The Instigator
Illegalcombatant
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
FREEDO
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points

Can we know anything for certain ?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/2/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,839 times Debate No: 14645
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (21)
Votes (3)

 

Illegalcombatant

Pro

The debate topic is "Can we know anything for certain ?"

I as the Pro will make the case that we can know something for certain

Con will make the case that we can't know anything for certain

Please note, there is no win by default here, both sides have a burden to carry

If you have any problems or concerns with the debate, post in the comments section, don't accept the debate then try to change it.

Opening argument..........

1) Something exists and we can know this for certain

It has been said that the first question of philosophy is why is there something rather than nothing ?. But why accept the built in assumption that something exists. If we can't know anything for certain and thus anything we believe has the potential to be false, then surely the assumption that something exists is subject to be being false..............or is it ?

If you doubt existence, whether your own or in totality, even if you doubt whether existence exists then this doubt, is something. If nothing existed, then doubts and doubts about existence would not exist.

Any doubts about existence, prove that something exists.

2) We can't know something for certain ?

If some one argues that we can't know anything for certain, then this raises the question, are you certain that we can't know something for certain ?

They have 3 possible answers

1) Yes
2) No
3) I don't know

If they answer yes, then this is self refuting, as they are claiming to know with certainty that nothing can be certain.

If they answer no, then they must concede that it is possible that we can know something for certain, thus refuting the claim that we can't know anything for certain.

If they answer "I don't know" then once again, they must concede that its possible we can know something for certain, thus refuting the claim that knowing something for certain is impossible.

In summary both proof of existence based on doubting of existence, and the refutations of the claim that we can't know something for certain, prove that we can know something for certain.

I look forward to Cons response.
FREEDO

Con

INTRO
An interesting topic to debate, certainly. I'm glad I picked it up, seeing as I am the only Pyrrhonian Skeptic I know of on this site, which is to say I have no beliefs.
"Nothing can be known for certain, not even this" ~ Pyrrho of Elis

Since Pro is both the instigator and is making a positive assertion it is fair to say he has the burden of proof in this debate. Pro states that both sides have a burden to carry, this is obvious. Both sides in ALL debates have a burden to carry but the phrase "burden of proof" applies to the one with the highest burden, or, that is, to be the one to supply their burden first.

Pro's only case so far is that it is impossible to refute that YOU know YOU exist or that I know I exist; cogito ergo sum, which is to say "I think, therefore I am". So it would seem this debate essentially comes down to me making a case against cogito ergo sum. Not an easy task in the slightest. However, I think that you'll find that things here look much different when they are inspected upon closer examination. It turns out I have no need to make an argument against cogito ergo sum, though I think I could, but rather make a case against Pro being able to use cogito ergo sum to advance his case, thus leaving his burden unsubstantiated. Turn your attention to my humble argument.

ARGUMENT
The resolution is as follows:
"Can we know anything for certain ?"

Definition of "we":
"Used by the speaker or writer to indicate the speaker or writer along with another or others as the subject." [1]

As can clearly be seen, "we" refers to a pluralality; more than just the "I".

So, right away, Pro is assuming that "others" exist. He is thus assuming it can be known whether others exist. But on what grounds does Pro make this assumption? Certainly not cogito ergo sum. In order for Pro to substantiate the burden for his side of the resolution he must prove that it can known that others exist or else he can not prove that others can know things for certain. You can not know things if you do not exist. It can not be known if one knows something if it is not known that they exist.

SOURCES
1. http://education.yahoo.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Illegalcombatant

Pro

I thank Con for their response.

Before going into the substance of the debate I would like to seek clarification from Con.

Con says "the resolution is as follows: "Can we know anything for certain ?"

No I had said "The debate topic is "Can we know anything for certain ?" Are you claiming that the debate topic is the same as a resolution, or are you suggesting that a debate topic is some how different than a resolution ?.

Con says "Both sides in ALL debates have a burden to carry but the phrase "burden of proof" applies to the one with the highest burden, or, that is, to be the one to supply their burden first"

I would remind Con that........

"I as the Pro will make the case that we can know something for certain

Con will make the case that we can't know anything for certain"

Unto the arguments..............

