Re: Why believe the truth?

From: Brett Paatsch (
Date: Tue Jun 17 2003 - 22:51:27 MDT

  • Next message: Brett Paatsch: "Re: greatest threats to survival (was: why believe the truth?)"

    "Dan Fabulich writes:

    > Brett Paatsch wrote:
    > > Dan Fabulich writes:
    > >
    > > > In particular, I consider it a fact of ethical logic that,
    > > > for any X, we shouldn't believe the claim *:
    > > >
    > > > (*) Although X is false, we should believe X anyway.
    > >
    > > What about where X = "This drug will relieve your illness"
    > >
    > > When
    > >
    > > (1) The drug is a placebo and no real medication is available.
    > >
    > > (2) 40% of patients with the particular illness have improved
    > > as a result of the placebo effect in the past.
    > Yes, even then. Because, what I think you're arguing here is that, in
    > this case, we should believe X, and hence, we shouldn't believe (1), which
    > just says ~X.

    There may be a problem with the use of the word "we". In your
    example "we" could be the same person, in mine the people it is a
    doctor that makes statement X. And note he says "will" not "might"
    to maximise the patients confidence and give the placebo the best
    chance. Yet it is the patient (another person) who believes X
    and in 40% of cases actually benefits from that belief (but not for
    the reasons he thinks) but in 60% of cases he does not benefit.

    > Hence, we shouldn't believe that ~X, so we shouldn't believe "~X & we
    > should believe X", which is *.

    I think the answer is it depends on who "we" is refering to in some cases.
    There are potential benefits in believing white lies told to us by others
    and that being the case they may be being ethical to do so.

    > ...I actually think my position is already and automatically weakened
    > by making it a "logical" argument as such: it's only a fact about our
    > definitions, not really about the world. So it's already weak enough,
    > and hence defensible enough.

     Not sure I follow but it could be you and I are agreeing on the need
    to more clearly define terms (such as "we).

    Brett Paatsch

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