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Saturday, November 12, 2011

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hello, I could not figure out how to comment on another post of yours (re pieprian argument for doxastic voluntarism). comments might have been disabled.

Very interesting post! I am taking a philosophy class now that takes for granted that knowledge entails belief. My sense is that most philosophers now think that condition is obvious and settled. They tend to dispute what "justification" means, or add more conditions to the JTB formula.

Anyways, I have a question for you! A typical objection that you may be familiar with is this:
So we acquire a lot of knowledge automatically, then. Imagine I walk into a living room for the first time, I acquire many bits of knowledge--there is a chair, there is a dog etc.
Let's say that I walk through and look briefly at the sofa, and because of the sun rays or lighting it appears red (when it is really orange!) and then I exit the room. I have acquired a false belief about the chair. If someone were to ask me its color, I would say "red".
Doesn't it then make sense to say that the opposite cases are cases of true belief? (i.e. all the other information I acquired from the room).
Furthermore, my false belief that the chair is red does not seem any more voluntary than the instances in which I really got knowledge.

I really am drawn to the view by the way that knowledge excludes belief. I just wonder if it can handle these problem cases!

This is a nicely observed post.

CJFW was fond of use (i). If he said 'I do not understand' you knew that something very bad was coming your way. I'm not immune to it. And as a brief ad hominem can I point out the Peter Lupu is not immune to it either – I've lost count of the times he has said it, usually in sense (ii).

On this one, I genuinely don't understand what a truthmaker is. Its broad definition is: something that causes a truthbearer (a 'proposition') to be true. Part of my difficulty is with 'truthbearer'. What sort of thing is it? Is it a mental item like a thought? Is it a physical item of some kind? Or is it a Platonic abstract object? I'll assume the latter.

And what sort of causal relation obtains between truthmaker and truthbearer. Bill has said that it is not a cause that is mediated by some physical event or state, in the way that the sun rising is the cause of truth of the proposition 'it is day'. The truthmakerist holds there is something 'in between' the sun rising and the truth of the proposition, and this 'in betweenie' is being-day-ness or something like that. Is that right?

So there is supposedly some direct, unmediated causal relation between a physical item (the state of affairs 'being day') and an an abstract Platonic entity. And I am finding that difficult to get my head round, in sense (iii).

I also have the difficulty with future tensed statements like 'the sun will rise tomorrow'. Does that proposition exist as a truthbearer now, or tomorrow? Does its truthmaker exist now or tomorrow? I commented on that problem here. If the truthmaker for a future tensed proposition exists now, it seems difficult to avoid logical determinism. But if it exists in the future, we have to explain its coming-into-existence. Is the coming-into-existence or actual-existence part of the state of affairs that constitutes the truthmaker? Then it seems difficult to avoid the infinite regress problem I already pointed out.

And at this point my head is swimming with such difficulties and confusions that I can only confess misunderstanding in sense (iii) alone.

Oliver,

The issue you raise is an important one and it interests me. But here is not the place to discuss it. I hope to discuss it in a separate post. What you should have done is sent me an e-mail.

Please, no comments by anyone here on the knowledge- belief question.

Ed,

Thanks for not taking offence; Peter was perhaps being just a wee bit testy. I'll leave it to him to respond to your ad hominem charge.

>> Its broad definition is: something that causes a truthbearer (a 'proposition') to be true. Part of my difficulty is with 'truthbearer'. What sort of thing is it? Is it a mental item like a thought? Is it a physical item of some kind? Or is it a Platonic abstract object? I'll assume the latter.<<

It seems to me that I have treated these questions with sufficient clarity and rigor over many, many posts. In particular, I have said more than once that truth-making is not causation! (This point is also made clear in the literature by D. Armstrong, et al.)
So this "broad definition" you give is completely cooked up by you. I challenge you to find any article in the journals or any book by a reputable practitioner who refers to truth-makers as causes.

Perhaps you are assuming that either the T-maker entails the truth of the T-bearer, or the T-maker causes the truth of the T-bearer. And then you might argue against both limbs, concluding that no clear sense has been attached to 'truth-making.'

I am open to that line of objection and I have a response.

But it is not kosher to misrepresent the doctrine as you do with your talk of causation.

