Pan Critical Rationalism

A few of us have been having a contentious debate in the comments section after I claimed that it wasn't true that everyone uses induction in their lives.

I do hold that some people might use philosophical induction with the intention of achieving absolute truth but that this is invalid. There are people who say, "The sun rose in the past so it must rise today."

It certainly is a method you could use to take a stab at the truth but it is so prone to error that it is likely to fail. Popper called this psychological induction. I say it's likely to fail because it is prone to error. Just because the sun rose yesterday and the day before does not mean it will always rise. I'm sure most people who would agree with this solar statement are smart enough not to use the method in this case although they may be mistaken in thinking they are in fact using it anyway. This is the error that Popper believed Hume made.

Now I feel the opposition has so far even failed to understand my position. I cannot even get him to the point where he understands Popper. Sometimes I'm just not sure how to get another person to see things correctly. I'm not saying that he must see that I'm right but that he at least understands my position. Then I might accept his claims as valid criticism, true or not.

In that spirit I went out to try and find a worthy opponent. Someone who I feel understands Popper and has a criticism I accept as valid. I had heard arguments in the past that were, I thought, acceptable criticisms of Popper. I thought I'd show one to move the argument up to the point where I am, and not remain stuck on the failure to even understand Popper.

So why then do I still maintain my position? The answer is that I didn't. I'm not a strict Popperian in the sense of being a believer in everything Popper says. I never was since I disagreed with him on some issues. I was however accepting of part of his beliefs. I was a critical rationalist but had to abandon that when I found arguments that showed critical rationalism to be false. I modified my beliefs to more in line with Bartley. I'm currently a variety of Pancritical Rationalist.

Does that help? Well, yes and no. I no longer have to deal with the prior criticism that worked on Popper but there are new criticisms that work on Bartley's position. I also accept that criticism. We'll get into why I continue to believe in a modified Pancritical Rationalism later.

The criticisms of Popper and Bartley that I accept are expounded upon in an article by Armando Cíntora titled "Miller's Defence of Bartley's Pancritical Rationalism ". You can read it here. Here's a google in case that link goes bad.

Here is the criticism of Bartley that I accept:

"W. W. Bartley thought it was possible, however, to reform Popper's critical rationalism into a consistent and comprehensive theory of rationality («pan critical» rationalism: PCR, also called comprehensive critical rationalism: CCR.) Bartley claimed that it was possible to reform critical rationalism into a theory that allegedly does not lead into a fideism of ultimate commitments. Bartley proposed a new rational identity one that allegedly does not lead into conflicts of rational integrity. Bartley's pan critical rationalist can be characterized as one,

... who is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions, including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his basic philosophical position itself open to criticism; one who protects nothing from criticism by justifying it irrationally; one who never cuts off an argument by resorting to faith or irrational commitment to justify some belief that has been under severe critical fire; one who is committed, attached, addicted, to no position. (Bartley, p. 118; emphasis added.)

This pan critical rationalist justifies nothing and allegedly criticizes everything, even his own rational attitude or position, he is not committed to any position, not even to a belief in the value of argument. This doesn't mean that the PCrationalist is without convictions, but only that he is willing to submit his convictions to critical consideration. PCR, however, leads to logical paradox, thus consider the following argument, due to Bartley himself and inspired by a critique of J. F. Post, an argument that Bartley finds unobjectionable:

(A) All positions are open to criticism.

And because of PCR's intended comprehensiveness it then follows,

(B) A is open to criticism. And,

Since (B) is implied by (A), any criticism of (B) will constitute a criticism of (A), and thus show that (A) is open to criticism. Assuming that a criticism of (B) argues that (B) is false, we may argue: if (B) is false, then (A) is false; but an argument showing (A) to be false (and thus criticizing it) shows (B) to be true. Thus, if (B) is false, then (B) is true. Any attempt to criticize (B) demonstrates (B); thus (B) is uncriticizable, and (A) is false. (Bartley, p. 224.) (Emphasis added.)

Hence, PCR is refuted and this conclusion is a result of the self-referential character of PCR -- a theory that intends to be a theory of all theories itself included, and it recalls the logical difficulties of classical rationalism, which also wanted to be comprehensive. Bartley claims that the paradoxical nature of PCR could be dealt,

...by type and language-level solutions, Zermelo-type solutions, category solutions, radical exclusion of all self reference... (Bartley, pp. 219-20.)

But, this is too vague, mere possibilia. "

I agree with this and I also agree that Miller was not able to resolve the issue to my satisfaction.

So, you might ask, "If I accept this criticism of Bartley then why do I continue to claim to be a Pancritical Rationalist?" The answer is that I have a solution in mind that is not in this list of "possibilia".

I leave it to the reader to see if they can come up with a solution. Remember to always consider the possibility that the problem was improperly stated.

If the problem is misstated then this would not be an excuse for Bartley since he was the one who formulated the precise statement based on a critique by J. F. Post. If any error was made it was certainly Bartley's.

So what's the solution?

Also, who the heck spells Defense as Defence? Is that a British thing?

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Yes

As I've already said, yes, I do believe those are falsifiable from the perspective of other or potential observers.   Same is not true of the afterlife.

what observers?

So how could observers falsify every person dying (from the nuclear blast) yet couldn't falsify the afterlife? Explain.

Potential Observers Could

Potential observers could.  All the dinosaurs died out and yet we know about their demise.   No observer, potential or not, can falsify the afterlife. 

Of course, I just said that. 

huh, well I guess...

Like I said at the beginning- your argument begs the question. Religious people believe in God (or hell, they only must believe in the "potential for God to exist" a much weaker claim) the observer who can falsify the afterlife.

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