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The Jorge against scientism

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
    I am skeptical about teleological thinking by kids, but I think it is at least plausible.
    Ever raised a kid? All of them are teleological thinkers, and many of them grow up to still be teleological thinkers. It's hard to explain mechanics to a child who lacks the background and doesn't want mechanics anyway. Saying "god wants it that way" is satisfying. It's simple to understand, it addresses the purpose (final cause) question actually being asked, and it works for life. When people assume some sort of Ultimate Purpose, gods are inevitable. As the old saying goes, if you ask a stupid question (that is, one based on a false assumption) you get a stupid answer.

    No, that's not what the saying means.
    I should have included the intermediate steps, I guess. Proximately, the statement expresses a desire for two simultaneous but mutually exclusive options BOTH of which are seen as beneficial. To get around the mutually exclusive part, you need another actor. That way, you can redistribute the options so that you have both and he has neither.

    Well, yeah. Some "free" lunches are possible only because their existence was forced. E.g., wealth transfers from Joe to Moe enforced by our wonderful Sugar-daddy government. However, work must always be done to bring forth every lunch. The saying is a rejoinder to calls for government welfare.
    A good description of the "I'm all right Jack" philosophy. Or to quote from the Grateful Dead:

    We can share the women, we can share the wine.
    We can share what we got of yours, 'cause we done shared all of mine.

    Government welfare is wonderful when you need welfare. As soon as you don't need it anymore, then of course nobody should get it.

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by phank View Post
      I should have included the intermediate steps, I guess. Proximately, the statement expresses a desire for two simultaneous but mutually exclusive options BOTH of which are seen as beneficial. To get around the mutually exclusive part, you need another actor. That way, you can redistribute the options so that you have both and he has neither.
      It still seems like you missed the point.
      The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

      [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
        It still seems like you missed the point.
        Then maybe you should rephrase it?

        Comment


        • #49
          OK, an example of apriori thinking. (It is not even what I was trying to think of. Ironically it was in a book that I was rereading for this thread. That was just last week, but I forgot. Ah, my poor memory.) Let's agree to use "empiricism" in the place of "logical positivism" in the rest of this post. "Knowledge" as used here means scientific knowledge about the universe in the form of theories that appear to be somewhat adequately tested by experiments or observations.

          The conclusion I propose to prove by apriori argument is that every decision by a human being (or a sentient being like you and me in intelligence) is not caused. That contradicts the empiricist claim that empiricism applies to action just as to any other phenomenon.

          I am struggling to present Hans-Hermann Hoppe's argument (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics ISBN 0-89838-279-3, pages 112-113) mostly in my own words:

          Background: Hoppe wanted to refute the conclusion from logic positivism that any action by a human being (or what amounts to the same thing, his decision as to what to do) is caused and must be explicable on that basis. Every other phenomenon can be explained, so why not the actions by a human being, too?

          Recall that empiricism concerns hypotheses of the form
          1) If A then B or
          2) If A increases or decreases then B increases or decreases (e.g., B decreases when A increases).
          Also, A and B must be abstract and universal terms. An additional requirement that empiricists have not generally considered or mentioned (I think) is that the relationship between A and B must be constant with respect to time.

          Why time constancy?
          1) [my point] A and B are supposed to be universal.
          2) Hypotheses created on past knowledge of experience would have to be made applicable to the future, which I assume you know is always unknowable [my point]. Indeed empiricists assume that also, don't they? We thus must necessarily guess what dependence on time our new hypotheses should have [partly my point]. How about explaining the decisions by the persons who create the hypotheses? The decisions must have been caused, if empiricism is right about action. What causes? At any given time those people do not know what they will come to know at later time (if our knowledge grows at all). What's more, at that time how would they know what action they would take? The people would need to reconstruct after that event what caused that increase in knowledge. And what caused the actions taken then?

