[lit-ideas] Re: Bartley's Non-Justificationism (Was: Justifying Moral Principles?)

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:56:49 -0500

In a message dated 2/23/2015 5:08:30 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
The non-justificationism of Popper, [W. W.]  Bartley [,III] and their ilk 
is much more thorough-going than this. Shocking  though it may seem, they 
would deny there are anything like "reliable methods"  for arriving at 
knowledge - certainly not of the sort traditionally sought by  philosophers as 
basis for how knowledge is justified. A key insight of  Popper's approach is 
that knowledge does not need to be justified to be  effective or to 'work', 
it simply has to be true or approximate sufficiently to  the truth - and the 
critical approach of science is not based on finding  inductive 
justification but on the ruthless and severe testing of the truth of  theories."
So I suppose, since this was W. O.'s question re: justifying a moral  
principle (other than accepting it blindly as a political article of faith, as  
he metaphorically puts it):
i. One may not be able to justify a moral principle.
ii. One may be able to KNOW that the moral principle is to be  followed.
(I'm speaking loosely).
McEvoy goes on:

"Surviving severe tests - that is, severe attempts  at falsification - does 
not justify knowledge in traditional terms but it  provides the best guide 
we have for assessing truth and verisimilitude. Not only  is this 'critical' 
approach the best guide, it is the only guide. There simply  are no 
(inductive) "reliable methods" for arriving at, or generating, true  theories. 
Though the contrary myth dies hard, it is merely philosophers'  make-believe 
(none of whom can plausibly explain by what "reliable method"  Einstein 
generated his revolutionary theories, or by what "reliable method" we  can 
theories to resolve some of the outstanding problems of  contemporary 
Indeed, the above quote that McEvoy is replying to, which amounts to the  
view of knowledge as justified true belief, is aimed at theoretical knowledge 
 (or reason) so-called, rather than the realm of ends and practical reason 
in  general. 
It would seem that we may have two uses (never 'senses') of 'justify': a  
theoretical (or as I'd prefer, alethic) one, and a purely practical one.
And the question is whether, since, for Popper, Bartley and the  
non-justificationists of their ilk refuse to consider 'justification'  
they would also object to the use of 'justify' in a non-alethic,  i.e. 
practical context.
If so, the question by W. O. -- when does the justification of a moral  
principle not circular? (rephrased) -- remains unanswered (*)

(*) And perhaps it is one of those 'unanswerable questions' referred to by  
Mike Geary and Rush Rhees. Geary: "Not every 'statement' followed by "?" 
and  with the verb in the interrogative position is a _question_ as I use the 
term.  Some questions are unanswerable and not just 'not yet answered'". 
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