Definitions of Terms

We can’t have a meaningful discussion if we aren’t on the same page. Precise language promotes clear induction and insures against moving goalposts. This page is an ongoing project in which I try to explain what I mean by what I say.

(a)theist — A generic term denoting interaction between atheists and theists. The phrase, “(a)theist discussion” would translate to, “discussion between atheists and theists.” The phrase, “books about (a)theism” would translate to, “books that address the atheist-theist dialog.”

Blind Faith — Unquestioning acceptance of statements spoken by an authority, often accompanied by a lack of critical thinking.

Commonsense Inquiry — Without reason to doubt them, we trust our senses as accurate. If our car window is smashed we assume we’ve been the victim of a crime. Though we could be wrong, the conclusion is commonsense, e.g., a result of reasoning supported by face value observation.

Consciousness — A base set of abilities, including but not limited to expression, intuition, volition, emotion, and intellect.

Contradiction — An instance of X and ~X. For example, I was in Los Angeles all day long on June 3rd, 2010 [X]. If I also claimed to be in Phoenix from June 1st to June 6th of the same year, that would be an instance of ~X. Per the law of non-contradiction, a reasonable person could safely conclude that my claim is false.

Conservatively Stated Belief — A conservatively-stated belief doesn’t go beyond the facts and is worded in a way that it can persist.

Epistemic Responsibility — One should thoughtfully consider evidence both for and against any empirical claims accepted or made. This does not necessarily entail that refusing to accept consensus is “epistemically irresponsible.”

Extraordinary Claim — Any claim that contradicts or appears to contradict a body of currently accepted facts. For example, that the speed of light is different in your neighborhood than mine, or that your uncle is 250 years old.

Faith — I think the following is a common denominator of all types and degrees of faith: “the extra step required for belief once we’ve reached the limits critical thinking impose on us.”

Free Will — The view that a person is free with respect to a given action if and only if that person is both free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing that action; in other words, that person is not determined to perform or refrain from that action by any prior causal forces. [IEP, 22]

Justified Belief — A conservatively-stated belief or conclusion that corresponds to face value observation, and is not significantly challenged by any anomalous data.

Logical Consistency — A set of statements is logically consistent if and only if it is possible for all of them to be true at the same time. [IEP, 15].

Objective — Primarily, any proposition whose truth cannot vary from person to person. Objective propositions retain “true for everybody” status, regardless of individual preferences or belief.

Pseudoscience — This is one of those rare times when I concur 100% with Wikipedia: “Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific or made to appear scientific, but does not adhere to the scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, or otherwise lacks scientific status.” More here.

Subjective — A proposition whose truth varies from person to person, for example any and all preferences: “Chocolate is the best ice cream,” or “Basketball is the hardest sport.”