Instigator / Pro
Points: 13

Can we know anything to be 100% True?

Finished

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After 3 votes the winner is ...
PsychometricBrain
Debate details
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Category
Philosophy
Time for argument
Three days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One week
Point system
Four points
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Rated
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10,000
Contender / Con
Points: 18
Description
Round 1: Opening Statements, No Rebuttals.
Round 2: Rebuttals of Round 1 Statements
Round 3: Rebuttals of Round 2 Statements.
Round 4: Interrogation. Questions Only about any part of the topic.
Round 5: Answering Round 4 Questions and then closing statements.
Con must accept this format in order to debate this topic.
Round 1
Published:
So as we enter this, the first step will be to establish what constitutes "knowledge" 

generally it's something along the lines of "justified true belief"  Which is to say that you have a premise to justify it in a valid format and it is also sound within reality.  This is what's known as "epistemological" Knowledge. 

today we'll be shooting for "Absolute Knowledge"  

Let it be known that if absolute knowledge can be known, then it is also necessarily epistemological knowledge at the same time due to overlapping of terms. 

Otherwise, it stands alone. 

So I think the best definition of absolute knowledge is "to know such that we cannot be wrong"

This will be my goalpost for this debate. 


Now that terms are established I will begin my opening 



1 Tautologies 

Tautologies are true by definition and also necessarily apply to reality.  they are the pinnacle of epistemological truth.  The test of whether or not we can make this absolute knowledge lies within the soundness of the premises. If one enters true premises into the tautology, then we get an absolute truth. 

But wait, if we don't have truth yet, then how do we know the premises are true?  Excellent question me.  This leads me to my next argument.  Nice segue me. 



2. Self evidence. 

In order to have a basis for knowledge, we ultimately need something that verifies itself without using an underline premises.  The philosophical concept of self evidence helps us here.  it's pretty simple. 

We have a tautology.  

We have something self evident in reality

We mold the tautology such that it fits perfectly to the thing in reality and 

BINGO!! we now have a perfectly 100% absolute non refundable complete metaphysical truth. 

So what makes something self evident?  


A) The act of proving it is redundant and absurdly easy. 

An example of this would be a bachelor.  Why is he a bachelor, because he's an unmarried man.  This is a self evident thing.  We don't have to know anything in order to prove this really.  We just look at the definition an automatically know it fits because of the nature of the definition.  Things that are self evident always end up being tautologies when applied because they're basic truths. 

B) The contrary is impossible. 

Honestly, B prove the whole thing, but the difference is that if B applies, the proposition was true, but not self evident.  Instead, it was true by virtue of a lower belief.  This standard is key to self evidence because without it any tautology could be proven true.  God is God because he's God.  For instance would be a sound tautology if there was no standard by which to test the soundness of it.  So impossibility of the contrary is the best standard because it automatically proves the thing without needing anything under it.  



Now for my grand example 


Lets get my self evidences.  A = Bachelor      B = Man    C = Unmarried.  Now for putting it unto reality.   A man is self evident so I can place my tautology around him because he fits the definition of reality, but this is just a simple identity.  Unmarried also fits as a perfect tautology, but still we're not quite in the physical.  But once we put it together into  B and C = A  Now we have it.  Are true metaphysical truth.  The man (identity) is unmarried (by virtue of the physics of not being "married" by someone) and this is logically equivalent to a Bachelor. 


This is a somewhat simplistic example because to do this on high scale reality would involve a bunch of mini inductions like this one that ultimately add up to much bigger inductions.  But once we have this format, we can lay the bricks quite quickly in our head and then start at bigger points like they're bookmarks. 

I believe this makes my case. 


I now await my opponents opponent statements.  Please avoid rebuttals until the next round. 


Your floor. 
Published:
Clarification of the resolution/definitions:
“So I think the best definition of absolute knowledge is "to know such that we cannot be wrong"
This will be my goalpost for this debate.”
-Pro, round 1
 
This does seem like a reasonable standard to me considering the debate resolution. So, Pro will try to provide at least one example of knowledge that is impossible to doubt as it necessarily can not be false. I, on the other hand, am going to disprove any such examples and will win unless at least one example stands by the end of the debate.
 
All knowledge is either a posteriori (derived through the senses; observation of the natural world; empirical evidence) or a priori (deduced independent of experience, such as mathematics (2+1=3), tautologies (“All bachelors are unmarried”) and deduction from pure reason [1].
 
100% = complete, entire, whole [2]

Human reasoning can be mistaken:

Research by Evans, Barston and Pollard (1983) has shown that human deduction is regularly erroneous and easily falls prey to biases.They presented participants with logical syllogisms such as:
Argument 1 - This is both a valid argument and the conclusion is believable:
P1: No cigarettes are inexpensive.
P2: Some addictive things are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some addictive things are not inexpensive.


Argument 2 – Valid & unbelievable:
P1: No addictive things are inexpensive.
P2: Some cigarettes are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some cigarettes are not addictive.


Argument 3 – Invalid & believable:
P1: No addictive things are inexpensive.
P2: Some cigarettes are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some addictive things are not cigarettes.


Argument 4 – Invalid & unbelievable:
P1: No cigarettes are inexpensive.
P2: Some addictive things are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some cigarettes are not addictive

 
Participants were presented several arguments that followed the same structures as the four examples and found that participants accepted the conclusions as valid of 92% of the valid & believable arguments but less than half (46%) of the valid but unbelievable arguments. Even more staggeringly, participants accepted 92% of the invalid but believable conclusions as valid but did a good job of rejecting the invalid & unbelievable conclusions (8%). This shows that human deduction is at least some times (not none times) mistaken and can, therefore, be doubted and hence can not be known to be 100% true.
 

In conclusion, because all human knowledge is derived through reasoning and human reasoning is at least some times (= not none times) wrong, it can be doubted and as therefore everything can be doubted, it follows that nothing can be known to be 100% true.

P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983).
C1: Everything that is based on human reasoning can not be known to be 100% true. 
P3: All human knowledge is based on logical reasoning (otherwise it would be irrational and unjustified and thus a belief, rather than knowledge).
P4: The debate resolution only refers to knowledge that can be attained by humans (the "we" in the debate resolutions implies humanity).
C2: Therefore, nothing can be known to be 100% true by humans.




[1]: A priori and a posteriori. (2019). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 10 April 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_priori_and_a_posteriori
[2]: 100-percent dictionary definition | 100-percent defined. (2019). Yourdictionary.com. Retrieved 10 April 2019, from https://www.yourdictionary.com/100-percent
[3]: Evans, J.S.B.T., Barston, J.L. & Pollard, P. Memory & Cognition (1983) 11: 295. https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196976 (https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.3758%2FBF03196976.pdf to read the full paper).















