How Can You Be Certain of Your Views?
It is very likely that we are wrong about everything.
Even scientists make conclusions based on insufficient evidence. Studies are cited which are later refuted VERY often.
Assuming that science is among the most reliable methods of obtaining credible knowledge, we should have good reasons to be skeptical if even this method is fallible.
How is it, then, that we state things as certainties? We claim that we know that the Moon landing occurred. We say that blue whales are the largest mammals and that cheetahs are the fastest mammals. But how do I know this for certain? I haven’t gathered research personally. I rely heavily on appropriate authorities. Yet still, I haven’t checked the credentials of any of the scientists, I don’t understand the mechanics of statistics, & I am not equipped to understand the difference between a good/bad study.
The question of ‘knowing’ vs. ‘not knowing’ becomes even more crucial when we ask ourselves how we come to conclusions to personal matters. People that hold religious beliefs, for example, make giant leaps in inductive reasoning and accept claims (almost exclusively) because they lack evidence. But they are not alone.
If you asked me why I think it’s unethical to lie, I would say that there are exceptions (very rare, but they exist) but that for the most part lying, including white lies, is unethical. Kant’s followers would disagree. Why do I hold this view? I did not — and cannot — have analyzed all the arguments, I am not an expert in philosophy, I have primarily only read views that agree with mine, etc. For these reasons and many more, I could be wrong.
Then how can we be certain? Strictly speaking, everything is ‘likely’ ‘very likely’ ‘unlikely’ or ‘not likely at all’. If you take my conclusions seriously, even this assessment could be wrong.
Before you go…
I’d love if you’d share the article on Facebook/TWITTER if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.
I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,