Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I have a question. How does the justification of justification run?

Now, if justification does not require a justification then any demand for justification is unjustified, thus hypocritical.

If justification does require justification then how is this done without begging the question?


Rowan Blyth said...

a) By definition - you wouldn't ask whether a base needed a base. It is contained in the concept of justification that it is justified or else it would not be a justification. If it were not, then there would be no concept of justification to demand that it be so. Justification doesn't need to be justified, it isn't circular.

b) Clearly it is justified to require justification in an academic endeavour such as philosphy which in a sense is premised on justified belief and justified knowledge.

c) To avoid a clear infinite regress of justification, there is always a point that requires no justification because it can be assumed reasonable to not require it. The need for justification of justification is simply like asking 'but how do you know?' at every empirical observation no matter how basic or self apparent - there is a point where you must have a base of 'given' knowledge. 1st principles.

michael said...

Practicality is such a dull answer for such basic things. I'm not saying that it's not correct, just dull.

From your post I am left with such dreamings as 'so where does the concept of justification come from?', 'how did justification get so fashionable?', 'why must we assume things?', and 'who gave me my basic knowledge?'

For if justification is nothing more than convention, produced like the conventions in bridge, for the purposes of allowing people to feel like they know what's going on, then there is hope yet that they will change. And when they do someone will presumably explain this change somehow. I think that will be entertaining.

Samuel Douglas said...

Rowan: Nice work.

Michael: You need to get over your obsession with self-referential quibbles. I think that Rowan's explaination shows how to ask for justification for something, with out justifying 'justification' is reasonable. True it is a convention, part of the 'rules' of the game, espescially in philosophy. But try to get by without it and see how you go. Some things are given priveleged status for a reason,ie. life is very difficult and confusing without them. Justification is one of these things.

Yes it is a bit dull. As is any explaination that makes sense. But if you want fairies and magic and someone to tell you that anything is possible, you are in the wrong place, go do creative writing or join a cult.

michael said...

Sam, I have to say that Rowan's post was far more logical than yours, for the very simple reason that unlike Rowan, you put in a justification of (or 'reason for') justification while claiming that none was needed. Would you like to clarify?

Samuel Douglas said...

It does not matter.

No we can't really justify 'justification'.

But usefulness and justification are two different things. I can't justify inductive reasoning, and yet life would be a very confusing and tedious affair without it.

True, my claim to 'usefulness' can bee seen as a justification, but I don't see a need to justify my preference for things that seem to work and are useful over things that are not.

On a different note, I wonder if your paradox entails some sort of category mistake? Justifiation cannot be the defining characteristic of 'justification'. If it was then it would be like the barber who shaves himiself.

(I can feel an infinite regress coming on. Similar to a XXXX but better tasting.)

This is going nowhere fast. Let's kick it up a few gears.

If your argument can be taken as a justification (albeit an implied one) of why justification is unjustified, then your agrument cannot actually be taken as justification for anything.

michael said...

Yes, quite right. My original thought was that justification is like the barber. I was wondering if anybody felt the urge to dig us out of such a whole, or do we call that whole 'home'? I've no suggestions.