Round 2
Published:
Lets move on to rebuttals. 


This does seem like a reasonable standard to me considering the debate resolution. So, Pro will try to provide at least one example of knowledge that is impossible to doubt as it necessarily can not be false. I, on the other hand, am going to disprove any such examples and will win unless at least one example stands by the end of the debate.
it seems like the highest standard that I can place on it.  To put a lower standard would be trickery in my opinion. So I don't see the problem here. 


All knowledge is either a posteriori (derived through the senses; observation of the natural world; empirical evidence) or a priori (deduced independent of experience, such as mathematics (2+1=3), tautologies (“All bachelors are unmarried”) and deduction from pure reason [1].
 
100% = complete, entire, whole [2]
Well I think you might have just won the debate for me right here.  Yes 100% means complete and whole.  When we say 2 + 2 = 4.  That's 100% true.  Furthermore, it's a tautology that also fits reality because we can quantify things in reality using these equations and they work perfectly without fail.  That's 100% congruence with reality.  So now we have a priori and a posteriori proof of 2 + 2 = 4.   This counts as a complete induction and therefore is true so that we cannot be wrong.  I will now show how we cannot be wrong.  Let's say we take two apples and two more apples and count them to make sure and then put them together and count them again.  Each and every time this happens, we will get 4 apples without fail.  This means it's impossible to be wrong.  All of the terms are tautologies.  (2) (+) (4)   They are all defined and the definitions meet reality and we can prove the logical connectivity by doing the problem over and over again with the apples.  There's  my one truth.  But I'll keep going just in case you decide to back pedal here. 



Human reasoning can be mistaken:

Research by Evans, Barston and Pollard (1983) has shown that human deduction is regularly erroneous and easily falls prey to biases.They presented participants with logical syllogisms such as:
Argument 1 - This is both a valid argument and the conclusion is believable:
P1: No cigarettes are inexpensive.
P2: Some addictive things are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some addictive things are not inexpensive.


Argument 2 – Valid & unbelievable:
P1: No addictive things are inexpensive.
P2: Some cigarettes are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some cigarettes are not addictive.


Argument 3 – Invalid & believable:
P1: No addictive things are inexpensive.
P2: Some cigarettes are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some addictive things are not cigarettes.


Argument 4 – Invalid & unbelievable:
P1: No cigarettes are inexpensive.
P2: Some addictive things are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some cigarettes are not addictive

 
Participants were presented several arguments that followed the same structures as the four examples and found that participants accepted the conclusions as valid of 92% of the valid & believable arguments but less than half (46%) of the valid but unbelievable arguments. Even more staggeringly, participants accepted 92% of the invalid but believable conclusions as valid but did a good job of rejecting the invalid & unbelievable conclusions (8%). This shows that human deduction is at least some times (not none times) mistaken and can, therefore, be doubted and hence can not be known to be 100% true.


So I will start out by first saying that when my opponent says "believable" he actually means "sound'  that means the "unsound" ones are not logical and this is ultimately a strawman for multiple reasons.  

First, the point he makes is that people on average believe certain syllogisms when they shouldn't.  This doesn't prove that logic is wrong, but that people are wrong. 

Second, the unsound syllogisms do not claim to be logical and that is why they're unsound, they commit non sequiturs and commit what are called formal fallacies.  I will leave a link about categorical syllogisms because that is what he is using. 

Third, These forms of syllogisms are outdated and most people currently use propositional logic.  This is the key thing that makes it a strawman.  People only use these types of syllogisms for simple and intuitive proofs because it's so easy to fall into non sequiturs as the study has shown. 

Fourth, the study is from the 80's and based on a survey, It has nothing to do with logic and ultimately is just a non sequitur to this argument in general. 


In conclusion, because all human knowledge is derived through reasoning and human reasoning is at least some times (= not none times) wrong, it can be doubted and as therefore everything can be doubted, it follows that nothing can be known to be 100% true.

P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983).
C1: Everything that is based on human reasoning can not be known to be 100% true. 
P3: All human knowledge is based on logical reasoning (otherwise it would be irrational and unjustified and thus a belief, rather than knowledge).
P4: The debate resolution only refers to knowledge that can be attained by humans (the "we" in the debate resolutions implies humanity).
C2: Therefore, nothing can be known to be 100% true by humans.
This argument rests on the assumption that My opponent's previous statement about syllogisms proves knowledge insufficient, as I have mentioned why this is a strawman.  This effectively negates this argument as well.  The fact is that while we can't know everything to be true, we can know some things to be true 100% of the time like gravity, The names of fruits and animals, The gas mileage of a car, etc. etc. 



My opponent will now do a rebuttal of my R1.  Please refrain from doing any rebuttals of my R2 as that will come in the following round.  

Your floor. 




Published:
My opponent’s sole example is as follows:
“A = Bachelor      B = Man    C = Unmarried.  Now for putting it unto reality.   A man is self evident so I can place my tautology around him because he fits the definition of reality, but this is just a simple identity.  Unmarried also fits as a perfect tautology, but still we're not quite in the physical.  But once we put it together into  B and C = A  Now we have it.  Are true metaphysical truth.  The man (identity) is unmarried (by virtue of the physics of not being "married" by someone) and this is logically equivalent to a Bachelor.”- Pro, Round 1
 
Rebuttal 1:
Pro claims that “a man is self-evident” and thus must be using the informal definition of self-evidence “obvious”[1] as, while the existence of men is indeed obvious, it is not logically necessary that something like a man exists in reality.
Bertrand Russell, for example, popularised the following example:
"The present King of France is bald."
Is this sentence’s truth value T = true, or F= false?
One could not take this statement to be true, for there is no present King of France that is part of the set of bald people. However, if one took it to be false, one would end up with “The present King of France is not bald”, which is also flawed as there is no present King of France among the set of people that are not bald either. Russell solved this apparent contradiction of the law of the excluded middle using his theory of description. He argued that by saying “The present King of France is bald” one is actually making three separate claims:
 
“(a) There exists something that is the present king of France.
 
(b) There is only one thing that is the present king of France.
 
(c) Anything that is the present king of France is bald.” [2]
 
Therefore, Russell concluded that “the sentence ‘the present king of France is bald’ is false because the present king of France doesn’t exist”. In the same way, for Pro’s example to be related to reality (which he claims is part of his BoP: “proving one thing wins it for me but it has to be something non arbitrary “, “I would have to show that the truth applies to the world.”), Pro’s example would actually read: If a man does exist and that man is not married, then we can know that it is 100% true that he is a bachelor.
 
