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Is Testimony a Source of Knowledge?

bsh1
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9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. Therefore, for X to be knowledge, X must be believed by the agent, X must be veridical, and the belief X must have justifiable reasons for being held. If I pulled out a map of the Earth, and randomly pointed to a spot on it, and said "Waldo is there," even if I am right in that Waldo is there, and even if I believe that Waldo is there, it is not knowledge because it is not a justified belief (it was arrived at by random chance). "Testimony" is information that person A conveys to B, either via word of mouth or via mutually understood gesture.

So, here is the question I want to get to: Is Testimony a Source of Knowledge? Phrased another way, is testimony a justifiable reason to come to believe some true proposition? I want to explore this question through the following example:

Person A says, "I saw the bird. It was a chickadee." Person B then comes to believe that the bird was a chickadee. In reality, however, Person A never saw the bird, and deliberately lied, selecting a species of bird at random from his/er memory. But, the bird was--in fact--a chickadee. A neither believes nor knows that the bird was a chickadee. B believes the bird was a chickadee, the bird was a chickadee, but is B justified in believing that the bird was a chickadee?

One might argue that that B can know that X on the basis of A's testimony only if A knows that X. But this just doesn't seem right. It seems that (let's assume for moment) if A is generally trustworthy, that this is a good enough reason to come to believe X. In the absence of defeaters, testimony alone seems sufficient. Conversely, it seems almost absurd to assert that lies can ever be justified sources of knowledge. Even if B does not know that A lied, in a broader philosophical sense, it seems that B is still unjustified in believe that the bird was a chickadee, and thus does not know that the bird was a chickadee.

This case is interesting, because it almost suggest that, if testimony alone is sufficient for B to know that the bird was a chickadee, that testimony generated knowledge, rather than merely transmitted it. A never had the knowledge to transmit, but A's testimony may have generated the knowledge in B. So, if you accept that testimony is the source of knowledge for B, then you must also accept that testimony itself can create knowledge. That seems a bit sketchy, mostly because we usually consider testimony to be a way to pass on previously learned information. But if testimony can generate knowledge itself, that may have interesting implications for how we view knowledge and its acquisition.

Finally, if A testifies that X, and B testifies that Y, is C justified in inferring XY? So, if A testifies that the cat is on the mat, and B testifies that the cat is on the porch, is C justified in inferring that the cat is on the mat which is on the porch? Is that inference of C "knowledge?"

I am sure others will be able to contribute more cogent thoughts and analyses on this subject, but I think it's an intriguing epistemological query, so I welcome discussion on the topic. Thoughts, comments, reactions?
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bsh1
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9/20/2016 5:53:25 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
Also, if C's inference is knowledge, might that be another way testimony can generate knowledge?
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Silly_Billy
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9/20/2016 6:12:28 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
Without testimony you can have no knowledge as as it is simply impossible to verify the validity of everything that you have heard or have been taught. For instance, you know that a certain color is green because someone once told you that that color is green.
kevin24018
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9/20/2016 6:15:46 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/20/2016 6:12:28 PM, Silly_Billy wrote:
Without testimony you can have no knowledge as as it is simply impossible to verify the validity of everything that you have heard or have been taught. For instance, you know that a certain color is green because someone once told you that that color is green.

yeah or anyone who ever existed before cameras, pretty much anything you haven't personally witnessed or experienced, like much of what's taught in schools, science is a good one to look at, how do you know water 2 hydrogen and one oxygen cause someone said so and you believed it, at least for myself this is true.
dylancatlow
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9/20/2016 9:42:05 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
It's unclear what position you lean towards. In one instance you say that it "doesn't seem right" that someone's testimony can only be regarded as a source of knowledge if they in fact have knowledge to report on, and later you say that the notion B learned anything from A seems "sketchy" because A had no knowledge to transmit.

