Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Appeal to Tradition 2: The Test of Time & The Origin Problem

Philosophy News image
In the previous essay we looked at the family of fallacies in which the appeal to tradition resides. In this essay we will take a look at the test of time and the origin problem. As noted in that essay, the gist of the appeal to tradition is that it involves fallaciously inferring that something is correct or true simply because it is a tradition. While concluding that something is correct or true merely because it has been done or believed a long time is an obvious error, those making an appeal to tradition often try to invoke the notion of the test of time. In some cases, the appeal to the test of time is implied while in others it is explicitly made. The appeal to the test of time can be presented as the following argument:   Premise 1: X has withstood the test of time. Conclusion: X is true, right, or correct, etc.   While this could be a possible fallacy, the main concern is working out what constitutes the test of time. If this simply means that X has been believed or practiced a long time, then this is just the appeal to tradition fallacy all over again. False beliefs can persist for centuries as can awful practices, so mere historical longevity does not suffice as evidence of truth or goodness. The test of time can, of course, be defined in terms of actual testing. In the case of a belief it could be argued that the belief has been subject to repeated assessment for a long time using rigorous methods and thus has passed the test of time. While such testing over time would be good evidence for a belief, it still does not mean that the belief should be accepted as true because it is a tradition. Rather, it should be accepted as true because of the evidence found during the repeated testing. As such, if a belief has passed this sort of test of time, then there should be a significant body of evidence to back up the belief and hence there would be no reason to make a mere appeal to tradition. There are numerous examples of such beliefs—such as the. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: A Philosopher's Blog

blog comments powered by Disqus