Has Pro established that the existence of an unmarried man can not be doubted (i.e. is self-evident in the formal sense; does not require proof to be known to be true 100%)? No, he has not. Adherents of the simulation hypothesis, for example, doubt whether any part of the external world corresponds to reality:' I think there’s a very good chance we are, in fact, living in a simulation, though we can’t say that with 100 percent confidence. But there is plenty of evidence that points in that direction,' – MIT Computer Scientists Rizwan Virk, [3]. While I do not want to centre this debate around the simulation hypothesis, it is evidently not possible to be 100% certain that it is not true, and therefore we can not be know anything to be 100% true about reality (as even if there was an infinitely small chance that we’d be mistaken, whether its because of the simulation hypothesis, because we are actually an alien that is hallucinating or because the Flying Spaghetti Monster, R’amen, is intentionally misleading us, then we could not know anything in reality to be 100% true).
Thus, Pro has not proven that we can know anything to be 100% true which corresponds to objective reality.
 
Rebuttal 2:
While it is unlikely, it is nonetheless possible that we are wrong about what we think something means actually means. Harvard Cognitive Psychologist and language development expert Steven Pinker in his book “The Sense of Style”, for example, outlined several examples:
 
Begs the question:
Actual meaning: When an argument’s premise assumes the truth of the conclusion.
Commonly mistake: Raising the question/avoiding the question.

Dichotomy:
Actual meaning: Two mutually exclusive alternatives.
Commonly mistake: Difference or discrepancy between two alternatives.
 
Disinterested:
Actual meaning: Unbiased.
Common mistake: Uninterested.
[4]
 
While it is true that in everyday life people trust that they know what they’re saying and that it is correct, we are at least some times mistaken about what we believe the things we “know the meaning of” actually mean. What makes Pro 100% certain that we could not possibly be mistaken about his example? I would argue he might be begging the question 😉. Mental disorders (e.g. about 1% of the population is affected by schizophrenia), memory loss, hallucinations, and even simple mistakes occur on a regular basis. Therefore, while we can be quite sure that what we know is actually true. We are condemned to at least a slight degree of uncertainty in every regard by our human fallibility.
 
Rebuttal 3 – Contradicted by opening argument:
 
“P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983).C1: Everything that is based on human reasoning can not be known to be 100% true. 
P3: All human knowledge is based on logical reasoning (otherwise it would be irrational and unjustified and thus a belief, rather than knowledge).
P4: The debate resolution only refers to knowledge that can be attained by humans (the "we" in the debate resolutions implies humanity).
C2: Therefore, nothing can be known to be 100% true by humans.”
 
P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983 & self-evidence).
P3: Pro’s example is based on human reasoning.
C: Pro’s example can not be known to be 100% true.
 
 
Sources:
[1]: Self-evidence. (2008). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 11 April 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-evidence
[2]: Bertrand Russell: Is the Present King of France Bald? - Yale University Press London Blog. (2013). Yale University Press London Blog. Retrieved 11 April 2019, from https://yalebooksblog.co.uk/2013/05/18/bertrand-russell-is-the-present-king-of-france-bald/
[3]: MIT professor believes we're all living in a computer simulation. (2019). Mail Online. Retrieved 11 April 2019, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6909289/MIT-professor-believes-likely-not-living-computer-simulation.html
[4]: The 58 most commonly misused words and phrases. (2015). The Independent. Retrieved 11 April 2019, from https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/the-58-most-commonly-misused-words-and-phrases-a6754551.html
 




Round 3
Published:
Thank you to my opponent.  We will now move on to rejoinders and we will rebuttal the R2 arguments for each side. 
 


"The present King of France is bald."
Yes.  It's true that Russel said this was false.  I would just like to add to this that the reason that he said it was false is because there are multiple propositions within this statement and they cannot all be addressed the way they are worded.  Therefore, since the current structure assumes a current king of France, the statement must be true because the other propositions are contingent upon it.  

Russel also points out that the question can be structured in such a way as to make it answerable, but it would only be hypothetical.  I have no real problem with this statement.  I just wanted to elaborate as to why it's false. 

Has Pro established that the existence of an unmarried man can not be doubted (i.e. is self-evident in the formal sense; does not require proof to be known to be true 100%)? No, he has not.
Well this is not the same as the king of France problem.  There is no king of France by definition and if somebody were to award somebody the title of king of France, then the fact that he is the king of France would be self evident.   A bachelor and an unmarried man are logically equivalent.  That's why it's used as the token tautology because it's intuitive and it demonstrates why tautologies have to be true when they apply to reality,  Furthermore, a man being a bachelor is contingent upon him being an unmarried man.  The term man is also a tautology and so is unmarried.  All of these things are true by definition and are metaphysically true when they apply to reality.  Since we can frame this to reality, we get logical congruence.  Since reality is consistent, this congruence is undeniable.  One could argue that our image isn't intrinsic, but since it's congruent, we know that what we see directly correlates to reality. 

While it is unlikely, it is nonetheless possible that we are wrong about what we think something means actually means. Harvard Cognitive Psychologist and language development expert Steven Pinker in his book “The Sense of Style”, for example, outlined several examples
It doesn't matter what somebody else means.  I can know what I mean and therefore my knowledge can be metaphysically justified internally.  After that, it's just a matter of matching the definitions.  Somebody else might have a different meaning for the word existence.  But once I flesh out the properties of existence as they see them, I can match it to mine and see where they overlap.  Then I can take the left of pieces and ask what they would call them.  It's like translating from English to Spanish except I'm translating from Ralphian English into Not Ralphian English.  As long as their is logical congruence.  Then we can match each other's truths. 

While it is true that in everyday life people trust that they know what they’re saying and that it is correct, we are at least some times mistaken about what we believe the things we “know the meaning of” actually mean.
Ahh, but you said SOMETIMES we're mistaken.  This implies that sometimes we're not.  I only have to know one thing to break into the rest of reality.  I might not be able to know every single thing in the universe.  But there are things in the universe that I can know every single thing about. 


Mental disorders (e.g. about 1% of the population is affected by schizophrenia), memory loss, hallucinations, and even simple mistakes occur on a regular basis.
Ahh, this comes back to the whole "human perception is wrong" concept.  Why does nobody ever ask HOW it's wrong?  Because that matters.  Is it consistently wrong?  is it congruently wrong?  Is it randomly wrong?   The answer is the first two.  A mental disorder does not make you unable to view reality.  Rather it changes your perception of PARTS of your reality and it does it in a consistent and congruent way.  The fact that we can detect mental disorders means we can know when our perception is messed up.  Since we can detect when it's wrong, that means we have to know it's right sometimes.  If it was always wrong in such a way where we can't know things, then people could never know that reality was wrong because that would have to be something that you know.   The very act of rejecting reality is a contradiction which makes it self evident. 


