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I don't think you can by the standard of certainty you present. There is nothing about the criteria you have established that says it can deliver true results when you evaluate someone's past character, but is unreliable for evaluating their future character.

I wasn't referring to past character but to past actions. Advocating Objectivism is an action.

Your criteria excludes certainty about someone's character, motives and honesty period. Evidence of what you have done is only evidence of what you have done, not of why you did it.

Exactly. My point is that we can know, with certainty, what a person has done but we cannot know, with equal certainty, why he did it.

And even if I knew all of the things you had done to advocate Objectivism, I don't know ALL the other things you may have done in the last 45 years to counter it. I couldn't read your mind for all of those 45 years to reveal what your true intent was. You may actually be a sleeper-communist waiting until you are activated so that you can divide Objectivists once you have established yourself as an apparent "long term advocate of Objectivism".

Also true, which makes another one of my points. Actions are easier to ascertain because they are out there to be seen. I either did something or I did not and someone who has seen me do it can know with total, 100% certainty that I did it. He cannot know, with equal certainty, why I did it because he can't read my mind.

For example;

If every day for five years I have seen a bum standing on a street corner holding a sign which says "Why lie, need money for beer", I can be certain of his future actions if I walk up and offer to give him a twenty dollar bill. I'd be certain he would take it. There would be absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would take the money. I may end up being wrong, but "certainty" existed in my mind before I offered to give him the money.

So what you call "certainty" with absolutely no doubt allows for the possibility of being wrong?

What facts of reality account for the possibility of being wrong? Not being able to read his mind? His free will?

I didn't need to be able to read his mind to know that he would take the money in the future (even if it was only a scant few seconds into the future).

Even if you "end up being wrong?"

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Free will is causal, not a randomizer.

I agree.

The fact that people in general can change their path, has little relevance to the analysis of a particular person (such as yourself).

Why not? Free will means that a particular person can change his path. It does not mean, of course, that he will.

It is enough to introduce the necessity of obtaining further information, but not enough to cause doubt of certainty. If it were, you would have to be uncertain of yourself, which you are not (based upon your past clarification to me).So wouldn't a statement that said, "because we do not have the necessary information" be more appropriately stated in essentials, rather than "because man has free will"?

No, because when considering a person's future actions, free will is a factor. To demonstrate this, ask yourself which you are more "certain," confident, or sure of: another person's past actions or his future actions? Then ask yourself why.

[i have been having to repeatedly edit my postings because something strange happens. When I post two different postings, back to back, the two postings get stuck together and the formatting on both postings is messed up.]

Edited by Betsy
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Agreed. If certainty needs to be used one way, as Betsy claims, then using it 2 different ways, because others want to do that, as she claims in the "2 certainty" thread is a bogus reason.

I'm not saying that. I am saying that people are using the word "certainty" to stand for two different concepts and sometimes changing concepts in the middle of an argument. I say people should define clearly which concept of "certainty" they are using and use it consistently.

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I don't know why you put "certain" in quotes, since it is possible to be certain and yet be wrong, without degrading the concept of certainty. One has to make a moral judgement based on the facts that one knows, but one may not have all of the relevant facts and yet think that one has enough evidence to come to a conclusion.

I would agree with that. I disagree with those who claim they know with 100% certainty and without any doubt whatsoever, what someone will do in the future and/or his motives for doing what he does.

You can know a lot of things about others and what they will probably do, but you can't be as sure about them as you are about your own motives or about the actions of non-volitional entities.

Edited by Betsy
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I acknowledge the concept of "degrees of certainty."

Great! That is the issue I have been arguing for when it comes to judging people.

I have been arguing against those who claim they can know, with total certainty, another person's thoughts, motives, and future actions. See the posts like the ones here and here and here and here.

I think it is helpful to think of degrees of certainty, but not percentages of certainty, because applying a percentage implies that anything less than 100% is not fully certain. With degrees you are not putting in doubt the existence of your certainty. You are simply acknowledging the relative strength of it.

