Rational Faith

It is rational to have faith in the utility of reason

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Rational Faith

#1  Postby DrWho » Jul 28, 2011 8:20 pm

If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

No one can prove that reason is useful.

Thus I agrue that faith in the utility of reason is a necessary condition for being rational.
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Re: Rational Faith

#2  Postby mindhack » Jul 28, 2011 9:14 pm

a definition of faith please.

In general: How would such a person conclude it lacks faith in reason? What will its justification for it be?

Prove that reason is useful? --> reasoning is always useful, rational or not, accurate or not. it's a tool to build coherence from stimuli. The brain likes coherence
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Re: Rational Faith

#3  Postby Chrisw » Jul 28, 2011 9:33 pm

DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

Would we call it reason if it was not useful? Reason is a tool for getting what we want. Reason is precisely that way of thinking that is useful, in a very general sense.
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Re: Rational Faith

#4  Postby Jef » Jul 28, 2011 9:51 pm

DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

No one can prove that reason is useful.

Thus I agrue that faith in the utility of reason is a necessary condition for being rational.


Which might be a reasonable argument, had you not already excluded reason from your epistemological toolkit.

Any purportedly rational argument against reason is incoherent. It is so meaningless it is not even wrong, because it excludes, for itself, the possibility of being shown to be correct.
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Re: Rational Faith

#5  Postby the PC apeman » Jul 28, 2011 10:00 pm

DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

I second mindhack's call for your definition of faith. Equivocation is common in such discussions and, I suspect, at play here too.

No one can prove that reason is useful.

I think you may need to qualify this more. If I use reason a thousand times and I find it useful (utility being a subjective measure as it requires a goal or intent) at least once, haven't I proven reason useful? Or must reason be useful in every instance it is employed? Or is there a threshold somewhere in between you'd argue for?

Thus I agrue that faith in the utility of reason is a necessary condition for being rational.

This needs to be tightened up a bit too. I can see where you might argue that faith in the utility of reason may be necessary for intentional use of reason (rather than just being rational by nature). Then we'll probably just end up having the old boring problem of induction discussion.
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Re: Rational Faith

#6  Postby DrWho » Jul 28, 2011 11:36 pm

Jef wrote:
DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

No one can prove that reason is useful.

Thus I agrue that faith in the utility of reason is a necessary condition for being rational.


Which might be a reasonable argument, had you not already excluded reason from your epistemological toolkit.

Any purportedly rational argument against reason is incoherent. It is so meaningless it is not even wrong, because it excludes, for itself, the possibility of being shown to be correct.


How did I exclude reason?
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Re: Rational Faith

#7  Postby logical bob » Jul 28, 2011 11:50 pm

DrWho wrote:How did I exclude reason?

You asked for a justification of reason. A rational justification of reason would be a circular argument and hence not very rational. You're therefore seeking a non-rational justification of reason.

Except I applied reason to come to that conclusion. Bugger.

So chrisw supplied a better answer. Try avoiding reason and see how long before you remove yourself from the gene pool.
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Re: Rational Faith

#8  Postby DrWho » Jul 28, 2011 11:56 pm

logical bob wrote:

You asked for a justification of reason



Where do you see any indication of that?

edit:

You must not have read my OP very carefully.
Last edited by DrWho on Jul 28, 2011 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Rational Faith

#9  Postby logical bob » Jul 28, 2011 11:58 pm

DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?
It's got nothing to do with your Vorsprung durch Technik, you know, and it's not about you joggers who go round and round and round.
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Re: Rational Faith

#10  Postby DrWho » Jul 29, 2011 12:03 am

logical bob wrote:
DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?


Oh I see what you mean!

Sorry...allow me to clarify:

That is a conditional rhetorical question which is meant to make the following point:

I am saying that if one does not faith, then there is no justification for the use of reason.

I do have faith in the utility of reason, hence, I am justified in using it.

Therefore, I do not exclude reason.
The skeptical writers are a set whose business it is to prick holes in the fabric of knowledge wherever it is weak and faulty; and when these places are properly repaired, the whole building becomes more firm and solid than it was before. - Thomas Reid
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Re: Rational Faith

#11  Postby andrewk » Jul 29, 2011 1:06 am

The OP is a version of the "problem of induction", most famously presented by David Hume in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding in 1748. Various responses to the problem are described in the Wikipedia article linked there.

Presuppositional apologists like Matt Slick use the problem of induction to argue that the belief that reason leads to truth can only be justified by a presupposition of the literal truth of the bible, thence rendering all the arguments against Christianity invalid.

