[vers. 5] The Solution to the Logocentric Predicament
§1: The logocentric predicament, stated and explained
The logocentric predicament is a predicament not of logic in itself, but of our use of logic. With Henry M. Sheffer, Harvard logician, the logocentric predicament originates and is simply explained,
Just as proof of certain theories in metaphysics is made difficult, if not hopeless, because of the « egocentric » predicament, so the attempt to formulate the foundations of logic is rendered arduous by a corresponding « logocentric » predicament. In order to give an account of logic, we must presuppose and employ logic. (Sheffer, “Principia Mathematica. Whitehead, Alfred North, and Russel, Bertrand,” pp. 227–228)
The issue always arrived at is found in the employment of what one is trying to prove, which, in this case, is the existence of logic and therefore (logically) necessary inferences. Therefore, if there is no use, i.e., employment, there is no predicament. Those means which we use, which we employ, typically, are inferential principles and inferences. Therefore, non-inferential justification gets around the logocentric predicament. Therefore, in order to get past the logocentric predicament, we will have to line out a theory of non-inferential justification that can withstand all skepticism and critique. This is our massive burden to bear, but it is the burden that all philosophers bear, whether they realize it or not.
In light of what we have said thus far, it is clear that non-inferential justification is what we need, and if we can get it, then the logocentric predicament will be no more. Hence, we must understand what justification we are trying for. In respect to the issue at hand, two forms of justification are to be looked at: propositional justification and doxastic justification. On the one hand, if I have propositional justification of logic, then that means I have justification to believe that logic is the case. On the other hand, if I have doxastic justification of logic, then that means I am justified in believing that logic is the case. The difference is that while I could be justified in my belief with propositional justification, it does not mean that I would be justified in my belief, in that, for me to be justified in my belief, I must have a belief. In other words, propositional justification does not require that you believe what you have justified. Where as, doxastic justification requires you to have belief. It could and will be argued that one must have propositional justification before they have doxastic justification. Putting this into clear view, what we have realized is that before one can be justified in their belief, they must have justification. Now that we have the two forms of first-order justification we are to look at, let us look at second-order or meta-justification in general.
In his Defense of Pure Reason, Laurence BonJour says, “The demand for a metajustification is in effect a demand for an overarching premise or principle to the effect that beliefs which are the contents of apparent a priori insights … are likely to be true” (BonJour, In Defense of Pure Reason, p. 143). With BonJour’s words in mind, it can be said that, for him, metajustification is a call for one to justify those things (e.g., in the case of BonJour, rational insights) that one sees as offering first-order justification for their various beliefs. Others have suggested that the demand for metajustification is a demand that one justify their standards for justification. For our purposes, we will follow BonJour’s understanding of metajustifcation simply because the logocentric predicament is itself a call for metajustification. The logocentric predicament is a call for one to justify the principles of logic (e.g., principles of identity and non-contradiction) and inferential principes (e.g., modus ponens). The issue that everyone faces with the call for metajustification is the threat of using those things that one believes confer first-order justification to try and justify a thing that confers second-order justification. Not only is there vicious circularity in this move, as one is trying to justify those things that they believe to of confer first-order justification in the first place, as well as infinite regression, but there is a mistake of trying to use first-order things to justify second-order things, this mistake being an obvious category error. Therefore, in reaction to all that we have put forward, what we desire is non-inferential metajustification that is non-circular and non-regressive. When we achieve such, it will be the case that we have secured the foundation of philosophy itself.
: Epistemologists such as BonJour reject the demand for metajustification as one must use, in the case of BonJour, rational insight in formulating it, therefore meaning the empiricist, in the demand for metajustification, begs the question against the rationalist. This, however, does not solve the issue of metajustification because if the skeptic takes the rationalist position up to then use the rationalist’s tools against him, then we have a predicament. Furthermore, it is a common error in the thinking of epistemologists that the demand for metajustification is an objection, but it can certainly can be a question. In other words, the skeptic can ask, “Why do you need/not need metajustification?” In this case, the rationalist could say that to even put the question forward they would need to use rational insight, but while this may be the case, the rationalist is still avoiding the consequence of the skeptic’s question. Once the skeptic puts forward the question, it becomes autonomous in that one has now thought it. A defeat of the skeptic in dialectical argumentation is not an answer to the question put forward by the skeptic. Now, I understand that BonJour is saying he doesn’t need to answer such a question, but it is clear that in the face of the autonomy of the question of the skeptic, it is clear that he does, or, at least, he does if he wants to be actually justified on both levels of first-order and second-order justification. To expand this further, let us realize that the empiricist’s question begging and the possible question begging of the skpetic in no way guarantees the justification nor the truth of rational intuition. This would be the fallacy of the particularist, which says that because a particular set of behaviors p, in this case rational insight, are necessary to do x, in this case demand metajustification, they are therefore true. We can see that Aristolte, for example, commits this fallacy when he argues that the principle of non-contradiction is true and justified because no one can refute it without using it. Again, just because something cannot be false in no way proves its truth.