Monday, November 17, 2014

Stephen Colbert and Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss wrote a book about the universe coming from nothing.  Stephen Colbert interviewed him and pointed out the following:

If God does not exist then God is nothing.
If the universe can come from nothing, and God is nothing, then the universe could come from God.

http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/e6ik9l/lawrence-krauss

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Justification Without Awareness

In epistemology, an externalist is one who takes a third person account of knowledge.  Rather than answering the first person question "how do I know?" the externalist describes the conditions of knowledge for a knower in a kind of sociologist perspective.  One problem that arrises in fields like sociology or for externalism is that there remains the "how do I know this account is true" problem which is an internalist question.

In his book Justification Without Awareness Michael Bergmann gives an externalist account and answers various objections.  One of these is the "anything goes objection."  This objection says that any religious fanatic can appeal to this same kind of externalist warrant.  Bergmann says "What it does mean is that we must give up on the false hope that playing by the rules of proper philosophical exchange will enable us to resolve all serious disagreement about maters such as fanatical religious views" (233).

This made me think of two questions.  What about non-fanatical non-theistic religious views?  Suppose that the fanatic actually can't consistently rely on the kind of externalism Bergmann articulates.  It still seems to me that there are many non-theistic religions that can.  Therefore, such an account has not helped us achieve knowledge at all.  It has not and cannot settle the most basic and long lasting divisions between humans about what is real.

Next, if this epistemology cannot help us on these basic and long lasting divisions then in what sense is it different than skepticism on this point?  The quote above seems to say that we can be satisfied in our beliefs, others can be satisfied in their beliefs, and the discussion ends there.  Which is to say we really cannot know.