Because I believe there are things we can be totally certain of and other things we hold to be true with varying degrees of probability, we have to make sure and define exactly what we mean when we use a work like "certainty." Otherwise, we may assume and act as if we have more knowledge than we really do.

With that context in mind, I can say that I am more certain about my own honesty than the honesty of another, but only when I bother to gather the introspective evidence (of my own honesty) which is available to me, in which case my context of knowledge about my own honesty will be much greater than my context of knowledge about another's. Given this greater context of knowledge, I can achieve a higher degree of certainty about myself versus someone else. But this is not to say that I cannot achieve certainty with regard to another person's honesty, because I can. It might be more difficult and take more time, because I only have his statements and actions to work with, but it is certainly not impossible.

When you say you are certain about another person's honesty, do you mean an extremely high probability that he is honest or that, based on what you know, it is impossible for him to be dishonest? Do you mean to say you are certain he is honest now, or that he will remain honest in the future?

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I can say the exact same thing with regard to the communist example that you did with regard to the liar example: Other people not only can be communists without us knowing it, they sometimes are. So why is my example arbitrary, but yours is not? Both are arbitrary, because there is no evidence whatsoever to support them.

I pointed to the fact that Branden deceived Ayn Rand. You raised the arbitrary possibility that Ayn Rand was a communist spy. That's the difference.

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I am almost at the end of my rope pointing this out, but will say it again: certainty does not come in relative shades of grey. If you do not know something with equal certainty, then you do not know it with certainty, period. If you are not as sure of a conclusion, then you are not sure of it. It begs credulity to allow that certainty (epistemologically speaking) means one thing only (i.e. freedom from doubt), yet still allow comparisons in terms of degrees like that. At this point I don't know what else to say. Correct me if I am wrong?

Note that I am treating these statements as claims relating to cognition, because of phrases like "know with equal certainty", and not emotion, which were it to be admitted to this discussion would be subuseful anyway. But if that is anyone's intention, it would help to clarify it by saying "feel as certain", "feel as sure", etc. so that we know that that is the intention.

Edited by Seeker
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I am almost at the end of my rope pointing this out, but will say it again: certainty does not come in relative shades of grey. If you do not know something with equal certainty, then you do not know it with certainty, period. If you are not as sure of a conclusion, then you are not sure of it.
Pardon, for late introduction to a thread, but I'm interested in what "equal" and "as sure" refer to above. Would you mind extending the rope to tell me what is the comparison here? [i.e. equal to what? another certainty?]
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So what you call "certainty" with absolutely no doubt allows for the possibility of being wrong?

Yes. Certainty is a state a mind in which the person has not doubt about that which he is certain of. He may find that he was wrong, and may evaluate the committment he attributes to conclusions next time, or not. Being certain doesn't necessarily equal always right. I think this is the major difference between "your" certainty and "my" certainty.

Your brand of certainty requires qualities and abilities man does not possess, which renders the concept null and void in consideration of man and his nature. From my understanding of your view, any arbitrary claim to something being however remotely possible, should be sufficient to obliterate the possiblity of certainty.

As has been said before, being certain means being free from doubt. I recognize that in your opinion, one should still have doubt about someone's character even when there is a complete lack of evidence to even suggest, let alone support, that doubt, I just disagree. However, that doesn't change the fact that some people experience a mind-state in which they are certain of something, even sometimes of a person's character.

And, I really(x5) get the whole non-mind reading thing. It's not in man's ability to read minds, and thus it is not even the slightest bit relevant to this conversation. If someone were claiming they could read someone's mind, I'd see why it was necessary to beat the proverbial dead horse. Being certain does not require the reading of minds. So for the record, I do not intend at this point to address any more comments about mind-reading again. B)

Even if you "end up being wrong?"

Yes. You give no acknowledgement to "certainty" when the facts of reality demonstrate that the certain person was right (lucky guess??), but you wish to negate certainty when you can arbitrarily assert the possibility that they could be wrong. I don't think it works that way.

