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  2. William Hobba

    Global Warming

    Well it says: Livestock are responsible for 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together. So you are correct in concluding it does not state its cow flatulence - BUT the title of the article is 'Cow 'emissions' more damaging to planet than CO2 from cars' I will now be more exact - emissions go beyond flatulence - there is also belching, emissions from excreted poop and probably others as well. From the second article: 'It's hard to believe that belches, farts and poop from livestock could have any kind of global atmospheric effect, but it's an issue of scale, and the nature of methane itself.' and 'We typically think of farts as being the culprit, but belches are actually the primary source of cattle-produced methane, accounting for 95 per cent of the problematic greenhouse gas.' So I apologize for not being exact and pointing out its 95% from belching rather than flatulence - my bad. But really does that change the argument? Deforestation, as I mentioned also accounts for about another 20% currently (some say as high as 41% which I do not believe - I think 20% seems to be about the consensus). What that is the CO'2 emitted by destroying the forests itself. You are correct in saying it's likely replaced by grassland that also will absorb CO'2 and emit oxygen. So it may be self limiting. I am no plant ecologist but I suspect the grass is not as good at it as the forest it replaces: http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2009/12/which-plants-store-more-carbon-in-australia-forests-or-grasses/ Now I don't know how accurate the above is although it looks like a reputable source.. I have read where it puts more into the earth than forests - but the above suggests it doesn't compensate enough. As I said right at the beginning of my posts the earth is a complex system and models predicting the future do not have a good record. I will now be more exact on that point. Some models indeed have predicted approximately what we see now, and some climate change alarmists have used that for saying we are headed for doom. But the consensus seems to be the following: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/did-global-warming-slow-down-in-the-2000s-or-not/ We are not seeing the increase in global warming predicted after 2000. Scientists are trying to understand why - but either way its not the doomsday scenario the alarmists like Gore predicted. The interesting thing about Gore is not what the skeptics harp on - the skeptics claim that the stated 97% of climate scientists believe in global warming is wrong - it is in fact correct. Many of his statements are. The thing about Gore is he DELIBERATELY lacks balance - he does not say what percentage of that 97% percent think we are heading for disaster - it varies widely form - nothing to worry about, to we have 150 years, to if its not fixed by 2030 we are doomed. And yes every single emission issue is fixable - but at what cost? Here in Aus the state of South Australia went for 50% renewable's and it now has the most expensive electricity in the world, and also one of the most unreliable. The economic impact of which is now being felt as well as small little niceties those pushing for such didn't think about like the elderly dying from heat or cold because they can no longer afford air conditioning. And even worse when it's pointed out the climate change zealots don't not just care - that would be bad enough - they even laugh about it. It makes you shake your head and wonder at their perverted psychology. IMHO its become for many not something for reasoned discourse, but a religion not to be questioned. Just to add balance to the distorted view of climate alarmists (by which I mean unbalanced) it's wise to look at what one of the true greats of science, Freeman Dyson has to say: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/11/freeman_dyson_interview/ Obviously he is one of that group Gore doesn't want to talk about. I always wonder where we would be if Dyson's good friend Feynman was still alive. He could cut though this sort of rubbish like a hot knife through butter. Look at the Challenger Disaster. He didn't go around with the other members of the panel looking into it. He went to the JPL which I think is located near or in Caltech where he worked, and sorted it out with the scientists and engineers. The panel got nowhere - he solved it. The reason - the panel was political in it's basis - Feynman eschewed such - for him the science was the thing. I think there is lessons to be learned from that for the climate debate. Thanks Bill
  3. Today
  4. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    What of the concept of an omnipotent omniscient God? Is it not as arbitrary as a statement referring to the same? In what sense could a statement be more arbitrary than the very concept to which it refers?
  5. Yes, exactly. Invalid concept yes, but an arbitrary concept, no. Based on this discussion I don't think there is such a thing as an arbitrary concept. My understanding is that arbitrariness only applies to a statement. And as we have gone through this exploration, I believe in our context, it can be refined to applying only to "statements of fact". For instance, the rejection (ignore) recommended due to "arbitrariness" would probably not apply to "comical statements". Also, searching through your mind, you might be able to find an invalid concept, but you won't be able to find an arbitrary one. I don't think you or anyone purposefully inserts something with no connection to any of their knowledge. Although maybe "memorization" would fit that situation, not sure.
