

Of course, that places her in the very predicament she hopes to refute; caught in the regress problem. After justifying a material mind, she'll have to justify whatever she used to justify that. This regression will continue until she has to either rest on faith--which refutes her position--or appeal to qualia--which begs the question. Thus, there is no way for her to prove her position without relying on the very thing she is trying to refute, making her position self-refuting.

Since her argument relies on assumption, her argument can only be valid it if its conclusions are false. It therefore remains affirmed that all knowledge is ultimately founded on faith.

SOURCES
1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
Vi_Veri

Con

My opponent directly attacks my materialism premise of my argument.

Even without the materialism premise, my argument stands. I admit, it was not a premise that was even necessary for the conclusion. Even if you replace it with, say, dualism (or any other), my argument still stands.

Qualia is any conscious experience, be the experience by a soul or a material brain - it still stands as an experience that can be had and seems to be. I must repeat: To say that something "seems" as something does not rest on faith.

With the interchangeability of my first premise (and it's over all unnecessary nature to my argument), my conclusion still follows validly without regress.

Even if we took the dualistic perspective of the mind, the conscious experiences (qualia) that the "mind" would be having would still be basic beliefs, thus supporting foundationalism once again. According to Foundationalism, basic beliefs, in this case as experiences (observations), do not need to be justified (thus also eliminating the regress problem).

~Logical Syllogism~

To assert before this syllogism: If we have a regress problem, then the base of our knowledge rests on faith (KRF).

1. If we have material proof for foundationalism's basic beliefs, then we can rid ourselves of the regress problem.
2. Qualia is material proof for foundationalism's basic beliefs.
:. Therefore, We can rid ourselves of the regress problem.

By Modus ponens, the argument is deemed valid:

1. P ---> Q
2. P
:. Q

So, my conclusion negates KRF's definition of faith in both ways possible; by logical proof and material evidence (definitions provided below of the two, provided by Merriam-Webster dictionary):

*Logical proof:

A formal series of statements showing that if one thing is true something else necessarily follows from it.

*Material evidence:

Information (data or ideas or observations).

*Experience (definition provided for qualia):

1 a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation
2 a : practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity

I negate that all knowledge is founded on faith.
Debate Round No. 2
KRFournier

Pro

My opponent has added much clarity to her position by offering her argument in the form a concise syllogism:

1. If we have material proof for foundationalism's basic beliefs, then we can rid ourselves of the regress problem.
2. Qualia is material proof for foundationalism's basic beliefs.
:. Therefore, We can rid ourselves of the regress problem.

I think we can both agree that premise 1 is true. I also agree that the argument is valid as the conclusion logically follows the premises. However, I will defend my position by arguing that premise 2 is false. So, all I have to do is show that Qualia is not material proof.

First, I'd like to reject Vi_Veri's definition of Material evidence. Material evidence is more than simply information. The fact that it is material implies that it is objective, allowing others to verify it. It need not be physical, but it need be falsifiable in some way. The free dictionary defines material evidence as "evidence which conduces to the proof or disproof of a relevant hypothesis." [1]

And it is nature of Qualia as not being falsifiable that renders it inadequate to justify premise number 2. My opponent says, "To say that something 'seems' as something does not rest on faith." But the seemingness of anything is relative to the observer, making it wholly subjective. I can say, that color "seems" red to me, but what JUSTIFIES me in saying that the color "is" red? To simply say that my experiences are TRUE is to beg the question. There must be a bridge that connects one's subjective experience to objective knowledge.

In order for Vi_Veri's conclusion to be KNOWN, the premises must be KNOWN. The only way to KNOW premise 2, is to JUSTIFY it. In round 1, she assumed a material mind. In round 2, she assumed that basic beliefs need not be justified. She says, "According to Foundationalism, basic beliefs, in this case as experiences (observations), do not need to be justified (thus also eliminating the regress problem)." This is precisely what I argued in my opening round. Foundationalism ASSUMES that basic beliefs are suitable starting points. Even if my opponent can show that Foundationalism is reasonable--which I think it is--this does not eliminate the need for faith. Any unjustified belief is a presupposition. Presupposition is faith.

It appears that my opponent is using Foundationalism to support her claim that Qualia is knowledge in order to show that Foundationalism is not faith.

In conclusion, my opponent's argument is caught in the very regression she wishes to break. Every attempt to break the regression in her argument has involved either circular reasoning or some kind of presupposition about what can be known. Either way, she must rely on faith to make her case. Therefore, her argument can only be valid if it's incorrect, so it is false and the resolution is affirmed. All knowledge is ultimately founded on faith.

This has been an edifying discussion, and I thank Vi_Veri for stretching me as a debater.

SOURCES
1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
Vi_Veri

Con

My opponent attempts to dismiss my argument by saying that there has to be justification for qualia in order for the JTB theory to throw away the regress problem (in the foundationalist case). The answer for this comes quite simply from Philosopher Bertrand Russell. He uses the qualia of "pain" in his example.

"Roughly the view is that what justifies S in believing that he is in pain when he does is the fact that S is directly and immediately acquainted with his pain in a way in which he is not directly and immediately acquainted with any contingent facts about Caesar, the physical world, the future, and so on. On a correspondence conception of truth, one might add that to be fully justified in believing a proposition to be true one must be acquainted not only with the fact that makes the proposition true but the relation of correspondence that holds between the proposition and the fact."

