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duerig
    @simon_w One of my best app purchases ever. @peteburtis @solwatts
    duerig
      @neilco Yeah. There is something fundamentally unserious about trying to find the magic words that will force your intellectual opponent to capitulate. I do think there is a correct answer. But trying to formulate a bulletproof argument won't get you there
      duerig
        @minego Does West Jordan do Utopia? If so, switch ASAP. :/ @jws
        duerig
          Both possibilities are plausible. I don't consider them to be equally likely. But it is irrational to suppose that I can convince anyone else absolutely of my judgement, even if they are just as rational as I am. At best we can trade pebbles.
          duerig
            But it is also plausible that there are agents out there and that the reason why belief in them is so universal is that these agents affect our lives and we evolved in an environment driven by invisible agents.
            duerig
              It is possible that we humans have a bias that is counter to reality. We have many such biases. We don't have good instincts at all for how the laws of motion work, for example. And there are plausible explanations of why we assume agency too easily.
              duerig
                All of these beliefs are based on a combination of subjective experience and testimonial. 'My friend who is an HVAC specialist said...' 'I read in the paper that there was a study that said...' 'The government issued a statement that said...'
                duerig
                  Sometimes it is about things that are critical to our welfare: many people have believed that there are invisible forces at work that shape our health, be they demons, energy, humor balances, tiny animals, self-replicating chemicals, or witches.
                  duerig
                    Because this defeater proves too much. There are innumerable situations where we have known biases. Sometimes it is about mundane things: many people have believed that thermostats work like a throttle, making your furnace work harder at higher settings.
                    duerig
                      While the concept of a 'defeater' is not convincing, neither is the particular one that is used: Many people have believed in invisible agents with miraculous powers based on subjective experience and testimony and these beliefs have often been false.
                      duerig
                        So claiming that you have a 'defeater' for your opponents belief system is not a convincing argument. Even if you can put it in formal logic terms: A believes X A is presented with a defeater for X A stops believing in X OR A does not rationally believe X
                        duerig
                          Many pebbles can together change the shape of our internal landscape. Very occasionally a pebble will cause a landslide that we perceive as an epiphany. But even an epiphany is as much about the shape of our current beliefs as about the shape of the pebble
                          duerig
                            At best, when presented with a novel argument or form of evidence, the only rational thing to do is to take it under advisement and add the interesting pebble to the mountain of existing evidence that we already have about the topic.
                            duerig
                              The author then brings in the idea of a 'defeater', which reads more like a 'heads I win, tails you lose' rhetorical trick. Almost no argument is very persuasive by itself even between people who are completely rational.
                              duerig
                                So the epistemlogical underpinnings of the argument are quite unconvincing. The author is trying to posit religious experience and belief as the result of uniquely weak evidence. While it is more correct to say that all belief stems from this same source.
                                duerig
                                  When we are wrong about the world, we are wrong about our theories of what subjective experience means. And when we change our minds, we are recontextualizing our previous subjective experiences in new ways. The experiences are not wrong.
                                  duerig
                                    Science, mathematics, and all the other tools of our intellectual toolbox are built on top of subjective experience. They are not replacements for or in opposition to subjective experience. They simply let us interpret the experience in new ways.
                                    duerig
                                      Even supposedly a priori beliefs are founded on (a) learning via testimonial about an abstract system and (b) being convinced by that testimonial and subjective experience that the abstract system yields truth before (c) deriving some 'a priori' belief.
                                      duerig
                                        First, subjective experience is the basis of any and all truth we might find. Testimonials, a form of subjective experience, gives us the substance of almost our entire abstract beliefs right or wrong. *All* belief is founded on these pillars.
                                        duerig
                                          The most recent example [stephenlaw.blogspot.com] just strikes me as comprehensively wrong. It happens to be an argument against religious belief. But it is just as unsturdy as Anselm's arguments for God.