          Now, are we agreed that action without any kind of knowledge is simply impossible? [my question]

          _____________________
          Sorry, I have only come this far tonight, but I want to know if you have any questions or criticisms.
          The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

          [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
            OK, an example of apriori thinking. (It is not even what I was trying to think of. Ironically it was in a book that I was rereading for this thread. That was just last week, but I forgot. Ah, my poor memory.) Let's agree to use "empiricism" in the place of "logical positivism" in the rest of this post. "Knowledge" as used here means scientific knowledge about the universe in the form of theories that appear to be somewhat adequately tested by experiments or observations.

            The conclusion I propose to prove by apriori argument is that every decision by a human being (or a sentient being like you and me in intelligence) is not caused. That contradicts the empiricist claim that empiricism applies to action just as to any other phenomenon.

            I am struggling to present Hans-Hermann Hoppe's argument (A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism: Economics, Politics, and Ethics ISBN 0-89838-279-3, pages 112-113) mostly in my own words:

            Background: Hoppe wanted to refute the conclusion from logic positivism that any action by a human being (or what amounts to the same thing, his decision as to what to do) is caused and must be explicable on that basis. Every other phenomenon can be explained, so why not the actions by a human being, too?

            Recall that empiricism concerns hypotheses of the form
            1) If A then B or
            2) If A increases or decreases then B increases or decreases (e.g., B decreases when A increases).
            Also, A and B must be abstract and universal terms. An additional requirement that empiricists have not generally considered or mentioned (I think) is that the relationship between A and B must be constant with respect to time.

            Why time constancy?
            1) [my point] A and B are supposed to be universal.
            2) Hypotheses created on past knowledge of experience would have to be made applicable to the future, which I assume you know is always unknowable [my point]. Indeed empiricists assume that also, don't they? We thus must necessarily guess what dependence on time our new hypotheses should have [partly my point]. How about explaining the decisions by the persons who create the hypotheses? The decisions must have been caused, if empiricism is right about action. What causes? At any given time those people do not know what they will come to know at later time (if our knowledge grows at all). What's more, at that time how would they know what action they would take? The people would need to reconstruct after that event what caused that increase in knowledge. And what caused the actions taken then?

            Now, are we agreed that action without any kind of knowledge is simply impossible? [my question]

            _____________________
            Sorry, I have only come this far tonight, but I want to know if you have any questions or criticisms.
            I'm really having a hard time with this. From my science-y point of view let's look at a theory: Gravitation

            Newton said the force of gravity between two masses was proportional to those masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them. I can't see any a priori assumptions in this. I'm getting confused between a priori knowledge (or claims to knowledge) and what you call a priori thinking. A quick google and I can find no links on a priori thinking.

            Scientific theories are generalisations based on observation and experiment. They are also set within limitations. Gravity for example has at least a lower limit for mass and distance. It may or may not vary over time. All of these things are amenable to more experiment and observation.

            I have no idea where you're going with this stuff about a person acting and how that impacts on how science works. For me, it seems to be a tricky philosophical argument that proves I can't pull my pants on. I just don't get it.

            Comment


            • #51
              Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
              ...
              Background: Hoppe wanted to refute the conclusion from logic positivism that any action by a human being (or what amounts to the same thing, his decision as to what to do) is caused and must be explicable on that basis. Every other phenomenon can be explained, so why not the actions by a human being, too?

              Recall that empiricism concerns hypotheses of the form
              1) If A then B or
              2) If A increases or decreases then B increases or decreases (e.g., B decreases when A increases).
              Also, A and B must be abstract and universal terms. An additional requirement that empiricists have not generally considered or mentioned (I think) is that the relationship between A and B must be constant with respect to time.

              Why time constancy?
              1) [my point] A and B are supposed to be universal.
              ...
              Why are A and B supposed to be abstract and universal?

              Scientific hypotheses usually are concrete and can be local. Geological hypotheses, inter alia, definitely can be local.

              K54
              Last edited by klaus54; 12-20-2014, 03:50 PM. Reason: added "geological"

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
                I'm really having a hard time with this.
                Hoppe's argument is indeed difficult to follow. A few times he seems to have taken logic leaps. I am working on a new version of his argument.