P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983 & self-evidence).
P3: Pro’s example is based on human reasoning.
C: Pro’s example can not be known to be 100% true.
I agree with premise 1.  If there is not foundation, that we can't know anything.  However, there is a foundation.  People can take axioms and these axioms can be justified.  There are different ways of going about it but I use self evidence and most philosophers use properly basic beliefs which yield very similar results to self evidence with the exception that they cannot be metaphysically justified to the 100% degree but this is mostly due to the unsound foundation which is due to poor methodology.  The problem is that vacuous things like solipsism lead to unhealthy levels of skepticism. 


Premise 2 is true, but please note that it doesn't say that human reasoning can ALWAYS be mistaken.  I only have to prove one thing to be 100% true, so this does not stop me from knowing things. 


Premise 3 is true.  However, you're assuming that human reasoning is always false. 

The conclusion does not logically follow from the premises, therefore it's a non sequitur.  P1 actually down not contribute because it does not have a middle term to transfer it.  The second two are connected but you arrived at the wrong conclusion.  The right conclusion is that "Pro's example could be mistaken" which is a fair conclusion that I agree with if I'm only to use these premises.  However, I could add one premise to this and get 100% accuracy by simply adding the premise "The contrary of pro's position is impossible"  then I just have to prove that premise and it goes to my side.  Since an apple cannot not be an apple.  The contrary of an apple is impossible and that's something I can know and therefore I have known something 100% true



I will not make any statements beyond the rebuttal for fairness sake as there will be no more rebuttals for the rest of the debate (after my opponent's next rebuttal of my R2 of course)


I will now make way for my opponent's rebuttal of my R2 and then we'll move to interrogation.  Please refrain from rebutting any R3 statements for the sake of maintaining the format. 


Your floor. 
Published:
“So now we have a priori and a posteriori proof of 2 + 2 = 4.   This counts as a complete induction and therefore is true so that we cannot be wrong.”
“Let's say we take two apples and two more apples and count them to make sure and then put them together and count them again.  Each and every time this happens, we will get 4 apples without fail.  This means it's impossible to be wrong.”
My opponent claims that it is impossible to be wrong in mathematics. Is that claim true? Aside from the fact that we know that not every child gets 100% on their primary school mathematics tests and that debates about mathematics such as “1 and .999 repeating are the same quantity. Exactly equal.” exist on this very website [1], there are other prominent examples of mathematical errors that went unnoticed for several hundred years although they were both cited frequently and believed to be true for a long time. The French Mathematician Marin Mersenne, for example, believed that 2^67 -1 is a prime number. Although Mersenne died in 1648, this was not proven false until 1903, more than 250 years later when Frank Nelson Cole discovered that the factorisation is 193,707,721 multiplied by 761,838,257,287 [2]. The fact that 2 + 2 is quite a simple calculation and that the answer we come up with tends to be 4 does not prove that it is “impossible to be wrong”. Aside from the fact that people do sometimes miscalculate it, and therefore errors can not be excluded entirely, we can also imagine a scenario similar to George Orwell’s 1984, where Winston contemplates whether if everyone believed that 2+2=5, that would make it true and it turns out that after being tortured, Winston did actually believe that 2+2=5 in the end. It is not possible to be absolutely certain that nothing similar has happened to us, while the chance seems extremely low, there is a chance nonetheless.
“Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as "the truth" exists. […] The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, "It never happened"—well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five—well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs […]” - George Orwell
Can we be reasonably certain that 2+2=4? Yes. Can we be absolutely 100% certain that 2+2=4? No, there is a possibility greater than 0.0r% that we are miscalculating 2+2=4, we are falsely believing that 2+2=4 due to brainwashing or similar methods and furthermore, this example does not correspond to reality as Pro has promised: “proving one thing wins it for me but it has to be something non arbitrary “, “I would have to show that the truth applies to the world.”. Pro claims that because we can count 2 apples + 2 apples = 4 apples and that because these apples are real, therefore 2+2=4 corresponds to reality. However, that is similar to saying that the word “Book” is non-arbitrary because we can point to books in the real world. By this definition of “applying to the real world”, it seems impossible to name a single example that would not fit the definition as one could always claim that “X means Y and because a real dictionary says that X means Y, therefore X means Y and X corresponds to reality.”, this is trickery by Pro and even if this line of reasoning were sound, Pro can not exclude the possibility of errors and therefore not be 100% certain that it is true.
 
  • Finally, from my opening argument:
    P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
    P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983 & self-evidence).
    P3: To know that 2+2=4 relies on human reasoning.
    C: 2+2=4 can not be known to be 100%.

Being extremely certain that something is correct is not the same as the possibility of something being incorrect being 0.0r% and furthermore just because something can be shown to be possible to be applied in reality to explain something is not the same as it actually corresponding to reality.
 
Defense of opening argument:
Con makes 5 brief criticisms of my opening argument which will all be refuted:
“So I will start out by first saying that when my opponent says "believable" he actually means "sound’ that means the "unsound" ones are not logical and this is ultimately a strawman for multiple reasons.”
I have never claimed that the “believable” arguments are sound or that the “unbelievable” arguments are unsound. Take argument 3 for example:
Argument 3 – Invalid & believable:
P1: No addictive things are inexpensive.
P2: Some cigarettes are inexpensive.
C: Therefore, some addictive things are not cigarettes.
The argument is “believable” because the conclusion of the argument is something that people easily believe. The argument is nonetheless invalid, as the conclusion does not follow from the premises. My point is that the argument is believed, even though it is invalid and that this shows that human reasoning is at least some times (more than 0 times, which is all I require) mistaken. For an argument to be “sound”, it has to be both valid and the premises must be true. Argument 3 is invalid (as I have pointed out) and the premises are, depending on your interpretation of “expensive”, not true. Therefore, although the argument is classified as “believable”, this has nothing whatever to do with the soundness of the argument, contrary to what my opponent claims and it is most certainly not what I “actually mean”.
 
“First, the point he makes is that people on average believe certain syllogisms when they shouldn't.  This doesn't prove that logic is wrong, but that people are wrong.”
I have never claimed that it shows that logic is wrong, I have, in fact, explicitly referred to it showing that human reasoning can be flawed: “P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983).”. Therefore, Pro’s rebuttal of this claim that I have never made is irrelevant to this debate. In fact, as Pro conceded that this shows that people are wrong, he conceded P2 of my argument. Since P1 of my argument follows from Pro’s definition of knowledge, the conclusion of my deductive argument necessarily follows:
P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983, self-evidence and conceded by Pro).
C1: Everything that is based on human reasoning can not be known to be 100% true.
Therefore, since all human knowledge is based on human reasoning, Pro has conceded that we can not know anything to be 100% true.
 
