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The Jorge against scientism

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  • Truthseeker
    replied
    I don't know if Mr Spock ever explained how he made decisions. But it does seem that he used pure reason or logic. Anyway, I suspect some people think, albeit vaguely, decisions can be used using nothing but formal deductive logic, as if all of one's premises are true.

    Let's consider the question of whether it is possible to use pure reason or logic that way, but not assuming that all premises believed or assumed to be true are indeed true. My short answer is no. That conclusion is based on my introspection of my decision-making process.

    A longer answer is based on the observation, already alluded to in previous posts, that when one makes a decision, that is not because he, using pure logic or reason, has succeeded in eliminating every putative decision but one. Consider that the decision to continue one's course of action is always one that can't be eliminated [now it may be true that an instant always exists between a previous course of action and its successor (a new course of action), but it seems to be a quibble].

    In conclusion, again, reason or logic can be used to eliminate putative courses of action that appear to be open, but the number of putative courses of action to consider is always greater than one, except just after a new course of action is decided.

    So, how do we make decisions at all? After introspection, the answer seems to be, again, I have an autonomous decision-making mechanism (perhaps mental) that does like mentally flip a coin.



    This is not to say that emotions do not have any role to play in the decision-making process. However, certainly it does seem as though we usually have to keep a good grip on our emotions so that they don't overwhelm the process, or "run away" with it, as it were.



    Perhaps for next time, could scientists nevertheless gather statistics on human decisions somewhat analogous to that of the single slit experiment? http://www.animations.physics.unsw.e...raction.html#1

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Oh, the warning sound ("chirp chirp") in some commercial aircraft. I'm still puzzled.

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Originally posted by pancreasman View Post
    *cricket cricket *
    I don't understand. Crickets applauding my argument?

    Leave a comment:


  • pancreasman
    replied
    *cricket cricket *

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Still assuming the universe is deterministic. Even so, I still have the impression after armchair introspection that I am living in accordance with the Action Axiom. Whatever the causes of any of my choices of action may be, I assume that the Action Axiom still applies to human action anyway.

    If anyone disagrees with the Action Axiom, he may set out to disprove it. But how can he? Every attempt to find a refutation has that as a goal, a reason for action, something the selected action aims to attain. So far the would-be attacker is acting in accordance with the axiom. He had a choice of a great many possible courses of action, and he did choose a course of action with that goal, somehow. He uses his brain and tor to think of a way to disprove the axiom. Now let me generalize the argument to any attempt to refute the axiom. Furthermore, every action undertaken will conform to it.

    I suspect some people will not be convinced by the argument above. They may insist that the argument should not be so negative and there should be a "positive" argument. But the argument in the first two paragraphs of this post is positive in that it is asserted that any assault on the validity of the axiom will follow it anyway. Failure is confirmation. Moreover useful insights into economics and political science can be deduced from the axiom. For example, Keynesianism can be shown to be a theoretical edifice built on a foundation of sand. One can study the literature that is built on the Action Axiom ( http://www.mises.org is a good start) for any useful insights into the ways of the world.

    Also, the attacker must concede that in every moment for every course of action that is then underway there is a different course of action. For example, you are reading this sentence, but suddenly you "see" a new reason to "jump" to a different course of action. Maybe the door bell is ringing. Or you suddenly remember the pot of water that should be by then boiling away merrily on the stove. So, every moment every actor always has a choice of at least two courses of action. The critic might argue that the actor can use pure reason to winnow his choice until one choice remains. I do not think so. One reason is that the actor is never sure how right any given course of action would turn out to be if it were put into effect. So she is not certain which of the two or more choices that she has at any given moment is the best.

    How, then, do we decide? Next post I'll discuss that question, and I hope to show that no one's choice can be predicted any better than predicting a coin flip or the state of a thrown die. Or, I may answer any question a reader or more may have about this post.