  6. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    One can form an invalid and arbitrary concept based on an arbitrary statement... that invalid concept itself is not a statement but is still arbitrary. Your goal is to avoid making the mistake of forming such an arbitrary and invalid concept on the basis of an arbitrary statement by recognizing the statement and the purported concept it represents are arbitrary.
  7. Yesterday
  8. It may be useful to look at some more arbitrary statements which might actually be true: “Easy Truth has red hair”; “StrictlyLogical is 6 ft. tall”, “Invictus2017 owns a Ford Explorer”. Each of these statements does, on linguistic grounds, either describe a fact, or else it describes a non-fact – they are objectively true or false. But I personally have no basis in knowledge for making those statements, and they do not contitute the recognition of a fact of reality. They differ from Peikoff’s parrot or sand message examples where there is no proposition (the thing you see or hear merely physically resembles what could be speech or writing in another context). His savage math example needs to be modified since it is unclear what his point is, so I’ll rewrite that as an illiterate and innumerate person uttering the sentence “the fourth power of 3 is 81” (you can say this based on experience, without understanding what it means, since in English, you can put words like “second, fourth” before “power” and follow that with another number). This statement too is arbitrary, and in that context it is like the parrot utterance in that the person utters the word “power” without grasping what that term refers to. In fact, I would not even call the sand / parrot / savage math examples “statements”. So compare my examples to Peikoff’s “soul survives”, “fate determined by date of birth”, “sixth sense” and “convention of gremlins”. In those examples, the arbitrariness of the statement largely depends on the fact that the statements presuppose the existence of entities for which there is no evidence. In my examples, all of the concepts involved do unquestionably exist: I just made up relations between actual existents, without any factual basis for claiming those relationships. Arbitrary statements are not necessarily utterly devoid of relationship to reality, because they can refer to actual existents and invoke no mythical entities. In How we know, Binswanger has an extended analysis of “arbitrary”, which you may find clarifies the nature of the arbitrary. "Global warming" (which is nowadays not even a statement, it's just a noun phrase assumed to represent some statement), is an example of the arbitrary: it is asserted as self-evident, needing no evidence.
  9. Nicky

    Global Warming

    Those articles don't claim that methane from cow flatulence amounts to 20% of greenhouse emissions. They claim that the overall effects of raising livestock cause 20% of emissions. Methane from flatulence is only a small part of that 20%. All the other practices that lead to greenhouse emissions are very much avoidable (flatulence is avoidable too, there are cows that don't fart as much, but it's not worth the effort, because it's not as big a deal as popular myths paint it to be). Not only that, but livestock farming can have a net positive effect (assuming "positive" means less greenhouse gases). Take "deforestation" for instance, which is one of the things they're harping on: sure, you can't really graze livestock in a forest (except pigs, they love it). But guess what these partisan, alarmist reports always leave out: grass sequesters more carbon than forests. So deforestation, as long as it's done for the purpose of creating a healthy pasture, prevents global warming. We don't need virgin forests to prevent global warming. On the contrary, replacing them with grassland would create far more vibrant ecosystems across Asia and North America. Note: I don't really know much about jungle ecology, and what effect deforestation has there...but rain forests only cover a small fraction of Earth, anyway...everywhere else, deforestation doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's only a bad thing when the forest is replaced with a heavily fertilized, frequently tilled monoculture that depletes the soil of all other biology, and essentially treats land as a chemistry lab that's supposed to be kept as sterile as possible. That, obviously, is worse than anything else you can do to soil, including leaving it as a relatively infertile forest. And, because in most climates forests are the result of the disappearance of large herbivore herds (which are the greatest "deforestors" on Earth), most forests are unnatural and therefor infertile. There's a reason why a lot of Africa is grassland: they didn't kill all their herbivores. The natural state of most land on Earth is grassland, grazed by even more herbivores than these 1.5 billion cattle the environmentalist movement is upset about. It's just that the grazing is supposed to be cyclical and regenerative, not constant and destructive, like it is now. If you keep it cyclical, you can actually graze more, so even "over-grazing" is a misleading term. That's what makes grasses different than any other plant: it's not supposed to be protected, it's supposed to be absolutely obliterated from time to time. You can (and should) graze/trample a pasture barren every few months (or at least once a year, but you can do it 3-4 times a year no problem, as long as you let it grow to seed once in a while), because a few weeks after the destruction there's an explosion of life both above and below the surface, where the herbivore herd passed through, that couldn't have happened any other way.