The distinction between the transmission and generation of knowledge is flawed I think. In fact, because there is no collective mind which contains the sort of knowledge you're talking about, human knowledge exists only within individual minds, and can be "generated" as many times as there are minds. The transmission of knowledge from person A to person B is necessarily a generation of knowledge within the mind of person B. To the extent that person A's testimony is determined by what they actually experience, their testimony can be seen as an indicator of what's going on, so that knowledge of what's going on can be inferred rather than directly observed. That's why it's a generation of knowledge.This really is no stranger than the notion that the "testimony" of a scale can provide insight into the mass of what it's weighing, and generate knowledge for the person reading the measurement. The only difference is that people will not automatically report on their experience in an honest way, so all knowledge derived from their testimony is open to some degree of doubt. I really don't think the truth in this case is very profound.
bsh1
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9/21/2016 2:36:42 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/20/2016 6:12:28 PM, Silly_Billy wrote:
Without testimony you can have no knowledge as as it is simply impossible to verify the validity of everything that you have heard or have been taught. For instance, you know that a certain color is green because someone once told you that that color is green.

I disagree that it would be impossible to have knowledge if testimony cannot be a source of knowledge. Observation as well as rational reflection can provide knowledge. I can observe that a ball is round, and come to learn that it is round as a result of that observation. Testimony is unnecessary. I can come to learn that a thinking entity must exist because I have thoughts; it is rationally self-evident. This is also known absent testimony.

But, even you're right, why is that a reason to believe testimony should be a source of knowledge. Sure, it might be convenient for us not to be reduced to radical skepticism, but that has nothing to do with the truth of the proposition. Convenience is not itself a justification for holding a belief, because it is arbitrary, and not necessarily truth-aligned.
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bsh1
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9/21/2016 2:50:40 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/20/2016 9:42:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
It's unclear what position you lean towards.

Great, that's what I was going for.

The distinction between the transmission and generation of knowledge is flawed I think. In fact, because there is no collective mind which contains the sort of knowledge you're talking about, human knowledge exists only within individual minds, and can be "generated" as many times as there are minds.

I don't really buy that distinction. When I share knowledge with a friend, I am not creating new knowledge. Maybe that knowledge is new to my friend, but the knowledge itself is not new. I had the knowledge, and I transmitted it, so that now we both have the knowledge.

If I wrote down "Hello" in an email, and sent it to my friend's computer, one would not say that the email was "generated." One would say that it was transmitted. The information was sent from location A to location B, but the information itself has not changed.

This really is no stranger than the notion that the "testimony" of a scale can provide insight into the mass of what it's weighing, and generate knowledge for the person reading the measurement.

I would not describe that as testimony. Testimony is necessarily removed from the thing or event being testified about. If I see the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of direct sight is not testimony, it is observation. If I tell you that I saw the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of telling is testimony, it is not observation. Testimony is indirect, because it is always conveyed through someone who either experienced the information directly or heard from the testimony of someone else. As I defined the terms in the OP: "is information that person A conveys to B, either via word of mouth or via mutually understood gesture."

The scale generates knowledge because the knowledge was not known until the scale made the measurement. Testimony does not generate knowledge because A must have known the information before A conveyed it to B.

On another not, in the chickadee example, does B "know" that the bird was a chickadee?
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dylancatlow
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9/21/2016 4:13:58 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/21/2016 2:50:40 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/20/2016 9:42:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
It's unclear what position you lean towards.

Great, that's what I was going for.

The distinction between the transmission and generation of knowledge is flawed I think. In fact, because there is no collective mind which contains the sort of knowledge you're talking about, human knowledge exists only within individual minds, and can be "generated" as many times as there are minds.

I don't really buy that distinction. When I share knowledge with a friend, I am not creating new knowledge. Maybe that knowledge is new to my friend, but the knowledge itself is not new. I had the knowledge, and I transmitted it, so that now we both have the knowledge.