My personal approach is that, rather than worry about whether I believe it or not, I simply choose to adopt as an axiom (or presupposition, as Slick would describe it) the assertion that the laws of logic are valid. This makes it a matter of taste or preference rather than faith. I choose to adopt the axiom because I enjoy the consequences of the actions I take when guided by the thought-system that arises from an acceptance of its validity.*

Edited Addition: *Oh, and for aesthetic reasons as well. An elegant and watertight logical argument is a beautiful thing to behold.
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Re: Rational Faith

#12  Postby jamest » Jul 29, 2011 1:26 am

DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for NOT using it?

Your threads all have a similar vein. I know this because there is a bog-standard retort to every one you've ever started. In this instance, I would say that one cannot not have faith in reason, since one can only use reason to justify such a claim. Therefore, the claim is self-defeating. Otherwise, you/anyone should provide a non-rational means of substantiating such a claim - yet, what is 'non-rational evidence' other than imaginary/fantasy/emotional? The bottom-line, as usual, is that there is no basis from which to attack/limit reason - certainly in a philosophy forum!

... Further, there is no reason to have faith in reason. Reason works like maths (maths being an extension of reason!). Indeed, reason is likened to science - in that we discover more sophisticated/detailed ways of reasoning (whereas science discovers more sophisticated/detailed ways of observing... expressed in rational language!).

... The ultimate point, here, is that you cannot think - beyond the realms of imagination/fantasy/emotion - without utilising reason. Therefore, how are we to judge your thoughts, here? Shall we say that you are completely irrational for [trying to] use reason to denounce reason? Or, rather, shall we say that you are completely irrational because you think that one's imagination/emotion suffices to usurp reason?

... Either way, this thread is destined to give us the needle, again. I'm quite surprised that an intelligent guy like you hasn't grasped this basic-point, yet. The whole issue of justifying reason is beyond those who utilise reason. Why can't you understand this? Further, the issue of listening to people who don't think that reason is self-justifiable - given that their only other available option is their imagination - seems somewhat bizarre in a forum dedicated to reason, don't you think?

... You won't convince anyone here that anything other than reason/observation should be listened to, unless you can 'bend a spoon' (that's the popular mataphor for desire/imagination superceding observation/reason in these parts). So, either bend a spoon or [please] stop with all of these threads denouncing the relaibility of reason. As I see it, them's you're only options. Sorry to be blunt, but progress needs to be made here, as you are just churning-out the same messages in every thread which you instigate.
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Re: Rational Faith

#13  Postby jamest » Jul 29, 2011 1:35 am

andrewk wrote:The OP is a version of the "problem of induction", most famously presented by David Hume in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding in 1748. Various responses to the problem are described in the Wikipedia article linked there.

Nonsense. At what point in your post did you prove that inductive reasoning is the only kind of reasoning?
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Re: Rational Faith

#14  Postby igorfrankensteen » Jul 29, 2011 3:19 am

This all seems to be a bit mixed up. It wasn't clear in the opening post, whether The Doctor was writing in SUPPORT of reason, or against it, and he later added that he supports it, but that still leaves the opening post dangling a bit.

For myself, I would disagree that it is AS IMPORTANT as Dr Who seems to think, that someone has "faith " in reason before using it. Reason is a TOOL, not a philosophy, and not an imaginary external force of some kind. It is NOT an authority (though many people try to pretend it is), any more than a hammer is an authority on how to build houses.


There are times when reason does not bring about a desired, or even a logical result. When that happens, the self-empowered tool user selects something else from the box.
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Re: Rational Faith

#15  Postby DrWho » Jul 29, 2011 4:09 am

igorfrankensteen wrote:This all seems to be a bit mixed up. It wasn't clear in the opening post, whether The Doctor was writing in SUPPORT of reason, or against it, and he later added that he supports it, but that still leaves the opening post dangling a bit.

For myself, I would disagree that it is AS IMPORTANT as Dr Who seems to think, that someone has "faith " in reason before using it. Reason is a TOOL, not a philosophy, and not an imaginary external force of some kind. It is NOT an authority (though many people try to pretend it is), any more than a hammer is an authority on how to build houses.


There are times when reason does not bring about a desired, or even a logical result. When that happens, the self-empowered tool user selects something else from the box.


I am talking about the utility of reason. Is reason a tool that you trust? I see you using it so I assume that you do trust it.

Why do you trust it?
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Re: Rational Faith

#16  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Jul 29, 2011 4:33 am

Any faith is invalid as there are always metaphysical presumptions and claims.
DBD is a fun username. I do not imagine myself as a reincarnation of T.H. Huxley, and with respect, neither should you.
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Re: Rational Faith

#17  Postby DrWho » Jul 29, 2011 4:37 am

jamest wrote:
If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for NOT using it?

I don’t think this follows without more explanation
jamest wrote:
Your threads all have a similar vein. I know this because there is a bog-standard retort to every one you've ever started.

Yes, I have a philosophical perspective and I like to discuss it. This is a philosophy forum so I think it’s appropriate.
jamest wrote:
In this instance, I would say that one cannot not have faith in reason, since one can only use reason to justify such a claim. Therefore, the claim is self-defeating.

