The Instigator
holla1755
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
JohnSmythe
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Unperceived Existence Is Not Possible

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/9/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 400 times Debate No: 103882
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

holla1755

Pro

If I do not perceive a thing, then in my perspective, the thing does not exist.

Argument. Assume I do not perceive a thing. Name the thing t. Ultimately, I do not have enough evidence for the existence of t. Since that negative truth is ultimate, in my perspective, t does not exist. In a previous debate[1] I instigated, I used that argument to deny the possibility of unperceived existence.

To build on the idea of the previous paragraph, it seems that: a proposition is provable if and only if it is true. In a previous debate[2] I instigated, I argued that: a proposition is logically provable if and only if it is true. The assumption that I don't perceive t suggests that I can't prove that in my perspective, t exists. It seems perception of a thing is required for proof of it. It seems that if a thing is proved, then it is perceived. It follows by the suggestion that the proposition "in my perspective, t exists" is unprovable and the thesis "a proposition is provable if and only if it is true" that the proposition "in my perspective, t exists" is false. So it's suggested that in my perspective, t does not exist.

The mere assumption that I do not perceive t is evidence in support of the truth of the proposition "in my perspective, t does not exist." No matter how much evidence there is, and no matter how strong the evidence is in support of the truth of the negation of the proposition "in my perspective, t does not exist," there is still evidence in support of the truth of the proposition "in my perspective, t does not exist." The previous sentence suggests that in my perspective, t does not exist.

No eyewitness accounts of a person who is not I, no photographs, no videos, and no approximate yet inexact evidence[3] can be reliable enough to prove to me that t exists. No eyewitness accounts of a person who is not I, no photographs, no videos, and no approximate yet inexact evidence would give me proof to a high enough or to the highest level of certainty that t exists. People can lie about the existence of t, a photograph or video can depict a fictitious or fake thing, and approximate yet inexact evidence can mislead. The probability of deception by people, photographs, videos, or approximate yet inexact evidence is never zero, no matter how close to zero it is. The probability of error made through examination of people, photographs, videos, or approximate yet inexact evidence is never zero, no matter how close to zero it is.

Another argument considers a legal perspective. In a jury trial, if there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged criminal committed a crime, then he must be found not guilty.[4][5] That principal, together with the presumption of innocence, suggest that from a legal perspective, if there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged criminal committed a crime, then he did not commit the crime. It is thus further suggested that since there is not enough evidence to prove with certainty that in my perspective, t exists, in my perspective, t does not exist.

ENDNOTES:
[1] "Unperceived Existence Is Not Possible," http://www.debate.org...
[2] "A Proposition Is Logically Provable If and Only If It Is True," http://www.debate.org...
[3] Approximate yet inexact evidence may be temporally or spatially close to, but not exactly coinciding with what is suggested by the evidence. For example, prints in dirt resembling coyote paw prints are approximate yet inexact evidence that a coyote was present, but the evidence is not good enough to conclude with certainty that a coyote was present. The prints could have been made in some other way.
[4] The last sentence of page 1 of "PROOF BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT," which is a model jury instruction for the Massachusetts District Court and is located at http://www.mass.gov...
[5] The sentence that begins on page 5 and ends on page 6 of "VIOLATION OF A HARASSMENT PREVENTION ORDER," which is another model jury instruction for the Massachusetts District Court and is located at http://www.mass.gov...
JohnSmythe

Con

Logical contradiction:

Pro`s argument begs the question. I quote: "a proposition is provable if and only if it is true." or rearranged into the classic conditional form "If a proposition is true, it is provable." I refer to my opponent the Münchhausen trilemma.

https://en.wikipedia.org...

By asking for proof unendingly for any proposition, one is forced to either present circular reasoning, which by the rules of logic is a fallacy, or infinite regress, which is a practical contradiction and I would invite my opponent to attempt proving his posititon by a valid infinite regress (there would always be proofs in the infinite regress which by its infinite nature would never be known to humanity, so Pro`s argument about unperceived existence would negate itself anyhow), and finally, what Pro likely disdains, which is dogmatism or axioms, where we assume certain precepts to be true without evidence and proceed therefrom. Pro`s very assertion that "if a proposition is true, it is therefore provable", is not provable.

Practical contradiction:

I ask Pro to answer honestly the following question. When he goes to cross the street, does he look both ways? Or if, at first appraisal of the street, he does not see a car, does he cross? If he continues to look after seeing that where he is there is no car, then he is seeking for an object that to him does not exist, which of course, would be illogical. If unperceived existence is impossible in fact, then at the moment Pro goes to cross the street, seeing that there are no cars, he would logically conclude that there are no cars and cross the street, since no cars beyond his eyesight exist and thus none can flatten him.
Debate Round No. 1
holla1755

Pro

I don't quite see how the Münchhausen trilemma is relevant here. I believe proving my position by a valid infinite regress is not required here. Proving my position by a valid infinite regress is possibly impossible, and if it is possible, it seems it would complicate things further and introduce many irrelevant elements. I disdain neither foundationalism nor axioms. I don't know why and am disappointed that you've suspected otherwise. I actually find those approaches to knowledge to be rather good.