Like I said, it's meaningless to speak of human knowledge apart from individual human minds except in a very metaphorical sense. In your example, you acquired the knowledge through one method and your friend acquired it through another method, namely that when he listened to you certain words came out of your mouth while not others, which he takes to be evidence of something about the world. The knowledge is not really "transmitted", as the knowledge exists differently in the mind of your friend, who knows only what you told him and not whether it is really true.

If I wrote down "Hello" in an email, and sent it to my friend's computer, one would not say that the email was "generated." One would say that it was transmitted. The information was sent from location A to location B, but the information itself has not changed.

This really is no stranger than the notion that the "testimony" of a scale can provide insight into the mass of what it's weighing, and generate knowledge for the person reading the measurement.

I would not describe that as testimony. Testimony is necessarily removed from the thing or event being testified about. If I see the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of direct sight is not testimony, it is observation. If I tell you that I saw the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of telling is testimony, it is not observation. Testimony is indirect, because it is always conveyed through someone who either experienced the information directly or heard from the testimony of someone else. As I defined the terms in the OP: "is information that person A conveys to B, either via word of mouth or via mutually understood gesture."

Well, you're right that they're different, but I don't think they're fundamentally different. In the case of the scale, it's taken for granted that the scale will behave in a certain way under certain conditions, allowing us to interpret the reading it gives. The same is true of humans, but to a lesser degree, since humans are not as predictable about what they will do when something happens to them. In general, when something happens to someone, they will report that X happened to them without being dishonest, which is why testimony is sort of like a measurement reading.


The scale generates knowledge because the knowledge was not known until the scale made the measurement. Testimony does not generate knowledge because A must have known the information before A conveyed it to B.

On another not, in the chickadee example, does B "know" that the bird was a chickadee?
sdavio
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9/21/2016 5:11:37 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:

I don't think that my evidence that "X is not lying" can be demonstrated to be different in principle than my evidence toward any other empirical proposition. Just like any other inference from empirical observation, we can always imagine some unknown factor to be mediating the line of justifying inferences which we thought to be sufficient.

We can even prove this "a priori" via Cartesian arguments. Since the whole world may conceivably be a simulation, and therefore a "testimony" in the form of ideas planted in our minds by some alien creature, this necessitates that we cannot legislate in advance any epistemic criteria which apply to communication from other consciousnesses that do not apply to other empirical objects in general.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
bsh1
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9/21/2016 5:37:33 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/21/2016 4:13:58 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 9/21/2016 2:50:40 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/20/2016 9:42:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Like I said, it's meaningless to speak of human knowledge apart from individual human minds except in a very metaphorical sense...The knowledge is not really "transmitted", as the knowledge exists differently in the mind of your friend, who knows only what you told him and not whether it is really true.

I very much disagree.

The email exists differently in my computer than it does my friends, but--most people would agree--it is the same email. Likewise with knowledge, when I pass information on to a friend, the information is the same. The information is transmitted, like the email, it is not created. The testimony in this case does not create the knowledge, it merely relays the knowledge.

This really is no stranger than the notion that the "testimony" of a scale can provide insight into the mass of what it's weighing, and generate knowledge for the person reading the measurement.

I would not describe that as testimony. Testimony is necessarily removed from the thing or event being testified about. If I see the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of direct sight is not testimony, it is observation. If I tell you that I saw the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of telling is testimony, it is not observation. Testimony is indirect, because it is always conveyed through someone who either experienced the information directly or heard from the testimony of someone else. As I defined the terms in the OP: "is information that person A conveys to B, either via word of mouth or via mutually understood gesture."

Well, you're right that they're different, but I don't think they're fundamentally different. In the case of the scale, it's taken for granted that the scale will behave in a certain way under certain conditions, allowing us to interpret the reading it gives. The same is true of humans

The scale and testimony I think are disanalogous. The key here is that, in the case of the scale, the experience is direct. Testimony is necessarily mediated. I witness the scale and observe the measurement firsthand. When I testify to a friend about it, the friend is getting that knowledge secondhand.