  10. Okay, I can see "imaginable" as not helping with identification of arbitrary. But would you agree that "unimaginable" would be a gradation of arbitrary? One thing that is clear now is that in fact "arbitrary" applies to statements (as in part of conversation, writing etc). I was trying to confirm that differentiation.
  11. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    No Pegasus has ever been documented, either alive or dead or in fossilized form. No mammal has feathers. It is not in the nature of a mammal to have them. No birds have hair or teeth. It is not in the nature of birds to have either of these (although they do have wings). No living land vertebrate, including mammals, reptiles, and birds, has more than 4 limbs. It is the nature of mammals AND birds to have only 4 limbs. A Pegasus is "imaginable" is it? If so HOW and why not a tree winning a marathon?
  12. No. So long as a statement is arbitrary, "imaginable" -- other than in a fictive sense -- is not relevant. It's a category mistake. The only thing you can do with an arbitrary statement is to find something, some relationship to your context of knowledge, that makes the statement non-arbitrary. Only then can you properly talk about whether the thing is imaginable or possible. I'd say that if someone brings an arbitrary statement into a discussion, you should ignore it. I'm pretty sure that that's what Peikoff meant. But this doesn't mean that you must ignore them in every possible circumstance. You may, as I suggested earlier, look for something that makes the statement non-arbitrary. "Arbitrary" applies to statements; "floating abstractions" to concepts. What they have in common is that neither has a relationship to one's context of knowledge. I note that SL suggests a gradation of "floating" in floating abstractions. There's a similar gradation in "arbitrary". The distinction here is between abstract classification and practical thinking. A statement is either arbitrary or it is not, a concept is either a floating abstraction or it is not. But you may not know which without thinking about it. So, in that sense, you can legitimately work with arbitrary statements or floating abstractions and even treat them temporarily as legitimate. But only to ascertain their relationship, if any, to your context of knowledge.
  13. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    On average there are 850 grass plants per square foot of grassland. There are 52.5 million square kilometers of grassland in the world. OR 4.8x10^17 grass plants assuming out of 365 days of the year that grass (at each place on the planet having different seasons) is going to seed for only 1 day (gross underestimate), there are 1.3x10^15 plants going to seed today (or after having gone to seed a requisite number of days ago the seed is now ready to germinate). Assuming only one seed per plant, and only 1 plant per hundred goes to seed, an average of 1.3x10^13 seeds will germinate in a day (at 100% germination rate)). Assuming also only 1 seed per 100 germinates, there is an average germination rate of 1.3x10^11 seeds per day or 1.5x10^6 seeds germinating every second. The average time for a human to blink is about 300 to 400 ms. ON average, in that time 527,000 seeds will germinate. If you have ever planted grass you will know that more than one plant per 100 goes to seed, more than one seed per 100 germinates, and grass goes to seed more than 1 day out of 365 in almost any climate grass grows. Why was the statement "every time you blink a new blade of grass is born" arbitrary? There IS an awful a lot of grass in the world, no?