“Second, the unsound syllogisms do not claim to be logical and that is why they're unsound, they commit non sequiturs and commit what are called formal fallacies.  I will leave a link about categorical syllogisms because that is what he is using.”
“Third, These forms of syllogisms are outdated and most people currently use propositional logic.  This is the key thing that makes it a strawman.  People only use these types of syllogisms for simple and intuitive proofs because it's so easy to fall into non sequiturs as the study has shown.”
Pro’s second and third criticisms attack the same strawman again and are therefore also entirely irrelevant to this debate since claims are refuted that I have never made and on which my argument does not rely. I merely stated that human reasoning is sometimes flawed, which Pro has conceded. My point is precisely that people have accepted claims that are illogical as logical, which is why their reasoning is flawed. I have never made the claim that the study shows that logic is flawed because people accept illogical arguments as logical.
“Fourth, the study is from the 80's and based on a survey, It has nothing to do with logic and ultimately is just a non sequitur to this argument in general. “

Pro states that the study is from the 80s and based on a survey without providing any implications that this may have. He is presumably trying to argue that the study is therefore flawed, this does however not follow. To prove the unreliability of the study, Pro will have to point to methodological flaws, not merely state that it is a few years old. Just because a study is a few years old does not mean that it is inherently flawed and most studies are not disregarded after just a few years. Textbooks such as “Instant Notes in Cognitive Psychology” by Jackie Andrade & Jon May, for example cite the study and furthermore, there are many more recent studies that confirm that human reasoning is at least sometimes mistaken, take Laird (2010), for example [3]. Pro’s claim that “it has nothing to do with logic” becomes difficult to defend as soon as one reads the name of the study: “On the conflict between logic and belief in syllogistic reasoning”.

All five of my opponent’s criticisms attack a straw man, misrepresent what I have said and what the studies have said and Pro has conceded my second premise and because my main opening argument is deductive (if the premises are true, the conclusion must necessarily be true) and the first premise follows from Pro’s definition of knowledge, the conclusion necessarily follows. Pro has therefore accepted my argument.

P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true (from Pro's definition of knowledge: “to know such that we cannot be wrong”- Pro, round 1).
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken (from Evans, Barston and Pollard, 1983, self-evidence and Pro’s concession in round 2: “This [referring to Evans, Barston and Pollard (1983) doesn't prove that logic is wrong, but that people are wrong.”).
P3: All human knowledge is based on reasoning (otherwise it would be irrational and unjustified and thus a belief, rather than knowledge).
C1: Humans can not know anything to be 100% true.


Sources in the comments.
 
 
 









Round 4
Published:
Thank you to my opponent.  On a side note, I appreciate My opponent for sticking to the format as I am trying to make debates that are easier for the voter to follow and more fun to read and I feel like rebuttals get old after round 3.  Let's move on to Interrogation. 


There is no limit on questions but makes sure the opponent has room to provide answers within their character limit.  Usually this isn't a problem unless you get up to 20 or 30 in depth questions.  I'll probably stick to about 10.


1. Do you find your reasoning to be sound? (you personally)

2. Do you think we could survive our reality without knowing at least some things 100%?

3. Do you think there is such a thing as an unhealthy level of skepticism?  If so, what standards should we use to determine where the line is? 

4. Are there times that agnosticism to a certain position can be unjustified? 

5. If there are only two options and one option is impossible, would you agree that the remaining option is 100% true? 

6.  What would it take to convince you that something was 100% true? 

7.  Assuming that something COULD be 100% true.(only hypothetically, this is NOT a concession on your part.)  What would be the proper standards to determine this and why do you think this is the best standard? 

8.  Do you think an opinion can be true of itself? (i.e. it's 100% true that my favorite color is blue)

9.  Do you believe in hypothetical truths?  (i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 hypothetically is true)

10.  Assuming that hypothetical truths were valid (NOT a concession on your part), do you think we could match this truth to reality?  If so, would that make it true and why?   If not then why can't we match it and what does this imply? 




Please try to answer the questions with the most optimism possible.  You don't have to agree with the question obviously but at least try to take the answer to what you believe is the logical conclusion.   




During your next round  please refrain from answering the questions as we will do this in the final round with our closing statements.   

Please post your questions during your next round and then we'll answer and move to closing statements (I'm leaving instructions because this format is unusual and I want to make sure that my opponent's and voters can follow it well)



Your floor and await your questions. 
Published:
1.      Do you think there would be any relevant implications to being 99.99999999999999% certain that something is true, rather than 100%?

2.      Do you believe that all studies that are more than thirty years old and based on surveys should be treated as inconclusive?

3.      Would you agree that my argument can also be presented as:
The argument (for context):
“P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true.
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken.
P3: All human knowledge is based on reasoning (otherwise it’d be irrational and thus not justified).
C1: Humans can not know anything to be 100% true.”

A = Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken., B = Can not be known to be 100% true., C = Human reasoning., D = Human knowledge
P1: A is B.
P2: C is (part of) A.
P3: D is (based on) C.
C: D is B.

4.      How certain are you that 51 is a prime number?
“I don’t think you could get up to 99.99% confidence for assertions like ‘53 is a prime number’. Yes, it seems likely, but by the time you tried to set up protocols that would let you assert 10,000 independent statements of this sort – that is, not just a set of statements about prime numbers, but a new protocol each time – you would fail more than once. Peter de Blanc has an amusing anecdote” (check the link for the anecdote). [1]

5.      Regarding your recent debate about the existence of God, are you 100% certain that God does not exist?

6.      Regarding your other recent debate about objective morality where you wrote: “Some people might make a false moral code (like in a holy book, for instance) and they could "claim" it's morality, but it's not.”, are you 100% certain that Biblical moral codes are false?

7.      Do you think you can be 100% certain that your memories are correct?

8.      Do you accept the Bayesian interpretation of probability, which treats knowledge as a subjective belief, where the possibility of errors (flawed memories, simulation hypothesis, flying spaghetti monster messing with you, etc.) has to be taken into account? [4]

 
 
Since I’ve got enough space here and may not in my final round, I would already like to thank my opponent for the interesting debate and the readers for taking the time to read it and possibly vote.
 
 
[1]: space and games » Infinite Certainty. (2019). Spaceandgames.com. Retrieved 12 April 2019, from http://www.spaceandgames.com/?p=27
[2]: page, M., & Exist, N. (2019). No Gods ExistDebateArt.com. Retrieved 12 April 2019, from https://www.debateart.com/debates/705
[3]: page, M., & Objective, M. (2019). Morality Is ObjectiveDebateArt.com. Retrieved 12 April 2019, from https://www.debateart.com/debates/731
[4]:  Cox, R.T. (1946). "Probability, Frequency, and Reasonable Expectation". American Journal of Physics. 
 
 






Round 5
Published:
Alright lets move on to answers and closing statements. 

