Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It Can't be That Hard to Understand Rational Warrant (part 2)

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 This is relevant to my book The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman: in chapter one I introduce the standard to which I argue, rational warrant for belief rather than proof. See my book available on Amazon:

Order The Trace of God (by Joseph Hinman--My book) on Aamazon

Kane Augustus's arguments on Rational Warrant, that I introduced in the last post on Monday. [1] He makes an argument to prove that warrant is a cheap trick (it's an official part of the logic of an argument--thus he shows us he does not know logic or argumentation). His first argument is:

Now, as my friend stated, and I agreed, such reasoning is fine in a debate setting because it would be a little improper to go into a debate not knowing your position on the resolution.  However, for a philosophical proof and a didactic aide, such reasoning only gives a person logical permission to assume a plausible conclusion; that is, "rational warrant."  And rational warrant, is not proof.  Rational warrant cannot firm up the link between correlation and causality, therefore it is not conclusive proof.  Rational warrant is only a fancy way of giving yourself permission to believe a given plausibility clause when the hard work of reasoning through a syllogism is over.


Yes, that's just how I described it. It's giving permission to believe something. Why? becuase it's the step in logic that justifies the thing believed,it's the evidence or the logical proof that shows that there is a good reason to think so (whatever is believed). So I am merely stopping short of trying to prove and being continent with having a reason to think God exists. Then he tries to prove it (that warrant is a cheap rhetorical trick) by an argument:

Suppose I was to say to you, "there is a 900 lbs. hungry tiger in the next room," and you realised there was no door between you and the hungry tiger.  You would suddenly have a swell of emotions that correlate to your inward ideas of a hungry tiger, what that tiger is capable of doing to a person, and your own need for safety.  You would, in fact, have what Kant described as a noumenal experience.


I suppose he means no closed door, in other words an open door. If there was no door at all then no way for the tiger to get me so I would not feel as unsafe. I also doubt it would be a noumenal experience. I don't think sheer terror is noumenal. Nevertheless that's not worth picking at.He argues that we would experience the tiger as if it were real with no proof at all that it was, other than the word of the one who tells us about it. "so you have effectively believed my proposition that "there is a 900 lbs. hungry tiger in the next room" because it was reasonable for you to believe me (at least for the purpose of this illustration!).  In effect, you had "rational warrant" to believe my claim."

This is actually not necessarily true. The claim that there is a tiger in the next room could be warranted, if the person telling us this is trusted and we know from past experience that we can trust the person's claims, and perhaps he/she seems alarmed and frightened and tells us about the tiger in a state of panic and terror then we might have a good reason to think the claim is valid if we have such a reason then it is warranted. Suppose the person seems drunk, is laughing and not alarmed at all. Suppose the open door reveals enough of the room so hat we can see it's empty. Then we have no warrant to believe it, but we do have a warrant to disbelieve it.

At this point Augustus posits the idea that we learn in a couple of days it was just a joke. "...but you would also recognise the falsity of your "rationally warranted" beliefs concerning the 900 lbs. tiger." If indeed it could be said to be warranted. I've just pointed out that not just any old claim is warranted. There has to actually be a warrant that warrant must be established by argument and data or logical demonstration something to establish a reason. Just assenting "a tiger could hurts me" is not a reaosn. It' is a telling commentary on the atheist fear of experiences. They fear emotions as deceitful things that carry us away from the truth and we can't control them. He's just asserting unwarranted that any sort of emotional connection to a proposition is a warrant.

And this is where the notion of "rational warrant" really breaks down: simply reasoning to a plausible conclusion is not proof, and that's all "rational warrant" is: reasoning to a plausible conclusion.  It is a stylised flash of rhetoric that gives a veneer of reason to a belief-claim. Because "rational warrant" is a catch-phrase or byword indicating the right of every person to believe whatever they'd like based on their subjective experience of a thing, or a proposition, it reduces even further to relativism.  That is, the notion that what I believe is just as true and valid as what you believe, even if we disagree.  Objective reality (A is A) is thrown out the window, so to speak, in favour of a solipsistic encounter with the world.  Which is fine if you're a solipsist, but for those of us who don't simply assimilate external realities into our self-projections on the world, the relativism of "rational warrant" simply doesn't supply a useful tool to interacting with the world.