As for truth-bearers, I though I made it totally clear over many posts that 'truth-bearer' picks out a role or office that can be occupied by different types of item -- depending on one's views. Suppose you say that judgments are what are true and false and that judgments are mental in nature, not possibly existrent apart from some mind. Fine. Then judgments are truth-bearers.

Didn't I make it perfectly clear that the notion of T-bearer does not bear within it any commitment to Platonica? It seems to me that I did. Then why do you assume that a T-bearer is a Platonic abstract object?

That's a wholly unwarranted assumption. And you will have noticed that in recent posts I have been speaking of senetnces -- a concession to you and your nominalism.

Could a physical item be a T-bearer? Absolutely not. Not just any sort of item could play the T-bearer role. But I will consider the following:

Fregean propositions; declarative sentences assertively uttered; occurrent beliefs; judgments; and perhaps some others that escape me at the moment.

Ed,

"And as a brief ad hominem can I point out the Peter Lupu is not immune to it either – I've lost count of the times he has said it, usually in sense (ii)."

I plead guilty w/o demanding any further evidence, for virtually no one is immune to the trash-talk strategy. It is a temptation which we all must continuously resist and try to overcome.

And now to T-makers.

In his response above, Bill already covered the most obvious problem with your definition of a T-maker that keeps relying on causation. The question Bill did not address is this:

Why do you keep insisting that the only viable options regarding the relationship between a T-maker and a Truth-bearer is causality or nothing?

While I cannot quite figure out why you are ignoring Bill's repeated denials that causation is the proper relationship, I will nevertheless venture a guess. I think that you might be thinking that if we countenance a relationship between T-makers and Truth-bearers and deny that this relationship is causal, then we have thereby countenanced an ineliminable *semantic* relationship. But I suspect that you vehemently deny that there are ineliminably semantic relationships such as reference, meaning, truth-making.

Since you feel that we need causality for a myriad of other reasons, you conclude that the relationship of T-making is either causal or it does not exist.

Am I right in this diagnosis or am I missing something?

Peter,

It will be interesting to hear whether Ed thinks there are no irreducibly semantic relations.

Perhaps Ed is thinking along these lines. We know what entailment is. It is a relation defined over propositions or (if he insists) over sentences. P entails q just in case it it impossible that p be true and q false. But truth-making connects a non-proposition to a proposition. So truth-making is not entailment.

Now if X makes-true Y, and Y is a proposition but X is not, then the relation between X and Y must be causal.

Is that how you are thinking, Ed?

'I have no idea what you are talking about.' In the case of truth-making, if one had no idea what truth-making is, then one would have no idea of what the correspondence theory of truth was, and, since it is the point of departure for every other theory truth, one would have no idea what any theory of truth was asserting.

Taking the point on causation, for now. You said in an earlier post:

"The truth-maker of the SENTENCE 'Tom is fat' is not the cause of Tom's being fat. He is fat because he eats too much, doesn't exercise, etc. ... Truth-making is not a relation that connects one event in space-time with another event in space-time. It is a relation that connects a truth-maker to a representation (a decl. sentence, a judgment-content, a Fregean proposition, etc.)"

I.e. it's not physical causation - one physical event causing another. But you also said - "But the thought is not just true; it is true because of the way things are 'outside' my mind."

So I assumed you meant some kind of non-physical causation.

>>>Perhaps Ed is thinking along these lines. We know what entailment is. It is a relation defined over propositions or (if he insists) over sentences. P entails q just in case it it impossible that p be true and q false. But truth-making connects a non-proposition to a proposition. So truth-making is not entailment.

Now if X makes-true Y, and Y is a proposition but X is not, then the relation between X and Y must be causal.

Is that how you are thinking, Ed?
<<

That makes more sense. A 'because' is either semantic (a bachelor is unmarried because a bachelor is an unmarried man). Or causal.

My good man,

You have a Procrustean view of 'because' if you think that every 'because' is either semantic or event-causal.

1. There is a purely logical (narrowly logical) 'because' which is not semantic but syntactic: p because ~~p.
2. There is the semantic 'because' you mention. The surface is colored because it is red.
3. There is the agent-causal because: The world exists because God created it. Clearly God is not an event in space-time.
4. There is the event-causal 'because': the house is flooding because the water main burst.

So there are at least these four.

I would say that a fifth sense is in play when we say: 'Tom lit up a fag' is true because of Tom's lighting of a fag, and not the other way around.

Don't you understand the last use of 'because' and that it is different from all the others?

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