The Instigator
induced
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
wiploc
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

its more likely than not that no one can know anything

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
wiploc
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/13/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,125 times Debate No: 30221
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (3)

 

induced

Pro

i tried this debate before, but i guess it was misinterpreted what the purpose of the debate was. this is not a debate about whether or not i can prove that proving is impossible (that would be self defeating), it's a debate about what position is more likely to be true. is definitively knowing something a possibility or not? i will try to convince everyone that it is more likely that we cant know anything, while CON will try to convince everyone that it is more likely that knowing something is possible.

argument 1: no one can know for certain whether or not an alleged "proof" of theirs is valid because there is a potential for their own human error.

argument 2: an alleged proof must pass certain criteria to be confirmed as a valid and 100% conclusive proof. but how can we know that these criteria are infallible and cant potentially yield a falsehood? the only way to prove otherwise would be an exercise in circular reasoning, as you would be using unconfirmed criteria to try to validate your criteria.

please start your arguments/rebuttals in the first round.
wiploc

Con

Thanks, Pro, for this interesting challenge. Thanks to DDO for hosting these debates. And thanks to any readers, especially those who take the time to vote or give feedback.

Resolution:

Pro has undertaken to prove this resolution:

Resolved: It is more likely than not that no one can know anything.

The Obvious Problem:

The resolution is self-refuting: If we don't know anything, then we certainly don't know that we don't know anything.

But Pro hedged. He said we probably can't know anything. But, if we don't know anything, then we don't know anything about probabilities.

But perhaps Pro is not done hedging. He may say we don't 100% know that we probably don't know anything. Rather, we only probably don't know that we probably don't know. But, if that were true, then we probably wouldn't know it. In which case, Con would have to win this debate.

The better Pro is able to defend the resolution---or any other claim---the less likely it is that the resolution is true.

We Do Have Knowledge:

We know that two plus two equals four.

We know some poems rhyme.

We know the 2nd law of thermodynamics is either true or not.

We know George Washington was the first president of the United States.

We know Wednesday comes between Tuesday and Thursday.

We know there are three feet in a yard.

We know people buy stocks on Wall Street.

We know Americans tend to drive on the right side of the road.

Amazingly, we even know that Pulp Fiction is better than I Spit on your Grave.

Many of us know where we went to grade school.

We know that if nobody knows anything, then Pro doesn't even know whether the above statements are suspect.


Pro's First Argument:

Pro wrote: "no one can know for certain whether or not an alleged "proof" of theirs is valid because there is a potential for their own human error."

That's not relevant if knowledge is justified true belief. If your belief is justified, and if your belief happens to be true, then it doesn't matter whether there was a potential for human error.

If you have a well-founded belief that happens to be true in the actual world, then that is knowledge---regardless of whether it might be false in other possible worlds.

Pro's Second Argument:

Pro wrote: "an alleged proof must pass certain criteria to be confirmed as a valid and 100% conclusive proof. but how can we know that these criteria are infallible and cant potentially yield a falsehood?"

I'm not sure, here in round one, but this looks to me like special pleading.

It's like he wants me to have to prove things 100% conclusively, and infallibly, and in way that can't even potentially be false. But all he wants to prove is that it is likely that it is likely that the resolution is true. That's a double standard, special pleading.

Or it's like he wants us to use, in this debate, a special language of skepticism that we wouldn't use elsewhere:

Officer: "What's your name?"
Pro: "I'm not sure."
Officer: "Do you have ID?"
Pro: "I sort of have a thing like a belief that I maybe probably have what could be an ID."
Officer: "You on drugs?"
Pro: "I may not be in a position to say."
Officer: "Quit screwing around! Do you understand me?"
Pro: "Possibly not."
Officer: "Step out of the car."
Pro: "I'm really really sorry. Maybe. At least I think so. Or I think I think so."

But this debate isn't about special phrasing. In real life, and in regular language, we do know things.

Conclusion:

- The resolution is self refuting: Pro has undertaken to prove that it is a fact that the resolution is more likely true than false. But, if the resolution were true, then he could never do that.

- We have knowledge. (Examples provided above.) Therefore, the resolution is false.

- Pro's first argument is false because some of our justified beliefs are true. Therefore, some of our justified beliefs are knowledge.

- Pro's second argument requires special pleading or equivocation, both of which are logical fallacies.

Therefore, the resolution is both false and unproven.

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 1
induced

Pro

"The better Pro is able to defend the resolution---or any other claim---the less likely it is that the resolution is true. "
-this is false. being 99.9% sure of something does not mean that being 100% sure of something is possible. all it means is that being 99.9% sure of something is possible.

"We know that two plus two equals four, [etc]"
-no we dont. like i said, you could have made a mistake in coming to any conclusion. your reasoning, logic, and math, could all be flawed. even if ones reasoning isnt flawed, they cannot be sure that it isnt.