Con contends that I am proving that "I" exists, therefore something exists. This is a misunderstanding of my argument.
My argument is "In summary both proof of existence based on doubting of existence, and the refutations of the claim that we can't know something for certain, prove that we can know something for certain"

My claim of certainty of existence is based that doubt pre supposes existence. I never claimed that I or You have to exist in order for doubt to exist. I make no claim that doubt is contingent on you or I existing, but rather that doubt proves existence and thus something exists.

Con points out some assumptions of mine when they say "In order for Pro to substantiate the burden for his side of the resolution he must prove that it can known that others exist"

I will accept the assumption that other people exist, not on my own assumptions, but rather Cons assumptions.

Con is making arguments to convince other people to vote for Con. Cons arguments assume that other people exist. I do not object to these assumptions.

Con says "I think that you'll find that things here look much different when they are inspected upon closer examination"

You'll is a contraction of You will.

Definition of "You"

"Used to refer to the one or ones being addressed: I'll lend you the book. You shouldn't work so hard." http://education.yahoo.com...

Con assumes that other people exist, I accept this assumption.

Based on this assumption my argument is as follows.....

Argument Part 1

1) Doubt can only happen if something exists
2) Doubt can happen
3) Thus something exists

Based on Con assumptions that other people exist, this argument also applies to them, thus they can be certain that something exists.

Argument Part 2

1) Something exists
2) Other people exist (assumed by Con)
3) Something exists and we can know this for certain

Con has not made any counter argument to my arguments about how the claim that "we can't know any thing for certain" can only not contradict its self by conceding that it is possible that we can know something for certain.

I look forward to Cons response.
FREEDO

Con

REPLIES

//No I had said "The debate topic is "Can we know anything for certain ?" Are you claiming that the debate topic is the same as a resolution, or are you suggesting that a debate topic is some how different than a resolution ?.//

The "debate topic" is the resolution, that is, the thing being debated over.

//Con says "Both sides in ALL debates have a burden to carry but the phrase "burden of proof" applies to the one with the highest burden, or, that is, to be the one to supply their burden first"

I would remind Con that........

"I as the Pro will make the case that we can know something for certain

Con will make the case that we can't know anything for certain"//

I know that. Nothing here contradicts what I said.

//Con contends that I am proving that "I" exists, therefore something exists.//

Actually, I contended that you ATTEMPTED to prove that one thinks, which is presupposed from doubting, therefore one is existent, which is to say one knows it; "I think, therefor I am", which extends from your "I doubt, therefore I know I exist"(paraphrase).

//My claim of certainty of existence is based that doubt pre supposes existence.//

Don't you mean existence presupposes doubt? lol

//I never claimed that I or You have to exist in order for doubt to exist. I make no claim that doubt is contingent on you or I existing, but rather that doubt proves existence and thus something exists.//

If you are making no claims to you or myself existing then you have no grounds upon which to claim that doubt exists. Your argument is founded upon the existence of doubt, which, by the way, isn't going to help you with the resolution anyway.

//I will accept the assumption that other people exist, not on my own assumptions, but rather Cons assumptions.

Con is making arguments to convince other people to vote for Con. Cons arguments assume that other people exist. I do not object to these assumptions.//

......Do you take me for an idiot? Do you take the voters for idiots? Such an interesting argument you have there. I would say that was a nice try to get around your burden but...it's really wasn't, it was actually really bad.

Outside of a debate, this wouldn't be worth my time. But since it isn't, I'll be professional and explain.

You would not, under other circumstances, succumb to your opponent's assumptions, never-mind that you can't prove I'm actually making it. Usually what you need to do is pick apart your opponent's assumptions. The only reason you haven't done that here is because it would be very convenient for you to have this as an assumption in this debate. So sad that philosophy doesn't really care about what's convenient for you. There is no rational reason this would remove your burden to prove "others" exist.

Now, go ahead and disregard what I just wrote--I know you will--but you can't escape from this:
You're assumption that you can make the assumption of "others" existing based on the assumption that I assumed this is based upon the assumption that I exist which is based upon the assumption that an "other" exists which can only be backed up by the conclusion of your assumptions. Circular-reasoning; logical fallacy.

Because of this, Pro's arguments are void.