Justification for a knowledge claim is usually needed because we do not have direct relation to that claim - thus needing external evidence in order to justify it. What is different about qualia, and what qualifies them as foundational beliefs to build other beliefs from, is that they have a direct relation to us that we can not shake, we know of their truth as soon as they are felt, seen, touched, etc.

My opponent raises that the definition of material evidence should be as follows, "evidence which conduces to the proof or disproof of a relevant hypothesis."

But, as you can see, reader, that is exactly what experience/direct observation/qualia is. It is, in itself, completely related to our consciousness, and thus is in itself a brute fact - un-needing of external justification. Thus, this is why you do not need any faith to believe qualia that is presented - because it is, as Philosopher Descartes would say, a clear and distinct perception.

In conclusion, qualia are justified because they directly relate to the observer in that the observer does not need to look for outside justification in order to relate himself to the piece of "evidence." This makes the qualia perfect material evidence, because the statement "it seems to be like pain" is very much immune to skeptical hypothesis and is occupied by much justification of it's nature by our own relation to it. As I have described above, it is direct material proof, because it is a JTB, and thus can be used as the base unit for all knowledge.

All knowledge is not founded on faith.

I thank KRF for this brilliant and exciting debate! I hope we can do another one in the future : )

Regards,

Vi

Sources:

1. Russell, Bertrand. 1910-11. "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description." The Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 11: 209-32.

2. http://plato.stanford.edu...
Debate Round No. 3
74 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by tBoonePickens 6 years ago
tBoonePickens
Agree w/KRFournier.

I think that Qualia isn't really knowledge, it's more of an ability. To experience the color red is an ability, NOT knowledge.
Posted by BruteApologia 7 years ago
BruteApologia
Yeah, I was going to comment on that. There is a difference between internal and external knowledge. This is something that I saw you trying to make at one point here:

"There must be a bridge that connects one's subjective experience to objective knowledge."

Unfortunately, the assertion of this debate was that "ALL knowledge is founded on faith". What you said there was not emphasized enough and was really done at the last moment. I recommend you change and clarify some things before you have another debate on this.
Posted by KRFournier 7 years ago
KRFournier
I think my biggest flaw in this debate is failing to adequately point out that the theory of knowledge I put forth defines an objective knowledge, not just any knowledge. To say I know that I am experiencing red is subjective knowledge. In the tripartite theory of knowledge, knowledge is believed (in the mind), it is true (objective), and it is justified (connecting the mind to the objective truth). If we are talking strictly about objective knowledge, I am unconvinced that qualia saves the day.

Of course, one can always challenge the tripartite theory of knowledge, which was another way any opponent could have gone.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
I think mattrodstrom makes a valid point, but I have to say that for my part, I started reading this debate firmly on the side of Pro, and now I have to say I'm not so sure anymore (I went with a 'tie' on the after debate question.) I'm not sure if I'm willing to count Qualia as "knowledge" yet, but Vi_Veri did manage to get me to seriously consider the question. Needless to say, I counted her arguments as more convincing because of this.
Posted by mattrodstrom 7 years ago
mattrodstrom
I can't vote, yet, but it seems to me that people tend to think that the side they agree with on the topic generally, has provided better argumentation. I guess it makes sense this would happen, and indeed would be true for my vote too, but it's a harsh way for a debate to be decided.

That being said if I do get around to settting up my voting capability, I'd vote pro for argumentation.
Posted by BruteApologia 7 years ago
BruteApologia
For the little that it's worth, I'll be glad to give my input. Both opponents provided clear arguments in support of their position that could easily be understood by the average layman. I especially enjoyed the general exposition of epistemologies by KRFournier because it helped introduce (and focus) the debate, in addition to supporting his argument.

I had already agreed with Veri before this debate, and this agreement continued afterwards. In terms of argumentation, I would say that Pro was winning the first round due to Con's impression that the argument assumed a materialistic view in order to succeed. I realized that this was not the case, but this still added some confusion and was an unnecessary detail.

Throughout the other rounds, I would have to say that Veri won the debate because it seemed to me that qualia is self-evident and in no need of an external justification to be considered true by the individual. Pro assumed that any unjustified belief is a presupposition but it is quite possible to conceive of an internal justification that is subjectively known only to the person (such as instances of pain or self-existence).

In order to refute this, it has to be shown that qualia cannot be labeled as knowledge. Pro cannot depend on his presupposition that all knowledge requires an external justification. There has to be some reason for why we are unwarranted in believing that there is self-evident knowledge or properly basic beliefs. Ultimately, any attempted argument at refuting this would rely on faith and is therefore an unjustified belief by definition. I think it is rather clear which epistemology one should hold onto.

In conclusion, I think that this was an interesting debate. It caused me to reflect on my own beliefs more carefully. I personally would've used an argument from the realm of thought to refute the argument, but this does not take away from the use of qualia as a good basis of epistemology. Thanks for the great discussion g
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
RFD:
Conduct: Tie
S&G: Tie
Sources: Tie
Arguments: Pro
Posted by KRFournier 7 years ago
KRFournier
Reason For Decision. Debaters appreciate someone explaining their vote in detail.
Posted by daniel_t 7 years ago
daniel_t
What does "RFD" mean in this context?
Posted by tBoonePickens 7 years ago
tBoonePickens
...It wouldn't seem as it's not... "That's the point : )"

How is that a point? It doesn't make any sense. It is meaningless. Can you elaborate?

As far as "it seems as it seems", this is different from above statement but it isn't very useful as it is a kind of circular definition. Furthermore, it is an internal definition which relates only to the person who is doing the "seeming" and no one else, because no one can know how things seem to another.
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