The scale generates knowledge because the knowledge was not known until the scale made the measurement. Testimony does not generate knowledge because A must have known the information before A conveyed it to B, thus the knowledge had already be generated when B learned it.

The firsthand/secondhand distinction does make them fundamentally different, I think, at least insofar as it pertains to generation vs. transmission of knowledge, because it may seem to many that only firsthand experiences can generate knowledge.

That is why I think the chickadee example is so interesting, because it has interesting questions to ask about what generation of knowledge is, as well as what justified belief is.
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keithprosser
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9/21/2016 7:56:27 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
If you ask a friend 'what bird is that?', and he says 'a chickadee' then depending on the sort of person you friend is you will have a 'level of confidence' that the bird is a chickadee on a scale running from near 0 if know your friend knows nothing about birds but hates admitting to not knowing anything to near 100 if your friend has been a keen twitcher since he was a boy and is scrupulously honest.

Everything we 'know' is tagged with a confidence level, and each new piece of information we acquire(or reject) is consciously or unconsciously checked against what we already 'know', taking confidence level ino account. If you 'know' with low confidence that Warsaw is the capital of Poland it is easy to change it to Prague, but it's hard to abandon something you know with near 100% confidence.

To a large extent the confidence we have in a piece of our knowledge is its consistency with everything else we know. We build up an interlocking framework of beliefs, each thing we know supported by and supporting other beliefs.
Smithereens
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9/21/2016 1:28:53 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
You might be interested in the work and experiments of Elizabeth Loftus. Testimonies are used in court, which indicates the value we give them, but they aren't actually reliable at all.

Furthermore, you might want to reconsider your choice of words for your question. Calling testimony a source of knowledge suggests that testimony is some a priori epistemic engine that creates new knowledge, when this is clearly not what you're trying to say.
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dylancatlow
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9/21/2016 7:21:22 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/21/2016 5:37:33 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/21/2016 4:13:58 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 9/21/2016 2:50:40 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/20/2016 9:42:05 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
Like I said, it's meaningless to speak of human knowledge apart from individual human minds except in a very metaphorical sense...The knowledge is not really "transmitted", as the knowledge exists differently in the mind of your friend, who knows only what you told him and not whether it is really true.

I very much disagree.

The email exists differently in my computer than it does my friends, but--most people would agree--it is the same email. Likewise with knowledge, when I pass information on to a friend, the information is the same. The information is transmitted, like the email, it is not created. The testimony in this case does not create the knowledge, it merely relays the knowledge.


You know what you saw, your friend knows what you said. In order to reach the same conclusion as you your friend has to make certain assumptions which you do not. Maybe he believes you, in which case you both make the same conclusion. But he does not possess your knowledge, because the reasons you reached the conclusion are different from his reasons. What you know, and what your friend knows, are different, so the knowledge is not really the same.

This really is no stranger than the notion that the "testimony" of a scale can provide insight into the mass of what it's weighing, and generate knowledge for the person reading the measurement.

I would not describe that as testimony. Testimony is necessarily removed from the thing or event being testified about. If I see the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of direct sight is not testimony, it is observation. If I tell you that I saw the scale weigh an object at 1 ounce, that act of telling is testimony, it is not observation. Testimony is indirect, because it is always conveyed through someone who either experienced the information directly or heard from the testimony of someone else. As I defined the terms in the OP: "is information that person A conveys to B, either via word of mouth or via mutually understood gesture."

Well, you're right that they're different, but I don't think they're fundamentally different. In the case of the scale, it's taken for granted that the scale will behave in a certain way under certain conditions, allowing us to interpret the reading it gives. The same is true of humans

The scale and testimony I think are disanalogous. The key here is that, in the case of the scale, the experience is direct. Testimony is necessarily mediated. I witness the scale and observe the measurement firsthand. When I testify to a friend about it, the friend is getting that knowledge secondhand.

The scale generates knowledge because the knowledge was not known until the scale made the measurement. Testimony does not generate knowledge because A must have known the information before A conveyed it to B, thus the knowledge had already be generated when B learned it.

