Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Emotion and Knowledge

An interesting quandry I've come to...

By the definitions given us by our TOK language, a moral/ethical belief can qualify as an emotional claim to Knowledge. Knowledge must be a PJTB, as defined by TOK. Yet moral/ethical issues are completely and entirely relative, and cannot be proven true in any sense of the word. So, the way I see it, TOK is wrong here - Knowledge claims that use ethical/moral/emotional beliefs as their basis cannot possibly be True.
Am I interpreting this wrong, or does what I just said hold some validity?

12 comments:

ELanciotti said...

I don't know though, I think they can be true because that fits under the pragmatic definition of truth. That definition has to do with the fact that what is useful for you to believe is then therefore true for you; I can believe that my dog has feelings because that is useful and kind of nice to think that he does therefore it is true. Not in a sense perception or maybe even other definition of truth, but I disagree. Your emotional beliefs work for you, so therefore they are true for you and you just have to prove that, nothing else.

Vvyynn said...

Let us examine an ethical issue: Monkeys deserve the right to vote (Yes, this is ethical, don't ask questions).

Knowledge=PBTB. This is a Belief, so we're good there. This is true for several reasons: Prag.) It is useful for me to believe this, because it will get me the vote of a hard to reach demographic (also, it backs up my belief in equality (7-2521)); Corre.) I see monkeys, and I see that they exhibit a certain amount of intelligence, thus they must be intelligent enough to vote; Cohe.) Gah! I always forget this one...so it's true here because it is. Now all we have to do is prove this to be properly justified. Ethics and Emotion are a way of justification (I believe), and so there we have it. Knowledge.

Thus, Devin, to answer your concern: An ethical claim can be knowledge under TOK, you just have to be creative.

devin said...

I think I stated the original question a little bit too vaguely...
I meant to ask: Can any of these knowledge claims that use moral/ethical proof to back them up be used as, or claim to be anything but, personal knowledge? I understand both of your points, but I guess I just see so many ethical/moral claims causing debate against already established knowledge, when I don't see why they should even be considered halfway valid as an argument, since they are only personal truths and as such, entirely relative.
So, to clarify what I said in the last jumble of a sentence: I don't see any reason why the Pragmatic truth theory should hold any place among the others. What it proves "true" is merely belief, what is convienient to believe at the time, whereas the others attempt to prove things "true" based on perceptions and observations and evidence. And eliminating this truth theory wouldn't harm any true statements like "my dog can think": these are proven true through the others (the dog knowingly responds to sound in different ways, showing interpretation and therefore thought, even if it is primitive).
So, there you have it. Call me a soulless nazi if you will, but I don't believe that's what I'm saying: I just think that beliefs shouldn't be considered true. This is backed up by existing TOK rhetoric, so I guess I just don't understand this contradiction.

ELanciotti said...

But really going back to what knowledge is I think that many people can have their own knowledge as long as they can show it is a properly justified true belief. If they can show it is true and they believe it, all they have to do is justify it now, and then what can you say? As long as they fit the criteria that can be their own knowledge even if you don't hold it that way. Right?

devin said...

Yes, people can have their own knowledge, but I believe that they have to tweak the formula for that, eliminating the truth aspect. I'm trying to argue that the Pragmatic truth test is irrelevant and shouldn't be used as a "truth" test. Someone's personal knowledge can be true to them because it's convenient, but if that's the case, then it's just their belief, is it not?

ELanciotti said...

Yes you can argue that, that is a good point, but you can't disprove something that has been layed down as knowledge..in this case the pragmatic truth test. But I see your point, and I understand what you are saying, I just personally think everyone can have their own knowledge.

devin said...

I completely agree with you. Really. What I'm trying to say is not that people can't possess their own knowledge, but that that knowledge shouldn't be automatically accepted as a universal knowledge merely because it is convienient for one person to know something. I am challenging the pragmatic truth test as a test for "Truth" (note capital t), not personal knowledge, which I would propose to define not as PJTB, but as PJB. And I disagree with you that the pragmatic truth test is knowledge. It is being presented that way, but I don't think it can exist within the boundaries of TOK without bringing up unnecessary contradictions and confusion. And besides, we can never prove the truth tests true, because there are no "truth tests" for our methods of finding truth. So, in a sense, this argument is entirely relative. You are looking at it one way, and I another, and neither of us can prove our point nor disprove our opponent's. This is exactly why I disagree with labeling the Pragmatic truth test as such - it makes something that is unprovable appear to be provable, and gives us a false ledge to stand on in order to prove our beliefs, when in fact they can't be proven as True (again, the capital T) just through believing them.

Adrienne said...

Well done Dev- you've established one of the problems of the pragmatic test- all of the truth tests have inherant problems- and that's why a knowledge claim must be tried under all three in order to become real knowledge, or a PJTB. All three have problems such as this- so while the pragmatic theory is still valid, one should just look at it from the perspective of one part of three. I think if you look at it in this light, it becomes more valid. It's only a part, yet still a necessary part, of proving something True- all three must be able to be used, at least to some extent, to get to that Truth. Hopefully this makes sense...?

devin said...

Adrienne: I agree with you for the most part. What I still don't see is, since we use the other two anyway in conjuction with Pragmatic, why the Pragmatic truth test exists. I interpret the Pragmatic truth test as saying: "If you believe it, and it's useful for you to believe it, then it's true" - validating any and all beliefs. This is completely and utterly redundant, and makes absolutely no sense. Why, if a belief has to be validated by the other two tests, do we have a test that says any belief we have is automatically true? Is it sort of an "innocent until proven guilty" clause? I don't see why we label the Pragmatic truth test as a test for truth, when the other two work just as well without it.

Big E said...

I've witheld commenting on this string mostly because I agree with what Devin is saying. I think it relates back to my Jazz postings. I don't see how there can really be any PJTB's based on emotional claims. Aren't those just PJB's?
Basicaly, I agree with Devin and do not see how TOK justifies this.
-Evan

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