Saturday, September 02, 2017

Forgotten arguments

When I first started reading up about undesigned coincidences, I thought of an objection to them that was pretty strong. Now, I've forgotten what that objection was. That causes a problem because no matter how much I read about them, and no matter how persuasive arguments from undesigned coincidences seem to me now, I still have doubts because I know there's this objection I once had that I can no longer remember. I can't do anything about it either. I can't think about whether it's a good objection, and I can't ask anybody else if they think it's a good objection. So I'm stuck.

This is kind of the opposite problem I brought up on my blog a long time ago in a post about "phantom arguments." Sometimes, we study something out in depth and become convinced of some conclusion. Once we've become satisfied that the conclusion is true, we don't worry about it anymore. We stop studying it and we stop reading about it because we're satisfied. But then years later, we forget why we were so convinced. Now, when we run across objections, those objections may seem on the face to be entirely persuasive, yet we are not convinced because we know we once had good reason to believe. That makes it impossible for us to judge the merits of the objections we're hearing without going back and doing all that studying again.

If you think about it, these forgotten arguments, reasons, and evidences can keep up from progressing in knowledge. Maybe the objection I once had to undesigned coincidence is not a good objection. Maybe the reasons I had for accepting some conclusion were not good reasons or would be overcome by the recent objections I've heard.

It just shows to go you that epistemology is not always tidy. But it's also another reason to cut people slack who don't immediately change their minds when you present them with what you think is a pretty good argument. You don't know what's inside their noetic structure that's keeping them from changing their minds. They're not necessarily being irrational.


At 11/06/2017 10:12 PM , Blogger Paul said...

This is a really interesting point, and something I've observed in myself.


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