3 AM Philosophy

Why lack of belief atheism has a type of burden of proof…explained.

TRIGGER WARNING: DO NOT read this if ALL you plan to do is BITCH about the topic as people who are not understanding the argument seem to be just having kneejerk reactions to my argument that *ALL* atheist, regardless of how it is defined have some *type* of burden of proof. This isn’t even a really contested idea in philosophy from what I have seen and is just a formulation of Dr. Malik’s argument from his paper that agnostism needs to be defended and that theism, atheism, and agnostism can have a BoP…if the person has been exposed to the proposition and are psychologically aware of the proposition. (i.e. you have not BoP if you have never heard of the proposition, or are mentally unable to evaluate it) this would be the only trivial exception to the argument that all atheists have a BoP as it assumes the person has been exposed to the proposition.

The argument goes like this:

1) ALL beliefs to be rational (excluding properly basic depending on who you ask) require justification to be rational.

2) If you believe you are not justified to assign a truth value to the proposition of theism (Theism is TRUE or theism is FALSE) then that belief ALSO requires a justification.

3) Since that justification is NOT on a belief about the actual proposition itself, it is a SECOND ORDER justification.

This is supported by a peer reviewed paper in the Journal of Philosophy by Dr. Malik who has been kind enough to evaluate my argument and tentatively has seemed to agree it would conform with his argument in his paper. Article in Philosophy 93(02):279-301 · April 2018 with 83 Reads DOI: 10.1017/S0031819118000074 “Defining Atheism and the Burden of Proof” – Shoaib Malik

TL:DR I am arguing that there is a psychological belief that if one can not properly justify assigning a truth value to p then that belief has a second order burden of justification (since it can’t be first order as it not with a propositional belief with respect to p)

What I most amazed with is that only 1 person recognized the problem of infinite regress by continual inferential justification (which I was already aware of, but nice to see someone caught it.) While I don’t subscribe to infinitism, but to foundationalism…I don’t think it is that much of a problem. I could clearly forsake my personal theory of justification and appeal to infinitism from a pragmatic approach, I don’t think that I forced to do that by any immediate considerations that I can see. However, I am still giving consideration to the best approach to dealing with the dilemma of inferential justification and if anyone has any suggestions I would be interested…but atm that is merely of not direct influence on my argument, but to be addressed at a later date. While of course there can be errors and no argument is perfect.

I am open to a proper critical analysis of the argument as so far Dr. Malik seems to agree as I have been corresponding to him personally about his paper, Dr. Malpass (Philosophy agrees it is fine to call it a second order justification, Dr. Zeimer (math/logic head of CSU-LB completely agrees and I asked him if I can use him as an expert on it and he said yes, Dr. SyGarte who is a bio-chemist but very brilliant man who agrees, Dr. Kroon (astrophysics) agrees, hell even and Dave S and Barney Tearspell agrees (LOL!)…and I have spoken with a few from the Atheist Community of Austin who are pondering it as well and have not dismissed it outright. So am very serious in having a CRITICAL examination of this argument other than the typical kneejerk reactions of : “those who many the positive claim have the Bop!” (onus probandi) which is not in contention! Or “Atheist are not making a claim!” which does not matter, this argument applies to ANY proposition…not just atheism.


Link to citation: Article in Philosophy 93(02):279-301 · April 2018 with 83 Reads DOI: 10.1017/S0031819118000074 “Defining Atheism and the Burden of Proof” – Shoaib Malik

Steven Hoyt did an almost forensic level analysis of my argument and said it was valid and good. His critiques went more to my presups than the actual argument…but I did ask him to really go to town on it:

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