[lit-ideas] Re: Back to Popper (and further back to Hume)

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 23 Nov 2006 20:08:19 -0800

John Wager wrote:

>> (I just hate "hypotheticals" where the assumptions that set up the
>> hypothetical are not themselves subject to the same
>> logical analysis as the supposed hypothetical itself.)

Donal derides this:

> ...if you think your comments amount to a "logical analysis" I suggest you
> are completely deluded and don't really have a grip
> on the issue(s).

> Btw, it is _logically impossible_ for a set of assumptions to subject
> themselves to the same level of "logical analy." as the
> assumptions/hypotheticals they are analysing. You are just a logical prat for
> thinking otherwise.

Hume seems to be on the side of John Wager, and now of Omar {'a guess as to what
could be in the third one would be much better informed by empirical knowledge
of the kitchen owner's habits and preferences than by any logical inference'),
when he says

'In every judgment . . . we ought always to correct the first judgment, deriv'd
from the nature of the object, by another judgment, derived from the nature of
the understanding . . . Having thus found in every probability, beside the
original uncertainty inherent in the subject, a new uncertainty deriv'd from
the weakness of that faculty, which judges, and having adjusted these two
together, we are oblig'd by our reason to add a new doubt deriv'd from the
possibility of error in the estimation we make of the truth and fidelity of our
faculties. This is a doubt, which immediately occurs to us, and of which, if we
wou'd closely pursue our reason, we cannot avoid giving a decision. But this
decision, tho' it shou'd be favourable to our preceding judgment, being founded
only on probability, must weaken still further our first evidence, and must
itself be weaken'd by a fourth doubt of the same kind, and so on adinfinitum;
till at last there remain nothing of the original probability, however great we
may suppose it to have been, and however small one diminution by every new
uncertainty. [Treatise I IV i]

Hume's answer to 'What can the subject say about the probability of something's
being in the third box (and what) or of its being empty?' would be: 'nothing.'

And rightly so. To what does Donal's experiment want the subject to assign a

Robert Paul

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