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Two Different Types of Certainty?

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From Betsy Speicher's post #111 of the "Judging Other People" thread:

I think it is necessary to distinguish between two different concepts both denoted by the word "certainty."

C1 is what is called 100% certainty, absolute certainty, or something that could not be otherwise without contradiction.

C2 refers conclusions that may or may not be C1, but have such a high degree of probability that they are considered conclusive because they have met the epistemological standard of proof for the particular class of entities that are the subject of the conclusion. This is what I think you mean by conclusions having "full evidentiary support."

Betsy's post brings up some important questions. Are there two different types of certainty? Are there proper grounds for such a distinction?

At best, her approach represents a confusion about the term "certainty." To be fair to Betsy, she is claiming that this confusion already exists, and that her distinction is an attempt to clarify it.

I disagree. I believe the confusion is Betsy's. As I stated in the same thread quoted above, in reply to one of her earlier posts:

While I acknowledge the existence of degrees of possibility, I do not acknowledge degrees of certainty. One is either certain or he isn't. A claim to certainty must fulfill a set of epistemological requirements, and if it fulfills those requirements it must be treated as an absolute within a specified context.

And from the same post:

I believe that [betsy's post] implies that there is such a thing as "metaphysical certainty," as opposed to "epistemological certainty," and that one can be more certain of things which, if they were otherwise, would be "metaphysically impossible." I know it is common for people to distinguish between metaphysical and epistemological possibility, but I believe this is misleading terminology. "Possible," "probable," and "certain" are epistemological concepts that have meaning only in the realm of epistemology.

There is a lot more that can be said on this topic, and I may write more later, but I wanted to create a new thread to focus on this important topic.

--Dan Edge

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Without scrutinizing the other thread, I am uncertain how to interpret the definitions above. I am going to guess that the second interpretation is correct.

First interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we can corroborate our claims through a deductive logical proof.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we can corroborate our claims through sound inductive reasoning. That is, consistent with our entire present context of our knowledge and we have a sound causal explanation that eliminates all alternatives.

Second interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we can corroborate our claims through either noncontradictory identification or sound inductive reasoning, as detailed above.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we have supporting evidence but we lack a sound causal explanation.

Edited by DarkWaters
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Certainty is a single concept meaning freedom from doubt. There are different ways to arrive at certainty, depending on the nature of the proposition.

A conclusion is either certain or it isn't. There are no degrees of certainty, any more than there are degrees of arbitrariness, or degrees of impossibility.

To split certainty into greater and lesser certainty does real violence to the concept "certainty" and to human cognition. The only way there can be two different kinds of certainty is for one to include doubt while the other remains doubtless.

Certainty is not a shade of grey to be contrasted with other shades of certainty; it is solid white, with no variations.

Edited by Seeker
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I agree with Seeker: certainty is certainty, no matter how you arrive at it.

What may vary is how clearly delimited the context is in which your knowledge is applicable. For example, you may know that water boils at 212 degrees, but do you also know that at different altitudes the boiling point will be different--i.e. are you aware that the context of your knowledge is limited to near-sea-level altitudes? If you arrived at your knowledge of "water boils at 212 degrees" using proper rules of induction, then your knowledge is true and you may rightly call it certain--but until you discover the exact boundaries of the context in which it is true, you cannot just go to any place, boil some water there and be certain that it will boil at 212 degrees.

Thus, while what's certain is always certain, its application to a particular case may itself be either certain or just probable. (So it is precisely the deduction that may in some cases bring in some uncertainty.)