FOR SH!TS N' GIGGLES

Even though I don't have to make a case against cogito ergo sum, I'm going to do it anyway. In-case anyone thinks I was just avoiding it with semantics.

My argument is surprisingly simply and short. "I think therefor, I am", though seemingly self-evident, is an illogical statement because, just like Pro's argument, it is circular. It immediately starts off by saying "I" which means it is applying it's conclusion in order to reach it.

That is all.
Debate Round No. 2
Illegalcombatant

Pro

I thank Con for their response.

You know what I love about freedo, they don't even pretend to care about the conduct vote. Say what you want about freedo but you are sure to get bang for your buck entertainment wise here.

Con asks me "Don't you mean existence presupposes doubt? lol" Yes I did mean existence presupposes doubt, I thank Con for the correction. Now Freedo its not very nice just to "lol" at some ones mistake, I mean the doctor didn't "lol" at your parents when you were born did they ?

Con says "Do you take me for an idiot? Do you take the voters for idiots?"

Con tries to smear me, by implying I hold the voters as idiots, this is not the case, as far as asserting that I regard Freedo as an idiot............ no comment.

Con says "Outside of a debate, this wouldn't be worth my time. But since it isn't, I'll be professional and explain"

Bit late to be professional don't ya think freedo ?

Con says "Now, go ahead and disregard what I just wrote--I know you will--but you can't escape from this:"

If I didn't know better it sounded like Con was quite certain about this..................almost as if they had knowledge they were certain on.

Con says "You would not, under other circumstances, succumb to your opponent's assumptions, never-mind that you can't prove I'm actually making it"

As far as pointing out that Con assumes other people exist, I was demonstrating the hypocrisy of and contradictions of Con objecting that other people exist, while also appealing to other people to vote for Con. Thus giving justification that other people exist.

But guess what, Freedo goes and does it again. Con says ".Do you take me for an idiot? Do you take the voters for idiots? Such an interesting argument you have there. I would say that was a nice try to get around your burden but...it's really wasn't, it was actually really bad"

So Freedo appeals too these voters who are other people, while also objecting to the assumption that other people exist.....HAVE YOU NO SHAME FREEDO !!!

Now Freedo wants to talk about circular reasoning, and question begging. "My argument is surprisingly simply and short. "I think therefore, I am", though seemingly self-evident, is an illogical statement because, just like Pros argument, it is circular. It immediately starts off by saying "I" which means it is applying it's conclusion in order to reach it."

So Freedo thinks if something is a circular argument it is illogical and I assume Freedo is saying it should be rejected.

1) Circular reasoning is illogical
2) Thus its illogical to use circular reasoning

Freedo implies that all circular reasoning is wrong, yet claiming circular reasoning is wrong, uses circular reasoning its self. Feel free to back up your assertion that circular reasoning is always wrong without having to assume its true in order to prove its true freedo.

Con still has not countered my argument, that claiming that we can't know anything for certain, contradicts its self if it is assumed with certainty, thus must concede the claim could be wrong. Thus its possible that we can know something for certain.

I look forward to Cons response.
FREEDO

Con

REPLIES
//Now Freedo its not very nice just to "lol" at some ones mistake, I mean the doctor didn't "lol" at your parents when you were born did they ?//

Interesting how you're trying to pin bad conduct on me when you're the one flinging an insult.

//as far as asserting that I regard Freedo as an idiot............ no comment.//

Debating tip: When trying to portray your opponent as having bad conduct, don't directly follow it up with insults.

//So Freedo appeals too these voters who are other people, while also objecting to the assumption that other people exist.....HAVE YOU NO SHAME FREEDO !!!//

This is correct. It is also irrelevant. Please read and reply to my argument. That would be nice. In short, I shall repeat it, your claim that you can assume the existence of others just because you say I make the assumption is based upon the assumption that I exist, which brings you back to square one.