The firsthand/secondhand distinction does make them fundamentally different, I think, at least insofar as it pertains to generation vs. transmission of knowledge, because it may seem to many that only firsthand experiences can generate knowledge.

That is why I think the chickadee example is so interesting, because it has interesting questions to ask about what generation of knowledge is, as well as what justified belief is.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 12:29:37 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/21/2016 7:21:22 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 9/21/2016 5:37:33 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/21/2016 4:13:58 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
Like I said, it's meaningless to speak of human knowledge apart from individual human minds except in a very metaphorical sense...The knowledge is not really "transmitted", as the knowledge exists differently in the mind of your friend, who knows only what you told him and not whether it is really true.

I very much disagree.

The email exists differently in my computer than it does my friends, but--most people would agree--it is the same email. Likewise with knowledge, when I pass information on to a friend, the information is the same. The information is transmitted, like the email, it is not created. The testimony in this case does not create the knowledge, it merely relays the knowledge.

You know what you saw, your friend knows what you said. In order to reach the same conclusion as you your friend has to make certain assumptions which you do not. Maybe he believes you, in which case you both make the same conclusion. But he does not possess your knowledge, because the reasons you reached the conclusion are different from his reasons. What you know, and what your friend knows, are different, so the knowledge is not really the same.

It is not the experience that is being transferred, just the fact itself.

So, if I witness the scale give a reading (e.g. the ball is 5 ounces), that empirical observation is the experience which has given to me the knowledge that the ball is 5 ounces. The "knowledge" that the ball is 5 ounces is not the same as the "experience" of seeing the scale give me that reading.

When I tell my friend that the ball is 5 ounces, I am not transmitting the experience, I am transmitting the knowledge that the ball is 5 ounces. Perhaps the experience is a kind of knowledge in and of itself, but that is not what I am attempting to transfer, and I doubt anyone would reasonably say that they are trying to transfer the experience that led them to a particular belief. Rather, they are trying to transfer that particular belief.

The knowledge that the ball is 5 ounces is the same piece of knowledge. The fact that I arrived at it through observation and my friend through testimony does not mean that the knowledge is different, just that the means of acquisition has changed.

Take, again, the email example. If I type up an email and hit "send," both my friend and I have the same emails stored in our computer's memory bases. But, we acquired that data in different ways. My computer acquired that data because I created it on my computer. My friend's computer acquire that data because it was transmitted to it. I doubt most people would claim that these are different emails or that they have different content.

The data in the above case is same in both computers, just as the knowledge is the same in both minds. We should not conflate the mechanism of acquisition with the data or the knowledge itself.
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bsh1
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9/22/2016 12:29:58 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/21/2016 1:28:53 PM, Smithereens wrote:
You might be interested in the work and experiments of Elizabeth Loftus. Testimonies are used in court, which indicates the value we give them, but they aren't actually reliable at all.

I'll look in to her work.
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Smithereens
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9/22/2016 12:44:18 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 12:29:58 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/21/2016 1:28:53 PM, Smithereens wrote:
You might be interested in the work and experiments of Elizabeth Loftus. Testimonies are used in court, which indicates the value we give them, but they aren't actually reliable at all.

I'll look in to her work.

I can give a brief run down if you'd like:

Testimony relies on the accuracy of memory and recall, so she set up an experiment where participants were given footage of a car crash. After watching the collision, she gave participants a question:
"How fast was the car going when it __________ the other car?"
The blank was filled with words of different strength, ranging from 'bumped' or 'contacted' to 'collided' and 'smashed into.' She found that people would reconstruct their memories so that the question would make more sense, not the other way around.

The most interesting of her findings imo was an experiment where she showed participants photos of their childhood donated by their family members. She then added in doctored photos of events that never actually happened, such as a hot air balloon trip. The participants testified that they could remember all the photos, not knowing about the doctored ones. They could even describe their memories in detail, despite them never having happened.

