## Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

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### Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

I have dabbled with different theories in Philosophy regarding consciousness and whatnots for some time now. The one thing i find it rather frustrating and irritating is when someone try to use solipsism as a way to win an argument they know they cannot win by other means. Such as " How do you know what you know is true and that the evidence supporting it is true?"a and "How do you know if your senses are really correct?"[/i]b[/i] and "is your reason reasonable? if so how do you know?"c. They then reduce it further and further, ('how do you know that?' and "how do you know that?"d) or until it ends up something like " so your reason is reasonable because of what you know, and what you know is based off your reason?"e ". then they promptly claim you are using circular reasoning and assume they are victorious. Thats a pretty shabby argument and a pretty low blow, considering that the arguer themselves most likely cant give a logical answer without special pleading or falling under circular reasoning by their own logic. the problems I have with this argument is that;

1. It completely ignores that we base what we know and our reasoning off of axioms (self evident facts like 2+2=4), our perception, and experiences.

2. It assumes that knowledge and information can exist outside our minds often this is an argument used to try to prove deities exist, but that would be special pleading.

3. Argument d is a logical fallacy of asking questions of something until the questions can not go any further and is completely redundant.

4. it doesnt explain how we know if other people are aware, or assumes that we are all just a collection of brains in a vat without explaining how they know that this is indeed a fact.

anyone else have any ideas of how this is flawed?
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Jägerbombastic,

Welcome to the forums! You've got a fun name!

As for the topic, I'm not 100% sure if you're describing a fallacy so much as an aversion to being challenged.

Ideally you should be able to explain your beliefs. For example, it's good to be able to explain why $2+2=4$; arguing that this statement's true just because it's common knowledge is really more of a belief than an understanding.
Natural ChemE
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Thanks Natural, and I'm glad to be here.
However I have to agree with you to an extent and also disagree. Let's say you have two sticks. Then you put two more next to them. If you count them all individually you will have 4 no matter what, therefore 2+2 will always equal 4 thus being self- evident. I don't really mind being challenged but i do get annoyed when someone is being arguing with cheap arguments in an attempt to corner me then assume they are right when under the same questions they would find themselves in the same position as I am.
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

What you're having a problem with is not solipsism per se - but skepticism. Skepticism leads to a solipsistic position - because it is pathological doubt, as employed by Descartes in his Meditations. He doubts that 2+2=4, he doubts that a the world around him exists, or that he has a body - but nonetheless finds he cannot doubt he exists. Hence his most famous line cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am. In meditations, Descartes relies on the existence and goodness of God to rescue him from his predicament - which he finds cannot be doubted, (particularly while Galileo was in the clink for that very same offense against the laws of the Church.)

We however, cannot enjoy such assurances from the state that God exists and in his perfect goodness would not allow we are deceived. Instead, there comes a point at which skepticism requires more assumptions than accepting the axiom. For example, in order to maintain objective reality is an illusion, requires a greater degree of assumption than simply accepting that a reality external to our physical and mental selves does indeed exist. This applies to the example posted in the OP - if we are brains in jars, where are these jars stored, who tends them...and so on.

Applied to epistemology - the philosophy of knowledge, there's a point at which it becomes reasonable to accept, and unreasonable not to accept, an idea as having validity - based on the available information. So long as the claim is to sufficient reason - rather than absolute truth, unreason can be shown in the skeptic - because again, it requires greater assumption to interpret the evidence in any other way, that the way it is interpreted.
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

uninfinite » April 26th, 2016, 1:37 pm wrote:What you're having a problem with is not solipsism per se - but skepticism. Skepticism leads to a solipsistic position - because it is pathological doubt, as employed by Descartes in his Meditations. He doubts that 2+2=4, he doubts that a the world around him exists, or that he has a body - but nonetheless finds he cannot doubt he exists. Hence his most famous line cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am. In meditations, Descartes relies on the existence and goodness of God to rescue him from his predicament - which he finds cannot be doubted, (particularly while Galileo was in the clink for that very same offense against the laws of the Church.)

We however, cannot enjoy such assurances from the state that God exists and in his perfect goodness would not allow we are deceived. Instead, there comes a point at which skepticism requires more assumptions than accepting the axiom. For example, in order to maintain objective reality is an illusion, requires a greater degree of assumption than simply accepting that a reality external to our physical and mental selves does indeed exist. This applies to the example posted in the OP - if we are brains in jars, where are these jars stored, who tends them...and so on.