//Freedo implies that all circular reasoning is wrong, yet claiming circular reasoning is wrong, uses circular reasoning its self. Feel free to back up your assertion that circular reasoning is always wrong without having to assume its true in order to prove its true freedo.//

It turns out I actually agree with Pro here. However, I don't think he fully grasps the implications of his statements when he is begging the question to prove circular reason is wrong, that is, to prove how logic itself is logic. You see, the case for logic cannot be logically made. To make a logical argument to prove that logic is true is already assuming that it is. It can, therefore, only be supported by either illogical or alogical arguments. I am an alogicist. However, if there is any assumption that can and must be made in this debate, and I am sure my dogmatically logical counter-parts shall agree, it is that logic must be the foundation of the debate in-order for it to properly function. All debates on this site, unless being non-serious or, in it's very resolution, bringing logic into question, must be bound by the laws of logic or a winner and loser, let alone any truth, in the debate are absolutely indiscernible.

To have an argument of yours pointed out as illogical and to only rebut it with the assertion that logic itself is illogical, is the mother of all cop-outs. Take some responsibility and make a real argument.

//Con still has not countered my argument, that claiming that we can't know anything for certain, contradicts its self if it is assumed with certainty, thus must concede the claim could be wrong.//

Actually, I did and you know it, as do the voters.
Debate Round No. 3
Illegalcombatant

Pro

Illegalcombatant forfeited this round.
FREEDO

Con

Pro says things got in the way of his posting. I don't hold it against him. We'll just call the debate one round shorter.

Also, I must ask that Pro not post until I contact him. I am having problems with my computer and I would like to get it fixed before I have to post my round or I may not be able to. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
Illegalcombatant

Pro

Con implies that ALL assumptions should be rejected. Claiming that all assumptions should be rejected, is its self an assumption.

This is self refuting, cause if true, then we would have to reject the assumption that all assumptions should be rejected.

Since the claim that all assumptions should be rejected is self refuting and proven false, this means there are some assumptions that should be accepted.

This refutes Cons argument that anything with an assumption should be rejected, and thus my arguments stand.

Con wasn't able to refute my arguments without contradicting them self, eg denying other people exist while also trying to convince other people to vote for Con.

I urge a vote for Pro.

I thank Con for participating in this debate.
FREEDO

Con

//Con implies that ALL assumptions should be rejected. Claiming that all assumptions should be rejected, is its self an assumption.//

Haha. I really have no idea what you're talking about. I made no such claim.

Again, you have neglected by persistent requests for you to formulate a real response. All I got was another cop-out.

Voters, do your thing.

Thanks to Pro for the debate.
Debate Round No. 5
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by FREEDO 1 week ago
FREEDO
Yeesh past self, you're such a whinny little bitch.

This is the perfect outcome for this debate. How could I not have appreciated that?
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 3 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
That's an ironic vote bomb.
Posted by FREEDO 3 years ago
FREEDO
The problem is, you're not supposed to vote for who you agree with. I clearly did better arguing here.
Posted by socialpinko 3 years ago
socialpinko
Freedo, I was about to vote but saw that it was a tie already. Sorry. I was only going to give you conduct. One can simply take an agnostic position to whether we can know anything for certain.
Posted by Thaddeus 3 years ago
Thaddeus
It isn't his fault that you are just a grape on a grape-vine
Posted by FREEDO 3 years ago
FREEDO
Wtf, lionheart..wtf.
Posted by Thaddeus 3 years ago
Thaddeus
=/
I would say a clear win for FREEDO
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 3 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
See, now its funny.
Posted by Illegalcombatant 3 years ago
Illegalcombatant
Sorry cliff, can't hear you , cause you don't exist :)
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 3 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"That's very deep Cliff."

My wife is orthodox Hindu, she worships Vishnu (Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu). It is a very old religion and thus very well developed, it is an interesting book to read.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Lionheart 3 years ago
Lionheart
IllegalcombatantFREEDOTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: You as con take the place as proving you cannot know anything for certain. So you must know for certain that you can't know for certain, which is circular and self defeating. To know that you are aware of existing right now, this cannot be denied for you could not refute me if this were false. If you can refute me you exist on some level of existence. That can be known for certain. The fact that you are reading this can be known for certain. To refute certainty is to be certain.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 3 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
IllegalcombatantFREEDOTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: "In short, I shall repeat it, your claim that you can assume the existence of others just because you say I make the assumption is based upon the assumption that I exist, which brings you back to square one." - These arguments were never fully refuted, or even commented on in detail.
Vote Placed by FREEDO 3 years ago
FREEDO
IllegalcombatantFREEDOTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Arguments: Pro had no legitimate response. Conduct: Ad hominems