Published on May 23, 2016
Everybody has false beliefs, including you. But that means everyone’s beliefs are self-contradictory.

logical paradoxes

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3 thoughts on “everyone’s beliefs are self-contradictory

  1. rgbuzz

    I’m not sure how effective the preface paradox really is. I don’t think that I believe that any one of my beliefs is wrong. I believe that it is *possible* that any one of my beliefs is wrong. Admitting the possibility doesn’t admit the actuality and so there are no contradictory beliefs.

    Moreover, it seems a bit overzealous to assume that at least one of your beliefs may be wrong. You cannot *know* this in any strict sense, you can only know the possibility.

    Reply
    1. arnulfo Post author

      More than a paradox, it’s about the definition of knowledge and belief. Scientific knowledge is about an accumulation of an increasing set of facts and theories against an ever residing horizon of unknowns. One might even believe on actual facts by wrong assumptions. The attempt to analyze knowledge has received a considerable amount of attention from epistemologists, particularly in the late 20th Century, but no analysis has been widely accepted. Some contemporary epistemologists reject the assumption that knowledge is susceptible to analysis (see http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/)

      Reply
      1. rgbuzz

        But it is called “the Preface Paradox”. I understand that it raises various philosophical questions (in epistemology, in particular) – this is generally the point of philosophical paradoxes, to raise these kinds of questions.

        My point is that I think that one solution to the problem presented in the preface paradox is this. It is not as though we need to believe that at least one of our beliefs is false. It is enough to have the knowledge that it is possible that at least one of our beliefs is false. This amounts to something similar to having the belief that at least one of our beliefs is false, but it is not “paradoxical” in the same way. I’m trying to say that introducing modality could be a good way to start thinking about things like this.

        But yes, I am aware that this is an epistemological question first, and a paradox only superficially.

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