Applied to epistemology - the philosophy of knowledge, there's a point at which it becomes reasonable to accept, and unreasonable not to accept, an idea as having validity - based on the available information. So long as the claim is to sufficient reason - rather than absolute truth, unreason can be shown in the skeptic - because again, it requires greater assumption to interpret the evidence in any other way, that the way it is interpreted.

except its not skepticism, Rather they are trying to trap you into a corner and then assert that since you were unable to answer their question that we must get our knowledge from a god; preferably their god. The people who make such an argument as I stated already made an assertion that their God exists and therefore cannot be considered skepticism.
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Jägerbombastic » May 2nd, 2016, 8:10 pm wrote:
uninfinite » April 26th, 2016, 1:37 pm wrote:What you're having a problem with is not solipsism per se - but skepticism. Skepticism leads to a solipsistic position - because it is pathological doubt, as employed by Descartes in his Meditations. He doubts that 2+2=4, he doubts that a the world around him exists, or that he has a body - but nonetheless finds he cannot doubt he exists. Hence his most famous line cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am. In meditations, Descartes relies on the existence and goodness of God to rescue him from his predicament - which he finds cannot be doubted, (particularly while Galileo was in the clink for that very same offense against the laws of the Church.)

We however, cannot enjoy such assurances from the state that God exists and in his perfect goodness would not allow we are deceived. Instead, there comes a point at which skepticism requires more assumptions than accepting the axiom. For example, in order to maintain objective reality is an illusion, requires a greater degree of assumption than simply accepting that a reality external to our physical and mental selves does indeed exist. This applies to the example posted in the OP - if we are brains in jars, where are these jars stored, who tends them...and so on.

Applied to epistemology - the philosophy of knowledge, there's a point at which it becomes reasonable to accept, and unreasonable not to accept, an idea as having validity - based on the available information. So long as the claim is to sufficient reason - rather than absolute truth, unreason can be shown in the skeptic - because again, it requires greater assumption to interpret the evidence in any other way, that the way it is interpreted.

except its not skepticism, Rather they are trying to trap you into a corner and then assert that since you were unable to answer their question that we must get our knowledge from a god; preferably their god. The people who make such an argument as I stated already made an assertion that their God exists and therefore cannot be considered skepticism.

Then tell them that they're right - and pretend like you've only just realized this. Give them a good three paragraphs describing their argument like it were a revelation from God, and then at the end simply add: 'Still, what can you do?' and carry on from where you left off.
uninfinite
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

uninfinite » May 2nd, 2016, 4:49 pm wrote:
Jägerbombastic » May 2nd, 2016, 8:10 pm wrote:
uninfinite » April 26th, 2016, 1:37 pm wrote:What you're having a problem with is not solipsism per se - but skepticism. Skepticism leads to a solipsistic position - because it is pathological doubt, as employed by Descartes in his Meditations. He doubts that 2+2=4, he doubts that a the world around him exists, or that he has a body - but nonetheless finds he cannot doubt he exists. Hence his most famous line cogito ergo sum - I think therefore I am. In meditations, Descartes relies on the existence and goodness of God to rescue him from his predicament - which he finds cannot be doubted, (particularly while Galileo was in the clink for that very same offense against the laws of the Church.)

We however, cannot enjoy such assurances from the state that God exists and in his perfect goodness would not allow we are deceived. Instead, there comes a point at which skepticism requires more assumptions than accepting the axiom. For example, in order to maintain objective reality is an illusion, requires a greater degree of assumption than simply accepting that a reality external to our physical and mental selves does indeed exist. This applies to the example posted in the OP - if we are brains in jars, where are these jars stored, who tends them...and so on.

Applied to epistemology - the philosophy of knowledge, there's a point at which it becomes reasonable to accept, and unreasonable not to accept, an idea as having validity - based on the available information. So long as the claim is to sufficient reason - rather than absolute truth, unreason can be shown in the skeptic - because again, it requires greater assumption to interpret the evidence in any other way, that the way it is interpreted.

except its not skepticism, Rather they are trying to trap you into a corner and then assert that since you were unable to answer their question that we must get our knowledge from a god; preferably their god. The people who make such an argument as I stated already made an assertion that their God exists and therefore cannot be considered skepticism.

Then tell them that they're right - and pretend like you've only just realized this. Give them a good three paragraphs describing their argument like it were a revelation from God, and then at the end simply add: 'Still, what can you do?' and carry on from where you left off.

What will that do exactly?
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Well, it confused me, so it might confuse them. :)
Eclogite
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

I've never heard of this "fallacy" and would appreciate a reference for it. thanks.

mtbturtle
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

I think they are chatting about what is sometimes called "the skeptical hypothesis." I like Finite's term better, "pathological doubt," in which more assumptions are required to be skeptical than accept something as the most reasonable explanation. So, essentially, a failure to properly use Ockham's Razor. For example, it requires fewer assumptions to say that gaps in scientific knowledge are due to physical processes we just haven't yet delved into, rather than say "There's a gap, so there must be a deity at work."