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Suppose Sally is taking a multiple-choice test for which she is poorly prepared. For most of the questions on the test, Sally guesses. She has only one hour for the test, and in any case she does not want to expend energy she needs to stay alive. Hence, she guesses quickly. As we may expect, most of her guesses are poor ones. Maybe a few of these would have been correct had she spent more time figuring out the correct answers.

    How we guess is something that is not entirely clear to me. How would each guess be caused if it is? I think we can expect that it would be quite unlikely for someone else to guess the same answers to the test questions. We would not be greatly surprised if any set of answers differ from each other set.

    Does each human really "guess" whenever he is trying to decide what course of action he should take? I think so. Would Sally, who has a long life expectancy, take the rest of her life to decide which course of action to take? I think not. Hence she will limit the time and other resources (denoted by "tor") in the decision-making process. It is actually ongoing every moment, but she cannot afford to let it take too much tor. How much tor? We will just have to let her decide--or maybe the universe is completely deterministic. But I've shown, did I not, that how decisions are caused is quite a mystery.

    Note that the less tor are spent on trying to figure out the best course of action, the worse the decision to take it may be. So Sally is going to strike a balance between taking too much tor and too little. How much tor she decides is currently not predictable, right?

    I've run out of tor, sorry. More stuff next time, maybe.

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    "Praxeology cannot be like Physics" (continued)


    The action axiom can be stated much more succinctly that my discussion of it so far. Human action is someone acting to bring about a state of affairs in the future that he thinks (or hopes) will be the most satisfactory one than many other possible future state of affairs. Also, human action presupposes stable causality and time durations of action that are always greater than zero. [Paraphrase of Mises Made Easier by Percy L. Greaves, Jr., Free Market Books (1974); entry "Human Action"]

    A reason for giving you a much more elaborate discussion is to demonstrate that a wealth of praxeological insights could be inferred from the Action Axiom. A more practical reason and more specific to this thread is that I think some insights from the axiom are necessary to my argument that choices made by humans cannot be totally predicted using the "laws" of physics. To be sure, as said before, to some extent it is possible to make some predictions, but detailed predictions for specific times cannot be possible except "lucky guesses."

    OK, time to raise a question: in making a decision as to which course of action to take at some later time or to continue her present course of action, how does Sally quickly eliminate for consideration what must be an infinity of possible courses of action? That would seem necessary if she is at all to timely enough choose what to do--recall she cannot choose to take more than one course of action. I have no idea how Sally quickly decides every moment. It just happens--or seems to. Of course she is likely ignorant of nearly every possible choice of action, but I assume that every moment she is not really totally unaware of many prospective choices.

    I think that if you examine retrospectively how you choose, you will come to the conclusion that judging the likelihood of a prospective course of action to succeed in assuaging your dissatisfaction with the world is part of your choosing a course of action--recall that dissatisfaction with the world is a spur to action, and nobody is ever wholly satisfied with the world.

    . . .

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    "Praxeology

    Leave a comment:


  • nmanning
    replied
    Originally posted by phank View Post
    For new readers, Jorge Fernandez has been a long-time clown making unsupportable and unsupported statements, defending them with "you're drunk" accusations, and without a single exception running away from all requests for analysis, evidence, or even rudimentary intelligence. ALL Jorge dished out was abuse. His opponents, when not laughing at him, generally have produced informed, interesting, and thought-provoking discussions. Without showing any signs of being drunk.
    So i see that he has not changed since I first encountered him on the "Truth Tree" forum 10 or so years ago...

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    "Praxeology cannot be like physics."


    Last time I said there was a hidden premise in the solution of the Superman-Superwoman puzzle. The premise is what I call the Action Axiom, and is the primary assumption of praxeology.

