Announcement

Collapse

Philosophy 201 Guidelines

Cogito ergo sum

Here in the Philosophy forum we will talk about all the "why" questions. We'll have conversations about the way in which philosophy and theology and religion interact with each other. Metaphysics, ontology, origins, truth? They're all fair game so jump right in and have some fun! But remember...play nice!

Forum Rules: Here
See more
See less

The so-called ''Burden of Proof''

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The so-called ''Burden of Proof''

    Translated from the original in Portuguese, which can be found at: https://ktreta.blogspot.com/2009/10/treta-da-semana-o-onus-da-prova.html?fbclid=IwAR098l68k54HPar2kCwHMWM3SDIrAP VRgLs2VvAIOV2b2r8DSZj7vmRna8E.

    [Nonsense] of the week: ‘’Burden of Proof’’.

    It’s common for atheists, and skeptics in general, to claim that the burden of proof is on believers because those propose that something exists, be it the monster of Loch Ness, be it God. That is not correct. It gives the wrong idea that it’s not necessary to substantiate the thesis that there are not gods or monsters in lakes simply because it claims that something does not exist instead of claiming that it does. But it’s not the type of thesis that makes us responsible for it’s substantiation. The burden of proof is on anyone who defends any thesis. It’s the responsibility of proposing something as true, due to the implicit promise, of whomever participates on a dialogue, to explain to the other party what he/she defends. If we reject the burden of proof we at the same reject defending our position or we give up on rational dialogue altogether.

    But ‘’proof’’ here is in the sense of a test to evaluate the plausibility of the proposed thesis. It’s an error to claim that one does not possess the burden of proof because you cannot prove the inexistence of something. That is to equivocate on the meaning of the word ‘’proof’’. If I propose that there are tigers on the loose in the city of Chiado, it’s not reasonable to demand a mathematical demonstration. I cannot prove it in that sense. But I have the burden of proof to show that my thesis is plausible and, in this case, it suffices to point out that there is no indication of people being attacked by tigers in Chiado. If from the existence of something, we predict certain effects and we don’t find them, it is justified to conclude that this something does not exist. The calmness of people when they see vitrines is strong evidence that there are no tigers nearby. That entirely supports the burden of proof.

    Much the same way, if somebody proposes that something exists, that person runs into the obligation to show that their thesis is the most plausible. If they don’t, it’s reasonable to reject it. Russell’s teapot is a famous example. To reject the hypothesis that there is a teapot around the Sun, it suffices that whomever proposed it does not show any evidences of such a thing, so there is no reason to take the statement as true. That’s why, said Russell, it is not up to the skeptic to prove the inexistence of something, or more generally, the falseness of an affirmation. It’s the person who claims it is true that has the burden of proof. But this is due to proposing a thesis. Be it for existence of inexistence, any thesis requires substance.

    For that reason, when the atheist goes beyond the mere rejection of believer’s hypothesis, due to lack of substance, and states that none of these gods exist, the atheist carries the burden of proof as well. In order to justify ‘’you don’t convince me’’ the other party can simply not show that their thesis is the most plausible. But in order to justify ‘’this is false’’, he has to show that this, conversely, is the most plausible hypothesis. Just like someone who claims that there are no tigers at loose in Chiado, the atheist has the burden to show that it is more plausible that gods don’t exist.

    But no mathematical proof is needed for the non-existence of tigers or gods. It is just needed to show that this is the most plausible hypothesis. And here the lack of expected clues is decisive. If everything is peaceful and calm while shopping, it is plausible that there are no tigers at loose there. By the same token, each child that gets legless for stepping on a mine, dies from cancer or is born with a genetic disease strongly suggests that there is no benevolent and omnipotent being that cares about us. Of course anyone can propose that the tigers are invisible and that they bite only the souls of people, who in turn only notice it after they die. But such hypothesis are, right off the bat, very little plausible. And, most importantly, the hypothesis of not existing continues to be the most plausible. It is not because we label something as invisible that it’s existence becomes more plausible in face of lack of any evidences.

    That’s why I think that, in those sorts of conversations, we should focus the plausibility of each hypothesis instead of letting the responsibility to the other party. That occurred to me because it happened with Ricardo Silvestre and a kardecist woman the other day. She asked him to prove that spirits did not exist, he replied that the burden of proof was her’s and she replied back that ‘’the burden is exactly the same’’. And she was right. If one states that it (spirits) exists and other that it does not, both have the duty to substantiate their thesis. But this is not a problem that is restricted to Ricardo, and that’s the reason I don’t want to focus on that particular episode.

    The problem is a common confusion between the duty to justify a thesis and the difficulty to prove, in a definitive manner, that something does not exist. In other words, the ambiguity of the term ‘’prove’’. While it is very difficult to prove, in the strong sense, that something does not exist, it is relatively easy to test the thesis of it’s existence and non-existence and infer which one is more plausible. And it is this that supports the burden of proof. In regards to extraterrestrials who steal cows breasts, to the saints that cure splashing oil, to souls, spirits, gods and company, the hypothesis that they don’t exist is much more plausible than the confusion of alternatives that the believers in these things propose.

    Ludwig Krippahl
    Last edited by rogue06; 08-03-2021, 06:57 PM.

  • #2
    Given the text and arguments above, who exactly, in the end, has the ''onus'' (burden of proof) in the THEISM VS. ATHEISM DEBATE/WAR?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Seeker View Post
      Given the text and arguments above, who exactly, in the end, has the ''onus'' (burden of proof) in the THEISM VS. ATHEISM DEBATE/WAR?
      Or any other debate come to that.
      I recall a story from some time ago where a person was challenged to provide evidence that God exists. The reply - "The Jews - they are not extinct."
      sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by tabibito View Post

        Or any other debate come to that.
        I recall a story from some time ago where a person was challenged to provide evidence that God exists. The reply - "The Jews - they are not extinct."
        ?

        Did not understand a word. Did you read the OP?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Seeker View Post

          ?

          Did not understand a word. Did you read the OP?
          Of course I do - I argued that same case years ago on this site. though admittedly, not in any real depth. Just one or two sentences.
          sigpic1 Cor 15:34 εκνηψατε δικαιως και μη αμαρτανετε αγνωσιαν γαρ θεου τινες εχουσιν προς εντροπην υμιν λεγω

          Comment

          Related Threads

          Collapse

          Topics Statistics Last Post
          Started by Teallaura, 09-20-2021, 03:42 PM
          14 responses
          43 views
          0 likes
          Last Post seer
          by seer
           
          Started by Hypatia_Alexandria, 08-17-2021, 04:44 AM
          146 responses
          704 views
          0 likes
          Last Post tabibito  
          Started by Machinist, 01-30-2021, 10:14 AM
          158 responses
          1,132 views
          0 likes
          Last Post Machinist  
          Working...
          X