The Burden of Proof | INFJ Forum

The Burden of Proof

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Azure_Knight, May 18, 2009.

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  1. Azure_Knight

    Azure_Knight Community Member

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    What exactly is proof? I have been wondering about this question for quite some time, and wanted to share it. Is proof subjective, objective, a mix, or something all together different? What do you define proof to be, and how can your definition be reconciled (if it can) with other definitions of proof?

    For discussion, let us focus on the nature of proof, not to 'prove' any particular belief is 'right' or 'wrong'. Thank you.

    Note: another forum member posted the same type of question on another forum, I do not claim to have thought of the title (or spirit) of the thread myself
     
    #1 Azure_Knight, May 18, 2009
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  2. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    There is no absolute proof for anything. Everything can be viewed differently.

    However, there is relative proof, and how we arrive at that varies. The scientific method is the most popular and probably most accurate method for acquiring relative proof.
     
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  3. OP
    Azure_Knight

    Azure_Knight Community Member

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    I find your choice of words to be interesting (and the fact that others have read this, but have not posted :()

    What then is the difference between absolute and relative proof? One is true and the other is false?
     
  4. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Absolute proof doesn't exist. Relative proof demonstrates the relationship between two given objects with relative accuracy, which is accurate enough for scientific advancement and whatnot.
     
  5. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    They didn't post because I posted. I tend to kill threads. Sorry. You see, what I say is so perfect, nobody else has anything to add (okay, I'm joking).
     
  6. OP
    Azure_Knight

    Azure_Knight Community Member

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    Alright. So what is the nature of relative proof? Is it objective, subjective, or something else?
     
  7. EloquentBohemian

    EloquentBohemian Community Member

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    What defines an 'absolute proof'? One which arrives at the precise conclusion regardless of circumstances? Is an absolute proof and an objective proof one in the same?

    Can there be 'objective proof'? Even in mathematics, 2+2=4 is only valid in base 10. It is conditioned by the subjective format of base 10. To be objectively proved valid, 2+2 must equal 4 in all instances, regardless of subjective base.

    Proof can only be subjective. Take the example of the existence of God. To one who believes in an Abrahamic God, the proof is evident. One feels it and one sees the works of God in the world. To one who does not believe in an Abrahamic God, there is no proof available. Yet, this individual cannot prove that an Abrahamic God does not exist either.
    So then, who is correct? Where lies the proof?
    Especially in this particular example, the word 'proof' is bantered around endlessly. But what constitutes proof in this question?
     
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  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Permanent Fixture

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    Actually 2+2=4 would be valid in any number system above base-4 -- providing that it used the same mathematics as our system, at least where integers and addition was concerned. You cannot argue it is not true, even though it is only a concept (a mathematical equation is merely a concept).

    It is often the scientific way of thinking to hypothesize but a thing is never deemed as true until data is gathered to the point where you can show other people who can verify the reality of that data or can come to the same conclusions by analysis of that data.

    Just like a court case it is 'innocent until proven guilty', circumstantial evidence cannot win a case. You actually have to collect proof that the person is the perpetrator, or that god exists (if that was your what you are arguing) -- or else it is deemed as 'not true' simply to prevent people from making wild claims such as 'I have a purple elephant in my back yard'.
     
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    #8 Zero Angel, May 19, 2009
    Last edited: May 19, 2009
  9. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    Nothing can be proven after you ask "Why" enough times. Eventually the answer comes to one of two options:
    1. "Just because...."
    2. God
     
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  10. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    If your answer at any time is "God" then you haven't asked enough whys.
     
  11. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    I don't know how to ask a why after someone proposes God, because their answer to every answer after God is God.
     
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  12. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    If the question is "Why God?" and they answer with "God," then they're just being dense as that makes no sense. :p
     
  13. slant

    slant Sedated slanty

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    I don't think anything makes much sense, regardless.
     
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  14. Duty

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    Well, it's not quite deemed "not true," it's just deemed "unproven/untested/etc." If we just deem everything we have little or no proof for "not true" then progress would be unlikely. There has to be some room for theory. However, those things that are unproven and we have little reason to even hypothesize them, then we call them something like "irrelevant" or the like until we have a reason to hypothesize and then try to prove it false. If we try to prove it false enough times and it passes, then it enters the realm of being accepted, and eventually would become a law.

    Burden of proof is the requirement on the person asserting a proposition to epistemologically justify their position. If you assert the proposition "God exists," then the burden of proof lies on you to prove that, while your opponent only has to show there is not enough justification to warrant belief in that proposition. The proposition "God does not exist" carries a similar burden of proof, as it is a proposition being asserted.

    Often burden of proof can be slightly different in a psychological sense. Burden of proof can be taken to mean something more like: "The requirement on a person asserting a proposition which is different from one I already believe in to justify their case by my criteria/values."


    It is the confusion of these two different senses of this concept that is most likely behind the thought that "there is no objective proof." The first definition is an approximation of an objective standard used widely in science and philosophy, the second is how this concept gets used by every day people, which turns into a subjective discourse due to the arbitrariness of "justify their case according to my criteria/values."
     
  15. Minerva

    Minerva Community Member

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    I was surprised by how many definitions Dictionary.com had for proof.

     
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  16. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Well, that depends what the proof is relative to. If it is relative to humanity, then it is inter-subjective.
     
  17. TaylorS

    TaylorS Community Member

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    Things can never be proven with absolute certainty, only disproved. Just because one has seen a million swans and all of then are white does not mean all swans are white.
     
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  18. blueflame

    blueflame Regular Poster

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    I guess in shortest terms proof means to simply validate something with evidence, it isn't necessarily "fact" which is concrete.
     
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  19. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    No such thing as Relative Proof.

    There's Proof, and Circumstancial Evidence.
     
  20. Faye

    Faye ^_^
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    Everything is relative. Proof is relative in that it demonstrates relationships, though it doesn't provide absolute certainty of anything, such as guild (or especially guilt). Circumstantial evidence is that which is meant to demonstrate relationships but that doesn't. A good defender will spin as much of the proof as circumstantial evidence as possible (or get rid of/deny it entirely), hopefully to get their client off, while a good prosecutor will do the opposite.
     
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