Now that my Epistemology course for Summer 2020 session B is complete and I’ve met the deadline for my term paper submission, my mind is still quite on the topic of that paper, which I saved for last. It’s too bad I had to rush through it. A quick read through now is showing typos, a number of items that could have been treated better, and a few points I would revise if I had more time. So I’ll address this all in a follow up blog.
First some background. I was originally going to write on a much shorter piece titled, Theism, possible worlds and the Multiverse, by Klaas J. Kraay. I was going to take a categorical inventory of his axiological arguments and compare those with the propositions of the Pamalogical Tenets, to see how many of the arguments, if any, were a posteriori. We can see that there is room for disagreement in a priori reasoning, so I was going to assess the reliability of the relations of ideas over the reliability of perception and sensory experience. I finished my finals and blocked the time, with four days available for the project. However, my professor, Dr. Jefferey Watson, had written me regarding suggestions for the paper by that time, in which he expressed concern in more than one place that it might get too entrenched in metaphysics to make a good epistemology paper. I thought about his remarks, and there were many, and asked if I could change course, as follows …
James Carvin posted a new comment on the thread Community Forum – Questions about the Class for Summer PHI 330:
Is it too late to totally change the topic for the term paper? Seeing, your comments, I don’t want to defiantly move forward with an inventory of metaphysical propositions, as I previously proposed. It doesn’t seem to fit well with a standard paper. I still do want to amplify the system of Pamalogy though. Some of the propositions at https://pamalogy.com/the-foundational-tenets-of-pamalogy/ (Links to an external site.) do touch on epistemological issues, especially Propositions 21 and 22. Maybe I could focus just on Proposition 21.
I think I could take a statement made by a low standards evidentialist non-skeptical invariantist and challenge it with Proposition 21. This would weaken the evidentialists’ defense against skepticism. I’ll anticipate that the metaphysical dependencies of Proposition 21 would be attacked the way Descartes proof of God was attacked. I won’t defend those objections using metaphysical arguments. In this paper Instead, I will defend the idea that I’ve weakened the non-skeptical invariantist’s notion of knowledge. I’ll try to find one whose proposed an inference to the best explanation in dialog with a skeptic. I will then respond to the objection of my metaphysical premise by pointing to the benefits of contextualism as a proper framework for epistemology. After all, you won’t be able to convince a true Pamalogist that the framework of reality is actually what it appears to be prima facie. Why, then, would a Pamalogist speak of “knowledge” with respect to perception of an external world, when there is nothing exotic (to them) about their assumption that the framework of reality is probably very different than what they are experiencing with their senses? Nevertheless, within that perceptive suggestion of reality, exists an opportunity (and an obligation) to respond with awesomeness, for what it appears to be (knowledge p) if not for what it is in terms of the real framework (knowledge s). Beyond mere contextualism, I’d like to suggest making a distinction between several types of propositional knowledge:
Knowledge O. This is Omniscience with a capital K. It is the totality of Truth with a capital T.
Knowledge S – high standards knowledge that a global skeptic would be satisfied with.
Knowledge C – lower standards knowledge that Feldman, Edwards and others feel is the common usage of the term.
Knowledge L – low standards that are substandard, where belief is unjustifed, not causally connected or belief is weak or shallow
Knowledge P – Perceptive knowledge. This is primarily for Pamalogists. It is similar to Knowledge C except that it doesn’t ignore Knowledge S. It is a subjunctive, where if the framework of reality is not causing false perception, then those perceptions are epistemically basic and justified as such.
I have four days to work on this, which should be enough. Let me know if it’s too late to change course. Thanks!
Always quick to reply, Dr. Watson gave me a go ahead so I closed out the majority of the forty tabs I had open in my browser in prep for my article on Kraay and started a fresh search for a paper that would better qualify to respond to. My search results weren’t all that great at first.I read through the published papers of several candidates before coming upon Kevin McCain’s dissertation. It was about 180 pages and technical. I was afraid I might not understand it. Much of the reading in epistemology involves propositional formulas and the nomenclature of logicians. It also makes references to unfamiliar names and uses discipline specific language for ideas. I ran it by Dr. Watson, who noted how long it was. He also helped me with some items I wasn’t comprehending in the first two chapters. By Monday morning, I had sufficient notes to start writing and turned in the 33 page term paper late Tuesday night. My work for the class finished, I went to bed satisfied and in the morning, what did I do on the first day of my summer vacation? I went back to the paper to see what sort of hatchet job I had uploaded the night before, of course.
All in all, it wasn’t too bad, considering the prep and production window I had. Still, there are parts that are making me want to kick myself. If it was just typos, I’d let those slide, even if accidental omission of the word “not” reverses the meaning of a sentence in a place or two. Surely, the professor would figure it out. What bothers me most, is that I promised that I would propose a way through conditional reasoning where my overthrow of McCain’s argument against skepticism wouldn’t have such catastrophic results (see page 8). The other thing, looking back that bothers me, is my writer’s flare kicks in in a place or two that seems irreverent to the formal tradition. I’m the type who wears a top hat with no socks. My irregularity should be expected, but in this case, it was executed poorly, spoiling my intended panache.
