40
   

How can we be sure?

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Mon 15 Aug, 2011 08:48 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Bishop Berkeley argued that if no one hears the tree fall there would still occur a sound because God hears it.

Yeah, but Nietzsche later reported that god was dead, so there goes that theory.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Mon 15 Aug, 2011 09:12 pm
@JLNobody,
...because he is even more stupid then some around, why else ?
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Mon 15 Aug, 2011 09:21 pm
@joefromchicago,
...Nietzsche did n´t knew it was a big bounce phasing God it can go in and out of existence like the Spaghetti Monster...since you can´t prove it it goes in once you believe and out once you don´t...the damn thing keeps resurrecting...never mind that epistemology has the same problem... Mr. Green
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 08:25 am
@JLNobody,
Smile
There is always "difficulty" when naive realists are confronted with the necessity of the co-existence and co-extension of observer and observed.
Setanta
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 08:49 am
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 08:55 am
@Setanta,
I found a childish sort of amusement in the name Cockburn and found myself thinking that he should have used lube.. Does his kids have red hair? Smile
Setanta
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 09:06 am
@Cyracuz,
I have no such interest in entertainers . . . i know not whether he has children, and care not.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 09:07 am
@joefromchicago,
Yeah, but Nietzsche is dead now, so i guess we've got a Mexican stand-off.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 09:28 am
@Raishu-tensho,
Raishu-tensho wrote:

If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
According to philosophy, it makes no sound because there is no one to hear it, but according to science, it makes a sound because of the vibrations of the tree hitting the earth (probably a lot more complex, but that is off topic).
My question is, is anything certain? Can we be sure of an outcome merely because it has been done? Or because logic dictates such? Is there any real truth to it, or can that not be decided?


Karl Popper, who wrote The Logic of Scientific Discovery, stated that scientists do not look for certainty but rather for a "high degree of corroboration." A scientific explanation is valid until there is evidence to prove it wrong. The strength of a scientific theory comes from having survived multiple attempts to disprove it.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 09:44 am
@wandeljw,
Nice, but you haven't addressed the question.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 09:53 am
@InfraBlue,
Well, maybe we need to give up on absolute truth and be satisfied with a high degree of corroboration.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 01:02 pm
@wandeljw,
Hmm, you're assuming that the question in hand is a scientific one. Ok, so what is your answer in regard to a satisfactory level of corroboration?
wandeljw
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 01:44 pm
@InfraBlue,
InfraBlue wrote:

Hmm, you're assuming that the question in hand is a scientific one. Ok, so what is your answer in regard to a satisfactory level of corroboration?


I tried to address both philosophy and science. The philosophical ideal of truth is unattainable. Science provides reasonable explanations that are subject to modification based on additional evidence. If a great deal of evidence corroborates a scientific explanation, it is worthy of our trust. To ignore scientific explanations that are well-corroborated would be foolish (even the fourth century philosopher and theologian Augustine asserted it would be foolish to ignore reliable sense-based information).

If only one piece of evidence contradicts a scientific explanation, the explanation must be discarded or at least modified.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 01:53 pm
@InfraBlue,
Even the statistical device of "P" scores or levels of significance of observed correlations is a matter of judgement. There is no absolute certainty; I don't know why we are even talking about it (in the context of scientific knowledge).
Belief, on the other hand is not the same thing as the"scientific" notion of knowledge. Believers enjoy a subjective "certainty" that can never be a privilege of the "knower." Beliefs, in the religious sense cannot be falsified (speaking of Popper's contribution); knowledge is always provisional and open to revision. Hence, the ideally "progressive" nature of Science, but not religion--notwithstanding Kuhn's interpretation of the more messy process of scientific revolutions.
Last year I claimed in a (Cyracuz) thread that I was not making an ONTOLOGICAL claim that there exists or does not exist an absolute objective world (a Kantian thing-in-itself). I said I was making an EPISTEMOLOGICAL claim that we cannot "know" it except in terms of our constructions (i.e., concepts, formulae, models, paradigms, interpretations, etc.) . In short we can only "know" the world in OUR terms, not in God's.
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 01:59 pm
@JLNobody,
Quote:
There is no absolute certainty; I don't know why we are even talking about it (in the context of scientific knowledge).

That's why wandel's address of the question amounts to an avoidance of the question and a reiterration of his ideas of science. He'd make for a good politician.
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 02:30 pm
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 03:07 pm
@Cyracuz,
Quote:
How is light different from sound in this context? Without the observer both are just waves in certain frequencies. You argument falls apart if you consider that you need an observer with similar conditions to humans to make a meaningful distinction between light and sound in the first place.

Light IS reflected. But the phenomena of "color" exists only by experience, i.e., an observer.

One could use a spectroscope to record that the reflected light has a frequency of 700 nanometers. In such a case, "light" would be akin to sound in the tree/falling/in the forest. However, the "color" red arises from the physical phenomena of visible light interacting with the cones of the human eye with the mind processing the interaction. While the wavelength of the light itself may exist, the color does not exist without the observation of the eye.

Don't mistake terms such as light and color and think of them as equivalent words, and which was exactly my point when stating that defining things is important.

Fresco pointed the way above with his succinct post.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 04:03 pm
@kuvasz,
Quote:
Don't mistake terms such as light and color and think of them as equivalent words


Good point. Wouldn't you also agree that we should not mistake terms such as sound and vibrations in air? The same frequency of vibrations might be a million different sounds. A word, the hum of an engine, wind in the leaves... Nothing you have said changes the fact that waves in air isn't sound before it is heard.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 04:04 pm
@kuvasz,
Quote:
However, the "color" red arises from the physical phenomena of visible light interacting with the cones of the human eye with the mind processing the interaction.


Is color subjective? I am deficient in perceiving color in a specific way. I can see plain red, but if red is combined with another color, I "tune out" the red and only see the other color. Purple looks blue to me and brown looks green to me.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Tue 16 Aug, 2011 07:12 pm
@wandeljw,
But how do you know that what I call blue is the same color as what I call blue?

We're taught colors by someone pointing at them saying "that's blue". But if I were to look at it with your eyes, after having seen it with mine, your blue might look like my red to me...
 

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