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Old 10-09-2008, 12:20 AM   #22
Achilles
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I think that, for an extremely large amount of cases, this is true. However, there are some things that can be factually true without relying on observation; that is, definitions.
We might have to agree to disagree here. I would argue that definitions are subjective. Take a look at how many examples we have of words in one language that don't have accurate translations in another and I think you'll see my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Bahnsen's argument is based on defining certain things - universals, like logic, morality, etc - such as they require God in order to understand.
Indeed he was quite good about positioning the argument in such a way as to shield it from any serious counter-arguments. This is common practice amongst people arguing a certain religious position.

"Please tell me how X is possible, but don't dare bring up A, B, C, or D. Oh and assume that Y is true and you're not allowed to point out that it isn't."

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
See above, on definitions. Additionally, there is a tendency to use the scientific method as an end-all way of coming to The Truth(tm), which I commented on with a note on Ayer, Popper and Feyerabend. I think it's important to keep in mind that not all knowledge is scientific, nor does it need to have a litmus test applied to it to make sure we really do know it.
Again, we'll have to agree to disagree. Anything objective can and should be able to survive the scientific method.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
An art critic might know what a splash of paint means without having a theory which he uses to identify a particular case.
This is subjective though. Poor example for the point, imo.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I can even know what a stranger intends to do without needing to see him do it (except in extraordinary circumstances), if he tells me.
And I would argue that this is only possible due to observation.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
We can be wrong about knowing something, but that's not a problem. In fact, that's often what distinguishes knowing from believing.
And how do we determine our error if not through observation?

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'm afraid I must not have been very clear. Sorry!

Anyways, I don't think that 2+2=4 is true because we think that way. It's true that 2+2=4 is confirmed by observation, but the generality of the equation is not justified by those observations (this is part of Bahnsen's argument, actually). However, the proposition 2+2=4 is a part of our language and used in a certain way within it, and that use is intertwined with how we can talk about it. So, if an alien were to come and learn how we use it - see the context in which we apply it - then they'd know what we meant by 2+2=4. It's universal in that anyone who uses our methods of solving mathematical problems will inevitably come up with 4 as the answer to 2+2. Of course, there's no warranty for the results coming from anyone using some other method!
At the risk of sounding contrarian, I think I'm going to have to disagree once again. An alien species might have other words for "two", "plus", "equals", and "four", however I find it very difficult to believe that the idea itself would be in any way, shape, or form, foreign to them.

Let's change the example just slightly. Suppose we were tasked to sit down and have a discussion with an alien race about the process of nuclear fussion. Their understanding might be superior to our own or vice versa, but I have no doubt whatsoever that they would have terms for "hydrogen", "helium", "nuclei", etc.

And I am also willing to argue that they learned about those things via observation, etc, just as we have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
Sure. I'd been itching to write something long and frightening for a while now.
I'm always pleased when you do.

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Originally Posted by Samuel Dravis View Post
I'm curious why you would both say it was a strawman fallacy within the context of the debate. Stein responded to Bahnsen's statement which you (Arcesious) quoted with this: <snip>
He took the argument that was made, replaced it with an analogy of "crackers in a pantry" (the strawman), and then proceeded to attempt to discount that argument (strawman fallacy).

Stein (via your quote) argues that factual questions can be answered with the use of reason, logic, and evidence. Bahnsen ignored the "reason" and "logic" part and just based his counterargument on "evidence" (and didn't do a very good job of it, imo).
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