                From my science-y point of view let's look at a theory: Gravitation

                Newton said the force of gravity between two masses was proportional to those masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them. I can't see any a priori assumptions in this.
                You're right so far.



                I'm getting confused between a priori knowledge (or claims to knowledge) and what you call a priori thinking. A quick google and I can find no links on a priori thinking.
                Wait until you see my re-working of the argument.



                Scientific theories are generalisations based on observation and experiment. They are also set within limitations. Gravity for example has at least a lower limit for mass and distance. It may or may not vary over time. All of these things are amenable to more experiment and observation.
                OK.



                I have no idea where you're going with this stuff about a person acting and how that impacts on how science works. For me, it seems to be a tricky philosophical argument that proves I can't pull my pants on. I just don't get it.
                One thing Hoppe tries to prove with apriori reasoning is that logical positivism fails in the area of human action.
                The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by klaus54 View Post
                  Why are A and B supposed to be abstract and universal?

                  Scientific hypotheses usually are concrete and can be local. Hypotheses definitely can be local.
                  Are you sure you don't mean that predictions are concrete and local, not hypotheses? Or maybe you mean by "hypothesis" something different from what I take it to mean.


                  Not sure when I'll get the first 1/2 of my reworking of Hoppe's argument . . . done.
                  The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                  [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                    Are you sure you don't mean that predictions are concrete and local, not hypotheses? Or maybe you mean by "hypothesis" something different from what I take it to mean.
                    In a sense, all hypotheses are predictions. They predict that, since B results from A, if A is performed, B will result. More often than not, B is NOT the predicted result, meaning the nature of the causation is not fully understood, and may be way off.

                    To be testable, any hypothesis must be capable of being reduced to one or more operational definitions. These are as empirical as it's possible to get.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Hoppe said that empiricism (logical positivism) postulates that "knowledge regarding reality, which is called empirical knowledge, must be verifiable or at least falsifiable by experience; and experience is always of such a type that it could, in principle, have been other than it actually was so that no one could ever know in advance, i.e., before actually having had some particular experience, if the outcome would be one way or another."

                      Let's apply that tenet to "the problem of causality and causal explanation or prediction." "To causally explain or predict a real phenomenon is to formulate a statement of either the type 'if A then B' or, should the variables allow quantitative measurement, 'if an increase (or decrease) of A then an increase (or decrease) of B'."

                      Hoppe said he was going to show that in at least one area of philosophy empiricism is false (as I have written before). Let me interject this following assertion. Consider all the experiences that a human being (lived in the past, still living now, or will live in the future) could ever have. No human being will ever have all of those at any moment in his life. Hence, every hypothesis, including scientific theories ("laws"), or explanation or prediction will Never go beyond the status of hypotheses. That is apriori reasoning (what experiment could be conducted to get all those experiences or observations made to get them), but I very much doubt that any reader of this thread would offer any serious objection to it.
                      Last edited by Truthseeker; 12-19-2014, 08:18 PM.
                      The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                      [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by phank View Post
                        In a sense, all hypotheses are predictions. They predict that, since B results from A, if A is performed, B will result. More often than not, B is NOT the predicted result, meaning the nature of the causation is not fully understood, and may be way off.

                        To be testable, any hypothesis must be capable of being reduced to one or more operational definitions. These are as empirical as it's possible to get.
                        That is correct. So you don't want general statements, only statements that are as particular or specific as you want? You'd reject F=ma as being too general.
                        Last edited by Truthseeker; 12-19-2014, 08:22 PM.
                        The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                        [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                          That is correct. So you don't want general statements, only statements that are as particular or specific as you want? You'd reject F=ma as being too general.
                          Of course not. It describes a testable, measurable relationship. I guess you aren't communicating with me either. To me, there is a vast difference between general and non-empirical.