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I pointed to the fact that Branden deceived Ayn Rand. You raised the arbitrary possibility that Ayn Rand was a communist spy. That's the difference.

Actually, it makes no difference with respect to destroying certainty.

Are you certain that it's a fact that Branden deceived Ayn Rand? (I'm seriously asking, not being facetious) Asserting that he deceived her requires that you know his intent, versus merely observing actions he may have taken.

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When you say you are certain about another person's honesty, do you mean an extremely high probability that he is honest or that, based on what you know, it is impossible for him to be dishonest?

Neither one of those statements represent my conception of certainty. By certainty I mean that the evidence I have points in only one direction, toward my conclusion that the person is honest, and I have reached the standard of proof necessary to make such a conclusion about one's moral character. Since I have conclusive evidence, and there is no evidence-based reason to doubt my conclusion, I consider it certain.

I reject the "high probability" idea because a probability is still a probability no matter how you dress it up. I respect the meaning of words. Probability is not certainty. It does not denote conclusive evidence. It is confusing and unnecessary to suggest that probability can denote conclusive evidence. If you think you have conclusive evidence, then you should proudly and justly use the word "certainty."

I also reject the "impossible to be dishonest" idea because I don't see how it has anything to do with moral judgment. You judge someone based on his actual statements and actions, not on something that is inherent in the nature of man, which is the ability to lie.

Do you mean to say you are certain he is honest now, or that he will remain honest in the future?

I am certain that he is honest now. Regarding the future, I agree that we cannot predict human actions with certainty. But we can say, for example, that we are nearly certain that someone will act a particular way if they remain consistent in their premises and choices, i.e., that they don't contradict what you know to be true about them. The thing that separates judging moral character and predicting future actions is that the future has not happened yet. You cannot be certain about some human behavior that hasn't happened yet, because our fate is not determined. We can, however, be certain about moral judgment, because we are dealing with known, existing statements and actions.

Earlier you quoted Ayn Rand saying that we should "never attempt to predict what someone will do ... [because] you can't say that with full confidence." But you cut out some important parts of that quote, I think. Ayn Rand wasn't merely saying that you can't predict another's actions, she was saying that you also can't predict your own actions.

... But you can't say that with full confidence, because you can't even say it about yourself ... If you know the general trend of a moral person, his basic premises, he may make mistakes and even evade particular issues, but he'll likely come out right in the long run--he'll correct his errors. That's all you can say about another person, and about yourself, too. [emphasis added]
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Pardon, for late introduction to a thread, but I'm interested in what "equal" and "as sure" refer to above. Would you mind extending the rope to tell me what is the comparison here? [i.e. equal to what? another certainty?]

I was referring to some of the usages in replies #146, #149, and #150. My position is that it is a misuse of the word "certainty" to contrast it against greater or lesser versions of itself - such as "this conclusion is certain, but not as certain as that conclusion" ... I consider such statements to be of the "all animals are equal but some are more equal than others" variety. Certainty means one thing - if something is not certain, then one should not say that it is. What makes this so odd is the number of times Betsy claims to embrace a single standard of certainty, then (sometimes in the very same post) embrace certainty-in-degrees, notwithstanding the utter confusion that such usage necessarily engenders, especially when the problem could be so easily avoided by simply dropping the qualifiers (i.e. just say it: since one cannot read minds, one is not certain ...) etc.

Edited by Seeker
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I pointed to the fact that Branden deceived Ayn Rand. You raised the arbitrary possibility that Ayn Rand was a communist spy. That's the difference.

You offered an example of the fact that people can be dishonest. I thought it was obvious that people can also be communists, so I didn't bother to give an example. So, I guess it is still up to you to demonstrate why my example is arbitrary while yours is not.

Edited by MisterSwig
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As I see it, there are two essential issues here that need to be resolved.