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Certainty is a single concept meaning freedom from doubt.
My personal opinion of Peikoff's greatest contribution to not just Objectivism but hard-core philosophy is OPAR ch. 5. His explication of the nature of the concept "certain" is not just good, it is outstanding, and this is really the summary statement of the central epistemological issue -- "certainty" is freedom from doubt. In the context of OPAR, this clearly does not refer to the "feeling" of doubt, because "feeling" is not a valid tool for cognition. Seeker has repeatedly expressed his grasp of this point, and I urge all others to focus on OPAR ch. 5 and this one summary clause.
There are different ways to arrive at certainty, depending on the nature of the proposition.
Uh, well, depending on the nature of reality, and the proposition about it that you are expressing.
A conclusion is either certain or it isn't.
For those interested in the topic, I'd also suggest looking closely at OPAR ch. 5, and the distinction between "I am certain..." vs. "The conclusion is certain" -- feeling versus fact. Edited by DavidOdden
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One good starting point may be to ask: why do we need a concept like certainity in the first place?
A good starting point indeed. Man's existence depends on distinguishing fact from false. The only means that man has for making that distinction is reason, thus we cannot demand magical "correspondence with reality" which has no connection to the notion of evidence, i.e. aspects of reality and how they connect to man's cognition. It is important to know what conclusions can be fully relied on, if arrived at logically, and which conclusions can often be relied -- we need to know when we can't rely on particular conceptual-level conclusions. "Certainty" then tells us how to direct our efforts. When a conclusion is certain, and assuming rational evaluation, then we need not make contingency plans just in case we hadn't looked into the issue deep enough. The concept "certainty" says that it is actually possible to know something, and not just "really, really, really strongly think it is true.
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From Betsy Speicher's post #111 of the "Judging Other People" thread:Betsy's post brings up some important questions. Are there two different types of certainty? Are there proper grounds for such a distinction? At best, her approach represents a confusion about the term "certainty." To be fair to Betsy, she is claiming that this confusion already exists, and that her distinction is an attempt to clarify it.

That's correct. I was describing common usage and also usage in the discussions here.

Personally, I only want to use the term "certainty" to apply to something that is known to be absolutely, 100% true such that denying it would involve a contradiction. Anything less I might call "conclusive" or "highly probable" but not "certain."

The problem is that I am discussing issues with people who use "certainty" in both the C1 and C2 sense and sometimes switch between the two meanings in mid-argument, so I have to make an issue of it for the sake of clarity.

Edited by Betsy
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Without scrutinizing the other thread, I am uncertain how to interpret the definitions above. I am going to guess that the second interpretation is correct.

First interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we can corroborate our claims through a deductive logical proof.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we can corroborate our claims through sound inductive reasoning. That is, consistent with our entire present context of our knowledge and we have a sound causal explanation that eliminates all alternatives.

Second interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we can corroborate our claims through either noncontradictory identification or sound inductive reasoning, as detailed above.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we have supporting evidence but we lack a sound causal explanation.

Third interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we have a sound causal explanation that reduces to a tautology.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we have supporting evidence but we lack a sound causal explanation.

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Personally, I only want to use the term "certainty" to apply to something that is known to be absolutely, 100% true such that denying it would involve a contradiction. Anything less I might call "conclusive" or "highly probable" but not "certain."

If you really only want to use one, then I would think that doing so would be your best course of action.

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Betsy's view that there are two kinds of certainty is completely wrong, and also philosophically dangerous. Her views are almost indistinguishable from mainstream philosophical ideas about certainty, and are inconsistent with the Objectivist view. The reasons she cites for her views have also been refuted countless times in the Objectivist literature, particularly in Dr. Peikoff's lecture courses.

Betsy says:

C1 is what is called 100% certainty, absolute certainty, or something that could not be otherwise without contradiction.

C2 refers conclusions that may or may not be C1, but have such a high degree of probability that they are considered conclusive because they have met the epistemological standard of proof for the particular class of entities that are the subject of the conclusion. This is what I think you mean by conclusions having "full evidentiary support."

However, it is simply incorrect to make a distinction between a certainty whose denial would be self-contradictory, and certainty which has merely "full evidentiary support." If a conclusion is supported by all of the evidence demanded by a standard of proof, then it would require self-contradiction—of some of that evidence—to deny it.

It is not the case that a conclusion that has "full evidentiary support" merely has high probability. To say a conclusion has high probability implies that there is still a possibility of error. But as Betsy knows, claims of possibility also require evidence. If none of the relevant evidence supports the possibility that a conclusion is wrong, the conclusion is certain.

Of course, sometimes it happens that a claim is supported by all of the relevant evidence, but it still turns out to be false. But as Dr. Peikoff and Dr. Binswanger have discussed in multiple places, in particular in "The Art of Thinking" (LP) and "The Metaphysics of Consciousness" (HB), claims can be certain but still be wrong. "Possibility," "probability" and "certainty" are all epistemological concepts which we need to describe the continuum of evidence.

With that in mind, it is useful to look at the examples Betsy gives of the kinds of things she would call absolutely certain:

My view is that one can have C1 about axioms, sense perception, and many conclusions derived and inferred from sense perception using rules of logic to preserve identity throughout.