  14. I think I have some understanding, but not enough for me to identify it immediately. Here is some of my chewing going on: Easily identifiable Arbitrary (impossible due to contradiction) (to be permanently ignored) I used Hot Ice on my wound A tree won the marathon My dog is a communist agent Hamburgers cause global warming There is another "everything" that you don't know about The same exact thing can be different, even at the same time and in the same way Imaginable (to me) with no indication and unverifiable (to be permanently ignored) I saw an angel when I was 42 and it caused me to change my career I know someone who says I saw God many years ago Every time you blink, a new blade of grass is born Everything we know is simply a simulation ... (there is a variation below) There is a person behind you that only you could see, but if you look back, he disappears. If you look carefully in the mirror, you, and you alone, can see your spirit grow Every time you exhale, someone asks a question in the world. This category is the hardest - it seems tentatively arbitrary?- Imaginable with no indication but verifiable (to be true or false) (given time) Everything we know could simply be a simulation (the variation) Pegasus (flying horse) black swan 9-11 was caused by the United States The Iraq war due to weapons of mass destruction (arbitrary?) or (arbitrary in hindsight) There are 1,584,634 hairs on your body UFO sightings or contact
  15. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    There is a distinction to be made between a floating abstraction and the arbitrary. You can arrive at a floating abstraction in your mind, without accepting any arbitrary statements, by accepting statements without judgment, or holding concepts before you have tied them to reality. E.g. Someone first introduces you to "justice" before you have the conceptual framework or experience for you to fit it into your hierarchy of concepts. As a word, a part of the language, you keep a tenuous hold on it in the framework of semantics, without really understanding (before validly forming) a concept of justice. So you speak with other people using the word "justice"... perhaps accept what other say about "justice" and what it means and how it relates to other concepts, but until you go through the exercise of thinking, and until your concept finally has some attachment to a part of your (valid) knowledge, it remains "floating". Holding a concept as floating temporarily is not necessarily a vice... sometimes it is a necessary stage, prior to your integration of it. Rationally you "should" (according to prioritization of time, effort, and your value hierarchy etc.) decide how important the concept is to your life, and if it is important, to undergo the process of thinking required to anchor it to knowledge. Observe the statement about "justice" might not have been arbitrary, indeed it could have been true. Suppose, having never really thought of politics or even ethics, you heard it directly from, say Leonard Peikoff, and your closest family and trusted friends, all of whom told you they thought very long and hard about it, and even provided you with an explanation tied to reality, which, unfortunately you could not fully understand... yet. You can see some basis but cannot form all the connections. You also have independently judged the quality of thought of these people based on other claims they have made. Here there is at least some evidence for the statement, i.e. that it is not arbitrary, and sweeping it from your mind would be a mistake. [[If you insist on personally re-investigating the sum of human knowledge in every minute detail ALL THE TIME, and expecting omniscience for validating knowledge, you would never take any medication, step on any plane, or do anything which involved ANY INFINITESIMAL LEVEL of dependence or trust on others knowledge of reality. Rational trust in something someone says is not blind faith in a statement which is arbitrary, but an assessment of everything you know about, reality, the person, and what they have said]] Here, the concept "justice" could be a floating abstraction for a time, but with the kinds of non-arbitrary statements of Peikoff, you could start thinking about it, chewing and building the ladder of abstractions connecting justice to reality until the concept is no longer floating. In the final equation the hierarchy of knowledge is yours, thinking is something you do by yourself, and the knowledge you build must be built by your own mind. In a sense, a floating abstraction is not (yet?) a validly formed concept (contextually for you), but there is enough evidence not to dismiss it altogether...i.e. that although you have not yet gone through the process of conceptualization and integration, there is some indication or evidence that it is a valid concept capable of integration. Of course you might conclude after enough thought and weighing of evidence that a floating abstraction is actually an invalid and arbitrary concept. The arbitrary is not so much a floating abstraction as an invalid concept, a concept for which no evidence exists, i.e. which was reached entirely arbitrarily. This bespeaks Rand's genius in her naming of it.
