Is it psychologically possible to believe a proposition in the absence of understanding the proposition? If not, do many of us continue to harbor beliefs "as tho" they are understood. While admitting that total understanding is, probably, not attainable, it appears to me that our mutually formed groups that purport to make and implement serious decisions stands as a possible threat to concerted action. I have classified these thoughts as somewhat metaphysical since, if totally psychological, the answer might be in the domain of science. Thank you for this site. Jerry D. H.

Interestingly, something like the converse of your question was asked and answered at Question 4669, linked here . The earlier question was " Is 'understanding' a proposition necessary, but not sufficient, for 'believing' that same proposition?" Whether it's psychologically possible for someone to believe a given proposition without understanding the proposition will depend on whether it's even conceptually possible, i.e., whether it could even make sense to describe someone that way. When asking whether something is conceptually possible, philosophers often consult their linguistic intuitions. So you might ask whether you would sincerely assert something of the form "So-and-so believes that p but doesn't understand it." I myself wouldn't. Now maybe that shows only that such statements are unassertible rather than conceptually false, but I think it's conceptually confused to describe someone as believing a proposition without understanding it. If it is, then the answer to your second...

Psychosis is often characterized as 'loss of contact with reality.' Three questions. (1) What is this 'reality' of which they speak? (2) Does anybody (even psychatrists) really know enough about this 'reality' to be able competently to deliver a diagnosis under that characterization? (3) What is this 'contact' of which they speak

Your question engages at least three areas of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. The answers are as deep and detailed as those areas, i.e., as deep and detailed as you want to go. But maybe a short answer will do for now. Someone claims, apparently sincerely, that the government is controlling him by means of radio signals sent to his dental fillings. (1) He's "in contact with reality," in that respect, only if the government is in fact doing what he claims. (2) There's no good reason to believe it is, and good reasons to believe it isn't (his relative unimportance, the nature of radio signals, the nature of neurons, etc.). If we're justified in drawing conclusions about any empirical issue, I'd say we're therefore justified in concluding that he isn't in contact with reality in that respect. (3) I'm no psychiatrist, but my sense is that losing "contact" with reality requires being impervious to evidence in a special way; not just any false belief, even if persistently...

St. Augustine wrote that he once stole some peaches. When he reflected on that experience he observed that he got a rush from breaking the rules. He then concluded that he broke the rules for the sake of breaking the rules and that more broadly this meant that at least some human sins are committed for the sake of sin. I think that St. Augustine was using this example to refute the Socratic claim that lack of knowledge was the cause of sin. Is St. Augustine's claim valid? Does it follow from the fact that he got excited from breaking the rules that he broke the rules for the sake of breaking the rules rather than the excitement it generated? Are there other reasons why breaking the rules might be exciting other than a desire to break the rules for its own sake? Maybe he got excitement from stealing the peaches because it was risky or because he wanted to challenge authority or to feel less confined by rules.

Warning: I grind my methodological ax a bit in these answers. 1. "Does it follow from the fact that he got excited from breaking the rules that he broke the rules for the sake of breaking the rules rather than the excitement it generated?" No: it doesn't follow; the former doesn't logically imply the latter. A philosopher (indeed, any decent reasoner who understands the question) can answer that one. 2. "Are there other reasons why breaking the rules might be exciting other than a desire to break the rules for its own sake?" I can't see why not, but here you're better off asking a psychologist, someone who studies people's actual motivations in a systematic way. 3. "Maybe he got excitement from stealing the peaches because it was risky or because he wanted to challenge authority or to feel less confined by rules." Maybe so. For more than "Maybe so," you'd again need to consult someone with psychological insight into rule-breakers in general and (if possible) this rule-breaker in particular...

Why is C.I. Lewis' strict implication not taken seriously in this day and age? Clarence Irving Lewis was known for criticizing material implication and for instead proposing strict implication. Why is he, his criticisms, and his proposed strict implication not taken seriously today? Many contemporary logic, philosophy, and mathematical texts refer to material implication rather than strict implication.

I'd say that C. I. Lewis's strict implication is very much alive in contemporary philosophy, although often called by different names, such as "logical entailment" or "logical implication." Philosophers frequently claim (or deny) that some proposition "entails" another, by which they very often seem to mean "strictly implies." Material implication, unlike strict implication, is a truth-functional relation between propositions: given only the classical truth-values of two propositions, you can tell which one materially implies the other (material implication will run in at least one direction between them, if not both). By contrast, strict implication isn't truth-functional: it requires asking about the truth-values that propositions take in worlds other than the actual world, which invites philosophical controversy. As a result, strict implication is a less clear-cut relation than material implication. So despite its unintuitive features (which, as you say, Lewis criticized), material...