1.      Do you think there would be any relevant implications to being 99.99999999999999% certain that something is true, rather than 100%?
Answer:  Sure.  if it's anything under 100% then you can't assign a probability to it.  If I say "I don't know everything about X" then you have no way to know if the thing that you don't know doesn't lead to more things that you don't know.  Therefore, you can't say you know Y percent about it because you don't know how much is left.  Furthermore, it is counterproductive to logic to say we can't know something 100% if we can.  There has to be a point when skepticism ends on a certain piece of knowledge and gives way to the overwhelming evidence.  



2.      Do you believe that all studies that are more than thirty years old and based on surveys should be treated as inconclusive?
Answer: All studies?  No.  But if a study is old, it should be red flagged and tested rigorously based on the time period from which it came.  In reference to your studies from the 80's.  I did not eschew it because it's from the 80's nor did I say it was wrong.  I said that it was a non sequitur because it was not based on knowledge but rather if people accepted the syllogisms as true and my second critique was that the syllogisms that were used are of an outdated variety that is not as common anymore in modern logic.  So in this case, the age of the study actually did make it irrelevant because it does not apply to propositional logic.  However, there are modern analogues of the study that could have been used in it's place to account for this. 



3.      Would you agree that my argument can also be presented as:
The argument (for context):
“P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true.
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken.
P3: All human knowledge is based on reasoning (otherwise it’d be irrational and thus not justified).
C1: Humans can not know anything to be 100% true.”

A = Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken., B = Can not be known to be 100% true., C = Human reasoning., D = Human knowledge
P1: A is B.
P2: C is (part of) A.
P3: D is (based on) C.
C: D is B.
Answer:  It depends.  If you're saying All D is B, then no because A only implies some foundations, not all of them. (it only applies to foundations that can be mistaken as opposed to ones that cannot be mistaken.).  If you say Some D is B. 


4.      How certain are you that 51 is a prime number?
“I don’t think you could get up to 99.99% confidence for assertions like ‘53 is a prime number’. Yes, it seems likely, but by the time you tried to set up protocols that would let you assert 10,000 independent statements of this sort – that is, not just a set of statements about prime numbers, but a new protocol each time – you would fail more than once. Peter de Blanc has an amusing anecdote” (check the link for the anecdote). [1]
I'm assuming you meant 53 because 51 is not a prime number.  If that is what you meant, then 0% because it's not, lol.  

Assuming that 53 is actually a prime number and this isn't a trick, then I can be 100% certain because I can verify it using tautologies.  I can then match it to reality by demonstrating the standards set forth by the tautologies. (I can show that their not divisible into any type of integer except one and itself using rock, apples, etc.)




5.      Regarding your recent debate about the existence of God, are you 100% certain that God does not exist?
If by God, you mean something intelligent that created the universe.  Then yes I am 100% certain because this cannot be accounted for in the model for reality nor is it necessary for reality. 



6.      Regarding your other recent debate about objective morality where you wrote: “Some people might make a false moral code (like in a holy book, for instance) and they could "claim" it's morality, but it's not.”, are you 100% certain that Biblical moral codes are false?
Depends on the moral.  Thou shalt not murder, for instance, is in congruence with an actual moral that humans have via evolution.  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods is not in congruence with any actual morals, so it's a false moral.  


7.      Do you think you can be 100% certain that your memories are correct?
Depends on the memory and the current state of my health.  If it's a factual memory like math, then yes because my memory constantly keeps that updated through practical use.  

For events, my answer is actually no because of the science on memory.  We tend to think of our memories as being libraries that we reference.  But they're actually more like hard drives that can be written over.  Science has shown that the very act of accessing a memory opens it up to be changed.  They did experiments where they take real events in people's lives and add false details and the person works the details into it willing because they don't recall it, so they intuitively think they must have forgot and then it gets added to the "database" as a false memory.  Scary thought.  

However, in the case of things like math.  Each time we access the memory, we're using it the same each time.  Somebody could implant a false math rule though, but we would resist this most times since this memory stays more fresh than the others due to daily use. 




8.      Do you accept the Bayesian interpretation of probability, which treats knowledge as a subjective belief, where the possibility of errors (flawed memories, simulation hypothesis, flying spaghetti monster messing with you, etc.) has to be taken into account? [4]
I accept some flawed memories.  I don't accept the rest because I can logically disprove them.  If a demon was flying over my head it wouldn't matter because my world is consistent which means it's also congruent and that means that the demon cannot make me see reality wrong, but rather in a different language so to speak.  I might eat a cracker but really I'm being stabbed in the face, but it doesn't matter because when I eat the cracker, I get the result I want either way and my fake illusion knowledge translates to the proper action in reality so my knowledge is still useful.

If the demon was giving me inconsistent illusions, then I would notice the inconsistencies, so this is a contradiction and therefore is impossible.  

Also the demon itself is a claim that has it's own burden of proof as well. 


This same logic also follows for similar situations. 

This is actually the reason that I believe skepticism is applied to liberally in modern philosophy.  Solipsism has poisoned the well of philosophy. 




Closing Statement

In summation.  My methodology is to find the proper foundation for knowledge.  Because of the massive body of work done in philosophy.  This foundation is the only piece we need to get a singular piece of metaphysical knowledge. 

My method was to find something that was self evident.  In this case, a tautology and apply it to reality.  I believe this methodology is justified due to the principle of congruence which is to saying that reality is consistent and even if it is wrong, it is consistently wrong.  


Thank you to my opponent for the debate and thanks for anyone who took the time to actually read this top to bottom.  :) 




Published:
 
Although I would love to address my opponent’s answers to my questions, I will not do it for the sake of fairness. Most of his questions have however already been addressed in other parts of my rounds.
 
 
1.      Do you find your reasoning to be sound? (you personally)
 
Yes, I believe my argument:
“P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true.
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken.
P3: All human knowledge is based on reasoning (otherwise it’d be irrational and thus not justified).
C1: Humans can not know anything to be 100% true.”

is a logically valid deductive argument (i.e. the conclusion follows from its premises) and that as P1 has been conceded by you “I agree with premise 1.” (round 2 & again in 3), premise 2 has been conceded as well “Premise 2 is true” (also round 3) and I consider P3 to be true and that therefore the argument is sound (as it is valid and the premises are true) and that therefore the conclusion follows necessarily. Contrary to your claims in prior rounds, the conclusion applies to all human knowledge, as all human knowledge is based on foundations (reasoning, observation, education, etc.) that could potentially be mistaken and therefore from this and P1 (which you have conceded) the conclusion necessarily follows: Humans can not know anything to be 100% true. 
2.      Do you think we could survive our reality without knowing at least some things 100%?
 
