Posts tagged ‘WK Clifford’

January 4th, 2013

We Have a Moral Obligation to Follow the Evidence

by Max Andrews

evidence2I consider myself a moderate evidentialist when it comes to epistemology.  There is a sense of deontology to it in that one ought to base their beliefs corresponding to the evidence; however, there is a sense in which one may hold a belief without sufficient evidence and still be rational.  The source of truth is the objective prime reality and our knowledge should correspond to the truth of reality.  My epistemology yields my theology in the sense of scientific theology.  What I know about reality is what I know about God.[1]

Everything that we know is intuitive or experiential.  Intuition will be discussed later but the knowledge gained is from sensory apparatus’.  The characters read on paper are only the result of photons reflecting off of the paper and the photoreceptors in the eye receiving that information.  All knowledge cannot be deemed sensory only since it seems feasible that a person with a sensory handicap or no functioning sensory apparatus’ may still be justified in believing in his own existence by intuition (as well as moral truths).  The task of justification, or determining the truth of p, must meet the criteria of an inference to the best explanation (IBE).

Consider the following definition for justification:

            S is justified in believing p = S possesses sufficient evidence for p to be true.

June 15th, 2012

WK Clifford’s “Ethics of Belief”

by Max Andrews

W.K. Clifford summarized this deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.  If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”[1] Clifford gives the scenario of a seafaring ship and the ship owner’s knowledge of the integrity of the ship.  In Clifford’s alternated ending the ship owner is responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened.  The reason why he’s responsible is because he knew that that’s what could have happened.

The deontic aspect of belief and knowledge is not so much how one forms a belief but rather what that belief is.  This ethic on pertains to what the belief is and how it measures to the evidence.  The justificatory means is peripheral as long as the belief corresponds to reality.  Initially, this seems an untenable position assuming that it may be possible to know the objective truth about all of reality.  In order for one to be justified and to have knowledge without being at fault ethically the belief must be congruent to the evidence.  This allows for reasonable accountability and correction of one’s beliefs and it permits the advancement of knowledge, to learn, and paradigm shifts.

May 3rd, 2012

Are We Morally Obligated to Appropriate our Belief to the Evidence?

by Max Andrews

W.K. Clifford summarized this deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.  If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”[1] I will need to clarify a few of the nuances to Clifford’s epistemic ethic.  I would part ways with Clifford in his sea-worthy ship story with regards to his alternate ending.  The ship owner is not responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened.  Such counterfactuals are absurd to consider as having deontic statuses since they do not pertain to reality.  I would merely suggest that someone’s wrongfulness for believing upon sufficient evidence is congruent and the wrongfulness is not congruent to the consequent of actions taken based on that belief.  William James’ position states that it is permissible to believe upon insufficient evidence and, perhaps, even obligatory for us to believe on insufficient evidence.  I disagree with James (see my argument for justification for the contrast).

November 22nd, 2011

Ethics of Belief

by Max Andrews

W.K. Clifford summarized his deontic model of rationality when he stated, “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.  If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind… the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”[1] I will need to clarify a few of the nuances to Clifford’s epistemic ethic.  I would part ways with Clifford in his sea-worthy ship story with regards to his alternate ending (see below).  The ship owner is not responsible or equally guilty for the shipwreck even though it never happened.  Such counterfactuals are absurd to consider as having deontic statuses since they do not pertain to reality.  I would merely suggest that someone’s wrongfulness for believing upon sufficient evidence is congruent and the wrongfulness is not congruent to the consequent of actions taken based on that belief.  William James’ position states that it is permissible to believe upon insufficient evidence and, perhaps, even obligatory for us to believe on insufficient evidence.  I disagree with James (see my argument for justification for the contrast).