Fallibilism and Problem Solving with Meta Levels [CF Article]

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Western philosophical ideas were first developed in ancient Greece. The early Greeks distinguished between “epistēmē” (divine knowledge, truth) and “doxa” (fallible knowledge, guesswork, opinion). (I learned the most about this from Karl Popper, who I also learned a lot about fallibility from.)

I thought that this was an interesting example of giving credit. I think that most people would not feel the need to credit “epistēmē” and “doxa” to anyone, but instead would just treat it as general background philosophy knowledge[1]. But Elliot gave credit to Popper for teaching him about it. So presuming I’m right about the fact that most people wouldn’t feel the need to give credit for this sort of thing, I think this is an example of a disagreement between Elliot’s perspective on giving credit and most people’s.


  1. If they did give any source, I think it’d be in the form of a “See e.g. [Source]” type of thing, which would signal that the source was one of many possible sources the author had read and could choose from. ↩︎

A person who denies the attainability of epistēmē, like the early Greeks denied, is now called a skeptic – a denier [OF] all knowledge

suggested edit indicated in [brackets]

Our culture has the anti-fallibilist idea that only epistēmē is knowledge, doxa isn’t. But they also frequently deny being infallibilists because they think they have only e.g. a 99% guarantee against error, not 100%.

“Culture” is singular but “they” is plural. A straightforward edit would be to make the beginning of the first sentence “People in our culture have”.

do this and you won’t be wrong or you’re less likely to be wrong.

(emphasis added)

Minor issue, but I think “you’re” should be “you’ll be” so that there’s agreement amongst the contracted forms.

do this and you won’t be wrong or you’ll be less likely to be wrong.

If there was tons of variation it wouldn’t be replication anymore because it wouldn’t be like the previous generation.

I think this is expressing a hypothetical/condition contrary to fact, so you need the subjunctive, so it should be “If there were

You’re implying that Elliot’s views on plagiarism are weird/unconventional/wrong, and that therefore he’s wrong about Curiosity – Dennis Hackethal, Plagiarist and Curiosity – Misquotes by David Deutsch (the Taking Credit from Karl Popper section). You’re undermining him against leaders in the harassment campaign. The relevance to those articles is the reason/subtext/context for why you brought this issue up and commented on it.

You made a bunch of other errors in what you said, too. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

You’re also modeling bad behavior in this thread by writing 5 replies to Elliot’s article without any discussion at all of what the article is about. You didn’t try to engage with the article, figure out what the main point of it was, learn it, etc. You’re modeling how to write lots of replies that don’t get anywhere, so that it superficially looks like you’re discussing or trying when you aren’t.

There is a sentence in the sixth paragraph that is missing a noun:

If have no epistēmē and don’t think there is any other kind of knowledge, then you’ll think you have no knowledge!

I think the noun is “you”.

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This is a summary of some of the important ideas in this essay.

People can make mistakes - fallibility. This means we can’t have knowledge that is guaranteed to be true and many people think this means we can’t have any knowledge. But we can have knowledge that is uncertain. Most epistemologies other than critical rationalism try to avoid mistakes, but this is impossible so we should want to have ideas about how to correct mistakes.

Error correction only works with qualitative differences not quantitative differences because we have to be able to sort ideas according to whether they have that error or not, so it is digital not analog.

We need mechanisms for correcting errors, dealing with issues like meta ideas (ideas about ideas). If we have a disagreement about an idea, then we can discuss what to do about that disagreement. And we can keep going up meta levels until we reach an idea we agree on. People can sabotage discussion and going up meta levels won’t always fix that.

Evolution - replication with variation and selection - is low level error correction.

All errors are correctable and since we can’t avoid all errors we should be trying to find ways to fix them.

Typo.

we can’t have knowledge that is guaranteed to be true and many people think this means we can’t have any knowledge

I forget what I said in the article, but: actual skepticism is rare. What’s common is to see a conflict between knowledge and fallibilism. From there, people don’t know what to do with the conflict. There are many takes on the conflict, many of which are inconsistent (their comments on multiple issues contradict each other).

I fixed the typo.

You’re right. I should have written:

We can’t have knowledge that is guaranteed to be true. Many people think that if we can’t have guaranteed knowledge, we can’t have knowledge at all, so they oppose fallibilism which sez we can have knowledge without guarantees.