Or, in the case of my Mitsubishi, a demon. There is no viable physical explanation for the way the Check Engine light pops on and off.

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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Is there something wrong with calling it Skepticism? Pyrrhonism is the more extremists, I think, but none of these terms are fallacies.

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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Jagerbombastic,

Any sceptical view becomes self defeating - so if you agree, it's like in Judo, where you use the weight of your opponent against them. It's only if you oppose their view, they have anything to come back with:

i.e. we're all brains in jars.
You're right. Still, what can you do?
Reality is an illusion.
You're right. Still, what can you do?

Ecoglite, Confused? Still, what can you do?

mbturtle, I think your question is directed at Jagerbombastic - as he is the only one to use the term fallacy, though perhaps in an informal, commonsense sense of the word, as opposed to a formal sense of the philosophical term: fallacy.

brainvat, Oh, right! Yes, I'm attempting to describe to Jagerbombastic a philosophically sound rhetorical device for dealing with - what he describes as someone 'using solipsism' as a way to win an argument. Solipsism - the idea you can know nothing beyond yourself, is only revealed to us by skepticism, or what I've called pathological doubt. As I'm sure you appreciate, solipsism is merely the destination - skepticism is how we get there; and I suggested he seek to address the means rather than the end. Except he didn't seem to like and/or understand that argument, but still, what can you do?
uninfinite
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Braininvat » May 3rd, 2016, 1:08 pm wrote:I think they are chatting about what is sometimes called "the skeptical hypothesis." I like Finite's term better, "pathological doubt," in which more assumptions are required to be skeptical than accept something as the most reasonable explanation. So, essentially, a failure to properly use Ockham's Razor. For example, it requires fewer assumptions to say that gaps in scientific knowledge are due to physical processes we just haven't yet delved into, rather than say "There's a gap, so there must be a deity at work."

Or, in the case of my Mitsubishi, a demon. There is no viable physical explanation for the way the Check Engine light pops on and off.

exactly. basically the God of the gaps.
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

uninfinite » May 3rd, 2016, 2:50 pm wrote:Jagerbombastic,

Any sceptical view becomes self defeating - so if you agree, it's like in Judo, where you use the weight of your opponent against them. It's only if you oppose their view, they have anything to come back with:

i.e. we're all brains in jars.
You're right. Still, what can you do?
Reality is an illusion.
You're right. Still, what can you do?

Ecoglite, Confused? Still, what can you do?

mbturtle, I think your question is directed at Jagerbombastic - as he is the only one to use the term fallacy, though perhaps in an informal, commonsense sense of the word, as opposed to a formal sense of the philosophical term: fallacy.

brainvat, Oh, right! Yes, I'm attempting to describe to Jagerbombastic a philosophically sound rhetorical device for dealing with - what he describes as someone 'using solipsism' as a way to win an argument. Solipsism - the idea you can know nothing beyond yourself, is only revealed to us by skepticism, or what I've called pathological doubt. As I'm sure you appreciate, solipsism is merely the destination - skepticism is how we get there; and I suggested he seek to address the means rather than the end. Except he didn't seem to like and/or understand that argument, but still, what can you do?

except it's not skepticism because they made the claim that their god exists. but I see what you're going for kinda.
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Jägerbombastic » May 3rd, 2016, 9:18 pm wrote:
uninfinite » May 3rd, 2016, 2:50 pm wrote:Jagerbombastic,

Any sceptical view becomes self defeating - so if you agree, it's like in Judo, where you use the weight of your opponent against them. It's only if you oppose their view, they have anything to come back with:

i.e. we're all brains in jars.
You're right. Still, what can you do?
Reality is an illusion.
You're right. Still, what can you do?

Ecoglite, Confused? Still, what can you do?

mbturtle, I think your question is directed at Jagerbombastic - as he is the only one to use the term fallacy, though perhaps in an informal, commonsense sense of the word, as opposed to a formal sense of the philosophical term: fallacy.

brainvat, Oh, right! Yes, I'm attempting to describe to Jagerbombastic a philosophically sound rhetorical device for dealing with - what he describes as someone 'using solipsism' as a way to win an argument. Solipsism - the idea you can know nothing beyond yourself, is only revealed to us by skepticism, or what I've called pathological doubt. As I'm sure you appreciate, solipsism is merely the destination - skepticism is how we get there; and I suggested he seek to address the means rather than the end. Except he didn't seem to like and/or understand that argument, but still, what can you do?

except it's not skepticism because they made the claim that their god exists. but I see what you're going for kinda.

it's nice to feel appreciated...kinda
uninfinite
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

uninfinite » May 4th, 2016, 4:25 am wrote:
Jägerbombastic » May 3rd, 2016, 9:18 pm wrote:
uninfinite » May 3rd, 2016, 2:50 pm wrote:Jagerbombastic,

Any sceptical view becomes self defeating - so if you agree, it's like in Judo, where you use the weight of your opponent against them. It's only if you oppose their view, they have anything to come back with:

i.e. we're all brains in jars.
You're right. Still, what can you do?
Reality is an illusion.
You're right. Still, what can you do?