Can tautology be defined as "unnecessary repetition of information"? In other words, does tautology have the same sense as repetition? Thanks.

In my experience, not every philosopher treats repetition as essential to a tautology. Sometimes I've seen "tautology" used to denote any logical or conceptual truth, even one that doesn't contain repetition, such as "All bachelors are unmarried." But I think most would agree that any statement that's logically true at least partly because of repetition, such as "All bachelors are bachelors," counts as a tautology. Whether the repetition is "unnecessary" requires asking, "Unnecessary for what?" If you start a statement with "All bachelors are...", there are plenty of ways to finish it that won't produce a truth, but repetition will. Yet repetition isn't necessary in order to produce a truth. Furthermore, repetition isn't sufficient for truth: "2+2=5. I repeat: 2+2=5."

I've heard it asserted several times in quite different contexts that "people make decisions primarily using emotional criteria, and only after the fact do they then use reason to justify this decision." I'm curious both to hear your response(s) in general, and perhaps also in a more specific context. If I understand Karl Marx' economic theory correctly, he asserts that the foundation of all social relationships is technology, or economic relationships, or how people earn a living. Social, political, religious, and governmental structures then develop as a justification of the fundamental underlying economic relationships. I'm curious on philosophical responses to this assertion, because it seems to me that it is the basis for the crucial argument that then follows. He then asserts that, because technology is constantly evolving, while bureaucratic structures are static, that a "dissonance" develops over time, which must eventually result in a re-balancing. so that the other structures are then in...

Regarding whether it's true that "people [in general] make decisions primarily using emotional criteria, and only after the fact do they then use reason to justify this decision": This question is empirical, and it belongs to psychology. I wouldn't trust any philosopher as such to answer it. I'm not sure that psychology, in its present state of development, can answer it either, but philosophy as such doesn't have a hope of answering it. The claims you attribute to Marx are also empirical, and in this case best evaluated by economic historians. The claims are so sweeping that I myself would need an awful lot of evidence before I'd accept them. I'm not sure how we'd even get reliable evidence that "the foundation of all social relationships is technology, or economic relationships, or how people earn a living": the claim is not only sweeping but also ill-defined (what's meant by "foundation"?). Philosophers as such aren't equipped to answer empirical questions. But I think they...

Is it considered possible to be consciously aware of an object or thought without experiencing feelings, or is "feelings" just another word for conscious awareness?. If this question can't be dismissed, which philosophers have explored it?

You may find it interesting to read about the phenomenon of blindsight , which sounds roughly like what you're describing. My impression is that perhaps psychologists more than philosophers have investigated it, but there's at least one book on the topic written by someone trained in philosophy.

Suppose that you had two bags each with an infinite number of blue marbles. Suppose you also had another bag of infinity red marbles. If you mixed those three bags what are your odds of getting a red marble? Obviously this isn't a realistic experiment but is it 1 in 3 or 50%?

The intuitive answer seems to be "1 in 3," and I think that's the right answer if each infinite set of marbles has the same size (or "cardinality"). I take it you're wondering if the infinite size of the sets invalidates the intuitive answer. I don't think it does. Maybe this analogy will help. There are infinitely many even whole numbers and infinitely many even plus odd whole numbers, but there aren't twice as many of the latter as there are of the former: the cardinality of the two sets is the same. Yet the odds that a randomly chosen whole number is even are surely only 1 in 2 (rather than 1 in 1). If that reasoning is sound, then the fact that the various sets are infinite doesn't affect the probability.

Is it ethical to kill someone in self-defense? My instinct was yes at first, but upon further reflection, in a situation where it's "you or them", I can't seem to think of a reason to kill someone in self-defense, other than the fact that you simply want to live. After all, you're still taking a human life. (Also if you could explain why it is or isn't ethical would help me out a lot thanks!)

By "Is it ethical to kill someone in self-defense?" I take it you mean "Is it ever morally permissible to do so?" Consider a tidy case, in which you're morally innocent and in which, for all you can reasonably tell, it's certain you'll be killed unless you kill your attacker. If it's not morally permissible for you to kill the attacker, then it must be morally obligatory for you to allow yourself to be killed: permission and obligation are two sides of the same coin. Hence, unless it's morally obligatory for you to allow yourself to be killed, it's morally permissible for you to kill your attacker. I can't see how it could be morally obligatory for you to allow yourself to be killed in that situation, so I readily conclude that you're morally permitted to kill your attacker. (I recognize that some prominent figures have taken the opposite view, apparently including Jesus in Mt. 5:39 .)

My colleagues' examples show me that my intuitions aren't thoroughly consequentialist. I think an innocent person (and maybe any person) always has a right to lethal self-defense if needed to avoid a lethal threat. An innocent person's (and maybe any person's) sacrificing his/her life is always morally supererogatory.

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