The conclusion was that because memories are reconstructed during recall, testimonies are not reliable. Since then, a lot of research has been done into testimonies, especially in a court room context. Loftus' research was pioneering in this field, there are actually a lot of researchers in this area nowadays. The relevant field is cognitive psychology.
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NHN
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9/22/2016 5:24:48 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. [...]
Hold it right there. This still regards belief -- eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation -- not evidence bound by logic.

And that which is logically verifiable can only be derived from tautological models. All else is folly and courtroom theatrics. That is incidentally why DNA analysis trumps eyewitness accounts every time.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 5:33:23 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 5:24:48 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. [...]
Hold it right there. This still regards belief -- eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation -- not evidence bound by logic.

I don't think you understand what belief is. Belief is not "eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation." Belief is "acceptance of or trust in a given proposition."
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NHN
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9/22/2016 5:52:17 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 5:33:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:24:48 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. [...]
Hold it right there. This still regards belief -- eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation -- not evidence bound by logic.

I don't think you understand what belief is. Belief is not "eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation." Belief is "acceptance of or trust in a given proposition."
I understand perfectly well what is meant by "justified true belief." The courtroom antics were the means by which I set an example of its inferiority before tautology.

The critical step, at which you never arrive, is when moving from belief to knowledge. As it doesn't rely on a first step (a tautological A = A), every such belief falls back on a flat abstraction.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 5:55:42 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 5:52:17 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:33:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:24:48 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. [...]
Hold it right there. This still regards belief -- eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation -- not evidence bound by logic.

I don't think you understand what belief is. Belief is not "eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation." Belief is "acceptance of or trust in a given proposition."
I understand perfectly well what is meant by "justified true belief." The courtroom antics were the means by which I set an example of its inferiority before tautology.

DNA is not a tautology, and even tautologies require that you accept the given proposition as true. To know that bachelors are unmarried men, you must believe that bachelors are unmarried men. Belief is a necessity of knowledge. You cannot know what you do not take to be true.
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NHN
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9/22/2016 6:07:57 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 5:55:42 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:52:17 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:33:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:24:48 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. [...]
Hold it right there. This still regards belief -- eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation -- not evidence bound by logic.

I don't think you understand what belief is. Belief is not "eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation." Belief is "acceptance of or trust in a given proposition."
I understand perfectly well what is meant by "justified true belief." The courtroom antics were the means by which I set an example of its inferiority before tautology.

DNA is not a tautology, and even tautologies require that you accept the given proposition as true.
DNA analysis is tautological; so is mathematics, which requires no other foundation.

To know that bachelors are unmarried men, you must believe that bachelors are unmarried men. Belief is a necessity of knowledge. You cannot know what you do not take to be true.
"Belief" is a function of language and hos no room in logic or knowledge.

A bachelor is an bachelor/unmarried man; A = A.

If you choose to further decorate that tautology by saying "I swear on my mother's eyes and all of the Orphic gods that I believe that a bachelor is an unmarried man," then go ahead. It doesn't change a thing. A + fluff = A + fluff.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 6:13:20 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 6:07:57 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/22/2016 5:55:42 PM, bsh1 wrote:
To know that bachelors are unmarried men, you must believe that bachelors are unmarried men. Belief is a necessity of knowledge. You cannot know what you do not take to be true.
"Belief" is a function of language and hos no room in logic or knowledge.

A bachelor is an bachelor/unmarried man; A = A.

Why is a bachelor an unmarried man? Because the bachelor is defined as such. That definition is only true because we all agree (and therefore all believe) that it is true. You cannot know that a bachelor is an unmarried man without believing it.

As for math, 1+1=2 might be an objective fact, but no human can "know" that objective fact without "accepting it as true." If I don't believe that 1+1=2, then I do not know that 1+1=2, irrespective of the truth of the proposition.

