Pseudoskepticism

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Re: Pseudoskepticism

#21  Postby THWOTH » Apr 21, 2014 11:23 am

Veida wrote:Agnostic isn't the right word or attitude. It's simple, really. One shouldn't give any weight to unsubstantiated claims. One should at most point out that they are unsubstantiated - usually nothing more is needed.

Agnostic is a good enough word to express doubtfulness, uncertainty or incredulity in everyday situations. I agree that one shouldn't give any weight to unsubstantiated claims but first one has to establish that they're unsubstantiated. Being, or declaring to be, agnostic about a claim doesn't establish an absence of substantiation, it just expresses one's doubtfulness about it. There's nothing untoward or controversial about that and usually nothing more is needed if the objective is to establish one's personal position, opinion or beliefs about something or other. However, if we're interested in knowlege and whether a claim is sound, substantive, a truthful reflection of particular circumstance, actual-factual, etc, then we have to do (or at least should be prepared to do) some work ourselves on the substance of the claim.

Identifying and explaining the conditions which, if met, would certify that we are entitled to know this-or-that about something-or-other is Scepticism, and it operates by challenging the reasons and reasonings that support a claim with potentially falsifying alternatives. If the claim resists those challenges then its substance is secured and (one hopes) a person's position then takes account of this (that's what rational beings are all about, surely?). In such cases the agnostic position is redundant. The difficulty here resides in establishing if the sceptical challenges to the supporting grounds of a claim are themselves proportionate and relative to the claim, which implies that they too must be subject to similar scrutiny and challenges.


edit: fix (thanks for the headsup - you know who you are :thumbup: )
"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
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