Thursday, December 19, 2013

How does criticism work?


Rami, if I am correct, you are arguing that the default position for any argument should be that it is correct until it is criticized. I do not think this is reasonable. For one thing, it is difficult to define what a criticism is. How do we show something is a criticism?


Criticism has no meaning outside the context of a problem.

A criticism is an explanation of a flaw in an idea.

An idea is a solution to a problem.

Once the problem is defined, then we can talk about whether or not the proposed solution actually solves the problem.

I'll do a couple of examples.

Let's say the idea is: "God exists."

Well, what problem does that idea solve?

Let's say the theists says that the problem is: "What created the universe?"

And the theist's proposed solution is: "God did it."

So here's a criticism: "The proposed solution doesn't work because all it does is create another problem of the same type: What created god?"

So his god idea is refuted for containing a contradiction.

Here's another example. Let's say the idea is "Punishment works".

Well, what problem does that idea solve?

Let's say the punishment advocator says that the problem is: "How do I make someone change his bad behavior?"

And his proposed solution is: "The person who is doing wrong behavior must be punished so that next time that he thinks of doing that behavior, he'll avoid doing it in order to avoid the pain of the punishment."

So here's a criticism: "The proposed solution doesn't work because he hasn't learned why the behavior is wrong, nor what behavior is better than the wrong behavior, which means that even if he knew it's wrong, he hasn't learned a better way of behaving, so he'll continue doing what he knows. Changing one's behavior is a matter of learning. Learning requires explanations that the person doing the learning must agree with in order to be persuaded. For more on that, see my essay on Parenting.

-----[ more on criticism ]-----

Q: Re supernatural claims, when the claimant claims natural evidence warrants supernatural causes.. Theism does this. There are hundreds of reasons theists use to justify their position. I see no connection. Is this no connection an acceptable criticism? Or under Popper's idea, the claims persist due to no criticism existing?

A: If somebody claims a cause, and if he doesn't give an explanation for his claim, then that's a criticism of his claim -- that it is unexplained. It's a criticism because without an explanation, we can't find out if it's reasoning is wrong. So it's wrong for not having any reasoning. A similar criticism is of vague explanations. If you have an idea, and you tell me your explanation, and if that explanation seems vague to me -- meaning that it could mean like 10 different things -- then my response will be 'Your explanation is vague' which is a criticism of your explanation. At this point you could clarify your explanation in an effort to make it less vague.

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