- What are we justified in believing?
- You ought not to believe anything for which you don’t have sufficient evidence
- Evidence: videre (to see/understand)
Scientistic view of what we should believe
- You are flawed/immoral if you believe something with insufficient evidence
Pascal believes sometimes if is right to have a belief without sufficient
evidence (ex. God: nothing to lose if you believe)
Sometimes you must act regardless of evidence in order to benefit
- A live hypothesis: “is one which appeals as a real possibility to him to whom it is
If you’re prepared to act on it, it is “live”
3 different kinds of options:
1. living or dead:
a) living: an option that has resonance to the chooser
b) dead: option has no appeal to the chooser
2. forced or avoidable:
a) forced: either/or situation you have to choose since not to choose is to
make a choice against the potential good of choosing the object (not to choose is
to choose against e.g. marriage or God).
b) avoidable: you can choose either A or B.
3. momentus or trivial:
a) momentus: option is a matter of some importance and is unique (e.g. cannot
b) trivial: not unique (option can be postponed).
Do men & women think differently morally?
- Women: saw as an issue of humanity (pharmacist should make an exception)
- Men: steal the drug; wrong to let wife die
- Knowledge is not a question of confidence
- Knowledge involves some form of posession of the truth, but is it merely that?
NO, truth could be a guess.
- Knowledge is a justified true belief
Our senses can decieve us. SEXTUS EMYRICUS
- Academic skepticism: claim not to have knowledge of anything
- Aristotle believes that everything has a form/structure & to possess knowledge of an
object, you must know its form.
3 PRINCIPAL KINDS OF PHILOSOPHY
1. Dogmatics: believe truth is discoverable & that they have found it.
2. Academics: truth cannot be discovered.
3. Skeptics: one ought to suspend judgement & continue to search for conditions
under which truth may be discovered.
Aim of skepticism: achieve tranquility of mind.
Question underlying reality to various appearances.
NOT a skeptic: used skepticism to combat skepticism
- Cause: an explanation of effect
- Final causality: what is the goal?
- Efficient cause: A hits B & the effect is C
- ‘Dualist’: mind & matter (body) are separate
Material things are “machines”
Therefore there are ways to control these machines (e.g. nature)
MEDITATION I: Of the Things Which May be Brought Within the Sphere of the
- Skepticism: the ability to acquire knowledge is doubtful (historical context)
- Question: is there anything about which we can be certain?
This is crucial if there is to be a foundation for sciences
A. What I can doubt vs. what I can be certain of (method of hyperbolic doubt)
The method of adopting the principle that if there is even a possibility that a
proposition is false, then it cannot be certain.
1. Can I doubt the existence of my body?
a) Yes I could be dreaming
i) Dream Argument (the Matrix)
P1: I have perceptions similar to those in my dreams.
P2: There are no signs to tell me when I’m dreaming or not.
P3: It is possible that I am dreaming right now
i.e. My perceptions are false.
2. Can I doubt the truth of mathematics?
a) Yes, God could be decieving us
i) God as a Possible Deciever Argument P1: I believe God created us
P2: I believe God is omnipotent
P3: God can do anything including decieve us
P4: It is possible that God is decieving us about math
Therefore not certain
i) God is perfectly good, would not decieve us
ii) Perhaps such an all-powerful God does not exist
i) If it were against God’s nature to decieve us, he would never permit us
to be decieved.
ii) If there is no God, we must assume our creator is even less perfect &
3. Evil Genius Supposition: it is possible that there is an evil genius that is trying
to decieve me at every moment.
(1) Evil Genius Argument
P1: Assume that there is an evil genius who can decieve us.
P2: I am therefore justified in doubting everything I take to be
P3: I can no longer rely on my senses/judgements.
Steps in Descartes method of Hyperbolic Doubt.
“I will withhold assent to anything I can doubt”
MEDITATION II: Mind is More Easily Known Than the Body
1. Is there anything I cannot doubt?
a) Yes The existence of the mind.
i) Argument for my Own Existence
P1: Assume there is a deceiver
P2: If so, there is a decieved
P3: If I am being decieved, “I” must exist
P4: “I am, therefore I exist”
2. What am “I”?
i) Am I a man (i.e. a rational animal)?
ANSWER: cannot be certain about meaning of ‘rational’ &
ii) Am I a bodied soul?
ANSWER: cannot be certain since an evil demon could be
decieving me about my body.
Descartes’s Answer: I am a thinking being.
(1) That the mind is more known than the body:
P1: It is possible that all knowledge of external objects is false due
to the actions of an evil genius.
P2: This includes my body. P3: But it is not possible that I could be decieved about my
existence as a thinking being.
P4: Therefore, I am a thing that thinks.
What attributes are associated with thinking?
MEDITATION III: Of God, that He Exists
- Descartes: I am certain that I exist as a thinking being
But, can I be certain that I am not the only being that exists?
1. Can I be certain that there is an outside world?
P1: I am certain that I am a thinking being
P2: Thinking beings have ideas
P3: Every idea must have a cause
P4: The cause must be as real as the idea
P5: If I have an idea of which I cannot be the cause, then something
outside of me much exist
One of the ideas I have is of “God”
2. Can such an idea have been fabricated in me (i.e. could God be a creation of
my mind or imagination)?
a) No The Principal Argument for God’s Existence
“The Argument from an Idea of God”
P1: I have an idea of a perfect and infinite God
P2: I am a finite and imperfect substance
P3: Therefore, the idea of an infinite and perfect substance could
not have originated in me
P4: My idea of God could therefore only have been caused by God
P5: Therefore, God exists
3. What implications does this have for Descartes’s argument?
a) It proves:
- The existence of something other than Descartes’s mind
- It suggests Descartes can now rely on his senses
i) The Argument for God as a Reliable Guarantor of Sense Evidence
P1: If God is perfect, he has no defects
P2: Deception is a (moral) defect
P3: Therefore, God is no deciever
4. How does Descartes’s ability to rely on his senses hep him resolve his
ANSWER: He can now trust that the sensible, material world exists Rorty
Descartes view of the relationship between mind & body:
Mind Immaterial (i.e. no extension in space)
Body Material (i.e. has extension in space)
The Scientific Method (stated simply):
1. Observe some aspect of the universe
2. Formulate a hypothesis (i.e. a tentative description that is consistent with what
you have observed).
3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions
4. Test those predictions by experiments
5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until there are no discrepancies between your theory &
Correspondence theory of truth: truth lies in correspondence to some fact (the theory
assumes that when we know the truth, our minds are like mirrors of the facts that we
RORTY: rejects scientific realism
No such thing as objective truth
- A common distinction made in our culture is that there exists:
1. Facts: knowledge of which is achieved through science
2. Values: opinions or subjective attitudes about what counts as good & which are
articulated in the practice of art