09 September 2007


I carry a large load of ideas around in my head, and it isn't at all obvious that they are consistent with one another. Indeed, I usually have no need to check for consistency.

So, for example, in certain contexts I may assert that emotions get in the way of rational judgment, while in others I might assert quite as sincerely that, "you'll never get it right if you don't feel it!" The different social contexts might prevent me from ever having to straighten out my views on the epistemic value or disvalue of passion.

And ... so what? Unless it is my business to get such things right, I can live with such inconsistencies. My guess is that most people do.

That's why this site is such a challenge.


The software uncovered the following inconsistency in my own answers (I'll use its words and will refrain from arguing with it): "The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not."

The software found two other alleged contradictions in my statement -- I won't paste them here, as it would become redundant.

There are two distinct ways to suffer a loss in this game. Either the software finds a contradiction in your views, which is called "taking a hit" from a logical sniper, OR you "bite a bullet," i.e. you assert a belief "that most people would find strange, incredible or unpalatable." For example, if I were willing to say that belief in the Loch Ness monster is rational even after years of searching for the monster have yielded nothing, so long as it remains logically possible that the monster is successfully hiding from us -- I would have bitten a bullet.

The point, of course, is that it is rather difficult to avoid one or the other, to straighten out one's beliefs in God consistently while also avoiding belief in strikingly counter-intuitive things, to avoid both the sniper and the biting exercise.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.