Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Today I'm gonna respond again to the importance of the burden of proof, and a PROFESSIONAL PHILOSOPHER's inability to understand (read: be intellectually honest) about it.

Original article found here:

The concept of “the burden of proof” is a matter of interpersonal protocol in debate or discussion.
No.  Burden of Proof describes (not prescribes) who has the requirement to show evidence for a claim.  A person can make any claim he or she likes, but without meeting the burden of proof, it's a useless claim.
In formal contexts, such as courts of law, one side—in criminal cases in the United States, the prosecution—may hold the burden of proof.
Here we have a further lack of understanding.  Again, the burden of proof describes the claim, nothing more.  The prosecution generally makes the first claim: that the defendant is guilty of a crime.  The defense makes its claim, generally that the defendant isn't guilty.  There is a simultaneous burden of proof, potentially.  One side will have the burden of demonstrating that the defendant was the actual person committing the crime.  The other will have the burden of showing any evidence supporting some other stance, perhaps that the defendant wasn't even in the same country at the time of the event.

Regardless, the burden of proof can fall on both parties, depending on the claim.
Some formal debates also make use of a burden of proof as part of the rules.
I can't think of a single time that there has been any serious form of debate where evidence hasn't been required.  In fact, even in this argument herself, she is using evidence to demonstrate that the burden is prescriptive, rather than descriptive.  She is, however, conflating a descriptive part of logic for a human set of prescriptive rules.

A simple way to look at this is as follows:

Descriptive: if you want to claim that someone has done something, evidence is required or the claim is empty.
Prescriptive: The law says that if you can convince a jury of the evidence, a man can be imprisoned.

These are two separate ideas that Eve wants to keep conflating.  Remember, on her about page, and in half of her blog posts, she constantly sees the need to remind us she is a professional.  I present this as evidence that she is being purposefully intellectually dishonest.  That's just an observation.
A burden of proof fallacy occurs when someone attempts to invoke or assign a burden of proof outside of any agreement or interpersonal protocol.
So close, yet so far.  Burden of proof is a descriptive term.  It's not dependent upon whether or not you think it exists.  Just because you can convince someone of something without evidence, does not make said thing true.  You and me and the bottle makes three, and even if we all agree, we can all be wrong.
In such cases, the concept of “the burden of proof” becomes a rhetorical trope that conceals two informal logical fallacies: special pleading and an argument to ignorance.
While you do seem to be an authority on ignorance, I'm not going to commit the fallacy of appealing to you.  It's not rhetoric.  If you can demonstrate some other way to illustrate your point that doesn't rely upon evidence, please do so! However, even here, you're attempting to use this as evidence for your claim.  Evidence you claim you don't need, because you don't need a burden of proof if you're not debating anyone, as you said above.  As such, you've given two contrary opinions in defense of the same exact point.  They're both incorrect.
A fallacy of special pleading occurs when one asks or demands (“pleads”) to be exempted from a rule or criterion to which everyone else is held for no relevant reason (or no reason at all).
See, you do understand!  This is why you have the burden of proof when you make a positive claim.  You wish to be exempted from the burden of proof for your claims.  This is why we think you're so intellectually dishonest.  This is a clear demonstration that you actually do understand what you're doing.
An argument to ignorance fallacy has the form “my assertion is true until proven false.”
Well, for one, it's an argument from ignorance.  Hey, you're the professional here.  I'm sure it's just a typo.  Secondarily, that's not what an argument from ignorance is.  An argument from ignorance is saying 'my assertion is true because I can't understand why it is false, despite any evidence you might provide.' 

But again, you're the professional.  I shouldn't need to tell you these things.
The burden of proof fallacy takes the from of “My position is the default position. My opponent has the burden of proof!” But in asserting that one’s position is “the default position”, one is making an argument to ignorance: this just is equivalent to saying “My position is true until it is proven false.”
I'll just let that one speak for itself.
And the justification for this argument to ignorance is simply special pleading that one be allowed to use an argument to ignorance as if it were valid.
So your claim is that the burden of proof doesn't exist, and you're claiming this is true until someone proves you false?  Interestingly enough, that's the exact explanation you gave for your version of the 'burden of proof' fallacy.

How very professional.

Both combined have the form “My argument is true until proven false, and although this is an argument to ignorance, I am specially pleading that I be allowed to use it, despite its invalidity.”  
 Kinda like when you just told us that burden of proof doesn't exist, and it won't until someone gives you evidence for it, even though I have no burden to do so. 
This sounds more legitimate when it is phrased as “My position is the default position, and my opponent has the burden of proof,” but the meaning is the same.
The default position is whatever we observe, not whatever someone deems it to be.  Gravity appears to exist, so the default position is that it exists.  You're free to provide evidence to the contrary, but if you don't, then any claims of 'gravity isn't real' will be ignored. Because we observe gravity.
To attempt to lay the burden of proof solely on one’s opponent, as if one had some sort of metaphysical, moral, or logical right to do so is logically fallacious, intellectually dishonest, and unethical.
So you're not laying a burden of proof on me to prove my claims?  Great! I guess I'll stop.

I was going to respond to the rest of the article, but thanks for showing that I do not have to!  I can just claim the default position is that you're wrong, and since we don't have any formal agreements, you can just accept that I'm correct!

Aren't you glad we had this chat?