I’m quite certain that we not only could but already do. I’m never 100% certain that I’m not dreaming. However, I tend to act as if I were certain whenever I do not have any justified doubt (i.e. if things happen that I believe would be unlikely). I do not think that there is anything that I can be 100% certain of, not even Descartes’ famous “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am) as I come to this conclusion using deduction and I can not rule out that my deduction could be flawed (although it may be very improbable in this case).
 
3.      Do you think there is such a thing as an unhealthy level of skepticism?  If so, what standards should we use to determine where the line is?
 
I think the Bayesian interpretation of probability is very compelling and as long as every belief is justified (e.g. it is difficult to justify belief in the existence of the flying spaghetti monster, less difficult to justify belief in Jesus’ historical existence and easily justifiable believing in Obama’s existence), I think scepticism is acceptable. If scepticism is based on insufficient justification (e.g. “The world is not spinning because I do not feel it moving), then it becomes unhealthy or as Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine refers to it “pseudoskepticism”.
 
4.      Are there times that agnosticism to a certain position can be unjustified? 


I think my answer to 3 answers this partly. While I think being 100% certain about anything is not possible due to our human fallibility (flawed memory, prone to bias, etc.), we can be reasonably certain about most things and that can justify acting on these beliefs.
 
5. If there are only two options and one option is impossible, would you agree that the remaining option is 100% true? 

No, I would agree that it is very likely to be true, possibly 99.9%. However, because there is at least a 0.00000000000000000000…1% probability that I could be making an error by assuming the law of excluded middle, I simply can not claim that it is 100% true. For all I know, I could be in a simulation, a lunatic or dreaming, it is impossible to entirely exclude it, therefore 100% certainty is not possible.

 
6.  What would it take to convince you that something was 100% true? 
 
If there was an infallible being, then it could know something to be 100% true, fallibility, unfortunately, makes that impossible though.
 
7.  Assuming that something COULD be 100% true. (only hypothetically, this is NOT a concession on your part.)  What would be the proper standards to determine this and why do you think this is the best standard? 
 
To ask an infallible being whether it is true. How you would determine whether a being is infallible is another question though.
 
8.  Do you think an opinion can be true of itself? (i.e. it's 100% true that my favorite color is blue)
 
When I was a child I used to think that my favourite colour is orange, because that is the colour of the sun. It turns out my favourite colour was actually yellow, and I just didn’t understand that yellow and orange weren’t the same colour. Human fallibility excludes 100% certainty even in these regards.
 
9.  Do you believe in hypothetical truths?  (i.e. 2 + 2 = 4 hypothetically is true)
 
Pro confirmed over private messages that hypothetical truths refer to “metaphysical reality” and gave me permission to reveal this part of our conversation in the debate and also confirmed that the 2+2=4 refers to Pro's apple example from round 2. The 2+2=4 example has been extensively addressed in my third round and in my “How certain are you that 51 is a prime number” anecdote.
 
10.  Assuming that hypothetical truths were valid (NOT a concession on your part), do you think we could match this truth to reality?  If so, would that make it true and why?   If not then why can't we match it and what does this imply? 
 
I have discussed whether I believe Pro’s example from round 2 that 2 apples and 2 apples making 4 apples in an example of “matching the abstract to reality” by pointing out that in this context arbitrary would be a meaningless term as one could match any word to reality by simply pointing out that it is used by humans or that it is written down in a dictionary in reality. That does however not make it a non-arbitrary part of reality, it remains a tool that is used to explain parts of reality.
 
 
 
In conclusion:
I believe I have successfully argued that 100% certainty about human knowledge is not possible due to human fallibility (proneness to biases, deduction errors, memory failures, etc.) and that the Bayesian interpretation of probability treats human knowledge as subjective based on the possibility (even if it is extremely low in some instances) of mistakes. Furthermore, my opponent has conceded both P1 and P2 of my argument, P3 is self-evident and even if one argued that “observation & education” are not instances of reasoning (although I believe they are at the very least implicit reasoning as if one asked a person “Why do you know this to be true?” they would respond with reasons which imply that they knew it follows from these which points to reasoning again), they are also instances of fallible foundations of knowledge. As the argument is a deductive argument, the conclusion necessarily follows:
 
“P1: Everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true.
P2: Human reasoning can be mistaken.
P3: All human knowledge is based on reasoning (otherwise it’d be irrational and thus not justified).
C1: Humans can not know anything to be 100% true.”
 
Pro’s criticisms of this argument have been addressed in round 3 and all 5 arguments, which mostly attacked the study that I have cited as evidence that human reasoning is at least sometimes mistaken, have been refuted and a more recent study (Laird, 2010) which backs up the same point has been presented as well. Furthermore, Pro conceded that human reasoning can be mistaken in both round 2 and round 3 and conceded that everything that is based on foundations that can be mistaken can not be known to be 100% true in round 3.
 





Thank you for this debate and clarifying questions 9 and 10 over pm, Ralph. I enjoyed the format and the questions have been an interesting part of the debate.
 
 