    There are many possible specifications of the premise, but they all essentially mean the same thing. Let's consider Sally and her life. Every waking moment she is undertaking a course of action. She might be waiting for something to happen; that counts in praxeology the same as any other action. Come to think of it, perhaps we should count sleeping as action also. Then, a previous sentence should be, instead: "Every moment she is undertaking . . . "

    Why is Sally now undertaking a course of action? Why are you also? Why in general terms are you reading this essay? My answer is necessarily general. Sally is deciding what her course of action should be to maximize or optimize one's happiness with due respect for the situation that you are in. A slave that is being worked hard does not have much choice, but he still does have a few choices of courses of action, including committing suicide. While laboring in the cotton fields, he might also fantasize about overthrowing his slave overseer and then escaping. Daydreaming and the like is also considered action.

    Continuing a course of action is not the only choice. Sally can in less than a blink of an eye change over to a different course of action. All of sudden, she remembers she has an appointment. Frantically she glances at the time display in the lower right corner of her computer screen. Oh! Oh! She had better hurry. Change clothes, grab the car key, rush out of the room.

    Things are a bit different for the slave if he thinks his situation is hopeless. Involuntary acts--tics, coma, automatic bodily functions, dying--are not considered action in this essay. But dying creates a situation that by definition cannot be warded away by a wise selection of actions. The best course of action here (not being specific here) is still to try to make the situation in the future as best as Sally sees possible courses of action. Perhaps it is the decision to be as comfortable as possible. Or to prolong the dying process. Something like that is the slave's lot. He hates to be made a slave, and the best thing he could do is to cope as well as he could.

    Perhaps in every given situation everyone has an infinite continuum of actions from which to choose one course of action, but no one can decide to NOT act. He must act, no matter what. Now if Sally's brain or mind had to consider every one possibility in her continuum of actions, it would take her an infinite time to come to a decision, which of course is impossible. So how is she able to decide? Note that every moment she always has a choice of action: at least either continue the present course of action, or change to a new course of action. If her choice is the latter one, then she has even more possible choices the next moment.

    Well, out of time. More next time. I think I will discuss this idea: Probabilitistic thinking (a kind of armchair reasoning) weeds out most possible actions in a given situation, but can it eliminate all but one action? Also, can Sally ever attain to total satisfaction with the world as she sees it so that she need not take any course of action?

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Originally posted by Roy View Post
    That people read your posts?
    Why would praxeologists such as Walter Block bother to start with so trivial an assumption?

    Leave a comment:


  • Roy
    replied
    Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
    So far, nobody has questioned what I have said about good division of labor. But there is a hidden assumption (if there is not any more than that). Can you guess what it is?
    That people read your posts?

    Roy

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    More examples that show the importance of good divison of labor [skip if you want]:
    A totally deaf man and a totally blind woman live in a city. He can't take and make phone calls, and can't hear smoke alarms and burglars in his home. She can't drive and would have to depend on kind strangers to do any shopping. To be sure, their pride and desire for independence may keep them from cooperating, but it would be far more convenient for the woman to take and make calls for the man and he to do the driving and shopping for her, and so on.

    A single person starting from scratch might be able to make a car -- in a lifetime. Yet most anyone in the world, at least in the most highly developed nations, can with less than a year of work accumulate enough funds to purchase and operate a car, with smooth-surfaced, well-maintained roads thrown in. The huge accumulation of capital inherited from past years did help, but that was the result of long sustained cooperation. What ultimately made the difference between the former person and the latter? How is that a short while ago only a king had only slave-operated fans, whereas millions of people now ride in air-conditioned cars?

    "Technology and innovations" is an obvious answer, but that's not good enough. Freedom from having to provide for one's needs -- leisure -- is the father of innovation, and bad division of labor won't give us much leisure. Can a collection of solitary individuals, each having to keep an eye out for wild animals, do as much as a tribe which needs only a small part of itself to maintain adequate security?


    So far, nobody has questioned what I have said about good division of labor. But there is a hidden assumption (if there is not any more than that). Can you guess what it is?

    Hint: The assumption, which I call the Action Axiom, is a premise in every praxeological theory.

