Steve Patterson: Certainty and Logic | WSB #26

February 6, 2018

Steve Patterson's book Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge begins with the bold claim: "Truth is discoverable. I'm certain of it." The rest of the book is an attempt to prove that there are certain truths for which there is not a sliver of doubt.

I am, to say the least, unconvinced. Universal fallibilism - the claim that all knowledge leaves room for doubt - is, ironically enough, a view I'm particularly confident of (though, obviously, not certain of). Indeed, I did a two-part podcast on this topic (Against Certainty: Knowledge and Experience and Against Certainty: Logic). In this interview, I challenge Steve's claims to certainty with my skeptical doubts. The conversation takes us through the Münhhausen Trilemma, the nature of justification, subjective experience, and, of course, the ever-popular liar paradox.

Next week: Catarina Dutilh Novaes: Logic as Social Practice

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Special thanks to Jackie Blum for the podcast art, and The Tin Box for the theme music.
Click here for the full list of episodes!

Square One: The Foundations of Knowledge by Steve Patterson
"How to Resolve the Liar's Paradox" by Steve Patterson (video)

Topics discussed:
0:41 - The goal of certainty
2:59 - Agrippan trilemma
6:37 - Certainty v. necessity (epistemology v. metaphysics)
19:08 - Justification (grounds for belief)
25:42 - Certainty about experience v. certainty about logical truths
29:03 - Meditating on experience
31:40 - Presuppositions of skepticism?
41:50 - Negation
43:32 - "Logic and existence are inseparable"
47:28 - Philosophy of language
49:50 - Liar paradox, negation, and the possibility of contradiction


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