Added:
--> @PsychometricBrain
yes to debating soon, tho I don't like my chances. I'm thinking about "Hannibal lost Carthage at Cannae," "Humanity should colonize the Moon before Mars," maybe another autonomous vehicle debate with a narrower focus. What's yer chew?
#31
Added:
--> @oromagi
Cheers Oromagi, I'm sure you'll be in the top 5 in no time, looking forward to debating you some time soon and I hope you're not beating me too badly in the voting competition ;)
Contender
#30
Added:
--> @PsychometricBrain
Congrats, PB, on top 5 silver
#29
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
I'd also appreciate a vote from you
Contender
#28
Added:
--> @Ragnar
You've given me helpful feedback in the past on DDO, I'd really appreciate a vote from you on this one.
Contender
#27
Added:
--> @Ramshutu
First vote :D
#26
Added:
--> @PsychometricBrain
I'm watching a youtube series on skepticism so I'm feeling the depth of this debate right now, lol
Instigator
#25
Added:
--> @Wrick-It-Ralph
I agree, I believe we went through the important points on both sides of the debate
Contender
#24
Added:
--> @PsychometricBrain
good debate
Instigator
#23
Added:
--> @PsychometricBrain
I like the questions. This should be fun. :)
Instigator
#22
Added:
I meant to say "C: 2+2=4 can not be known to be 100% true." in round 2, not "C: 2+2=4 can not be known to be 100%."
Contender
#21
Added:
Round 2 Sources::
[1]: page, M., & Exa..., 1. (2018). 1 and .999 repeating are the same quantity. Exactly equal.. DebateArt.com. Retrieved 12 April 2019, from https://www.debateart.com/debates/130
[2]: The Existential Risk of Math Errors - Gwern.net. (2019). Gwern.net. Retrieved 12 April 2019, from https://www.gwern.net/The-Existential-Risk-of-Mathematical-Error
[3]: (2019). Mentalmodels.princeton.edu. Retrieved 12 April 2019, from http://mentalmodels.princeton.edu/papers/2010mms%26human-reasoning.pdf
Contender
#20
Added:
What does votes have to do with the validity of knowledge? isn't that just subjective?
Instigator
#19
Added:
Because Evans, Barston and Pollard (1983) shows why votes on debates are often incomprehensibly irrational (as people's biases - whether they agree with the conclusion - has a highly signficant effect on whether arguments are accepted/considered valid). You seem like you'd be interested in finding out more about people's decision-making process while voting on your debates.
Contender
#18
Added:
--> @RationalMadman
The User PsychometricBrain ("I") has the impression ("feel like") that the user RationalMadman ("you") would find PB's opening argument enjoyable (would dig my round 1)...
Contender
#17
#3
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
My congratulations to both sides for a well-contested, well-pondered, well-written debate.
Epistemology gets so abstract so quickly that this voter leans hard on good examples to better understand principles. I wanted three good examples of indisputable truths and Pro only gave us one entirely unsuitable example in the first round:
B+C=A
man + unmarried = bachelor
Of course, divorcees and widowers are unmarried but not bachelors. This single example is so awkwardly, manifestly so often not true that it weakens Pro's authority going forward and Con's case by responding to it.
This voter far preferred Con's reframing "Pro will try to provide at least one example of knowledge that is impossible to doubt as it necessarily can not be false. I, on the other hand, am going to disprove any such examples and will win unless at least one example stands by the end of the debate." Pro agrees and I'm glad because these are rules I can parse with my feeble little brain.
Con offered one solid example of the imperfection of human reason. The first syllogism of Con's conclusion seems adequate, the second syllogism is both weaker and redundant. Not all human knowledge is based on reason (experience is often knowledge without reason, intuition is definitionally knowledge without reason, know-how vs. know-to, etc) and Pro's P3 also curiously separates knowledge from belief... isn't all knowledge a subset of belief? Is there really something we might know to be true that we don't also conditionally believe to be true? Isn't the distortion of belief the primary cause for the human fallibility on which Con's case depends?
Pro improves his prospects by upgrading his tautological example to 2+2=4. A marked improvement. Con falls back on Descartes- is 2+2=4 verifiably true beyond human perception? No, all human knowledge is filtered through human perceptions and subject to human distortion.
Pro's questions were pretty philosophical and didn't offer much that might shake Con's conclusion.
Con's questions aptly elicited examples of human fallibility- misunderstanding the joke of 51, Pro's 100% certainty of god's non-existence vs the human majority's faith in god. I frown on Con's citation of Pro's arguments from other debates- I don't think it harmed any argument here but we should refrain from dangerous precedents.
Going by Con's frame (one indubitable example), 2+2=4 was Pro's best shot. But even 2+2=4 is not provable beyond the range of fallible human sense, which Con has aptly demonstrated.
Arguments to Con but both debaters should take satisfaction in the quality of argument here.
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
My reading of this resolution boils down to tautology.
IE: that you can define things or use mathematic proofs to make a logically true statement. I don’t see much of a difference between the two points.
Con rebuttal was ok - in that it very much rules out knowing anything about the universe or outside our own experiences for true - by arguing that humans reasoning is inherently faulty - but it completely misses the logically tautological.
Pros rebuttal here points out the issue with cons human reasoning argument - that it’s very specific to the individuals. That one human could make faulty logic but doesn’t mean others are wrong - but it doesn’t introduce a very interesting question:
How do you know that your view of a price of knowledge being 100% is true or not - if we know we have faulty reasoning?
I feel pro actually misses this point in his rebuttal.
In cons second round. He hits this home harder - how do we know our certainty isn’t due to mental disorder or faulty logic (like scizophrenia)?
Redundantly - he attempts to question the nature of statements of existence: we may know a fact is true - but given that truth is predicated on existence, if that is not certain, the inherent truth is not certain either. I don’t think this was a particularly strong case. It seems too specific - ie i don’t know how it applies to a wider set of examples.
Pro continues by pointing out the logical issue with the king of France examples, and explains why tautologies don’t suffer from this same issue.
There’s more back and forward on this part as the debate progresses, but imo is really overshadowed by the two real issues that spill out.
The questions, I read : but don’t seem particularly useful or elaborative.
So: basically, the entire argument boils down to whether we can be certain of what is in our own brains. I believe con introduced an amazing doubt - which I was not expecting him to - about whether what we, personally perceive is True or not. I agree that a tautology may not be truly tautology, I could just be mentally ill and think it is. No matter how unlikely, the chance is not 0% - so this point goes to con.
I could have covered most of the arguments in more depth, but for this point - it uniquely undermines every logical point pro raised: if I cannot be 100% certain that I am not insane and everything is an illusion of my own irrationality, repeatable though it may be - I cannot be certain of anything.
As a result: arguments to con. All other points tied.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
You guys write so much that it’s so hard to vote on it, haha, but here I go
Arguments
I found nothing wrong with either of the opening statements, so I am focusing on each of the rebuttals and rejoinders. I am ignoring the interrogation questions because they didn’t really pertain to the debate and I have a life I need to get back to.
Ok, so Pro hinged a lot of his arguments on tautologies, mathematics, and things that are objectively true. His main one was that a bachelor is unmarried. Con’s main rebuttals to this was that we cannot always know everything to be 100% because human reasoning is flawed, and also that reality itself could be flawed. The former was completely rebutted when Pro said “Ahh, but you said SOMETIMES we're mistaken. This implies that sometimes we're not. I only have to know one thing to break into the rest of reality.” He only needed to prove at least 1 thing to be 100% true, so he invalidated the flawed knowledge argument with this statement.
The latter rebuttal from Con would have proved sufficient if the argument depended on reality being reliable. However, this position was never established by either side. Because everyone of that, Pro was able to fall back on simply the definitions and terms “man” and “unmarried” being true, and “bachelor” being logically equivalent to “unmarried.”
The only other contention was that we can’t know mathematics to be 100% true. However, Pro’s main truth (that a bachelor is an unmarried man) did not rely on mathematics at all, but rather just logical equivalency.
The rest of the debate descended into a lot of unnecessary rambling about the exact same subjects.
I’m awarding arguments to Pro because he did a spectacular job of defending his points.
Sources
I’m giving Con sources because he was able to show real world examples of the concepts he was explaining, such as the king of France is bald one and the survey that showed human reasoning is flawed. They really helped to further his points and show how we’ve done some of the things that he mentioned in real life.
Good job to both debaters. :)
*Tied In All Other Categories*