"Pro's first argument is false because some of our justified beliefs are true. Therefore, some of our justified beliefs are knowledge."
you are implying something like the following:
1. X is true.
2. Bob is 99.9% sure that X is true.
conclusion: Bob is 100% sure that X is true.
that conclusion doesnt logically follow. in fact, it contradicts premise 2.

"It's like he wants me to have to prove things 100% conclusively, and infallibly, and in a way that can't even potentially be false. But all he wants to prove is that it is likely that the resolution is true. That's a double standard, special pleading."
-i never claimed that either of us must provide proof for the resolution, in fact i said the opposite (although since you are the one who believes in proofs, you might as well prove your position if you can...that certainly wouldnt hurt your case). anyway, my second point makes a good case for the improbability of the ability to know anything, so of course it's relevant.

"Or it's like he wants us to use, in this debate, a special language of skepticism that we wouldn't use elsewhere...In real life, and in regular language, we do know things."
well sure, after all, the debate isnt about whether we can be 99.999999999% sure of things, it is whether or not we can definitively know something 100%. just because we use the word "know" loosely in everyday life, doesnt mean we can literally know something 100%. much of the words we use in everyday life, arent to be taken literally.

"Pro has undertaken to prove that it is a fact that the resolution is more likely true than false."
-no i said the opposite: "this is not a debate about whether or not i can prove that proving is impossible, it's about what position is more likely". i think i have adequately shown that my position is probably more likely to be true.

wiploc

Con

I don't understand much of what Pro said in his last round. To clarify what it is that we are debating, I revisit Pro's opening post:

... it's a debate about what position is more likely to be true. is definitively knowing something a possibility or not? i will try to convince everyone that it is more likely that we cant know anything ...

Some things I do know:
  • 2+2=4.
I know this. There is no doubt, no way to be wrong.

I also know this:
  • I believe that 2+2=4.
I know my own state of mind. There is no room for error.
  • I think, therefore I am.
There is no possible rebuttal. There are things we know.
  • If I understand Pro's position, I disagree with it.
This is another state-of-mind issue. I know my own state of mind.
  • Either the rule of the excluded middle is right, or it is not right.

There's no way around that one.

  • Either it's true that there are things that we know, or it's not.

That one is also irrefutable.

So, there are some things that we do know for a fact. Given that, let's look back at the resolution:

: ... it's a debate about what position is more likely to be true.

It is definitely true that I believe that 2+2=4, therefore it is more likely true than not.

: is definitively knowing something a possibility or not?

I definitely know that I believe 2+2=4, therefore it is possible for me to know that I believe 2+2=4.

: i will try to convince everyone that it is more likely that we cant know anything ...

In fact, some things are known. Therefore, Pro's claim---the claim that it is likely that we can't know anything---is false.

The resolution is refuted.

I not only believe that the resolution is refuted, I know that I believe the resolution is refuted.

-

Okay, we've dealt with the resolution, and the resolution is refuted. Let's procede to Pro's second round post.

: being 99.9% sure of something does not mean that being 100% sure of something is possible.

This is true. But I never said it wasn't true. I never even suggested that it wasn't true. Moreover, our ability to distinguish 99% from 100% is in no sense a refutation of any of my arguments.

: "Pro's first argument is false because some of our justified beliefs are true. Therefore, some of our justified beliefs are knowledge."
: you are implying something like the following:
: 1. X is true.
: 2. Bob is 99.9% sure that X is true.
: conclusion: Bob is 100% sure that X is true.

No, that's not what I said (or implied).

I used the JTB (justified true belief) test of knowledge. Pro did not offer a competing definition of knowledge. He did not dispute the JTB definition at all. He dropped that issue, effectively conceding it.

If knowledge is justified true belief, then,
if I believe X, and,
if X happens to be true, then
the only factor left in play is whether the belief in X is justified.

Let's substitute "the mailman came" for X:

Suppose I see bootprints leading up to our walk thru the snow. They lead to the mailbox, and then back down the sidewalk and off to the next house. I also observe that our outgoing mail is gone, and our new mail has arrived. Now, based on this warrant, this justification, I conclude that the mailman came.

I have, then, the belief and the justification. If the mailman did in fact come, then my belief is knowledge, even if he came thru the back door or dangled from a helicopter. There is a three prong test of knowledge, and all of the prongs are satisfied.

: just because we use the word "know" loosely in everyday life

We aren't always being loose. Sometimes we actually know things.

: "Pro has undertaken to prove that it is a fact that the resolution is more likely true than false."
: -no i said the opposite: "this is not a debate about whether or not i can prove that proving is impossible, it's about
: what position is more likely".


I can't tell what he's trying to say here, but the resolution is clearly refuted.

