Ethical Skepticism maintains a healthy respect for Inductive and Deductive epistemological inference methods. However the philosophy itself, upon which these logical inference methods are based, stems from sources which cannot be fully defined as epistemological in the first place – save for the instance wherein we are able to test each derived tenet’s mettle through real world application. An additional species of inference exists inside philosophy: that of Ethical Intuitionism. Unlike Impulse Inference, Ethical Intuitionism derives its based development practices from necessity and skilled instinct, not doctrine nor coerced conviction. It focuses primarily on the goals of value, clarity, risk, and probability as paramount above any particular conclusion alone.
Much of impulse originates through emotional damage and fear. But faith and metaphysical selection may still be ethical forms of inference exercised apart from such vulnerability.
Now we just completed a blog about three types of logical inference. To be clear, these three species of logical inference are all logic based forms of reason (see the left side of the chart to the right). There exist as well several other forms of inference. For instance, in mathematics we have the three disciplines of modeling & simulation, mathematical derivation itself and computation (the basis of Artificial Intelligence). There is however another and much more common (but often decried and denied) genre of inference methods. In order to introduce this form of inference we should take a quick look again at the three common rational forms which were developed in our last blog (see The Three Types of Reason).
/Diagnostic Inference/ : a form of precedent based inference which starts with an observation then seeks to find the simplest or most likely explanation. In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion. One can understand abductive reasoning as inference to the best known explanation.1
/Logical Inference/ : is reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying strong evidence for the truth of the conclusion. While the conclusion of a deductive argument is certain, the truth of the conclusion of an inductive argument may be probable, based upon the evidence given combined with its ability to predict outcomes.2
/Reductive Inference/ : is the process of reasoning by reduction in complexity, from one or more statements (premises) to reach a final, logically certain conclusion. This includes the instance where the elimination of alternatives (negative premises) forces one to conclude the only remaining answer.3
Our fourth form of inference is mathematics itself. However, let’s set that aside for now and focus on the next successive block after Derivation in the chart above, that of Intuitionism. Intuitionism involves a combination of both abductive and inductive pre-mindset, a mathematician’s discipline, combined with a philosopher’s license to base conjecture of principle. I say mindsets, because deeming this form of inference a logical method is not a certainty. This form of inference can sometimes follow a method of logic, but often does not. It involves a set of hunch-based logics known collectively as Intuitionism.
/Inference by Hunch/ : is the process of reasoning from a set of internally developed ideas – in part or alone without necessary reference to objective and a priori reality, sources, epistemology or belief. Such ideas may originate in part from unconscious or conscious extrapolations from prior training, including scientific, mathematical, social, experiential and religious. There are three general forms of Intuitionism.
Reason Based (Philosophy and Mathematics)
Ethical Intuitionism – a set of ideas that our intuitive awareness of value, or intuitive knowledge of clear evaluative facts and our ability to sense and measure plausibility, risk and probability, form the foundation of our ethical knowledge and knowledge development processes. This form of inference derives its basis from a solid background in inductive and deductive training and experience; however does not demand that every inference be based upon solely sources, epistemology or belief. Since philosophy derives (by necessity) many times from relatively intuition based inferences – it is rightfully thought of as a type of Ethical Intuitionism. It’s quality is proved out through the success of the science which employs methods adhering to its tenets.4 5
Mathematical/Physical Intuitionism – an approach wherein mathematics (or alternately physics as well) is considered to be purely the result of the constructive mental activity of humans rather than inferred through our discovery of fundamental principles claimed to exist in a referenceless, objective and a priori reality. That is, logic and mathematics are not considered analytic activities wherein deep properties of objective reality are revealed; rather, are instead considered the application of internally consistent methods used to realize more complex mental constructs, regardless of their possible independent existence in an objective reality.6 7
Intuitionism (Metaphysical Selection) – the philosophical theory that basic truths can be derived or are always known intuitively. The opposite of empirical and epistemological inference methods, often involving some degree of teleology. The philosophical basis of the idea that existence, cause, effect, purpose, being, origination of existence, theology or lack thereof, can all be derived through the foundationalism about moral knowledge: the view that some moral truths or views about god, existence, cause and purpose can be known non-inferentially (i.e., known without one needing to infer them from other sources, epistemology or beliefs). It revolves around three principles:
1. Objective moral truths do exist (and for some, objective moral and causal Agents do exist)
2. Fundamental moral truths (and moral and causal agents) have no precedent, nor can they be broken down into simpler or predicate components (this is parallel to the position of Philosophy – however extends to conclusions, rather than simply practices and disciplines)
3. The belief that human beings are granted, can freely derive or have a past innate memory of such moral truths (and moral or causal agents).8
This is a form of metaphysical selection (a belief) – rather than a derivation which is achieved at the end of a process of logical/mathematical calculus or philosophical development of practice standards. A danger resides in conflating the pathos based intuitionism of belief, with the reason based intuitionism of mathematics and ethics.