  16. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    I sense you still having some difficulty with the concept of "the arbitrary". ... and my last post did not seem to help. I think it might help to do some concretization in your process of "chewing" (which process is explained by Leonard Peikoff in Understanding Objectivism... which is incredibly important work IMHO as it is one of the few works which explicitly lays out the important dangers posed by rationalism in thinking ).. as it seems you are stuck in the realm of abstraction (or leaning towards that end). Can you think of and hold in your mind a number of concretes (examples of statements you might hear or read) which fall within the concept of arbitrary, and make them real? Imagine hearing the statement, imagine your process of judging the statement based on all evidence and knowledge, and determining it to have no basis whatever, and then throwing it out. Can you think of a number of concrete statements which you may hear or read but which are not arbitrary, i.e. when you judge them you can determine there is some (even tenuous) non-zero evidence, a shred perhaps, connected with your validly formed knowledge of reality. Imagine then understanding your serious doubts, your skepticism, your understanding that although extremely unlikely, the statement is not arbitrary, and remains in your mind with very little weight (which by the way could easily turn into something arbitrary ... by the elimination of that "shred" upon which it depends)? With your understanding of these concretes, does this help in your conceptualization of what makes a statement or the idea it represents arbitrary? What more do you need? http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/arbitrary.html
  17. Notable Commentary "Achieving a truly robust, accountable, pro-growth financial system will take more work, but it's off to a good start, especially with the regulatory off-ramp option that puts banks more on the hook for their own risks while allowing them to serve their communities' needs." -- John Allison and Lydia Mashburn, in "Restoring Accountability to the Business of Banking" at The Washington Times. "The plain truth is the Palestinian movement never renounced its goal of overthrowing Israel (nor did it ever give a damn about the individual Palestinians it claimed to be avenging)." -- Elan Journo, in "It's Past Time to Bury the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process" at The Times of Israel. "Immersed in the 'free speech' culture, I identified a remarkable trait in common among those I admired most: they had both passionate convictions, and a warm, patient, respectful regard for the process by which an individual must acquire meaningful convictions of his own." -- Lisa VanDamme, in "A Lesson for the Classroom from Advocates for Free Speech" at Medium. Image via Pixabay."Let's seek out alternatives instead of sitting in the government-created gridlock of a centrally-planned and regulated transportation system." -- Gus Van Horn, in "Government Shouldn't Be Suing Waze, It Should Emulate It" at RealClear Markets. "In the last decade India and China have loosened controls on their citizens and 60 million people have become productive enough to escape from extreme poverty." -- Bob Stubblefield, in "Letter: Best Aid Is Ideas, Not Money" at The Aiken Standard. From the Mailbag Regarding my latest column, reader R.B. writes: What you say about public transit is right on and needs to be said. Reyner Banham makes some useful comments in his book about Los Angeles, where the Pacific Electric Railway became regulated and inefficient to the point that it could not change according to changing conditions of population and traffic and such. It was a vicious circle; as service deteriorated, there was demand for more roads which produced more grade crossings that caused further deterioration of service. Eventually, the freeways were built on the PE right of way, and now they are deteriorated and near worthless, so I am told, and there are new demands for the light rail that was ruined by government. I haven't been in LA since 1973, when I left a job at Occidental College. In my part of the world there was an extensive network of light rail lines that connected practically every town in Illinois and Indiana from the late 19th century until after WWII. The electric utility was built primarily to power those railways, a few remnants of which are still visible if you know what to look for. All gone, with some people plaintively demanding a revival, by government, of course. Meanwhile, government roads deteriorate and maintenance falls ever further behind as union labor becomes ever more expensive and less productive, and ever more money from gasoline taxes is diverted to ever more worthless political purposes that produce no transportation. Your article also put me in mind of the private streets in St. Louis, in the area west of Forest Park. I learned about them from a native of St. Louis who is an architectural historian. Most neighborhoods of that quality have long since deteriorated, as has most of St. Louis except for the private streets. I attribute their good state of preservation entirely to the fact that they are privately owned, and they are fitted with barriers that slow traffic without blocking it entirely. Others with an interest in the "private places" of St. Louis and other examples of privately-provided infrastructure can learn more here (and from sources noted within). -- CAV Link to Original
  18. Yes, and isn't that what makes the subjective version of "imaginable" applicable when identifying the "arbitrary" I currently agree with you that one should not always ignore arbitrary statements (with my current knowledge). But I do hold it possible that I don't understand "arbitrary" because Peikoff is clear about ignoring them. Let us say there is an arbitrary statement lodged, in my mind. I unleash the Objectivist Epistemological Antibodies to find and destroy them. If I understood and applied the principles and how to deal with "arbitrary statements", they will find none. (unless we are capable of making arbitrary statements to our selves) So once in a while, I did not "ignore" and one got in. Would you say an arbitrary statement, once incorporated as a thought, later turns into a "floating abstraction"? Is the antibody looking for floating abstractions?
