Monday, January 04, 2010

Ratioanl Warrant as Decision Making Paradigm


Rational warrant vs proof.

On another thread ("can God's existence be proved") I argue no it cant' be but it doesn't have to be because rational warrant is just as valid in terms of justification for belief. So this is a follow up to that discussion:

(1) What is the nature of rational warrant?

(2) how do you know you have one

(3) how far does it go? ( by this I mean where does "rational warrant" end and the need for actual proof begin?

(1) what is the nature of it?

I go with the prima facie standard.

this is a quote by J.G. Matty of UC Davis about the nature of FP arguments. It's not on the net anymore:

Prima Facie Justification.

Mattey again:

"Far from concluding that our senses are "fallacious," Reid placed them on the same footing as memory and reason, though they are "undervalued" by philosophers because "the informations of sense are common to the philosopher and to the most illiterate. . . . Nature likewise forces our belief in those informations, and all the attempts of philosophy to weaken it are fruitless and in vain."

"Reid pointed out that when we fall into error regarding the objects of sense, we correct our errors "by more accurate attention to the informations we may receive by our senses themselves." So the "original and natural judgments" that are made on the basis of our constitution lose their original justification in the presence of additional information. Contemporary philosophers call this kind of justification "prima facie," a term from law which describes an initially plausible case that could prove to be entirely implausible given further evidence. A belief of common sense, then, is justified "on the face of it."

"According to the doctrine of prima facie justification, one is justified in accepting that things are the way they appear, when

* it does appear to one that they are that way, and
* there is no reason to think that something has gone wrong.


"But if there is such a reason, one's justification is "defeated." Thus prima facie justification is "defeasible."

"For Reid, our beliefs about physical objects are justified by sense-experience, which he took to be a product of the interaction between the senses and physical objects. Twentieth-century philosophers have been somewhat more cautious, however, and have followed more closely the account of perceptual knowledge given by Reid's predecessors such as Descartes, Locke and Hume: that what justifies our beliefs about physical objects is a mental state such as:

* looking like something is red
* a sensation of red
* seeing red-ly"

"For example, what justifies a person in believing that he sees something red is that it looks to him as though there is something red. The mental state of that person is one in which there is an appearance of red, and just being in this mental state is enough to give prima facie justification to the belief that he really sees something red. On the other hand, what confers justification might be a belief about how things appear."
when you establish a PF case the burden of proof changes to the other guy who must show that you haven't gone far enough in establishing the PF burden. Now of cousre the skeptic will give you tons of flack about it. they will say you are unfairly trying to shift the burden of proof. Of course you are trying to shift it and if you establish PF case you have succeeded, nothing unfair about it. Since you are not trying to prove God's existence in the first place the burden of proof is naturally going to be less.

(2) how do you know you have one to say another way "what characteristics does it have?"

Examining the Criteria

There are three things we need to consider before moving on:

(1) What conditions make for a PF case? How do we know when it has succeeded?
(2) What conditions make for overturning a PF case?
(3) Or how do we know when it is overturned?

The criteria I’ve listed above dealing with the success of a PF case include:

(1) Documented perceptual evidence

(2) Perceptions (or other evidence) that is regular (a form of replicability).

(3) Consistency (meaning no internal contradictions).

(4) Inter-subjective verification (others can experience similar phenomena, share the data, observe the same kinds of qualia).

(5) Logical inference from both inductive and deductive reasoning

(6) Tangible measurable effects

(7) No counter causality: counter causes must be defeated, disproved, or rendered less likely

(8) Must be falsifiable.

These criteria pertain specifically to an argument based upon experience. Other kinds of arguments, such as cosmological, might require altering the criteria to fit the subject matter. We should set out criteria that govern the presentation of a particular form of argument, since not all arguments involve the same type of evidence. But we must be careful not to set up the criteria to guarantee success. The criteria must be neutral, advantaging neither side. Yet they can’t handicap the believer and create an uneven playing field slanted toward doubt. What I have not included above, but goes without saying, is adequate documentation for any sort of factual evidence.

What about some sort of critical test? We must know what sorts of circumstances under which we can trust experiences.

Rowe on the importance of criteria: in order for a person A to be rational in trusting his experience, "A must know what sorts of circumstances would render the putative 'experience of x' suspect and must also know that these circumstances do not in fact obtain" (181).

2.3 As Rowe apparently means this, in order rationally to trust your experiences, you should know what the various possible causes of unreliable experiences are and know that you're not subject to them. This seems a very demanding requirement, as many in fact don't know about all the possible causes of error.

2.4 A weaker requirement (one that Hick seems to endorse): in order rationally to trust your experiences, you should at leave some rational beliefs about what might cause unreliable experiences and not have any reason to think that this experience is one of the untrustworthy kinds.

2.5 The upshot: if religious experience can make religious belief rational, the believers must have some way of distinguishing good and bad religious experiences…

These are further elaborations of the point above about counter causality.

We need less commitment to ideology and more understanding of parameters of decision-making. The nature of the question will determine these needs. For example, we would not expect the same sort of questions about reliability of perception in dealing with a cosmological argument as we would in dealing with an experience argument. Perceptions do come into cosmology, but since cosmology uses instruments that an record data and does not depend upon subjective feelings of the observer we don’t need the same kind of perceptual checks with the former that we do in the latter case.

In answer to 2 and 3, how do we know when it has failed, or been overturned. Argued caveats to the skeptic about the conditions under which a PF case is overturned.

(1) Justified until something comes along to take it away
(2) Occasional conflicts don’t hurt, they are analogous to misperceptions

New evidence coming to light or new aspects of old evidence would be a major recourse for the skeptic. Clearly the use of counter causality will be a major ploy by the skeptic, especially in the dealing with experience arguments. The skeptic will argue that there is no reason to suspect that God is actually causing such experiences because they can be accounted for by everything from stomachache to insanity to hypnotism. This, we might observe, is basically a paradigm shift argument. Contradictions to the paradigm are absorbed into the model until there are so many the models no longer holds. But paradigm shifts began as a theory in the realm of child development, and they probably represent the basic pattern of human learning.

How do we know when the PF case is overturned? In policy debate we know because the affirmative fails to meet certain burdens. The burden of proof for affirmative consists of being able to show that there is a problem and that the problem is significant enough to warrant change, and that the problem is inherent and can’t be solved by the present system without a major structural change. Since this is not policy debate our criteria would e different, and would orient around epistemological burdens. It is overturned when one of those eight points above is defeated by logical argument. These are the logical burdens that any proposition should meet in setting out a justification argument.

(3) how far does it go? ( by this I mean where does "rational warrant" end and the need for actual proof begin?

Rational warrant essentially means "I have a good reason to think this." When you get to a point where you have to prove this is the nature of the case then you have moved beyond the rational warrant to a standard of proof.

But be aware on the way to establishing a rational warrant many things must be proved, but they are all falling short of pving the major thing, ie God's existence.

Just because you argue rational warrant doesn't' mean you are off the hook of proving anything, you have to prove a thousand sub points to show there's a rational warrant. but you don't have to prove the existence of God to prove that Belief in God is rationally warranted.

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