Knowledge requires belief. There is simply no way to deny it.
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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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bsh1
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9/22/2016 6:34:54 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
@NHN

Knowledge is a tripartite concept. There are three necessary things that are required to "know" something:

1. A must believe Z to be true.
2. Z must be true.
3. A must have justified reason to believe Z.

I will take 2 to be axiomatic; you cannot know that which is false. We can explore together, however, why each of the other two elements is necessary through some simple examples:

1. Suppose that it is Friday and that there is justified reason to believe that it is Friday. However, I believe that it is Thursday, and deny that it is Friday. We would not say that I "knew it was Friday" because I rejected the veracity of the fact that today was Friday. Nor would we say that I "knew it was Thursday," because it was indeed not Thursday.

3. Suppose that I pull out a map of the universe and--purely at random--select a planet. I then assert that on this planet, there exists alien life. Suppose further that I made a lucky guess, and that alien life does indeed exist on that planet, though I have no reason (beyond my purely random guess) to believe that. In this case, it is true that alien life exists on the chosen planet and that I believe it to be the case that alien life exists there. Yet, we would again say that I did not "know" that alien life was there, because I had no real reason to believe it to be the case. Random guesses are not knowledge.

As a result of these example, we can conclude that knowledge is at least justified, true belief.
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NHN
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9/22/2016 7:06:41 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 6:13:20 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Why is a bachelor an unmarried man? Because the bachelor is defined as such. That definition is only true because we all agree (and therefore all believe) that it is true. You cannot know that a bachelor is an unmarried man without believing it.
Yes you can. Language defies common sense and lacks unity. For example, "bachelor" could just as easily refer to a baccalaureate (B.Sc.). It is in that sense that a bachelor/unmarried man only is a bachelor/unmarried man when predetermined as such. This is command, which functions irrespective of belief.

As for math, 1+1=2 might be an objective fact, but no human can "know" that objective fact without "accepting it as true." If I don't believe that 1+1=2, then I do not know that 1+1=2, irrespective of the truth of the proposition.
You're simply wrong on that account. Mathematics requires no proof as it is tautological. And it is through mathematics that other scientific disciplines can ring true.

Knowledge requires belief. There is simply no way to deny it.
Knowledge (Wissen) pertains to science (Wissenschaft), which regards predictability in accordance with a tautological model. This is what makes it possible to have a multiplicity of models that generate true results but never a single "reality" in which all models are unified.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 7:11:56 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 7:06:41 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/22/2016 6:13:20 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Why is a bachelor an unmarried man? Because the bachelor is defined as such. That definition is only true because we all agree (and therefore all believe) that it is true. You cannot know that a bachelor is an unmarried man without believing it.
Yes you can.

Suppose word ABC is defined only as XYZ. I cannot know that ABC means XYZ if I do not believe and stubbornly deny that ABC means XYZ. How is this not true? Address this specific example.

As for math, 1+1=2 might be an objective fact, but no human can "know" that objective fact without "accepting it as true." If I don't believe that 1+1=2, then I do not know that 1+1=2, irrespective of the truth of the proposition.
You're simply wrong on that account. Mathematics requires no proof as it is tautological.

What you are saying here is that math is self-evident. But, in that it is self-evident, it is believed. So I don't get how math disproves the necessity of belief in knowledge.
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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dylancatlow
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9/22/2016 7:13:36 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 12:29:37 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/21/2016 7:21:22 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 9/21/2016 5:37:33 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/21/2016 4:13:58 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
Like I said, it's meaningless to speak of human knowledge apart from individual human minds except in a very metaphorical sense...The knowledge is not really "transmitted", as the knowledge exists differently in the mind of your friend, who knows only what you told him and not whether it is really true.

I very much disagree.

The email exists differently in my computer than it does my friends, but--most people would agree--it is the same email. Likewise with knowledge, when I pass information on to a friend, the information is the same. The information is transmitted, like the email, it is not created. The testimony in this case does not create the knowledge, it merely relays the knowledge.