  19. Agreed. And yet somehow, an arbitrary statement or thought should ultimately be judged as meaningless. Let us say square shapes go on a canvas, each one is below, above, left or right etc. of another. Each new square comes in with an instruction, above that one, or left of this one etc. Then someone asks, "put this new square with no relationship to the others". I don't think its volitional, it is not that I will refuse, I simply can't do it. That new square would be an example of arbitrary, defined as has no relationship to anything else. Now, as a conversational rule of hygiene, the rule can be, "such a square is arbitrary, simply ignore it". But that rule seems to be innate, it is in the nervous system. (you can sense that "it does not make sense, it can't fit") In this case, we are protected before an epistemological rule is developed consciously. If someone tells you to search in the canvas (mind), try to find such unrelatable squares, you can't even find them. I don't think one can access something in the mind that has no (none) relation to anything else. "Here is x, it has no cause and it has no effect, it is indistinguishable from anything" Try to find one of those in your mind. So arbitrary can't ONLY mean, no relationship at all to anything that you know. I agree that "arbitrary" is missing a certain type of relationship to what you know, but I am hoping to fine an easier way to identify it. Currently, too many hoops to jump and they are too confusing otherwise people would catch these things.
  20. Uummon Beeng

    Veganism under Objectivism

    First off, thank you for posting such an interesting topic. It got me thinking and I'd like to share my thoughts.I disagree with you, animals are not capable of reason and so do not have rights. Your definition of 'reason' is lacking. There is no doubt that animals are sentient but, sentience is not a synonym for reason. You have butchered the (already somewhat questionable) wiki definition of sentience (I try to use reputable online dictionaries because wikis can warp definitions sometimes). Sentience is not defined as 'subjective reality' it is the capacity to feel or perceive (some aspects of reality). If you did, in fact, use the wiki definition (ill-advised) the very next sentence goes on to say- Reason is the ability to form abstractions and concepts. Animals have automatic knowledge, hardwired automatic responses to stimuli that they cannot choose to go against. If a lion had reason, some could choose to live as scavengers despite being able to hunt injured, weak or old animals. It could choose to hunt old animals nearing the end of their natural lifespan rather than young inexperienced foals. Lions. like any other animal, have no choice but, to follow their compulsions--this does not mean that they cannot learn but, to equate such rudimental thinking to reasoning is like equating Parrots mimicking to humans learning a language. As for animals learning to solve puzzles you would have to link the experiments so that I can verify if these actions qualify as abstraction and concept formation. For the rest of my argument, I'll post D. Moskovitz response to a similar question on Atlas Society
  21. Last week
  22. Knowledge, in the philosophical sense, is always personal. I have knowledge, you have knowledge, but the stuff you or I put on paper to represent what we know is not knowledge. It is merely a representation of our knowledge. A statement, put on paper, is not, for the purposes of this discussion, true or false. It's not even a statement; it's just marks on paper. So, when I say that such and such a statement is arbitrary, I am engaging in a short-hand. What I mean is that, that statement, as held by some particular person, is arbitrary -- is held, not as a rational conclusion from percepts, but as a mere concatenation of symbols. But in another person's mind, the exact same sequence of symbols might be a truth, a falsity, a possibility. For that matter, a statement might start out in your mind as an arbitrary assertion and then, as you investigate, become a statement about which you can ask truth questions. For that matter, a statement could start out as not arbitrary, arrived at by an undetected error and, once the error has been detected, be demoted to the arbitrary. Arbitrariness is not, strictly speaking, a property of statements. It is a property of statements within some person's context of knowledge. It is a relationship, or rather the lack of a one, between the statement and the context. This does not mean that you should always ignore an arbitrary statement. But what it does mean is that, before you do any reasoning with an arbitrary statement, you must relate it to your context. So if you find some particularly intriguing statement, "We are in the matrix", say, you may, if you choose, look for some evidence that would allow you to consider the statement's truth. If you find it, the statement is no longer arbitrary and you may reason with it. If you don't, it remains arbitrary, and any sort of reasoning, even asking about possibility, is an error. Where you draw the line is largely up to you. There's no point in investigating statements about unicorns and other such absurdities, but checking out other arbitrary statements might prove of value, even if only as intellectual exercise. One thing to keep in mind. When someone makes a statement that you can't relate to your context and is thus arbitrary and which requires you to reach a contradiction should you use the methods of reason with the statement, it's a good idea to require of the statement's proponent that he provide some evidence to support the statement. Otherwise you're likely to waste a lot of time on drivel.