Sorry, Betsy, but you're wrong here on several counts. Once again, all of this is covered in various Peikoff lectures. It is a misapplication of the concept "certain" to call the data of the senses "certain." Sensory perception is the "given," the infallible foundation of our knowlege. But it is a category error to call perception "certain." "Certainty" applies only to the kinds of conclusions that require validation by stages of evidence—it does not apply to the evidence itself. We already have a term for the data of the senses and the axioms: "self-evident." "Certainty" is not the same concept.

Also, it's true that deductive conclusions are easier to show to be certain than inductive conclusions, because they involve a mechanical procedure. But there can be mistakes in deductive argument, also, so there is room for a distinction between deductive conclusions that are certain and those which are not. So you're right that deductive conclusions can be certain, but it's not because they uniquely "preserve identity." Inductive arguments do, as well. To contradict the idea that all men are mortal is to contradict an important fact about the identity of men, not an essential fact, but still a real fact. To say that there is a difference in content between "all men are mortal" and "A is A" is a blatant invocation of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy.

This, at least, is what I understand to be the Objectivist view. If Betsy or anyone else disagrees with the Objectivist view, that's fine, but they should admit it.

Edited by noumenalself
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Third interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we have a sound causal explanation that reduces to a tautology.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we have supporting evidence but we lack a sound causal explanation.

Why is this different from the second interpretation?

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Third interpretation:

The certainty denoted by C1 means we have a sound causal explanation that reduces to a tautology.

The certainty denoted by C2 means we have supporting evidence but we lack a sound causal explanation.

Tautology is an anti-concept: the nihilistic attempt to transform knowledge into non-knowledge. A is A is decidedly not a tautology; and if that isn't, then there isn't anything else in the world that is.

A causal explanation is an explanation from the identities of the things involved. We have two means of gathering so-called supporting evidence. First, conceptual integration of the identities of the things involved. This is fundamentally the same thing as an outright causal explanation. Second, statistical correlation, or in the vulgar, seeing patterns. This is a nudge to the observer to go out and try to look for the identities of the things involved and come up with an outright causal explanation. But simply seeing patterns on its own does not, in any way whatsoever, imply certainty.

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If a conclusion is supported by all of the evidence demanded by a standard of proof, then it would require self-contradiction—of some of that evidence—to deny it.

Not true, it may be done with arbitrary speculation.

"There are no intelligent space aliens" is supported by all the evidence we have (we have not detected life native to anywhere but Earth, much less intelligent life).

"There could be intelligent space aliens in some part of the galaxy we still didn't observe!" does not contradict any of that evidence, but denies the first statement.

So, are you certain there are no intelligent space aliens?

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Not true, it may be done with arbitrary speculation.

"There are no intelligent space aliens" is supported by all the evidence we have (we have not detected life native to anywhere but Earth, much less intelligent life).

"There could be intelligent space aliens in some part of the galaxy we still didn't observe!" does not contradict any of that evidence, but denies the first statement.

So, are you certain there are no intelligent space aliens?

I don't know if I'm going to want to get into an extended discussion on this, but just a few things:

The first proposition to look to is the one asserting the existence of something, not one denying it. So the question is, what evidence is there to support "There are intelligent space aliens." Currently there is no (credible) evidence. It's reversing things to say we have lots of evidence for the denial of this proposition.

Here's what I mean when I say that a conclusion judged to be certain could be denied only through self-contradiction. Suppose we take the conclusion "All men are mortal." If someone denied this, they would need to ignore many items of knowledge, included the fact that we have known many who have died, the fact that there is an observable process of decay with aging, the fact that we don't know anyone over 100 (or whatever) years old, etc.

The contradiction would look like this, in effect: "Maybe some men are immortal, even though all of the evidence points in the other direction." Since "maybe" is a term used to indicate possibility, and this requires evidence, the person is in effect saying "There is some evidence that some men are immortal, and all of our evidence says they aren't." That's a contradiction.

You're right that arbitrary claims can also be used to challenge claims. They are just ways of generating the kind of "maybe" I mention above that contradicts all of the evidence we actually have.

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I am 100% certain that, within the context of my knowledge, there is no intelligent alien life. I am as certain of this fact as I am of the Law of Identity.

Perhaps Marc or Betsy or someone else would take this issue up in the Debate forum.