1. Free will means that man must choose among alternatives, but it is not evidence of choosing a particular alternative. For example, the fact that someone must choose to be honest or dishonest is not evidence of their choosing to be dishonest. Therefore, Betsy's position, that having free will creates doubt about a person's honesty, is incorrect.

2. Because man is not omniscient, his certainty is contextual within his present knowledge. Therefore, it is possible to be certain yet wrong. Therefore, Betsy's position, that man must account for unknown reasons to think that he might be wrong to establish a contextless certainty, is incorrect (but note the relation to #1 - if Betsy's position is actually that certainty is contextual but that free will is a known reason to think that one might be wrong about another person, then that is incorrect for the reasons stated in #1).

Edited by Seeker
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I would agree with that. I disagree with those who claim they know with 100% certainty and without any doubt whatsoever, what someone will do in the future and/or his motives for doing what he does.

I think knowing someone's motives goes along with knowing that he is honest, because an honest man is not going to hide his motives. There may be things that are private, and therefore that one will not reveal to others, but this is not the same thing as hiding a motive. An honest man is motivated primarily to live his life to the fullest and this requires open trade between equals. I think it is only when dealing with one's actual enemies (those who initiate force or fraud) that an honest man may hide his true motives -- in order to destroy his enemies in plain sight, so to speak.

With that said, however, I think there is something like begging the question or concept stealing that is going on if one says that one cannot be certain about another because that other has volition. The concept "moral evaluation" only applies to volitional beings; so, of course one is not going to able to predict precisely what course of action a given man will take in a given circumstance. But as Ayn Rand pointed out, this isn't even necessary -- one only has to know broadly speaking if he is going to be rational or irrational. If he decides to remain rational, there are still a lot of options he has to deal with any situation.

For example, in the scene where Francisco is rescuing Rearden from the mob at Rearden Metal, you would not know ahead of time if he is going to shoot the man on the left first or the man on the right; you might not even know that he is going to shoot anybody, but find some other way of dealing with the force welders. But since he is Francisco D'Anconia, one would expect him to do something to rescue such a high value; since it is part of his moral code.

With that said, it is possible for any man to reach the end of his ropes, if he is pushed to the limit with torture of one sort or another; say, if he is not permitted to sleep and be alone enough to sort out his confusions brought on by such torture (psychological or physical). But a rational man will recover more quickly (first by not holding it against himself) and then seek out his tormentors for some well dissevered justice dealing. Again, one may not know exactly what course of action he will take in the particulars, but one knows that he will uphold justice in his own way.

In short, moral character already includes the fact that the man being morally evaluated has volition. Otherwise, making a moral evaluation doesn't make any sense. One doesn't morally evaluate the orbit of Mercury. And it is only because of the fact that man has volition that one needs a moral evaluation of his character. So the idea that one needs to be able to super accurately predict what a man will do in the future as a prerequisite for making a moral evaluation of him flies in the face of the concept.

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Yes. Certainty is a state a mind in which the person has not doubt about that which he is certain of. He may find that he was wrong, and may evaluate the committment he attributes to conclusions next time, or not. Being certain doesn't necessarily equal always right. I think this is the major difference between "your" certainty and "my" certainty.

Your brand of certainty requires qualities and abilities man does not possess, which renders the concept null and void in consideration of man and his nature. From my understanding of your view, any arbitrary claim to something being however remotely possible, should be sufficient to obliterate the possiblity of certainty.

I think you misunderstand what "my" view of certainty is.

I agree that there is, in fact and in reality, "a state a mind in which the person has no doubt about that which he is certain of. He may find that he was wrong ..." Some call this state of mind "certainty" and I don't have a problem with that usage as long as someone defines his terms and uses it consistently.

There is also, in fact and in reality, a state a mind in which the person has no doubt about that which he is certain of and cannot be wrong. Some reserve the word "certainty" only for this state and refer to your concept as "conclusive" or "with full intellectual confidence." I don't have a problem with that usage either as long as someone defines his terms, as you have, and uses it consistently.