Just one more day and I’d have that fixed too, I suppose, but I can’t go without addressing the conditionals I was speaking of. Even journalists get to post retractions. So here I am the day after school is all out for the summer, writing an addendum.
I’ll cut to the chase. I wanted to explain that even if a framework for reality was unknown, that the content of that framework was a conditional fact. You might see this in some of the statements I made. For instance, ” If we were dreaming as we said it, that observation would apply to the content of that dream world If we were in a computer generated Matrix, the content of the simulation game would be equally valid and mean the same thing for that world paradigm context.” (See page 23 under “Mitigating the Damage – a Solution”). You see how this is an If/Then statement. The “if” refers to the framework of reality. If we were dreaming, or if we were in a computer generated matrix, then the content of the simulation would be equally valid. Knowledge of an “exterior world” may be something no more accurate than saying “the sun rose at 6:00 AM.” The sun doesn’t rise. The Earth rotates. Accuracy about the underlying or overarching nature of the framework matters only if we are talking about the framework itself. If I had time, I would have emphasized that we can fix the damage if we apply both contextual and conditional reasoning such as the above. While I did apply conditional reasoning in more than one place, I regret that I didn’t articulate what this was as an example, in fulfillment of what I had promised on page eight.
To be sure, I did start to specify what I was getting at when I spoke of a “subjunctive framework of reality.” Closing out the same mitigation section, I said: “If my Pamalogy ISH has damaged McCain’s CS, then at least it offers back a subjunctive framework of reality for tracking the truth with the counterfactuals, however remote, for such things as “if we are brains in vats, then I’d still like to play golf today in my acute imagination, and could I not hook my shots today, please Mr. Demon?!” If Mr. Demon is just imaginary, so be it. I’m still playing golf.”
This is an idea that applies to compressed reality, as well. If evil is non-existent or not, we can still operate on the assumption that it is real. In Pamalogy, the purpose of life is clear. It is to maximize our awesomeness as a participation in the totality of Awesomeness. As the tenets explain, we freely choose what we will do in any condition, whether those conditions involve bad stuff, or whether we are considering doing bad stuff ourselves, responding without awesomeness to the opportunities we have. Such things may cross our minds. And if we think we do those bad things, but in reality we don’t do those bad things because such things are merely logical possibilities, and then we are presented with a fresh Universe with a leap over such a possible moment, we still have every good reason to act as if we were culpable. There is nothing inappropriate about feeling remorse. Such remorse would be the right response to such a condition, were it to have actually happened. Yes, even remorse is awesome. Repentance is a beautiful thing too. Learning to love what is good and pursuing it is a lifelong journey. You freely choose it. It is possible that you won’t. But you will. You won’t be forced by the inertia of the molecules in your brain or by God. Pamalogy recognizes a spectrum of determinism and free choice, affording opportunity. This too is in the tenets. That only the good choices are actualized is not a forced upon us – it is the operating system of heavenly rebirth.
Ahhh. It is so nice to be free to wax theological again! A Pamalogically informed epistemology, actually frees epistemology up from a multi-milllennium-long debate between skeptics and realists, as so nicely laid out by Kevin McCain. Robert Nozick’s Truth-Tracking concept is sympatico with Pamalogical conditionality. This is what I was getting at, but having held the matter back to the end of the paper and running up against a deadline, I wrote more about how contextualism could fix things, such as that taught by Keith DeRose, and less about conditionality of reality frameworks. In short, they really don’t matter unless they do matter, in which case talking about what is actually real really matters. But for the commoners among us, using common sense and common sensation, why are we hinging everything that we think we might know on a matter that the entire field of quantum mechanics has yet to solve?
So with this Addendum, my job is done on the subject of conditionality. But since I’m here, I should also explain another passage I goofed. On page 18 I meant to add the words, “we might use to verify the external world with” to the sentence, ” if I were McCain, I’d choose testing. No one can prove there’s an evil demon or that moments keep getting deleted and stored in memory as the instruments [we might use to verify the external world with] are re-instantiated into all good worlds. A Pamalogist can only say why that would happen. We have to appeal to a priori justification and theory.” In terms of inference to the best explanation (IBE) what McCain calls Explanationism, I’m pitting the a priori arguments of Pamalogy over the instruments McCain might use to test a framework for reality. If the Universe is being intelligently reinstantiated in such a fashion that those instruments are reflecting the conditions of a world that has bad things in it, to which we have the opportunity to respond in good ways, then there is a good reason why. Axiology is the reason involved in the determination of what is good and what is beautiful and worthy of having existence. It comes from the greek word, “axios,” which means “worthy.” That those things which are not worthy of existing don’t exist except as logical possibilities would be a divine sustainer’s responsibility. It is simply logical to say so. And Pamalogy supposes there are so many worthy possibilities that one Universe is not enough to manfiest them. There is instead of one Universe a pleroma of Universes. The experientialist’s instrumentation cannot detect the innumerable bifurcations of good possible Universes. So we are at a stale mate on a posteriori proof. But the Pamalogist wins on logic. This is what I was getting at with that sentence. So, once again, it’s all about axiology baby!