The Instigator
TheSkeptic
Pro (for)
Winning
32 Points
The Contender
Vi_Veri
Con (against)
Losing
24 Points

Three Philosophical Topics - 1A

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,139 times Debate No: 9550
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (13)
Votes (9)

 

TheSkeptic

Pro

I will present three philosophical debate topics and allow my opponent to have the opportunity to choose one of them to debate. The procedure is simple: in this round I list the 3 topics and my position on them, then in my opponent's first round he chooses the topic he wants to debate. From rounds 2-4 we have ourselves a classic three round debate!

So here are the topics:

=====================================================
PRO - Qualia is not an irreducible, non-physical entity.
PRO - Modern foundationalism is a valid theory of justification.
PRO - Equity feminism should replace gender feminism amongst the feminism movement.
=====================================================

A little clarification on each topic:

*Qualia is the phenomenal character of conscious experience that you as a first person observer is able to access introspectively. There are several different definitions of qualia, some being more restrictive than others, so if there are any suggestions for change then leave it in the comments section.

*Modern foundationalism is the theory of justification (in epistemology theory of justification is about how we can justify our beliefs and propositions) that relies on self-evident "basic beliefs".

*Equity feminism argues that women should have full legal and civil rights equal to men, but that attempts to abolish gender roles and such is overreaching and uncalled for.

I'm PRO on all topics to coincide with the position I actually am for this debate - this is to make everything as clear and free of misunderstandings as possible.

I hope we have a great debate.
Vi_Veri

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate. These are some excellent topics. I will be choosing "Modern foundationalism is a valid theory of justification." And of course, just to clarify to the readers, I will be CON.

Good luck to The Skeptic!
Debate Round No. 1
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank Vi_Veri for accepting this debate challenge - I guarantee this debate will turn out to be an interesting read!

Since this is more or less an "opening round", as it would normally be if this was a 3-Round debate, I will simply flesh out the position of Modern Foundationalism. I won't include any arguments in defense of it, simply because I'm not sure what arguments my opponent will use (it's much too tedious to refute every argument and position conceivable). However, I will discuss some classic problems of epistemology, which in a way is a foundational argument for foundationalism (ha).

====================
Tenets of Modern Foundationalism
====================

"Foundationalism is a view about the structure of justification or knowledge [in this case, justification]. The foundationalist's thesis in short is that all knowledge and justified belief rest ultimately on a foundation of noninferential knowledge or justified belief.[1]"

The inspiration for foundationalism, which is probably one of, if not the most, oldest epistemological theories, is the infinite regress problem. It is as follows: "if we think of justification in inferential terms, i.e. in terms of a belief being justified by being inferred from other justified beliefs, then we face a problem: on this account, for every justified belief there must be at least one other justified belief on which it is based, which must in turn be based on at least one other justified belief, and so on. If all of our beliefs are justified in this way, therefore, there must be an infinite regress of justified beliefs.[2]"

Obviously, foundationalism purports to solve this problem by relying on a set of beliefs that they enjoy non-inferential warrant; they are known as "basic beliefs". As a modern foundationalist, I believe there can be two types of basic beliefs: self-evident axioms (e.g. Law of Identity) and incorrigible beliefs (e.g. Cogito Ergo Sum). It is from these basic building blocks that our other derivative beliefs can be rationally accounted for.

====================
Conclusion
====================

I've played out the reasoning and motivation behind foundationalism (modern foundationalism being one of the views possible), and I now turn the tables on my opponent. Good luck Vi.

---References---
1. http://plato.stanford.edu...
2. http://www.theoryofknowledge.info...
Vi_Veri

Con

I'm going to assume that my opponent is referring to modest foundationalism in his claims, but if he wishes to also discuss Cartesian foundationalism I will gladly refute that as well.

