Happy September!!

Happy September!!

Good afternoon! Bellringer: The astronomer Carl Sagan said extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence What did he mean by this? Do you agree? Chapter 1 Overview The world is a confusing and contradictory place. How do we make sense of all the

confusing and contradictory beliefs? The world is, in fact, far larger than our personal worlds 3 Possible Solutions to the Problem of Knowledge Common Sense Certainty Relativism

Common Sense Our common sense probably contains inaccuracies and biases that we are not aware of. Common sense consists of beliefs that can be based on prejudice, hearsay and blind appeals. Hearsay: unverified, unofficial information gained

or acquired from another and not part of ones direct knowledge. (Examples: gossip or rumors) Our Mental Map Mental Map: our ideas of what is true and what is false, what is reasonable and what is unreasonable, what is right and what is wrong, etc Our mental maps may give us a distorted picture of reality

Our ideas and beliefs come from many sources our own experience, parents, friends, teachers, books and the media It is possible that there are inaccuracies in some of this knowledge, since we dont always have the chance to check up on some information. Paradox of Cartography There is no such thing as a perfect map. A perfect map

would be useless, because it would be life-sized. Certainty It has often been thought that certainty is what distinguishes knowledge from mere belief. Certainty: The idea here is that when you know something you are certain that it is true and have no

doubts about it. Belief: When you merely believe it, you may think it is true, but you are Looking at 4 Ways of Knowing Language I know because somebody told me, but maybe. Perception I know because my 5 senses inform me, but maybe

Reason I know because it is logical, but maybe Emotion I know because my heart/moral compass guides me, but maybe * We acquire knowledge about the world through language, perception, reason and emotion, but none

of these ways of knowing can give us certainty. Radical doubt Do we truly exist? What is the utility of radical doubt? Are some areas of knowledge more certain than others? Relativism

there is no such thing as absolute truth that exists in an objective way independent of what anyone happens to believe is true. truth is relative (truth may be different for different individuals or for different cultures) * According to relativism, truth is relative to the individual; but the fact that we take seriously the idea that someone may be wrong in their beliefs

suggests that relativism is false. E.g. Is the earth flat? Judgement Since we live in a world with few black and white certainties, we must rely more on judgement than proof in deciding what to believe. Good judgement is the ability to balance

scepticism with open-mindedness E.g. Aliens visiting Earth at some point Gullibility We should cultivate a healthy scepticism as an antidote to intellectualand financial gullibility If you are too gullible, you will find plenty of charlatans and hucksters

out there who will be only too willing to relieve you of your money Gullibility scenario: Someone approaches you asking for some change for bus fare. What do you do? The Danger of Scepticism If were too sceptical, then we

run the risk of halting intellectual progress and knowledge will stagnate E.g Continental drift first proposed in 1912, guffawed at, resurrected in 1960s Reasonable Knowledge In determining if a knowledge

claim is reasonable, we need Evidence There should be some positive evidence supporting the claim Also we need to look for counterevidence Reasonable Knowledge, contd. Coherence Does the claim fit in with our

current understanding of things? We must examine our doubts of a belief one at a time extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence argument ad ignorantiam The fact that you cant prove that something isnt true, doesnt make it true

Examples: Since you cannot prove that ghosts do not exist, they must exist. Since scientists cannot prove that global warming will occur, it probably won't. Fred said that he is smarter than Jill, but he didn't prove it, so it must be false. Why do beliefs matter? Do people have the right to believe what

they want to believe? Are some beliefs more worthy of respect than others? Why do beliefs matter, contd.? Our beliefs define who we are Our beliefs can affect our actions, or what others do to us (e.g. being executed for heresy or witchcraft)

Some beliefs are misguided and dangerous, e.g. cigarettes and gummy bears What other examples can you think of? Chapter 1 Conclusion Knowledge is not static; it has a history and is ever evolving Three possible solutions to the problem of knowledge that each have limitations

Common Sense Certainty Relativism Problem of knowledge has no easy solution, so we must use judgement in trying to decide what to believe

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