Is one rationally justified in assuming a dominant philosophical position that one has some reasons to doubt?

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If one has insufficient reasons for rejecting a dominant philosophical position but sufficient reasons to doubt that the dominant philosophical position is unproblematic, to what extent is one rationally justified in assuming that dominant philosophical position?

Witt

Posted 2016-08-29T17:20:09.433

Reputation: 126

I would suggest philosophy is not about making assumptions. Why would you 'assume' a position you doubt is unproblematic? Why would anyone? . . . – None – 2019-10-29T13:00:22.717

1Can you clarify this with an example? Also, what do you mean with 'rationally justified'? – None – 2016-08-29T17:29:53.650

1Wouldn't the answer depend on their own philosophical position, e.g. rationality standards, notion of justification, etc., which may or may not be a dominant one? And what is a "dominant" philosophical position anyway? Does it have alternatives, is comparison to said alternatives envisioned? This question is unanswerable without much more context, and perhaps not even then. – Conifold – 2016-08-29T21:03:29.360

assumptions do not require justification. Maybe you mean something closer to "endorse"? – None – 2016-08-30T18:24:40.823

Answers

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One should ask what role -- if any -- the dominance of the philosophical position has on one's decision to accept it. If the dominance of the philosophical theory is important, then it is possible that one is selecting a position for fear of disagreeing with others, especially those in authority. The anticipated consequences of not accepting the dominant theory are not necessarily relevant to whether or not the philosophical position itself merits acceptance. (Although, in reality, such acceptance -- or at least the appearance of acceptance in the eyes of others -- may have pragmatic benefits, such as allowing one to survive in a society where there are prisoners of conscience, and an official ideology imposed by the government).

Irving M. Copi classifies informal fallacies into two kinds. Those based on "irrelevance" and those based on "ambiguity". (Page 98) One fallacy he mentions that might be related to the fear involved in disagreeing with a dominant position is "appeal to authority" or "argumentum ad verecundiam'. (Pages 105-6)

So, one would not be rationally justified in accepting the dominant philosophical position, unless one discovered an adequate basis for accepting the full philosophical position. In the absence of such a basis, one would be rationally justified in accepting only some parts of the dominant philosophical position.


Copi, I. M. Introduction to Logic Sixth Edition. Macmillan. 1982.

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2016-08-29T17:20:09.433

Reputation: 18 742