One main objection to modest foundationalism comes from the very idea that there are justified basic beliefs. The Laurence BonJour objection states that the fundamental role which the requirement of epistemic justification serves in the overall rationale of the concept of knowledge is that of a means to truth. Thus, if basic beliefs are to provide a secure foundation for empirical knowledge, then that feature, whatever it may be, by virtue of which a particular belief qualifies as basic must also constitute a good reason for thinking that the belief is true.

If we let P represent the feature or characteristic, whatever it may be that distinguishes basic empirical beliefs from other empirical beliefs, then in an acceptable foundationalist account a particular empirical belief Q could qualify as basic only if the premises of the following justificatory argument were adequately justified:

1. Q has feature P
2. Beliefs having feature P are highly likely to be true.
:. Therefore, B is highly likely to be true.

But if all this is correct, we get the disturbing result that Q is not basic after all, since its justification depends on that of at least one other empirical belief (namely 2).

Let me progress this idea a bit more.... Justification shows indication of truth for a belief. If a feature of a belief makes the belief "justified," then that feature of that belief can be called a "truth indicator feature." If the person lacks justification for this, then the belief is not justified. But if a person has that justification, then it is part of an argument for the belief, and thus the belief is not basic after all. So no belief could be basic and justified. Foundationalism is wrong.

Again, let me lay this out in a proper syllogism:

1. For any proposition P that S believes, either S has a truth indicative feature argument for it or S doesn't.
2. If S has a truth indicator feature argument for it, then S's belief in P is supported by that argument and is not a justified basic belief.
3. If S does not have a truth indicator feature argument for it, then S's belief in P is not justified and thus is not a justified true belief.
:. S's belief in P is not a justified basic belief.

So, as we can see, the foundation of foundationalism (like that pun, don't you?) is flawed. If the root if flawed, the whole theory falls apart.

I await my opponent's reply with interest....

Regards,

Vi

Sources:

Laurence BonJour
Richard Feldman, "Epistemology"
Debate Round No. 2
TheSkeptic

Pro

I thank my opponent for her response - it definitely brings the epistemological debate on foundationalism to many of it's current issues.

However, before I begin I have to regrettably inform my opponent and the audience that it seems I haven't fully defined my position on foundationalism. Not only am I modern foundationalist, but also an externalist one. I forgot to include the distinction of whether or not I am an internalist or an externalist, so to choose one would seem somewhat arbitrary and unfair on my part (since I can simply choose one that evades my opponent's argument). So in return, I will simply force myself to defend internalist foundationalism since this is what my opponent argues against with the Laurence BonJour objection.

I will defeat this objection via two ways. First, I will demonstrate that there is a way out of this horned dilemma. Then, I will show that if this objection is taken to be true, it will be too strong for it's own good.

====================
Summary of the Bonjour objection
====================

Bonjour's objection seems to place any attempt to justify internalist foundationalism at a horned dilemma. It seems that for the foundationalist that justifying a basic belief is inherently contradictory, as any attempt to infer a reason in justification for a basic belief violates it's very precepts.

Even if we are to go along with the assumption of strong access internalism, I'd argue that there is a way to do this. As my opponent has said, a common way (and according to her, the only way) to justify a belief is to infer that it's feature is found in some other belief that seems to be highly likely to be true - she presented this in her syllogism. However, I will show that there is a way to be justified about a belief p without having inferential warrant for p.

====================
Escape from the Bonjour objection
====================

Interestingly enough, my defense from this objection will take inspiration from Bonjour himself - he, who is a noted philosopher of epistemology who in his earlier years attacked internalist foundationalism has actually recently joined the ranks of foundationalists! He argues for what he calls "The Reasons-Warrant Principle (RW): A proposition p has warrant for a subject S only if S is in cognitive possession of a reason why p is likely to be true[1]."

