Doubt and Falsification

Bertrand Russell made an argument attempting to show the position of the burden of proof. Basically, he says that if he were to assert without evidence that a teapot orbited the sun in a region of space between Earth and Mars, and that it is too small to see even with a telescope, he could not expect anyone to believe him because the assertion could not be proven wrong.

Although I agree with him on the burden of proof and unfalsifiable claims, it seems that with this specific argument with the teapot–and this is probably hairsplitting–that we could positively disprove that a teapot, specifically, is orbiting the sun.

This is because, if we consider what Heidegger said about equipment: that a teapot is already in a contexture involving dishes, silverware, other kitchen accouterments, tables, chairs, etc., we know that a teapot would not be in orbit in space–unless an astronaut launched one into orbit. Teapots are specifically a human artifact. There would be no cause for a human-created teapot to be in orbit, aside from the aforementioned astronaut.

But notice the human element in the existence of the teapot. Kitchen accouterments are specifically human artifacts. Because of this human element, we can extend falsification (even though the burden of proof is on the one making the claim) to other claims of extraordinary things existing that possess this human element, such as goblins, fairies, and gods.

This is because these things are tied up with specifically human relations. We only find these things in human construction, and not in nature.

I don’t deny that there could be certain things outside of human relations that someone could assert to exist and we could find that they actually do exist. But what I am getting at here are things that are specifically confined to human relations, such as goblins, fairies, and gods.


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