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Free Will and Learned Hand

June 24, 2008

Per the post yesterday on the Free Will BloggingHeads yesterday, the discussion surrounding Tyler Cowen’s proposition that he believes that to a great extent "people should be truly uncertain about almost all of their beliefs." The discussion was mostly about more abstract propositions like the efficacy of free trade or the existence of God, but perhaps it applies to what I had for dinner last night as well.

It’s related to his prior writing that

You are wrong so, so, so often.  That is, or rather should be, the central lesson of epistemology.  It is a lesson which hardly anybody ever learns.  And you don’t need the fancy philosophical machinery to get there.  That is why the rest of epistemology is so often so fruitless.

Upon thinking about this, it occurs to me that even if one’s beliefs really are justified, this probably is a useful way of thinking about many propositions. It made me think of the quotation from Learned Hand that

The spirit of liberty, is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias.

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