Ecoglite, Confused? Still, what can you do?

mbturtle, I think your question is directed at Jagerbombastic - as he is the only one to use the term fallacy, though perhaps in an informal, commonsense sense of the word, as opposed to a formal sense of the philosophical term: fallacy.

brainvat, Oh, right! Yes, I'm attempting to describe to Jagerbombastic a philosophically sound rhetorical device for dealing with - what he describes as someone 'using solipsism' as a way to win an argument. Solipsism - the idea you can know nothing beyond yourself, is only revealed to us by skepticism, or what I've called pathological doubt. As I'm sure you appreciate, solipsism is merely the destination - skepticism is how we get there; and I suggested he seek to address the means rather than the end. Except he didn't seem to like and/or understand that argument, but still, what can you do?

except it's not skepticism because they made the claim that their god exists. but I see what you're going for kinda.

it's nice to feel appreciated...kinda

Welcome :) I just find Solopsism so annoying for such mundane purpose. even if a god was proven philosophy you'd have as much proof as our brains being in a vat.
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Well, arguably - it's a significant question in epistemology: how do we know what we know?

Science avoids the subject/object dichotomy by externalizing the question - i.e. if I formulate a scientific principle, and design an experiment to test it - and have someone else observe those results also, if the experiment works then the principle must be valid - and not just to my mind.

The same idea - in more everyday terms, might be expressed as:

Scientific principles are used as a basis to create, and improve upon technologies that function within the cause and effect nature of the environment. If the principle were not valid, the technology wouldn't function. It would malfunction in such a way as to break down.
uninfinite
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

uninfinite » May 4th, 2016, 10:09 am wrote:Well, arguably - it's a significant question in epistemology: how do we know what we know?

Science avoids the subject/object dichotomy by externalizing the question - i.e. if I formulate a scientific principle, and design an experiment to test it - and have someone else observe those results also, if the experiment works then the principle must be valid - and not just to my mind.

The same idea - in more everyday terms, might be expressed as:

Scientific principles are used as a basis to create, and improve upon technologies that function within the cause and effect nature of the environment. If the principle were not valid, the technology wouldn't function. It would malfunction in such a way as to break down.

good point I'll give you that.
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

(Sorry to break up the party here but..)

"How do you know what you know?" is a totally legitimate question, and in no way is it a fallacy.

In fact, "How do you know what you know?" lies at the heart of a tradition in the history of the Western world leading all the way back to the ancient Greeks. This tradition has many names, but one of them is : philosophy.

hyksos
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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

The way I see it is that some people get lost in objectivity aa much as some get lost in subjectivity. The funny thing is they are two sides of the same coin.

Dogmatic adherance to one extreme ontogical/epistemological view merely closes an avenue of investigation (this can be of use depending on application).

A common post is saying that 1+1=2. Some argue that this is not true because no two things are identical so I cannot have 2 of anything. Mathematically 1+1=2 and that is true because that is the rule we employ and find useful in helping to explain our sense of reality.

The cartasian meditation is just that. It is something to meditate over not prove or disprove. It is a rule of thought like mathematics and has useful application and useless application.

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### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

hyksos » May 8th, 2016, 7:39 pm wrote:(Sorry to break up the party here but..)

"How do you know what you know?" is a totally legitimate question, and in no way is it a fallacy.

In fact, "How do you know what you know?" lies at the heart of a tradition in the history of the Western world leading all the way back to the ancient Greeks. This tradition has many names, but one of them is : philosophy.

I'm pretty theres a fallacy of asking questions until it cant go back any further since its completely redundant. there person first made the claim that their god existed then tried using semantics to prove their argument. "knowledge cant exist without god therefore god exists.".
Jägerbombastic

### Re: Flaws of "How Do You Know What You Know" Fallacy

Any one or all of those pathological characteristics. Add this one: There are those - and you've all met them - who simply delight in trying to trap you in what you mean to be a serious discussion. They have no thought on the topic at all. They simply delight in seeing your total confusion when you try to take them seriously and they don't even want to be. All they want is their "fun" of tormenting, of creating bedlam. There are several words that fit that characteristic but pathologic will do there also.

Maybe, if you recognize in time what they are doing, "You are right but what can you do" fits the situation best of all. Only they'd probably take that as "I surrender".
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