--Dan Edge

Edited by dan_edge
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mrocktor wrote:

"There are no intelligent space aliens" is supported by all the evidence we have (we have not detected life native to anywhere but Earth, much less intelligent life).

In addition to what noumenalself already pointed out:

"All the evidence we have" is not necessarily the same as "all of the evidence demanded by a standard of proof" -- which is what noumenalself originally (and correctly) said. For example, in a murder case, if the prosecution has established opportunity (but nothing has been said that speaks to motive or means) it'd be completely wrong to conclude that the defendant is guilty simply because "all the evidence we have" points in that direction. It's possible for all the evidence available to point toward a certain conclusion, and yet still for the evidence to be insufficient to warrant that conclusion.

Of course, for "intelligent space aliens exist" (let alone "there aren't any") the relevant standard for certainty is less clear than it is for the murder example (and even there, "motive, means, and opportunity" is only schematic). So there is maybe some room for reasonable disagreement on that particular question (though I don't think anyone on this thread actually cares about that).

On the other hand, I don't think this comment by Dan Edge is reasonable:

I am 100% certain that, within the context of my knowledge, there is no intelligent alien life. I am as certain of this fact as I am of the Law of Identity.

This represents a misunderstanding of the role of "context" in Objectivist epistemology. The point of saying that "knowledge is contextual" is emphatically not to convert all statements about reality ("there is no intelligent alien life") into statements about one's current level of knowledge ("I don't currently know of any intelligent alien life") thus rendering them invincible from later disproof. See Rand's discussion of the rejection of the ether in the philosophy of science part of the ITOE appendices. As above, the crucial question is: what evidence would be required to establish conclusively that there is no intelligent alien life? The mere fact that we haven't yet discovered ET doesn't just magically, automatically, constitute satisfaction of that standard (whatever it is).

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Also, it's true that deductive conclusions are easier to show to be certain than inductive conclusions, because they involve a mechanical procedure. But there can be mistakes in deductive argument, also, so there is room for a distinction between deductive conclusions that are certain and those which are not. So you're right that deductive conclusions can be certain, but it's not because they uniquely "preserve identity." Inductive arguments do, as well. To contradict the idea that all men are mortal is to contradict an important fact about the identity of men, not an essential fact, but still a real fact. To say that there is a difference in content between "all men are mortal" and "A is A" is a blatant invocation of the analytic-synthetic dichotomy.

I want to anticipate an objection to what I say above. I originally interpreted Betsy's C1 to include only deductive logic, i.e., what she originally referred to as inference from sense perception "using rules of logic to preserve identity." But I notice that in other posts she also includes inference to a cause under her C1. So she will likely claim that she does not mean to exclude inductive arguments as ones which can be certain.

But if that is the case, and if we can also be certain about inductive arguments, then there is even less reason to think that there is a distinction between C1 and C2. C2 is supposed to be "full evidentiary support" certainty. If that's not inductive support, I don't know what is.

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As far as I can tell, the distinction between "C1" and "C2" is best explained by the following exchange:

The grounds are that, with certain entities (those with free will) our knowledge must be inferred from limited evidence and we must form our conclusions with that in mind. With other entities, we can directly perceive the entities and all their relevant causal properties by direct sense perception or introspection.

Hence all that business about mindreading - that supposedly being the necessary (but impossible) step to logically validate and achieve certainty, hence certainty is impossible concerning entities having free will. No matter the evidence, according to Betsy's view, doubts necessarily remain because the step needed to logically validate the conclusion cannot be done. That was the concrete example that led to the generalizations about "C1" and "C2".

Edit - Note that the usage of "beyond a reasonable doubt" here doesn't really mean beyond a reasonable doubt, it's referring to a standard of proof in criminal cases that (in Betsy's view) actually allows reasonable doubts precisely because certainty (as to motive) cannot be obtained.

Edited by Seeker
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Before I deal with the substantive issues raised by noumenalself, I want to address his opening paragraph.

Betsy's view that there are two kinds of certainty is completely wrong, and also philosophically dangerous. Her views are almost indistinguishable from mainstream philosophical ideas about certainty, and are inconsistent with the Objectivist view. The reasons she cites for her views have also been refuted countless times in the Objectivist literature, particularly in Dr. Peikoff's lecture courses.

The above charge, even if true (which it isn't), constitutes the fallacy of Poisoning the Well.