You know what you saw, your friend knows what you said. In order to reach the same conclusion as you your friend has to make certain assumptions which you do not. Maybe he believes you, in which case you both make the same conclusion. But he does not possess your knowledge, because the reasons you reached the conclusion are different from his reasons. What you know, and what your friend knows, are different, so the knowledge is not really the same.

It is not the experience that is being transferred, just the fact itself.

The fact is at best inferrable from what is actually being transmitted to your friend: noises to which he attaches certain meaning.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 7:17:54 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 7:13:36 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 9/22/2016 12:29:37 AM, bsh1 wrote:
It is not the experience that is being transferred, just the fact itself.

The fact is at best inferrable from what is actually being transmitted to your friend: noises to which he attaches certain meaning.

I mean, if you wanted, you could say all my friend "knows" is that he heard some noises which I emitted. But clearly my friend "knows" more than that, because those noises convey/transmit additional information. Transmission always requires a medium, and I don't see how the mere presence of such a medium precludes it being transmission.
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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sdavio
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9/22/2016 7:21:39 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 5:24:48 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/20/2016 5:52:23 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Just to quickly clarify a few terms, "knowledge" is justified, true belief. [...]
Hold it right there. This still regards belief -- eyewitness accounts subject to interpretation -- not evidence bound by logic.

And that which is logically verifiable can only be derived from tautological models. All else is folly and courtroom theatrics. That is incidentally why DNA analysis trumps eyewitness accounts every time.

Are you taking "knowledge" to mean only what is absolutely certain? It kind of seems like you're relegating everything but A is A to the garbage here. In that case, I'm not sure how DNA comes into it because that requires empirical interpretation and thus cannot be deduced merely from logical analysis of definitions.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
NHN
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9/22/2016 7:22:52 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 7:11:56 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/22/2016 7:06:41 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/22/2016 6:13:20 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Why is a bachelor an unmarried man? Because the bachelor is defined as such. That definition is only true because we all agree (and therefore all believe) that it is true. You cannot know that a bachelor is an unmarried man without believing it.
Yes you can.
Suppose word ABC is defined only as XYZ. I cannot know that ABC means XYZ if I do not believe and stubbornly deny that ABC means XYZ. How is this not true? Address this specific example.
The dictate of language can make it mean anything. It follows command (dictionary) and consensus (common use), not belief.

As for math, 1+1=2 might be an objective fact, but no human can "know" that objective fact without "accepting it as true." If I don't believe that 1+1=2, then I do not know that 1+1=2, irrespective of the truth of the proposition.
You're simply wrong on that account. Mathematics requires no proof as it is tautological.
What you are saying here is that math is self-evident. But, in that it is self-evident, it is believed. So I don't get how math disproves the necessity of belief in knowledge.
I am stating that mathematics requires no proof as it is tautological. A = A. Whatever is added is fluff.
bsh1
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9/22/2016 7:27:13 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/22/2016 7:22:52 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/22/2016 7:11:56 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 9/22/2016 7:06:41 PM, NHN wrote:
Suppose word ABC is defined only as XYZ. I cannot know that ABC means XYZ if I do not believe and stubbornly deny that ABC means XYZ. How is this not true? Address this specific example.
The dictate of language can make it mean anything. It follows command (dictionary) and consensus (common use), not belief.

And now you're being deliberately obfuscatory and nit-picky, to avoid having to actually address the hypothetical. The entire idea of these thought experiments or examples is that the conditions are set in ways that may not be realistic, but which demonstrate a point of logic.

You're simply wrong on that account. Mathematics requires no proof as it is tautological.
What you are saying here is that math is self-evident. But, in that it is self-evident, it is believed. So I don't get how math disproves the necessity of belief in knowledge.
I am stating that mathematics requires no proof as it is tautological. A = A. Whatever is added is fluff.

I am stating that belief is not proof. You do not need proof to believe. You can believe in math without proof. But you still need to believe to know.
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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