Extend my arguments.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 2
induced

Pro

has anyone ever thought they were 100% certain of something, and then changed their mind? of course. it could happen to anyone.

let's say i solve a simple math equation, and come up with the answer "5". let's say im about 99.9% sure that i did the math right. if i solve the equation again and get the same answer, i may be around 99.9999% sure that it is the right answer. i continue this a 3rd, 4th, and 5th time and beyond that. the more i double check to see if i've made a mistake, the more sure i would be that i didnt make a mistake as long as i keep coming up with the same answer. i would argue that after 10 attempts with the same result, there is still some chance that i made a mistake, and that no matter how many times i solve it, there is no point at which 99.999999999...% certainty would magically become 100% certainty. you sound like you are happy with jumping to conclusions. i assume that you'd say that you'd know 100% before you even get to the 2nd or 3rd attempt. to me, this debate comes down to this question: is there even a .00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance that you might have made a mistake coming to any given conclusion? even if it seems like the most irrefutable thing in the world, the wise and open minded person would consider that they might be wrong about it.
wiploc

Con

Suppose that Pro's radical skepticism means he is a solipsist, believing that the universe exists entirely in his own head. That doesn't mean he doesn't know that some poems rhyme. Even if he thinks poems exist only in his imagiation, he has come across them, and some of them did rhyme. Pro is just denying the obvious. He knows that some poems rhyme. Therefore, knowledge is possible. The resolution is refuted.

Now, in this last round, Pro posits an equation that has been solved repeatedly to produce a very high degree of confidence. One thing to note is that Pro is not positing a simple equation like 2+2=4. We know the answer to 2+2=4. We grok. Solving that equation repeatedly doesn't increase our confidence, because we already know the answer. Some things we do know. Therefore, the resolution is refuted.

Next, note that, in order to make his example work, Pro has to assume that he knows how many times he solved the equation, and that he got the same answer every time, and that he remembers the answer. If he doesn't know these things, then his claim of a very high confidence level is absurd. In order to achieve that high confidence level---which Pro says we do achieve---we have to know all those things, which would be impossible if the resolution were correct.

Which brings me to my first point of the debate: Pro's resolution is self defeating. If he proved that we don't know anything, then he'd be proving that we don't know even that we don't know anything. According to Pro's logic, he doesn't even know which side of this debate he's on. Doesn't know whether he's trying to win or lose. Doesn't even know whether he believes the resolution is true.

I've offered many examples of things we really do know. Pro hasn't refuted any of them, didn't even challenge the fact that we know Pulp Fiction is better than I Spit on your Grave. Didn't challenge the fact that I know I think I disagree with him. Didn't challenge the fact that some of us know where we went to grade school or that 2+2=4. These are things we actually know. And since we do actually know them, the resolution is false.

I offered the JTB (justified true belief) definition of truth in round one. Pro never challenged that definition of truth. According to JTB, a justified true belief is knowledge. Some beliefs are justified. Some beliefs are true. Some beliefs are both. Therefore, some beliefs are knowledge. Pro never challenged any of this. Therefore the resolution is refuted.

All of Pro's arguments are refuted. None of mine are refuted.

The resolution is refuted.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
And because you have the BOP, you cannot win while simultaneously preaching it's more likely than not we don't know anything and proving that you more than likely know something (the resolution).
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
Once again, if your resolution is true, then your stance on this debate is more likely than not to be completely unjustified.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
I fail to see how 100% is any more helpful than 99.9%, when the reasoning is filtered through an imperfect being with incomplete knowledge. Just because we cannot know anything to 100% doesn't mean we don't. It's more likely than not that humans 'know' something.
Posted by dylancatlow 4 years ago
dylancatlow
Induced, since you claim that we cannot know anything for sure, what makes you confident in your reasoning anymore than anyone else? You are acting with self-admitted unjustified belief, so why shouldn't others? You claim no one can know 'anything', with the 'know' in this sentence referring to objective reality, when it most certainly does not. Also, we know that SOMETHING exists, because we are able to ask the question.
Posted by induced 4 years ago
induced
ok, i changed it
Posted by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
I request 72 hour rounds.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by likespeace 4 years ago
likespeace
inducedwiplocTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro was perhaps recently introduced to the school of Skepticism by someone who did not fully grasp the position. We could be plugged into The Matrix or another simulator and the world around us could entirely be an illusion, and as wiploc points out, we would still know some things. Pro did not successfully challenge most of what wiploc pointed out we would know. He also did not contest the (reasonable) justified true belief model of knowledge. Therefore, arguments to Con. I also award spelling and grammar to Con for consistent capitalization errors by Pro. Conduct was fine on both sides and no sources were presented by either side.
Vote Placed by Billdekel 4 years ago
Billdekel
inducedwiplocTied
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Reasons for voting decision: It was pointed out the statements are self refuting. Pro was very incoherent and didn't touch upon what wiploc said. Also poor grammar and spelling on pros side
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
inducedwiplocTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Con made specific arguments for mathematical certainty, truth by definition, and subjective knowledge of consciousness and belief. Pro's generality that many things though true are not doesn't reach to the specifics that Con argued. Pro's all-lower-case text is distracting and interferes wth reading the debate.