  23. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    I like where you going with your thoughts on this. If you are searching for a wider principle in which the arbitrary fits, I think it is an instance of judging purported knowledge or statements purporting to refer to reality based on thinking carefully about all the evidence available to you and according to that judgment giving that statement and its purported referent appropriate weight in your knowledge structure. In the case there is no evidence you label it arbitrary and sweep it from your mind ... but you should still probably remember that it was stated and by whom.
  24. Image via Wikipedia Driving in DC used to be a nightmare for me until Waze replaced stand still traffic with pleasant drives through picturesque neighborhoods. Unfortunately, residents may not feel a similar delight when they see my car. They’re weary of speeders, noise, and rudeness; and they're fighting back. (I would too, if I couldn't even back out of my driveway) And so, there are rumblings about forcing companies to be "accountable", holding them liable for traffic problems, and even preventing them from reporting certain routes. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we should not be doing. Southern California Radio recently asked their listeners, "[H]ow could Los Angeles actually hold Waze accountable? What types of regulations should be put in place?" That's no surprise: How many times have you heard someone say, "there ought to be a law?" In a country where the federal code of regulations alone takes up ten shelves of the Library of Congress, this seems to be the conventional wisdom -- even more today than in the time of widespread, privately-run public transit. Back then, anti-trust and interstate commerce regulations forced electric companies to sell their street car lines. This destroyed the profit margin of the lines... To continue reading my latest column, please proceed to RealClearMarkets. I would like to thank Steve D. and my wife for their comments on an earlier version of this piece. -- CAV Link to Original
  25. Agreed, ultimately, "arbitrary" is going to be of the genus "nothing". Isn't that what it refers to? The concept "Arbitrary" since it has no metaphysical manifestation, for instance, is in fact "nothing". Some arbitrary statements are simple contradictions easily identifiable. They resolve to nothing/the null set. But similar to "nothing", "arbitrary" is also of the genus "concept". What kind of a concept? Would it fit in within the same classification as "infinity", "nothing", "imaginary number"? This is the class of concept where epistemologically, it is valid (so it exists epistemologically?) but metaphysically none existent. "Arbitrary" is a placeholder for nothing in particular (metaphysically). But the whole exercise of understanding it is to be able to become able to identify so I (we) do not allow trash, or worse (epistemological poison) to enter our minds. Like agonizing over if "everytime you sneeze a baby in another word dies". Years and years of that, because you let it in your mind!
  26. The ultimate purpose of identifying arbitrary is to have pristine valid OBJECTIVE knowledge. But all knowledge initially enters through subjective portals. I posit that the concept "arbitrary" in this context, is referring and relevant to that point (of entry) in the communication. In this context, subjective knowledge, in fact, is applicable. "Imaginable" to the receiver of the information (the subject). Granted, one would be able to imagine and another would not. It is all about seeing in the mind's eye. If it is unimaginable why would it be so? 1. The words are meaningless (subjectively - to the person) 2. The meaning of the words don't make any sense (contradiction) 3. Too complex to imagine (crow epistemology) Note that not in that list are: -Too heinous/ is, in fact, imaginable but rejected. -a reminder of awful things /same way imaginable but pushed away These are valid reasons to reject as neither true nor false/arbitrary ... to be ignored. The label arbitrary in this context can simply mean "not enough information for me to agree to consider/think about it". The concept "arbitrary" is part of an epistemological rule of hygiene, to prevent trash or disease or poison from entering past the knowledge filter/firewall. These epistemological rules are personal hygiene rules, personal as in subject/receiver based. One can object, "but simply going by these subjective rules will not allow unimaginable truths from entering your consciousness". The counter is that "this applies at the start of communication". You must ask for more information (proofs, simplifications, etc.) If none are offered, then ignoring (the information) is still the way to go.
