Beyond a reasonable doubt

Joseph at Ironical Coincidings has an excellent post on reasonable doubt, Socrates, and jury-men. I had to reblog it.

Ironical Coincidings

Last night I had a long conversation about what role, if any, probabilistic evidence should have in our reasoning about “the things that matter” (meaning, I suppose, the fundamental structure of our relationships with each other, the world, God, ourselves.) What are we to make of language like this:

  • “Considering all the arguments for and against, I hold there to be a 90% chance that God exists, and so call myself a deist.”
  • “Considering all the arguments for and against, I’m 95% certain I should marry this woman, and so will do so (if she consents).”
  • “Considering all the arguments for and against, I’m 99% sure he committed the crime, and so vote to convict.”

Has it any place in philosophical discourse?

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The class for which I’m TAing has recently been reading Plato’s Gorgias, in which Socrates has this to say about refutation (in Donald Zeyl’s translation):

[471e]…

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