Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Justifying Logic and the Normal Role of Proof in Justification

Some philosophers aim to show how we can be justified in accepting certain basic logical truths by giving "rule circular" proofs of the soundness of these basic logical truths. They admit that most people will never have considered the proofs in question, and they admit that these people still count as justified in using logic. But, they say that they showing that such proofs can in principle be given makes sense of how we can be justified in believing the basic logical claims established by the proofs right now.

That idea seems prima face implausible. In general the fact that someone 100 years later will prove P from premises that I accept (like the ZF axioms) doesn't suffice to show that I am justified in believing that P now. So why should the case be any different for the proofs of logical principles?

[I would rather say that we are prima facie justified in believing these logical principles in a way that has nothing to do with the possibility of giving further argument; coming up with more or less circular ways of proving the soundness of our logical principles is (at best) a way of improving our justification]

Saturday, March 19, 2011

are stipulative definitions a source basic knowledge?

Random thought:

Whether or not its OK to make a certain stipulative definition can depend very messy questions - and not just mathematically messy questions like questions about harmony.
For example: it would seem that it's OK to stipulate that people are to count as "gleb" whereas bodies are not to count as "gleb" if and only if people are distinct from their bodies.

This suggests that knowledge by stipulative definition is not a source of basic knowledge. (basic knowledge= justified belief that doesn't depend on any other beliefs for justification) For, you can say 'of course people are gleb and bodies aren't, thats just what I mean by the term! remember when I stipulatively defined it...'. But (it would appear) the justificatory buck doesn't stop when you say this. If you are unjustified in thinking that bodies are distinct from people, this would seem to poison your justification for making and appealing to this stipulative definition.

However, perhaps we should say that only some stipulative definitions do have prima facie warrant, and the above stipulation about glep is just not one of the ones that does.

p.s. if we say that stiplative definitions aren't basic knowledge, we will probably want to say that analyticities aren't either.