The Mirror Test

  1. Accept a philosophy as tentatively true.
  2. Apply the philosophy’s own terms to itself.
  3. Determine whether or not the philosophy survives its own criterion/criteria. If it doesn’t, then it has refuted itself.
  1. It is true that there are no means by which we may distinguish truth from falsehood.
  2. Because there are no means by which we may distinguish truth from falsehood, then there are no means by which we may determine whether or not the statement, ‘there are no means by which we may distinguish truth from falsehood’ is true or false.
  3. Following step (2), subjectivism calls for its own lack of credibility as a truth claim. We therefore have no more reason to accept subjectivism than any other competing philosophy, and we’re back to square one.
  1. Knowledge progresses by way of conjecturing how Reality works, and then criticizing those conjectures. Those that survive our criticism are accepted as tentatively true, while those that fail to satisfy our criticisms are rejected as tentatively false.
  2. The claim that knowledge progresses by way of conjecture and criticism is itself a conjectured theory about how Reality works and is subject to criticism.
  3. Following step (2), this epistemological doctrine, critical rationalism, is consistent with its own criteria, and therefore passes the Mirror Test.
  1. Only statements about observations and predictions are meaningful.
  2. The claim of positivism, that ‘only statements about observations and predictions are meaningful,’ is itself neither a prediction nor an observation.
  3. Positivism, therefore, asserts its own meaninglessness.
  1. It is true that the search for hard to vary explanations is the origin of all progress.
  2. Because the search for hard to vary explanations is the origin of all progress, then the philosophy ‘the search for hard to vary explanations is the origin of all progress’ must itself be hard to vary.
  3. Any component of ‘the search for hard to vary explanations is the origin of all progress’ changes the logic of the statement, and so it is itself hard to vary. The philosophy therefore survives its own criterion. Namely, the Progressivism is itself hard to vary.

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Logan Chipkin

Logan Chipkin

Writer for Quillette, Areo, Physics World, and others| Science, history, philosophy, and economics | @ChipkinLogan www.loganchipkin.com