Poisoning the well is a logical fallacy where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say. Poisoning the well is a special case of argumentum ad hominem. [...]

This "argument" has the following form:

1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.

2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.

Examples:

Before you listen to my opponent, may I remind you that he has been in jail.

Don't listen to what he says, he's a lawyer.

This is an argument between science and religion.

In general usage, poisoning the well is the provision of any information that may produce a biased result.

[...]

See also

Appeal to ridicule

Guilt by association

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I will get to the substantive points that noumenalself makes in his post in my next post, but now I would like to address the truth or falsity of his first paragraph.

Betsy's view that there are two kinds of certainty is completely wrong, and also philosophically dangerous. Her views are almost indistinguishable from mainstream philosophical ideas about certainty, and are inconsistent with the Objectivist view. The reasons she cites for her views have also been refuted countless times in the Objectivist literature, particularly in Dr. Peikoff's lecture courses.

This is a serious negative charge being made, against me personally, in a public forum. noumenalself bears a heavy burden of proof to demonstrate the truth of his assertions.

Betsy's view that there are two kinds of certainty is completely wrong

It is not my view that "there are two kinds of certainty" so this is an attack on a straw man. What I have said is that other people in the current debate are using the word "certainty" to stand for two different concepts and sometimes both at the same time. For clarity of argument, they should define their terms and use them consistently.

and also philosophically dangerous.

This is poisoning the well. No argument is presented as to why what is allegedly my view is "dangerous," but it does inject a personal and negative emotional tone into the debate.

Her views are almost indistinguishable from mainstream philosophical ideas about certainty, and are inconsistent with the Objectivist view.

This is unsupported guilt by association. noumenalself does not say which of my alleged views is indistinguishable from which mainstream philosophical ideas. There is also the implication that my alleged views should be discounted or dismissed merely because they are similar to the views of certain others and not because they are false.

and are inconsistent with the Objectivist view. The reasons she cites for her views have also been refuted countless times in the Objectivist literature, particularly in Dr. Peikoff's lecture courses.

What evidence is offered that what is allegedly my view is "inconsistent with the Objectivist view?" In this post noumenalself only makes reference to unspecied arguments contained in "Dr. Peikoff's lecture courses" and later to uncited and unquoted material "Dr. Peikoff and Dr. Binswanger have discussed in multiple places, in particular in "The Art of Thinking" (LP) and "The Metaphysics of Consciousness" (HB)." Still later he asserts that my alleged views are wrong because "all of this is covered in various Peikoff lectures" without specifying which lectures and where.

To properly prove the case that my views are "inconsistent with the Objectivist view," noumenalself has to show

(1) That the views he attributes to me really are my views

(2) Which specific Objectivist ideas my alleged views are inconsistent with and why

(3) That my views are inconsistent with the Objectivist view -- the view of Ayn Rand -- but not necessarily the views of Dr. Peikoff or Dr. Binswanger with whom Ayn Rand was known to have had occasional disagreements.

noumenalself has not met the burden of proof required to substantiate the assertions he made in his first paragraph and, until he does, his charges must be regarded as arbitrary or false -- and unjust.

Edited by Betsy
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After re-reading this thread this morning, I have a couple of quick additional thoughts.

1. Some of noumenalself's original formulations leave open the possibility of the erroneous view I was criticizing before. I am thinking specifically of the word "relevant" in statements like: "If none of the relevant evidence supports the possibility that a conclusion is wrong, the conclusion is certain." This could mean either "if none of the available evidence supports [doubt], the conclusion is certain" or "if the available evidence satisfies the relevant standard of proof, then the conclusion is certain." I think the latter formulation is correct. The former is what I took Dan Edge to be saying before. It dispenses with the idea of objective standards of proof and instead makes "certainty" subjective by defining it in terms of the evidence one happens to have at present (rather than the body of evidence that would be objectively sufficient to warrant the conclusion).

2. A nice example (nicer, that is, than ET) might be the following: what should a rational person have said in Newton's time (say) about the possibility that there existed additional planets beyond Saturn? (At that time, the heliocentric solar system was established, but only Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were known about.) Here, I think, it is pretty clear that it wouldn't have been reasonable to say something like "within the context of my knowledge, I am 100% certain that there are no more planets beyond Saturn." Of course, if what that statement means is "I don't currently know of any planets beyond Saturn" it is true. But the statement at least poses as making a stronger claim, one that is about the actual existence (or not) of certain real entities out there in the world. So, at best, it is ambiguous. (But I think it's actually worse than that, since the ambiguity is essentially deliberate -- the statement is an attempt to make a claim about reality while simultaneously protecting oneself by not doing so -- i.e., an attempt to cover, by retreating to subjectivity, the fact that one doesn't actually have the evidence that would be needed to support the claim one is sort-of making.)

