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June 10, 2008, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: , , , ,

A thought experiment conducted out on the thin branches:


Suppose someone convinced to you that an explicit and formal argument that you put forward was faulty in some way.

Would you stop believing in the conclusion of the argument? Or would you be strongly inclined to think that the problem was with your particular formulation of the argument? If so, you’d try to reformulate it. You’d try to capture it in a better way.

Somehow an informal and tacitly known argument lurks beneath the formal and explicit one.

We know the whole argument before we attempt to explicitly formulate it. We don’t suddenly realize the conclusion as we finish explicitly formulating the argument step by step. The formal and explicit argument is an expression of the informal tacit argument.

Now we might eventually become convinced that the informal and tacitly known argument can never be expressed formally in a valid way. In this way, and I think ONLY this way, do we ever decide to give up an argument.

But even here, if it is true that all knowledge is either tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge, then in certain situations it may not count against an argument that it cannot be explicitly formalized according to a set of explicit logical rules.


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