Probabilism

In theology and philosophy, probabilism is an Ancient Greek doctrine of educational scepticism. It holds that within the absence of certainty, plausibility or truth-likeness is that the best criterion. The term also can ask a 17th-century religious thesis about ethics or a contemporary physical-philosophical thesis.

In Ancient Greek philosophy, probabilism mentioned the doctrine which provides assistance in ordinary matters to at least one who is sceptical in respect of the likelihood of real knowledge: it supposes that though knowledge is impossible, a person may believe strong beliefs in practical affairs. This view was held by the sceptics of the New Academy. Academic sceptics accept probabilism, while Pyrrhonian sceptics don’t.

In modern usage, a probabilist is someone who believes that central epistemological issues are best approached using probabilities. This thesis is neutral with reference to whether knowledge entails certainty or whether scepticism about knowledge is true. Probabilist doctrines are still being debated within the context of artificial general intelligence, as a counterpoint to the utilization of non-monotonic logic, because the proper form for knowledge representation remains unclear.

In moral theology, especially Catholic, it refers especially to the view in casuistry that in difficult matters of conscience one may safely follow a doctrine that’s probable, for instance, is approved by a recognized Doctor of the Church, albeit the other opinion is more probable. it had been heavily criticised by Pascal in his Provincial Letters and by St. Alphonsus Ligourí in his Theologia Moralis, as resulting in moral laxity.

Opposed to probabilism is probabiliorism, which holds that when there’s a preponderance of evidence on one side of an issue one is obliged to follow that side, and tutors, which holds that just in case of doubt one must take the morally safer side. The doctrine became particularly popular at the beginning of the 17th century because it might be wont to support almost any position or council any advice. By mid-century, such thinking, termed Laxism, was recognized as scandalous.

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