When it comes to "my" concept of "certainty," I sometimes use the word to refer to either concept depending on the context, but I have to be very careful to define exactly what I mean by the term, in whatever context I use it, so that I will not be misunderstood.

As has been said before, being certain means being free from doubt. I recognize that in your opinion, one should still have doubt about someone's character even when there is a complete lack of evidence to even suggest, let alone support, that doubt, I just disagree.

So do I since that is not my position at all.

To doubt someone without evidence is arbitrary. My point is that to assume virtue without evidence, or with insufficient evidence, is just as arbitrary. My working principle is "innocent until proved guilty" and "capable of virtue until proved virtuous."

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Are you certain that it's a fact that Branden deceived Ayn Rand?

Yes I am -- using "certainty" to mean the evidence is conclusive.

Asserting that he deceived her requires that you know his intent, versus merely observing actions he may have taken.

I am inferring his intent from what I do know as a fact: what he did, what he said his intent was, what I know of similar people from past experience, what I know about possible motivations by imagining myself in his place and introspecting about what I would do, etc. If I integrate all that evidence, I can conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt (not beyond all doubt), that Branden deceived Ayn Rand.

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By certainty I mean that the evidence I have points in only one direction, toward my conclusion that the person is honest, and I have reached the standard of proof necessary to make such a conclusion about one's moral character. Since I have conclusive evidence, and there is no evidence-based reason to doubt my conclusion, I consider it certain.

That is what I mean as well when I use the word "certain" with regard to judging other people. I simply mean that the evidence is conclusive... that is, if I actually have enough evidence to form a conclusion.

I reject the "high probability" idea because a probability is still a probability no matter how you dress it up. I respect the meaning of words. Probability is not certainty. It does not denote conclusive evidence. It is confusing and unnecessary to suggest that probability can denote conclusive evidence. If you think you have conclusive evidence, then you should proudly and justly use the word "certainty."

What about "degrees of certainty" to describe how close you are to having conclusive evidence?

I also reject the "impossible to be dishonest" idea because I don't see how it has anything to do with moral judgment. You judge someone based on his actual statements and actions, not on something that is inherent in the nature of man, which is the ability to lie.

Correctamundo!

I am certain that he is honest now. Regarding the future, I agree that we cannot predict human actions with certainty. But we can say, for example, that we are nearly certain that someone will act a particular way if they remain consistent in their premises and choices, i.e., that they don't contradict what you know to be true about them. The thing that separates judging moral character and predicting future actions is that the future has not happened yet. You cannot be certain about some human behavior that hasn't happened yet, because our fate is not determined. We can, however, be certain about moral judgment, because we are dealing with known, existing statements and actions.

I agree.

Earlier you quoted Ayn Rand saying that we should "never attempt to predict what someone will do ... [because] you can't say that with full confidence." But you cut out some important parts of that quote, I think. Ayn Rand wasn't merely saying that you can't predict another's actions, she was saying that you also can't predict your own actions.

That's right, but the reason she said that was that we cannot know the full context, in the present, of our own future choices. I deliberately omitted it because I wanted to focus on the reasons she gave why we cannot predict the actions of others.

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I think you misunderstand what "my" view of certainty is.

I don't think that I do.

From previous posts; (I had trouble getting the nested quotes to work)

Me: Your criteria excludes certainty about someone's character, motives and honesty period. Evidence of what you have done is only evidence of what you have done, not of why you did it.

Betsy: Exactly. My point is that we can know, with certainty, what a person has done but we cannot know, with equal certainty, why he did it.

Me: And even if I knew all of the things you had done to advocate Objectivism, I don't know ALL the other things you may have done in the last 45 years to counter it. I couldn't read your mind for all of those 45 years to reveal what your true intent was. You may actually be a sleeper-communist waiting until you are activated so that you can divide Objectivists once you have established yourself as an apparent "long term advocate of Objectivism".

Betsy: Also true, which makes another one of my points. Actions are easier to ascertain because they are out there to be seen. I either did something or I did not and someone who has seen me do it can know with total, 100% certainty that I did it. He cannot know, with equal certainty, why I did it because he can't read my mind.

