On 11/11/2010 10:43 AM, Rex Allen wrote:
On Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 8:37 PM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com>  wrote:
On 11/10/2010 4:54 PM, Rex Allen wrote:

Once you give up free choice, you're left with skepticism.

Bryan Caplan had an interesting comment on this:

"Now it is a fact that people disagree on many questions; this leads
us to wonder if on any given issue we are correct.  How is the
determinist to come to grips with this? If the content of my mind is
determined entirely on the level of micro-particles, how would I ever
double-check my views? I would be determined to believe them; and if
arguments convinced me, then they would be determined to convince me.
The crucial point is that my views -- correct and incorrect alike --
would be the result of inexorable causal forces.  And these forces
determine people to error just as inexorably as they determine them to
truth.  Of course, I might be correct by coincidence.  But knowledge
is _justified_ true belief; and when we are pre-determined to believe
whatever we happen to believe no matter what, it is hard to see what
the justification of our beliefs is.

I don't know what "pre-determined" adds to this and "no matter what" is
By pre-determined I just take him to mean that our beliefs are
determined by the state of things at some previous point in time.  The
state of the universe at time t0 (plus the causal laws that govern the
state changes) determines our beliefs at time t1.

Given the state at t0, the outcome at t1 is...pre-determined.  So the
"pre" just emphasizes the impact of the past on the present.

I don't think it adds much to use "pre-determined", but I don't see
that it is really cause for complaint either...?

As for "no matter what" being inconsistent...well...I suppose so.  It
does imply fatalism instead of strict determinism.  In other words:
"no matter what happens between time t0 and t1, the outcome will still
be the same."

But I'm pretty sure that he meant: "The only events that can occur
between time t0 and t1 are the specific events neccessitated by the
state of the universe at t0 and the universe's causal laws, and thus
the outcome is not in doubt".

He did *not* mean to imply that additional events are possible, but
will not alter the outcome.

If you are a determinist then all beliefs are causally
connected to facts (facts about your brain, perception, the world...).  If
the facts and the belief are congruent and they are causally connected then
they are justified_true_beliefs.
If the facts and the beliefs are congruent, then the beliefs are true.  I agree.

However, just because Belief X is causally connected to Fact Y doesn't
meant that Belief X is justified.

The question of justification is how do you *know* that Belief X is
causally connected to Fact Y?

It may be a fact (Fact Z) that Belief X is causally connected to Fact
Y, but how do you justify your belief in Fact Z?

And then, how do you justify your belief in your belief that Belief X
is causally connected to Fact Y?  And then, how do you justify your
belief in your belief in your belief that Belief X is causally
connected to Fact Y?  And so on.

The problem is that the only facts that we have direct access to are
facts about our current beliefs.  It is a fact that I believe this.
BUT, I can't say for sure that it's *true* that we only have direct
access to facts about our current beliefs.

It's just what I believe at this moment.  Though, I can't even say for
certain that I believed it an hour ago.  I believe I did, but I can't
justify that belief.

> From our current beliefs we infer the existence of other facts, but
why should we believe that our current beliefs are true or that our
process of inference is correct?

Skepticism doesn't say that there are no true beliefs.  It just says
that we can never justify them.

Depends on what you consider justification. We use common sense and other theories of the world all the time. They are justified by the fact that they usually successful in making predictions. Not always, but mostly. If I left my watch on the dresser last night I can usually find it there in the morning. To imagine that it would be a better justification of this to have some complete, deterministic theory of everything is the fallacy of the misplaced concrete.

Put succinctly, if we have knowledge we must accept beliefs only
because we understand them to be true; but if determinism is correct,
then we automatically accept whatever beliefs that our constituent
micro-particles impose on us.

If determinism is true...nothing whatsoever follows. It's like saying "God did it." Unless you can specify the initial conditions and the causal laws of evolution, it's nothing but a form of words.


It might be the case that those
micro-particles coincidentally make me believe true things, but the
truth would not be the ultimate causal agent acting upon me.

Whatever truth is, it isn't a causal agent.
Right.  And neither is logic or rationality.

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