Re: virus: Phaith page on

Eric Boyd (
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 12:39:17 -0400


KMO <> writes:
My guess is that David would agree that the maxim is falsifiable and saythat his belief in it is proportionate with the evidence for it, i.e. overwhelming, but subject to re-examination in light of new evidence. But that doesn't really work, does it? It would be his commitment to rationality that would prescribe re-examining the maxim in light of that new evidence. Hmmm.... tricky.

Hmmm... I don't know. I think you've confused two propositions above:

(1) "If truth is the goal, rationality is the way" -- David McF. (2) "we should proportion our belief to the evidence"

The second proposition is quite widely held, and seems so utterly obvious from a freethinkers prespective that we pass by it without thought, but I think that the main content of faith and phaith is in a denial of it.

Faith and phaith differ in that the former advises breaking (2) when evidence *is* actually present, while the latter says that {in cases where evidence can never be applied / for non-falsifiable propositions}, you may choose to believe/value/embody the proposition, rather than taking the agnostic position.

Now you state above that "It would be his commitment to rationality that would prescribe re-examining the maxim in light of that new evidence", but I don't think that's true. It is his commitment to (2) that causes that. Is two a rational/logical consequence of (1)?

One thing I would say to prompt a re-evaluation of the question of whether David's maxim constitutes an example of phaith is this: If one's commitment is to the truth of a proposition, then one has faith rather than phaith.

As opposed to the usefulness of the proposition? The value of the proposition? I've got an interesting idea: could one have phaith in the value of the proposition; i.e. embody the proposition, bring it to life, as it were; and then also have a rational argument which supports it's truth? (and hold the truth value of the proposition according to the evidence)

In this way, we can continue to say that phaith, per say, has nothing to do with truth; phaith has to do with value, with meaning and gnosis (self-knowledge).

The position then is: "Rationality isn't where I'm going. Rationality is who I am". I value it with my life. I also have this pile of evidence {a, b, c, ..., x, y, z} that rationality leads to truth, which is quite fortunate. I like truth!

Can we have our cake and eat it too?