                          Now, I suppose you could ask whether F=ma could be derived in the absence of ANY empirical data. This is an interesting question. A good many such relationships come out of pure math, and it's suggestive how often pure math just happens to reflect how the empirical world works, even if the math started with more-or-less arbitrary statements. String theory or brane theory or supersymmetry MIGHT be right, and certainly the math is elegant. But we can't SAY these are known to be correct, anymore than F=ma, without testing to be sure. Quite a few really compelling mathematical models have turned out to be empirically false. There are many non-Euclidean geometries that are self-consistent, and plenty of theorems that can be proved within those geometries, that are empirical nonsense. The axioms of Euclidean geometry aren't provable within the system, but are based on simple observation.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Whoops, I did a poor job of re-reading Hoppe.

                            Constancy Principle
                            To be able to classify experiences as "falsifying" or "confirming" a hypothesis, it is necessary to assume that causes operate in the same way every time, "and that in principle contingency plays no part in the way causes operate."

                            That principle is not based on or derived from experience. Hence it is an instance of apriori thinking, and it is a refutation of empiricism. What follows is a quotation (page 106) that justifies the constancy principle.

                            "Experience . . . only reveals that two or more observations regarding the temporal sequence of two or more types of events can be 'neutrally' classified as 'repetition' or 'nonrepetition.' A neutral repetition only becomes a . . . confirmation and a nonrepetition a . . . falsification if, independent of what can be actually discovered by experience, it is assumed that there are . . . causes which operate in time-invariant ways."

                            If the empiricist refuses to assume the constancy principle, he can never have his hypothesis or prediction confirmed or falsified.
                            The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                            [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by phank View Post
                              Of course not. It describes a testable, measurable relationship. I guess you aren't communicating with me either. To me, there is a vast difference between general and non-empirical.
                              Well, it seemed to me that you were not using "hypothesis" the way I understand it is used in science, in particular the physical sciences. And what do you think does "theory" mean in those sciences?

                              Now, I suppose you could ask whether F=ma could be derived in the absence of ANY empirical data.
                              No, I would classify the process of confirming or falsifying that hypothesis as mostly empirical.
                              The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                              [T]he truth Iím after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance -ó Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                                Whoops, I did a poor job of re-reading Hoppe.

                                Constancy Principle
                                To be able to classify experiences as "falsifying" or "confirming" a hypothesis, it is necessary to assume that causes operate in the same way every time, "and that in principle contingency plays no part in the way causes operate."
                                I can understand the first necessity. If causes are whimsical, the world is mad. But the second part I don't understand. Contingency always plays an important role, and what it does is establishes the exact conditions under which a hypothesis is tested. Often many causes are acting simultaneously (which is why science is reductionist, and tries to eliminate variables). But changing the constellation of causes involved doesn't change the way those causes operate.

                                That principle is not based on or derived from experience.
                                Of course it is. Scientists don't try to eliminate extraneous variables just for grins.

                                Hence it is an instance of apriori thinking, and it is a refutation of empiricism. What follows is a quotation (page 106) that justifies the constancy principle.
                                This principle, as presented, is purely empirical. We OBSERVE that causes are identifiable and describable, and that they often operate in tandem.

                                "Experience . . . only reveals that two or more observations regarding the temporal sequence of two or more types of events can be 'neutrally' classified as 'repetition' or 'nonrepetition.' A neutral repetition only becomes a . . . confirmation and a nonrepetition a . . . falsification if, independent of what can be actually discovered by experience, it is assumed that there are . . . causes which operate in time-invariant ways."
                                We assume that causes work the way they are observed to work.

                                If the empiricist refuses to assume the constancy principle, he can never have his hypothesis or prediction confirmed or falsified.
                                This has become word salad. Maybe an example would clear this up? Let's take gravity. It always acts according to identified principles. How do we know this? By empirical observation and test. Nothing a priori about it.

                                If this is Hoppe writing this, he would probably consider a game of poker to be a validation of his claims. After all, probabilities are necessarily contingent. So do scientists ever deal with probabilities? When do they ever NOT deal with them? Probabilities can be calculated with great precision, but those calculations will NOT tell you which lottery number will win.

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