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
    puzzle:
    Super Man barbers 6,000 heads a minute; Super Woman, 9,000 heads a minute. He types 3,000 pages a minute; she, 6,000 pages a minute. They jointly run a barbering and typing business. One day someone asks them to barber 600,000 heads and type 600,000 pages in 100 minutes. Can they do it? How should they divide the labor to meet the order? For example, they could divide the task equally. Super Man would barber 300,000 heads and type 300,000 pages; Super Woman would do the rest. They can't fill the order that way. Suppose Super Man starts with the typing. In 100 minutes he can do only 300,000 pages -- and no heads barbered. Super Woman would do 300,000 heads and 300,000 pages in a little more than 83 minutes. In the time left she can do only 150,000 heads, falling short by 150,000 heads of filling the order.
    The answer to the Superman-Superwoman puzzle (no peeking!):
    Superman should only barber; Superwoman type.
    Sylas was the only person to answer. He answered correctly.

    Economists may recognize that as an instance of David Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage. While he had economic relations between nations in mind, Ludwig von Mises saw that the law did also apply to individuals as well as to nations. He retitled the law, the Law of Association, as a reminder of the law's generality. Whatever its title should be, the law is obviously useful: In many cases, if not most, division of labor can be optimized.

    An important point here is that armchair reasoning can indeed arrive at practical knowledge.

    Empiricists might do experiments to test the validity of the law, but would that not be as vain as testing geometric theories with an actual straight edge and pair of dividers (or compasses)?

    Here I want to see if there are any questions or comments.

    Leave a comment:


  • Truthseeker
    replied
    Many years ago, Dr. Mark Thornton told me flatly that there are no constants in the science of human action.

    Here, let me introduce "praxeology" as a name for the science of human action, from the Greek word for action: praxe or praxis.

    What I think Dr. Thornton meant, I think, is partly that the constancy principle does not work in praxeology like in physics. Now some of you may be thinking, so what good is praxeology, if it does not have equations like
    E/m = c2
    dS > 0 (the Second Law of Thermodynamics, S = entropy of an irreversible process)
    voltage/current = resistance (*)
    (* The resistance is supposed to be constant in that example, but we do have devices like the thermistor, whose resistance varies with its temperature.)

    Let me present an example from praxeology that is useful, presented as a puzzle:
    Super Man barbers 6,000 heads a minute; Super Woman, 9,000 heads a minute. He types 3,000 pages a minute; she, 6,000 pages a minute. They jointly run a barbering and typing business. One day someone asks them to barber 600,000 heads and type 600,000 pages in 100 minutes. Can they do it? How should they divide the labor to meet the order? For example, they could divide the task equally. Super Man would barber 300,000 heads and type 300,000 pages; Super Woman would do the rest. They can't fill the order that way. Suppose Super Man starts with the typing. In 100 minutes he can do only 300,000 pages -- and no heads barbered. Super Woman would do 300,000 heads and 300,000 pages in a little more than 83 minutes. In the time left she can do only 150,000 heads, falling short by 150,000 heads of filling the order.
    So that readers may not spoil the puzzle for others, they may PM me with their solutions. I will give the correct solution next Sunday or after.

    Next Sunday I may discuss some more what "no constants" imply. Also the puzzle and its implications.


    _______________
    In the rest of this post, which you might skip, I mention and perhaps discuss some exceptions to the general statement that physics has equations of the form f(x,y,z, . . . ) = constant, which are well-established theories, where f is a function of three or more variables (x,y,z, . . . ), an example of which is already familiar: F/(ma) =1 or F - ma = 0.

    The famous equation E=mc2 can be rearranged to give E/m = c2
    That has only two measured quantities, E and m. The speed of light in vacuum was assumed by Einstein to be a constant.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics applied to irreversible processes has just one measured quantity, S: dS > 0. (To be sure, in practice it is calculated more often than measured, I think.)

    Leave a comment:

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