I think this indicates I understand your position quite well, and that you agreed I understood your position.

However, now you are saying;

To doubt someone without evidence is arbitrary. My point is that to assume virtue without evidence, or with insufficient evidence, is just as arbitrary. My working principle is "innocent until proved guilty" and "capable of virtue until proved virtuous."

It's a long thread, but I don't think ANYONE has asserted to assume virtue without evidence (so I don't know why that's even an issue), and I doubt anyone has tried to make the case of assuming virtue with insufficient evidence. In fact, most of the examples I recall demonstrate extensive knowledge of a person's character when making a judgment about them, and you still say that certainty cannot exist because of "free will". It has appeared throughout this thread that your position has been that you can never be certain of a person's "future" character because of free will regardless of the extent of knowledge you have about the person, regardless of how virtuous their actions have been leading up to the point that one makes such judgment. Free will would always constitute insufficient evidence.

Betsy from an earlier post:

But you don't know that. The only person whose honesty you can know about with certainty is your own.When judging others, you look at the evidence you have and, if you have never seen the person being dishonest, you can assume that he will be honest in the future.

This indicates no matter how much you know about a person, no matter how virtuous their behavior has been, you can never be certain of their honesty.

So I repeat your words;

To doubt someone without evidence is arbitrary.

If you have seen someone being virtuously honest over an extended period of time, and you have no evidence to doubt their honesty, can you not be certain that they have an honest character and will be honest in future?

Edited by RationalBiker
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Betsy's position, that having free will creates doubt about a person's honesty, is incorrect.

That's not my position.

Therefore, Betsy's position, that man must account for unknown reasons to think that he might be wrong to establish a contextless certainty[...]

That's not my position either.

if Betsy's position is actually that certainty is contextual but that free will is a known reason to think that one might be wrong about another person

I'm not sure what this means, so I don't know if, and how, it has anything to do with my position.

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No, Betsy, your position is that others are claiming things that they are not claiming. Barring error, no one rationally makes any claims beyond the evidence that they have. Thus, such claims can never be wrong, because all claims are contextual. All rational claims are made with respect to the known evidence, which means that they are as invincible to disproof as your "absolute certainty" is. Otherwise, the claim was improperly framed and claimed more than the evidence warranted, i.e. was in error -- but was so all along, and this could have been known all along.

You have treated erroneous claims that can be later disproven as valid, i.e. "as good as it gets". That is a serious mistake.

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From previous posts;

Me: Your criteria excludes certainty about someone's character, motives and honesty period. Evidence of what you have done is only evidence of what you have done, not of why you did it.

Betsy: Exactly. My point is that we can know, with certainty, what a person has done but we cannot know, with equal certainty, why he did it.

Me: And even if I knew all of the things you had done to advocate Objectivism, I don't know ALL the other things you may have done in the last 45 years to counter it. I couldn't read your mind for all of those 45 years to reveal what your true intent was. You may actually be a sleeper-communist waiting until you are activated so that you can divide Objectivists once you have established yourself as an apparent "long term advocate of Objectivism".

Betsy: Also true, which makes another one of my points. Actions are easier to ascertain because they are out there to be seen. I either did something or I did not and someone who has seen me do it can know with total, 100% certainty that I did it. He cannot know, with equal certainty, why I did it because he can't read my mind.

I think this indicates I understand your position quite well, and that you agreed I understood your position.

In this exchange, I am using "certainty" to mean "beyond all doubt" rather than "conclusive" and "beyond a reasonable doubt." As I said, above

When it comes to "my" concept of "certainty," I sometimes use the word to refer to either concept depending on the context, but I have to be very careful to define exactly what I mean by the term, in whatever context I use it, so that I will not be misunderstood.

In this exchange I was trying to contrast the "beyond all doubt" "certainty" we have about the actions we see others doing and the lesser confidence we are able to have in inferring what motivated them to do it.