Bonjour makes a convincing case for how being in cognitive possession of a reason why an experiential proposition is likely to be true will not require having inferential warrant for the proposition. To quote him, he summarizes this belief: "such a built in awareness of sensory content is thus also apparently available to justify genuinely foundational beliefs […]. Thus if I have the belief that, e.g., my present visual experience includes a red, square patch in the approximate middle of my visual field, and if my constitutive or built-in awareness of the content of my actual conscious visual experience includes an awareness of such an element, then this latter awareness seems to provide a clear and compelling reason for thinking that the belief is true.[1]" It is BonJour's alternative model of cognitive possession of reasons that allows for the validity of internalist foundationalism. He bypasses the horns of the dilemma by stating that the awareness does not need to be, and in fact cannot be, justified.

====================
Problems with the Bonjour objection's presupposition of strong access internalism
====================

Another problem with utilizing this objection is that if we are to accept it's presupposition of strong access internalism, which "argues that a feature of a belief or epistemic situation that makes a belief noninferentially justified must be a feature to which we have actual or potential access[2]", then we come across the problem of it being too strong for it's own good. As has been noted, "given the structure of the argument it should become evident that the coherence theory (and any other theory) would be equally vulnerable to the argument. Just replace "X" with some complicated description of beliefs cohering with each other[2]."

This means that if we are to accept this objection, then we have to submit to the fact that NO THEORY OF JUSTIFICATION can be held accountable. The problem with this conclusion is that it's self-defeating; such a admittance would result in abandoning oneself from any possible rational discourse. A similar example to this would be the position of a radical epistemological skeptic - one who believes knowledge is impossible. However, one can tell already that this is a self-defeating position (to claim knowledge is impossible is ITSELF a claim). In fact, the entire struggle of epistemology is focused on defeating radical skepticism.

In summary, if we are to accept this objection then we have to accept the abandonment of all epistemological attempts at a theory of justification, given in virtue of how the objection is used.

====================
Conclusion
====================

My opponent makes a good effort, but ultimately her crumble in virtue of not only be unsuccessful in locking down it's horned dilemma, but of the objection itself being too strong if accepted.

---References---
1. http://www.ucl.ac.uk...
2. http://plato.stanford.edu...
Vi_Veri

Con

Vi_Veri forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
TheSkeptic

Pro

Ah, unfortunately my opponent forfeited her round. It's a shame, since we had a good exchange going on. Since this is my last round, I'll leave with the note that the voters should still read this debate and think to themselves whether or not I or Vi won the argument vote (which is the most important one). Sure, she may lose the conduct point or whatnot -- depending on how you evaluate conduct -- but don't be automatic in your vote for the argument point.

There's nothing left to say, so extend my arguments to this round.
Vi_Veri

Con

I'd like to thank Skeptic for being considerate: I couldn't possibly get on the internet during those 3 days that were open for me to post a return argument. I unfortunately had to let the clock run out into a forfeit. Hopefully my final attempt to even out the playing field fulfills needed backing of my argument:

_______________________________

My opponent continues his trust in foundationalism without looking at the main root of its problems: the Justified True Belief (JTB) theory in question (I will demonstrate more on this as soon as I clarify where BonJour goes wrong in his objection).

BonJour's critique of his former observation doesn't hold water as it falls through the same holes as he suspected foundationalists would fall through.

:An Objection:

BonJour states:

"such a built in awareness of sensory content is thus also apparently available to justify genuinely foundational beliefs […]. Thus if I have the belief that, e.g., my present visual experience includes a red, square patch in the approximate middle of my visual field, and if my constitutive or built-in awareness of the content of my actual conscious visual experience includes an awareness of such an element, then this latter awareness seems to provide a clear and compelling reason for thinking that the belief is true.[1]"

Whatever BonJour sees will be processed into his visual cortex, and to finally form a "belief" in his head, BonJour's brain will turn it into a belief statement in the perietal cortex. BonJour's visual perception can be clearly stated as this such belief: "It is." The thing is, BonJour's statement is a syllogistic inference. It requires the premise (using P as a trait) "Whatever has the property of P exists." Which leads to other premises needing to contribute, namely to answer questions like how we know things exist, etc. Therefore, leading BonJour's failed answer right back to where he came from: the skeptic's inferred regression trap of JTB theory.