  27. Then "arbitrariness" is not solely based on the statement (assuming it is not an outright contradiction). From what I am gathering, it is also based on where in the conversation it is. You demonstrated what was identified as an "arbitrary statement" at point 1 in the conversation. At point 2, you asked, "why?". At point 3, there was a "wacky response, but a shred of evidence" So at point 1 - the statement is arbitrary point 2 - the statement is arbitrary point 3 - the statement is possible First, that implies that arbitrary is within the context of a conversation/discussion/polemic etc. Second, it is after evidence was asked for, none was given, it is now considered arbitrary. Is that an element or am I seeing things that are irrelevant? I have more observations and questions to go through with you and SL but I did not want this to go by.
  28. It is pretty easy to distinguish an arbitrary statement from a non-arbitrary statement, so indeed you should be able to judge quickly. For instance, “Some trees commit murder” is arbitrary, and you can judge that it is arbitrary within seconds, once you know that I’m done talking. I’ve given you no evidence to support my claim. If I say “Some trees commit murder. For example the black walnut poisons its enemies with juglone”, my statement isn’t arbitrary (it is a bit whacky, but at least I give some support). In case you didn’t know about juglone, and as a polite rhetorical device, you can say “What evidence do you have that some trees commit murder?”, since the other guy may think that everybody knows about killer walnuts. You should cultivate the habit of identifying and challenging arbitrary claims. Arbitrariness is about the evidence for a claim, and evidence has to be given, it doesn't just present itself magically. Perhaps your concern is that someone makes a true statement without stating the evidence, because the evidence is so well-known that it needn't be stated. The global warming claim has two problems, first that it's meaningless (it's an expression, a meme, and not an actual proposition: it stands for many imaginable propositions), and second, it is arbitrary (99% of the time it is accepted on the basis of no evidence). If we take the claim to be that "human activity has changed the atmosphere to the point that average planetary temperatures have increased significantly", we would at least have a concrete proposition. Then there is the question of whether there is any evidence for the claim.
  29. StrictlyLogical

    "How do I know I'm not in the matrix?"

    Plenty of interesting thoughts. Concrete examples would likely be very informative. I'm not sure your definition is workable. "Imaginable" according to what standard? Is there anything you cannot imagine? If so, is the dividing line between what is impossible to imagine and what is imaginable subjective? Does something have to incorporate some aspects of reality (like a centaur) to be imaginable? or can it defy all knowledge, logic, and rules of conceptualization etc.? Is "An inanimate clear glass that blocks sunlight and brings your paper to you in the morning." imaginable or due to its contradictions meaningless? Well that raises the issue of whether contradictions can exist ... or have meaning... which implies the standard for "imaginable" depends upon who you are... an Objectivist imagination or a Hegelian one?... "Imaginable" is too vague and subjective a term. IMHO By pursuing the idea of identifying a genus, I think you are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Why presume "arbitrary" is a species of anything else? If it were a kind of thing which exists, then there is a ladder of abstractions and concepts in which it fits, but the arbitrary is precisely OUTSIDE of all valid concepts (formed from the evidence of the senses). The statement IS the only existent, it has no referent in reality (none that can be identified according to evidence). So an arbitrary statement is a species of statements.. it is simply a statement for which the speaker has no evidence whatever (note humans are not omniscient nor infallible and the standard for making the statement is contextual... Objectivists are not Rationalists) I think there is a strong distinction between the arbitrary and the meaningless. An arbitrary statement is syntactically correct enough such that it is capable of meaning and being valid if evidence were found... whereas a meaningless statement can never be capable of meaning and being valid. What you know to be possible is not a limiting arbiter, it is supporting ladder to further knowledge. Your bird flying is an example of how seeing what is real informs one of what is possible which informs one of evidence pointing to something for which some evidence exists. The cave man, seeing a bird fly has been provided with evidence that living things do not automatically die when at altitude. They presumably can still breathe, the feathers seem to flutter indicating the presence of air and wind. The motions of the bird and its interaction indicate an effect that can be observed in leaves and trees swaying, or carried off in the wind and man can feel the wind, there is some pushing and light things can be pushed enough... living stuff can fly under the right conditions, man could fly if he could figure out what conditions are necessary to get enough of that "air" force sufficient to lift him up the way it does a bird, a leaf or a tree. Evidence is more than mere specific instances, evidence is also in the form of principles and wide integrations and concepts, all of one's knowledge constitutes all of the possible evidence... for believing something is possible.
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