I believe my assertion that "if a proposition is true, then it is provable" has not yet been commonly proved. If it has, I'd be able to cite a specific published fact or theorem. My assertion, however, seems reasonable and practical. Perhaps someday it will be formally proved and commonly accepted. But for now, and for the sake of my position, I feel secure and am content moving forward with the claim that if a proposition is true, then it is provable. I refer you to my aforementioned previous debate "A Proposition Is Logically Provable If and Only If It Is True," located at http://www.debate.org..., for more information on my thesis.

In answer to your first question about when I go to cross the street, yes; when I go to cross the street, I at least usually do look both ways. If I see no cars, then there are no cars. But just because I presently see no cars, doesn't mean no cars will suddenly come into existence while I cross the street. Before I cross the street, I, usually at least, make sure no cars that would interfere with me or that I would interfere with will suddenly come into existence in the usual and expected ways they do.
JohnSmythe

Con

I still do not follow. The idea of cars "coming into existence" when Pro looks for them and sees them and then ceasing to exist when Pro looks away is bizarre, unnatural, and anything but "reasonable and practical". It would elevate babies to the pinnacle of logic attainment because they lack object permanence, which permanence is by the title "Unperceived existence is impossible" some form of logical impossibility.

But since Pro has asserted that if the cars are not seen, they are not, I propose the following thought experiment.

Pro is standing in a room on a televised game show. Within one room, he sees an enormous pile of money and nothing else. In the other room, he sees an angry tiger and nothing else. A third doorway leads to a hall which Pro can see as leading to the outside world.

The doors shut on the first and second rooms, leaving only the hall which goes to the outside world. The game show host gives Pro the option of opening either the first door, the second door, or walking down the hallway which is visible, risking nothing but also gaining nothing.

If Pro`s thesis that objects only exist when seen, then the money he could have gotten while it was being seen has ceased to exist! There is no money to be gotten!

Pro could say "Yes, but it is highly probable that the money is there. I just saw it." True, but if unperceived existence is not possible, then the unperceived money not only probably isn`t there, but it is impossible that it is!
Debate Round No. 2
holla1755

Pro

Cars possibly coming into existence while I try to cross the street is where the evidence leads me. I do not have sufficient evidence to believe that if a car comes into my view while I try to cross the street, then it existed before it came into my view. The idea of cars possibly coming into existence while I try to cross the street may seem "bizarre, unnatural, and anything [but] 'reasonable and practical,'" but just because an idea is "bizarre, unnatural, and anything [but] 'reasonable and practical,'" doesn't mean it's false.

Object permanence is a flawed understanding. There is not enough evidence that objects exist in my perspective when I do not observe them. Object permanence seems to be based off of approximate yet inexact evidence. It seems that as a result, object permanence is itself an approximate yet inexact truth.

As to your thought experiment, the money that was shut behind a door does not exist in my perspective so long as I do not perceive it. But just because the money doesn't exist immediately after the door is shut, doesn't mean the money will never exist again. I would have faith, supposing the game show was trustworthy enough in my perspective, that if I choose the first door, I would win the money and the money would again exist at some time in the future. This is similar to the faith and trust we put into financial institutions with our money. When we put money into financial institutions, we don't always perceive our funds and so they don't always exist, but we nevertheless have faith that they will exist for our use in the future.

As to your claim that if unperceived existence is not possible, then it is impossible that the money in the thought experiment is there when the first door is closed, I agree. Your claim may seem surprising, but it makes sense considering that there are multiple senses of possibility.

Unperceived things are necessarily incredible and thus are necessarily unreliable. They necessarily have the ability to mislead and hurt us. For that reason, the possibility of unperceived existence is too bad to be true, and is therefore false.

Because of the general, principled lack of fully convincing evidence, the proposition "Unperceived existence is possible" can't be proved. In other words, the proposition is unprovable. Like I mentioned earlier in the debate, it seems to be a basic, straightforward truth that: a proposition is provable if and only if it is true. So, the proposition "Unperceived existence is possible" seems false. Therefore, it seems that unperceived existence is not possible.
JohnSmythe

Con

Honestly, Pro does a far better job of articulating my case than I ever could.

An object which "doesn`t exist" whenever I look away but is always there when I look back has the exact properties of an object that does exist when I am not looking.

An alternative example to close. I and Pro are on opposites sides of a window which permits us to see only one another`s faces. I tell Pro "Hey, Pro, I`ve got a playing card in my bag". Pro, of course, not seeing the playing card, asserts that "unperceived existence is impossible", meaning that my playing card of course, as he does not perceive it, does not exist. Of course, I can`t dispute that, because I`m not seeing the playing card even though I put it in there this morning, so I go ahead and open the bag and show Pro the playing card. Now it exists. I put it back in the bag and say "Hey, Pro, I`ve got a playing card in my bag." Pro again asserts that this is impossible, so I once again produce the card. Neither of us is perceiving the card (its weight is insignificant and indetectable compared to the bag), yet out of 100 times we do this exercise, 100 times I will be right, and 100 times Pro will be wrong.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by canis 4 months ago
canis
Bacteria existed before the microscope ?
Posted by TheUnexaminedLife 4 months ago
TheUnexaminedLife
Objects without perception must exist, an exterior, otherwise you wouldn't be using an 'I' in your argument (yourself being indistinguishable from the world). Ergo, solipsism negates the use of your language.
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