My opponent then goes on to state, "....then we come across the problem of it being too strong for it's own good."

The idea here follows (as JTB theories progressions like Foundationalism fail to see) that skepticism can not be overthrown in the argument for justification. Yes, it is too strong, but not for it's own good. It proves what it needs to prove - that JTB theory needs to be replaced with a new theory of knowledge that isn't subject to the regress problem. BonJour himself states his belief in foundationalism is of convenience for him because there is no theory of epistemology that helps ease cognitive distress for him if he submits to JTB being false. Bonjour and many other philosopher's actually suggest something else:

While discussing Externalism, BonJour states that we might abandon the traditional concept of epistemic justification and knowledge.

You can rid the epistemic regress problem that skeptics pose on JTB theory: If the regress problem is a direct result of our traditional definition of knowledge as justified true belief, then the most efficient solution would be to alter this definition to avoid the problem entirely.

Justification's definition in True Belief should be altered for any defeat of the skeptic's weapon of the infinite regress problem.

So, my opponent's statement of,

------"In summary, if we are to accept this objection then we have to accept the abandonment of all epistemological attempts at a theory of justification, given in virtue of how the objection is used." -----

is false. We just go back to working on what justification means is all. Submitting to skepticism in regards to foundationalism being a valid theory of justification doesn't lead to a bleak black hole of nothingness.

My opponent also states the following,

----- "This means that if we are to accept this objection, then we have to submit to the fact that NO THEORY OF JUSTIFICATION can be held accountable. The problem with this conclusion is that it's self-defeating; such a admittance would result in abandoning oneself from any possible rational discourse." ---

This is a complete Straw Man. My opponent assumes that only the JTB theory of knowledge is an acceptable theory of Justification. He then throws in a bit of scare tactics without showing the readers that all you'd have to do is attempt a new definition for Justification in order to produce another theory of knowledge for rational discourse.

Thus, Foundationalism fails as a valid theory of Justification.

Sources:

http://www.niu.edu... (my class!)
Debate Round No. 4
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Thanks for the RFD :). I won't contend your position that her arguments were better (since it'll just turn into another debate, meh). However, I take issue with something...how did I plagiarize? Not only did I cite my sources, but my arguments didn't just compose of direct quotations but my own elaborations as well.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Mine is a pretty simple one: I awarded all points to Con. I was going to award Pro a conduct point since Con forfeited a round (even though that was kind of my fault... sorry), but then I realized that Pro kind of plagiarized most of his arguments and so he didn't win that conduct point. It was a tie. All else went to Con; she addressed all of his arguments. Her logic made sense and she presented the better arguments against Pro's premises. Considering it was learned in an actual class at school, and her own points explaining her dismantling of his was cohesive and comprehensible (as well as logically sound), she made the better arguments and convinced me of her side. So, Con got my 6 out of the possible 7 points.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
People don't give RFDs anymore ; )
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Where are the RFDs?
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
ty, I'll get it in as soon as I can
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
No problem, I figured something along those lines happened. I'm not one to be offended or anything by a forfeit - good luck with the exams and your round then ;).
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
Sorry about my last round, Skeptic:

I had to drive 14 hours to NYC, then had EXTREMELY busy 2 days there, then drove 14 hours back to Chicago. The first night we had a bit of internet access - but I let theLwerd use it at the hotel and I studied for 2 exams I had to take when we got back (one in Philosophy of Religion and one in Epistemology, actually). Again, I apologize for not being able to obtain internet access or time to post a round - but I'll use my last round to respond to your 2nd.
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Nice response! But ah crap, I forgot to specify if I'm an internalist foundationalist or an externalist foundationalist (I also forgot to put this on my profile...). Oh well, for that mistake I'll just take up the former's stance since, at least for me at this moment, your argument seems to be geared towards that.
Posted by Vi_Veri 7 years ago
Vi_Veri
lol just made it : )
Posted by TheSkeptic 7 years ago
TheSkeptic
Hope you make it in time, haha.
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