It is not. I cannot prove logically that reason must be useful, and yet experience inspires me to trust reason. How is that self-defeating?
jamest wrote:
. ..Reason works like maths (maths being an extension of reason!)…

Yes, and why are you so confident that it works? I suspect that experience has inspired this confidence.
jamest wrote:
... The ultimate point, here, is that you cannot think - beyond the realms of imagination/fantasy/emotion - without utilising reason. Therefore, how are we to judge your thoughts, here? Shall we say that you are completely irrational for [trying to] use reason to denounce reason? Or, rather, shall we say that you are completely irrational because you think that one's imagination/emotion suffices to usurp reason?

No. We shall say that I am a great advocate of reason and that reason is grounded in something other than itself or it is not grounded at all.

jamest wrote:
... Either way, this thread is destined to give us the needle, again. I'm quite surprised that an intelligent guy like you hasn't grasped this basic-point, yet. The whole issue of justifying reason is beyond those who utilise reason. Why can't you understand this? Further, the issue of listening to people who don't think that reason is self-justifiable - given that their only other available option is their imagination - seems somewhat bizarre in a forum dedicated to reason, don't you think?

Thanks, I think you’re intelligent too. But intelligent people can disagree sometimes. I have a great respect for reason which is why I place such great faith in it. I wonder why you can’t see a problem with reason grounding itself. Nothing grounds itself.
Look, I would prefer that reason could ground itself but I have to be honest with myself. It seems impossible. So one day I just bit the bullet and admitted to myself that I have faith. I didn’t like having to admit that, but I got over it. At least now I have solid answer the skeptics, I have faith. And I think skeptics have faith in methodical doubt though it would make their blood boil to admit it. After all, isn’t skepticism deeply reassuring?
jamest wrote:
... You won't convince anyone here that anything other than reason/observation should be listened to, unless you can 'bend a spoon' (that's the popular mataphor for desire/imagination superceding observation/reason in these parts). So, either bend a spoon or [please] stop with all of these threads denouncing the relaibility of reason. As I see it, them's you're only options. Sorry to be blunt, but progress needs to be made here, as you are just churning-out the same messages in every thread which you instigate.


It’s Ok to be blunt. I forgive you since you obviously care about the truth. But I am the biggest advocate of reason in the universe. I’m just honest about the foundation of it. Ask any Time Lord.
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Re: Rational Faith

#18  Postby andrewk » Jul 29, 2011 4:54 am

jamest wrote:
andrewk wrote:The OP is a version of the "problem of induction", most famously presented by David Hume in An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding in 1748. Various responses to the problem are described in the Wikipedia article linked there.

Nonsense. At what point in your post did you prove that inductive reasoning is the only kind of reasoning?

1. "Nonsense" is a surprisingly aggressive way to respond to a non-aggressive argument. Perhaps next time try something like "I disagree with that because of ....".

2. The Doctor's key statement is "No-one can prove reason is useful". All arguments I have come across for the utility of reason are inductive ones along the lines of "reason has been shown to work in the past, so we believe it will continue to work". This has nothing to do with whether the reason whose utility we are discussing is inductive, deductive or both (I assumed he meant both). The question would be exactly the same if you replaced "reason" with "spanners".
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Re: Rational Faith

#19  Postby Jef » Jul 29, 2011 5:06 am

DrWho wrote:
Jef wrote:
DrWho wrote:If one does not have faith that reason is useful, then what is the justification for using it?

No one can prove that reason is useful.

Thus I agrue that faith in the utility of reason is a necessary condition for being rational.


Which might be a reasonable argument, had you not already excluded reason from your epistemological toolkit.

Any purportedly rational argument against reason is incoherent. It is so meaningless it is not even wrong, because it excludes, for itself, the possibility of being shown to be correct.


How did I exclude reason?


If I am in a position where I am deciding whether or not to apply reason, I cannot justifiedly make the argument that I should use reason only if I have faith that it is useful, as this is an application of reason.

Moreover, without reason we have no definition for any of the terms we use to formulate the statement. We can have no rules which say that A is A, or A is not B. We can have no rules of syntax. That is, outside of a rational framework no statement can be said to have any meaning whatsoever, or rather statements are rendered meaningless as any construction is possible.
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Re: Rational Faith

#20  Postby logical bob » Jul 29, 2011 6:49 am

I doubt anyone will claim that reason can justify reason or that a system can prove its own axioms. Everyone here seems to accept that it's a question of utility so in a sense the good doctor's point is uncontroversial.

Faith, however, is a loaded term. If faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen then it's not the right word here because we see the utility. And while bringing in St Paul might seem daft what are we supposed to do when someone claims to be justified by faith?

DrWho wrote:I do have faith in the utility of reason, hence, I am justified in using it.
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