No this is where his understanding of what a warrant is breaks down. He contradicts himself in this paragraph. First of all he seems to think that because warrant is not proof that it's "just a cheap trick" but he's also admitted above that "Rational warrant is only a fancy way of giving yourself permission to believe a given plausibility clause when the hard work of reasoning through a syllogism is over." That means it's a valid part of the reasoning process and so it can't be a cheap trick. It's not proof. I have always said it's not proof. That doesn't mean it's therefore BS or nothing or a cheap trick. It's a valid and necessary stop on the way to proof. I am merely advocating that we don't go all the way because we can't. God is beyond proof since we demand the sort of proof that reduces the thing proved to the status of a thing controlled by our subject/object dichotomy. God transcends our understanding. That does not mean there is no good valid reason to believe. One must have this to have a warrant. So the drunk guy telling us there's a tiger does not give a warrant for belief there is a tiger. Your father who is not senile and is greatly trusted shouting hysterically that there is a tiger becuase he saw it might give a warrant for believing it.

He says: "It is a stylized flash of rhetoric that gives a veneer of reason to a belief-claim. Because "rational warrant" is a catch-phrase or byword indicating the right of every person to believe whatever they'd like based on their subjective experience of a thing, or a proposition, it reduces even further to relativism." Where does he get all that malarkey? He's just dogmatically made up several points to define warrant (contardicting his eraliwer stament that implies that it's a part of reason) which Toulmin never authorizes:

*Stylized Flash of rhetoric

*catch-phrase

*right to believe 'whetever they would like'

*based upon subjective experience

These last two are especially irksome because nothing could be further from the truth. Toulmin defines warrant as the step between the premise and the conclusion that makes the conclusion possible. That's hardly an invitation to believe whatever you want. Toulmin never says such a thing. Actually it's "a general rule indicating the relevance of a claim: argumentation, claim, backing, data, syllogism.[2] Three examples by different people are quoted by

Examples:

(1) [T]he Toulmin warrant usually consists of a specific span of text which relates directly to the argument being made. To use a well-worn example, the datum 'Harry was born in Bermuda' supports the claim 'Harry is a British subject' via the warrant 'Persons born in Bermuda are British subjects.'"
(Philippe Besnard et al., Computational Models of Argument. IOS Press, 2008)
 (2) "The connection between the data and the conclusion is created by something called a 'warrant.' One of the important points made by Toulmin is that the warrant is a kind of inference rule, and in particular not a statement of facts."
(Jaap C. Hage, Reasoning With Rules: An Essay on Legal Reasoning. Springer, 1997)
(3) "Toulmin expresses the difference between data and warrant as follows:
[ . . .] data are appealed to explicitly, warrants implicitly. (1988, p. 100)
According to Toulim (1988), there is a close relationship between the data and warrants used in any particular field of argumentation:
The data we cite if a claim is challenged depend on the warrants we are prepared to operate within that field, and the warrants to which we commit ourselves are implicit in the particular steps from data to claims we are prepared to take and to admit. (p. 100)
So, the warrant is implicitly present in the step from data to claim and, conversely, the nature of the data depends on the nature of the warrant."
(F. H. van Eemeren et al. Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory. Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996)[3]

As we can see the middle example reflects what I've already said about the warrant linking premise and conclusion. In none of these examples is something wild and frivolous being exemplified. It's not a cheap trick justifying whatever one wants to think. the last one alludes to that definition.  Kane says this because atheists love to bad mouth belief in God. He has keep the ridicule going.

None of the things that Augustus puts into his definition are present in Toulmin's definition of warrant.It's not subjective, it's a justification for anything you want or any of that. Most laughable of all is his claim that warrant reduces to relativism. Where does he get this stuff? he says: "That is, the notion that what I believe is just as true and valid as what you believe, even if we disagree.  Objective reality (A is A) is thrown out the window, so to speak, in favor of a solipsistic encounter with the world." He's on a slippery slope argument. Start with your opponent asserting something with which you disagree and end up with your opponent creating nuclear war. This is all manufactured out of his ignorance because he doesn't know what arguemnt is about. I've never said anything bout warrant, nor does Toulmin to imply that it has anything to do with my view being as valid as the views of another. He's making an unwarranted connection between what people say about being open minded and warrant, for some bizar reason because the two have nothing to with each other. We might take pause to consider his suspicion about the nature of fair mindedness.

After his paranoia about warrant destroying objective reason and ending in solipsism, why subjective knowledge leads to solipsism we have to discuss sometime because that's a ludicrous slippery slope fallacy. What is a "solipsistic encounter with the world?" Solipsism is not encountering the world it's explaining it away. Be that as it may, he says: "Which is fine if you're a solipsist, but for those of us who don't simply assimilate external realities into our self-projections on the world, the relativism of 'rational warrant' simply doesn't supply a useful tool to interacting with the world." Look where his tirade has taken him? He ends up equating a valid part of the logical process with solipsism. why? Because atheists are deathly afraid of having to think, to experience, and to take chances of being wrong. They have to have everything proved and totally nailed down so they don't make a mistake. Augustus whole article is a study in contradiction and hysterical ignorance.