I don't think ANYONE has asserted to assume virtue without evidence (so I don't know why that's even an issue), and I doubt anyone has tried to make the case of assuming virtue with insufficient evidence.

I think they have. Some here have said that, since they have no evidence that a certain person ever was dishonest, therefore they are certain that he is honest. I think that is wrong. Absence of evidence of vice is not proof of virtue.

On the other hand, I have seen people exhibit evidence of honesty. I have heard Dr. Peikoff tell stories about his interactions with Ayn Rand that do not portray him in a flattering light. He did not have to reveal any of that and nobody would be the wiser, but he did it anyway. He also readily and publicly admits his own errors. To be honest under those circumstances, is strong evidence that Dr. Peikoff is honest -- and courageous as well.

In fact, most of the examples I recall demonstrate extensive knowledge of a person's character when making a judgment about them, and you still say that certainty cannot exist because of "free will". It has appeared throughout this thread that your position has been that you can never be certain of a person's "future" character because of free will regardless of the extent of knowledge you have about the person, regardless of how virtuous their actions have been leading up to the point that one makes such judgment. Free will would always constitute insufficient evidence.

Again, I was using "certainty" in the "100%, absolute, beyond all doubt" sense. I was doing it to contrast the 100% certainty we can have about a person's past actions and the lesser degree of confidence we can have about their future actions due to free will.

So I repeat your words;

If you have seen someone being virtuously honest over an extended period of time, and you have no evidence to doubt their honesty, can you not be certain that they have an honest character and will be honest in future?

I can conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they have an honest character now and consider it highly probable, and have no reason to doubt, that they will remain honest in the future. I am not, however, as certain of their character as of my own nor as certain of their future character and actions as I am of their present character and actions.

Edited by Betsy
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I think they have. Some here have said that, since they have no evidence that a certain person ever was dishonest, therefore they are certain that he is honest. I think that is wrong. Absence of evidence of vice is not proof of virtue.

My point is that to assume virtue without evidence

To clarify, are you saying that someone in this thread has claimed or argued that lacking any evidence with respect to a person's honesty, that it is proper to be certain that a person is honest or that they would personally be certain of that person's honesty? If so, please provide the quote.

Or...

with insufficient evidence, is just as arbitrary.

... are you saying that they have only presented "insufficient evidence" of honesty, but no evidence of dishonesty, and they are certain of that person's honesty? If so, please tell me what constitutes "sufficient evidence" by your standard.

Or, are you saying both of the above situations have been claimed by posters in this thread?

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In this exchange, I am using "certainty" to mean "beyond all doubt" rather than "conclusive" and "beyond a reasonable doubt.

You will never be able to contrast "beyond all doubt" from "beyond a reasonable doubt" as a matter of basic epistemology. Your attempted distinction is wholly improper, as I explained in my previous post; no valid claim ever falls into the latter category as you have described it.

I can conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they have an honest character now and consider it highly probable, and have no reason to doubt, that they will remain honest in the future.

If it is merely highly probable, then there is reason to doubt.

At this point I expect that you will fall back on the position that "highly probable" refers to your standard of proof, while "no reason to doubt" is relative to that standard, i.e. "the conclusion certainly and conclusively, with no reason to doubt, meets the standard of being highly probable". To which I can logically add: "thus doubt remains". Which is to say, once the semantic games are ended and the sentence completed logically, there is doubt. And the question is what the reason is for that doubt. Even now you still have failed to provide a reason for your doubt.

What we are left with is your insistence that we lack the ability to validly, conclusively, and without doubt, draw conclusions about the character of others. This is the heart of the matter, so I suggest that we focus squarely on that.

I think a logical way to proceed with your argument would be to suggest that the inductive principles by which we can judge others' characters limit us to conclusions that are, let us say "modest" (as opposed to something from the evidentiary scale), and then proceed to describe with particularity what the limitations are on the sorts of conclusions that we can validly infer.

Edited by Seeker
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