When one elects to undertake a pathway involving ontological or impulse intuitionism, one should be honest and understand that this process of metaphysical selection (belief) – stands distinct from any form of mathematical derivation or intuitionism, ethical intuitionism, philosophy, abduction, induction or deduction. When exercised sincerely, and in this circumspect light of understanding – the practitioner is executing a principle called faith. Faith is the condition wherein no pretense is offered by the claimant as to proof, evidence, logic, science, epistemology, right, wrong, authority, etc. The claimant simply and transparently makes it clear that they have exercised a metaphysical selection. It fits their gut. This is why faith is considered a more virtuous form of pathos and ontological intuition.
The telltale earmarks which serve to distinguish Religious Doctrine from Faith are the urgency, one way communication and coercion typically involved.
Impulse Inference (Religious Doctrine and Dogma)
This is a twisted and sick-minded form of metaphysical selection or faith. The only practice set which operates under a masquerade in this set of inference species and genres, is the practice of religious assumption, doctrine and dogma. This of course includes the habits of those who practice social skepticism. These religions will attempt to pass their doctrines as species of logical inference – through a process known as apologetics. This is a type of pathology wherein the participant very desperately wants to seek validation for a taught or personally adopted set of metaphysical conclusions. This is not truly an actual form of inference, however because of its peer status as an exception to the other genres and forms, it is depicted on the chart alongside all the forms of legitimate inference (including metaphysical selection and faith) which it pretends to be. The key clarifying aspect of this species of inference, is that it is in at least part based upon forms of coercion, fear and duty.
Of the three forms of Intuitionism above however – only Ethical Intuitionism provides for the distinct possibility to inductively or deductively test each assumption as to how it performs ‘in real life’. Mathematics intuition claims can be independently derived in proof, but such pathways inevitably progress into realms where definition uncertainty begins to provide for shaky ground in terms of final certainty (not to mention utility); for instance, in the case of the dispute over infinity as an existential or only practical incremental concept.9
Ethical Intuitionism, because of its philosophical basis – and focus on clarity, value, risk and probability over any specific conclusions, is often mistaken for sophistry by those unfamiliar with skepticism or who are highly committed to an abductive or impulse intuition based set of answers.
The willingness to tolerate an unknown – the staunch defense of the methods of science against the twisted logic of the agenda laden poser – these standards serve to aggravate and inflame the religious impulse minded. The religious rarely ever ‘get’ Ethical Intuitionism. After all, its very core philosophy is anathema to religion – not necessarily metaphysical selection or faith – but religion. However, pointing this out rarely does any good.
As an ethical skeptic, one should just chuckle at such ignorance and move on; hoping that some day the accuser will see the light of their own bullheadedness.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Intuitionism: Inference versus Impulse”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 8 Jul 2017; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/2017/07/08/intuitive-inference-versus-impulse/