Anyway, what is the reasonable position on this question in this context? I think the reasonable position is to assent to neither proposition ("there are planets beyond saturn" and "there aren't planets beyond saturn"). The existence of as-yet-undiscovered planets is a sensible, non-arbitrary hypothesis. (As opposed to "there are gremlins on venus" or "jesus, son of god, died for our sins".) But one shouldn't believe in such planets until there is some direct, positive evidence to support that conclusion. And likewise, one shouldn't believe there aren't such planets until there is some direct, positive evidence to support that conclusion (say, some kind of systematic survey -- of a sort that wouldn't even have been possible in Newton's time -- which finds nothing). The attitude here is similar, I think, to the one noumenalself has recently advertised elsewhere in regard to claims about global warming. Speaking for myself, I do not believe either that "human-produced CO2 is causing the earth to warm" or that "human-produced CO2 is not causing the earth to warm." (Note, of course, that this position is consistent with being a skeptic about the first claim. You don't have to establish the second proposition in order to see and say that the evidence allegedly proving the first proposition is dubious, insufficient, etc. This would be parallel, in the Newton/planets example, to arguing against some numerological crackpot who claims that there must be additional planets because 10 is god's favorite number and so he would of course have created the solar system with 10 planets. One doesn't have to be able to prove that there are no more planets, just to point out that that argument for additional planets is invalid... obviously.)

3. Saying "a certain idea X advocated recently by Y is false and inconsistent with Z... now let me explain why" is not ad hominem and is not poisoning the well -- even if Y is upset by the accusation.

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I am 100% certain that, within the context of my knowledge, there is no intelligent alien life. I am as certain of this fact as I am of the Law of Identity.
Dan, I think this is a mistake. What evidence makes you certain that there is no intelligent alien life? Let me also compare that claim with a related claim which you did not make -- "there is no alien life". Are you 100% certain that there is no alien life at all. Depending on how you answer that, I'd have a couple of follow-up questions. The main point I'm interested in is (1) the evidence that there is no such life and (2) how you have addressed the matter of evidence that suggests the possibility of an alternative (namely, that there is such life). The "context of my knowledge" disclaimer could address point (2), but point (1) seems to me pretty problematic.
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To properly prove the case that my views are "inconsistent with the Objectivist view," noumenalself has to show

(1) That the views he attributes to me really are my views

It is a clearly documented fact, given your posts here, that you have invented or accepted a distinction between 100% certainty and certainty beyond doubt based in reason. You have persistently failed to identify the essential difference between these degrees of certainty, and have failed to address the point that man has no means of acquiring knowledge other than reason, so to presume that it is possible to go beyond reason in acquiring certainty is incomprehensible. One can apply reason to the facts and see that you are evading the fundamental flaw in your position. I don't know what your innermost beliefs are, but your words are clear and public.
(2) Which specific Objectivist ideas my alleged views are inconsistent with and why
Your view entails that there is a method of cognition for man other than reason: the explanation has been given many times over the past few days.
(3) That my views are inconsistent with the Objectivist view -- the view of Ayn Rand -- but not necessarily the views of Dr. Peikoff or Dr. Binswanger with whom Ayn Rand was known to have had occasional disagreements.
This, I think, is your only hope. I did ask you if you agreed with Peikoff's statement about certainty, and you said you did, in post 82 of this thread. [ed: this post and the one it replies to were moved here from here, so the reference is #82 of that thread. d.o.] You may well now believe that Peikoff's position on certainty is in error and contradicts Ayn Rand's philosophy, as you just implied, but such an accusation regarding Peikoff's explanation of evidentiary concepts is a serious accusation which should be substantiated. Edited by DavidOdden
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David and ttn,

I agree with your criticisms of my statement. It is unclear and misleading. At this point, I am aware of some evidence that leads to me to believe that life on other planets is possible (the size of the universe, high number of planets that could potentially support life,etc). But I have no direct evidence that this life actually exists, other than the fact that I cant' discount it as a possibility.

--Dan Edge

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