Take the example given above: the datum 'Harry was born in Bermuda' supports the claim 'Harry is a British subject' via the warrant 'Persons born in Bermuda are British subjects." Where's the solipsism? Where's the wild frenzy to believe whatever one wishes to believe? A very simple schemata:

 

The Toulmin Model

  1. Claim: the position or claim being argued for; the conclusion of the argument.
  2. Grounds: reasons or supporting evidence that bolster the claim.
  3. Warrant: the principle, provision or chain of reasoning that connects the grounds/reason to the claim. 
  4. Backing: support, justification, reasons to back up the warrant.
  5. Rebuttal/Reservation: exceptions to the claim; description and rebuttal of counter-examples and counter-arguments.
  6. Qualification: specification of limits to claim, warrant and backing.  The degree of conditionality asserted. [4]

 Augustus is going to allow his reach to exceed his grasp because he has to take warrant away form Christians so that atheists can go on saying "there is no proof for God." I think they know instinctively that belief is warranted.To accomplish this he argues that only true things can be warranted. "The idea of 'rational warrant', as I recently learned, can only apply to those beliefs which are actually true.  In effect, this means that a vast majority of beliefs held through history have not been rationally warranted." There's another contradiction, doesn't this contradict the idea that it justifies whatever you want? If it's a cheap rhetorical  trick how can it be limited to true things? Moreover, since it is a legitimate part of the process of proving the truth it can hardly be limited to the truth. That's like saying only true things can be proved true. Yes, that's a tautology. Warrant is a means of helping estabish what is true. Thus it can't be checked by the claim we can only warrant things that are true. That's like saying "that's only true if it is true." Yes. right. How does that help us?

So for a believing Christian, say, they would consider their beliefs "rationally warranted" because they are able to determine correlations between what they experience (mysticism),  the contingencies in nature, and what they already assume about supernatural realities (e.g., that God exists).  Oddly though, a believing Christian would disagree with the beliefs derived of a Muslim experience, and visa versa, even though they may agree on a good number of things, too.  And both the Christians and the Muslims would be "rationally warranted" for both their agreements and disagreements surrounding their particular metaphysic...

 Here he is doing the circular reason bit: there is no God, therefore Christians are stupid, therefore they are wrong, therefore their arguemnts are not good, therefore belief is not warranted, therefore there's no God. It makes no difference what views might or might not be warranted. That's old atheist assumption that arguments are empircal experiements. They are not. The process of logical deliberation is not determined by the success rate of those who attempt to use it. He's reasoning backwards from "I don't believe in God" to "those who believe in God use this method, therefore the method is wrong because I don't like where it leads them." The idea of corrolateing experinces with logic is the way we navigate in the world anyway.

One final comment, which came in the comment section of Monday's post, I was ask if warrant is the same as properly basic ideas. I don't so. I think properly basic ideas must have warrants. The two are similar in that they stop short of proof, but they are not exactly the same: warrant is necessary for properly basic ideas but it is not in itself proper basicality.  I know that probably doesn't sratch met where he itched but I may bet around to a further discussion on that latter.

Sources

[1] Kane Augustus, "Rational Warrant: a critique p1," Saints and Cynics, nov, 2010 blog http://saintcynic.blogspot.com/2010/11/rational-warrant-critique-p-i.html 

accessed 6/17/14

[2], "Warrant," About Education, On line resource.

http://grammar.about.com/od/tz/g/warrantterm.htm accessed 6/17/14

[3]Ibid, Nordquist quoting Erlbaum (1996),Springer, (1997)  Besnard (2008).

[4] "The Toulmin Model of Argumentation,"Dandiago State University. 

http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~digger/305/toulmin_model.htm 

accessed 6/17/14


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2 comments:

Met said...

Kane's grasp of it seems kinda tenuous. Your point isn't ' people want to validate their experiences' as he suggests (most clearly in his comments). It's that there are some kinds of 'mystical' experiences that can be validated by their life-changing effects. Others, incl. artificially induced ones can't be, or at least haven't yet been shown to be.

And that's what's always been your 'religious experience argument,' even before you worked it out completely in the book.

So, if you were ever arguing that " a whole.bunch of people have the same experience so it must be real" Kane might have had a point. But you're not arguing that way, and you never were. So Kane's entire point is strawmannitized and fails to address the gist of what you mean.

Joe Hinman said...

O yea I agree Met. I appreciate that you follow the arguments as they are in the book, if only more people did that!