Certainty: What is definitely
and without reservations the case.
There are few certainties
(see: Fallibilism), and to believe
there are many tends to be a mark of stupidity, ignorance, or
fanaticism. But there are some certainties, notably of a mathematical
and logical nature, which may be used to infer others, and also may be
used to infer mere probabilities.
And it is interesting to note something many miss that yet is quite
fundamental: Every human being may be quite certain that there is much
he or she is not certain of. Indeed, these are a human beings greatest
certainties: The uncertainties he or she knows oneself to have.
Also, to infer any contingent statement (one that is neither
certainly true nor certainly
false) one needs to accept some contingent
statement, if only hypothetically, provisionally, or until one has
It should be noted that everyone - who lives in some
society, at least - accepts at least
pragmatically or hypothetically many statements as certain that
are not really certain in a mathematical or philosophical sense, but
without which life in that society is hardly possible.
These pragmatic or hypothetical certainties, as they were just
styled, come in many kinds and qualities, varying from practical, legal
or moral ones, to scientific or religious certainties.
Four useful moral rules that relate to (un)certainties are:
(1) One's search for evidence for the statements one believes in
should be proportional to the importance one attributes to them.
(2) It is almost certainly morally wrong to use violence for things
one knows one is not certain of.
is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon
insufficient evidence" (Clifford's dictum)
(4) It is always right to try to
think rationally and try to act reasonably.
Finally, it should be noted that anybody who is
religious feels or should feel morally
certain that anybody who has a different religion is mistaken -
from which it at least plausibly follows that religious certainties are
almost certainly delusions, whereas it
is certain that untold many millions have been murdered because of