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AlexL

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AlexL last won the day on May 13 2016

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  1. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    1. If I were asked what will happen to an object which is left free to fall, I will NOT appeal to Newton’s theory of gravity. I will appeal to the recognition of the fact that an object, left free, will always fall, unless something else – another force - prevented it. This fact is itself a premise of Newton’s theory, and it would be wrong to consider it a consequence of the theory. 2. However, I will have to appeal to Newton’s theory of gravity proper in case I need to compute the speed and position at different moments in time; I will also have to make use of Newton’s theory of motion – 2nd Law. 3. Also, I won’t say that it is “very likely” that it will fall to the floor. You write: If a body of knowledge arrives at the stage of an established (vs. a tentative candidate for a) theory, its applications to specific instances is not a hypothesis any more, yet to be checked, it is a certainty (contextual, of course). 4. Indeed, a theory is used for predicting the behavior of objects, in particular in technology. One will not construct a bridge based on the theory of mechanics of materials in order to test this theory, that is to see if the bridge does or does not collapse at the end! Similarly, one does not send a mission to the Moon in order to test the various theories involved, one uses them in order to achieve the end result. Of course, human errors are possible when applying established theories.
  2. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    Therefore, in your view: - the Newtonian (classical) mechanics (CM) is not causal because there the acceleration at a moment t is given by F at the same moment; - whereas in SR this is not the case, and for this reason SR is causal. But in fact, in both Newtonian (classical) mechanics (CM) and SR the acceleration at a moment t is proportional with the force at the same moment: a(t) ~ F(t), so that in SR too the acceleration and force are always simultaneous!! There is no difference between SR and CM in this respect. (SR can indeed account for a delay, but elsewhere: not between a and F, but within F... But I will first wait for your comment to my observation above.)
  3. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    OK, but then, if in the Newton‘s Second law a = F/m , F is the force at exactly the point (x,y,z) where the point mass m is located and at exactly the moment t, then the acceleration at that moment is indeed given by the above formula: a(t) = F(x,y,z; t ) / m, with no delay. Do you agree? With this - local - value of F, is the Newton Law better (at least for moderate velocities) and the Newton’s theory – really a true theory (in your sense) and an excellent approximation of reality? Can you now view a(t) as the effect and F(x,y,z; t ) as the cause? If not, why not?
  4. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    What exactly troubles you? 1. Why should there be a finite amount of time between the moment the force is applied to a mass and the moment its velocity starts to change? How big do you expect this delay to be and what it is needed for, physically? 2. You say the Newtonian mechanics is not causal. Is the special relativity (which is capable of accounting for finite speed of propagation of interactions) better in this respect? Note: I define cause by the fact that if one suppresses it, the effect disappears – if you suppress force, there is no acceleration any more. I do not define causality by temporal antecedence. How do you define cause?
  5. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    A theory is not about experiments and their outcomes, but about causal connections.
  6. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    I would rather say that the meaning of “theory” is the same, but, as I argued previously, not any chunk of knowledge, even obtained by the scientific method, deserves to be called “theory”. As you noted, it has to be advanced enough to be a theory. But among natural sciences, physics (and other exact sciences) are not the only ones to be or to contain theories. It so happens :-) that for geology the same M. Bunge makes, in a different work, some observations which might interest you, for example his assertion that the tectonic plates explanation of “the present configuration of mountain ranges and ocean bases, as well as many earthquakes” is a theory. The work is his multi-volume “Treatise of Basic Philosophy” (vol. 7, part I, p. 231), available in bigger scientific libraries. Or just PM me for the relevant pages in electronic format.
  7. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    The moment a body of specialized knowledge reaches the status of being a theory , the inductive phase is already far behind. Indeed, the observation of facts, the elaboration and integration into concepts, the identification of causal connection and (at least partial) attempts to quantitatively describe the facts precedes the theory stage. A fully elaborated theory is a body of knowledge which is already hierarchically structured, with clearly identified presuppositions which logically and mathematically implied consequences. Example: electromagnetism. The body of knowledge starts with simple observed facts, like entities which, under certain circumstances, attract or repel each other. Then it is hypothesized that the entities are electrically charged, and this causes the observed effects. Then comes Coulomb (and Cavendish, ca. 1780) and quantitatively describes the phenomenon. On the other hand, there are magnets which are observed to interact, and the attempt to describe the magnetic interaction similarly to the electric ones fails completely, which indicates they differ radically in their nature. Then it is observed that the wires with moving electric charges (currents) exhibit magnetic properties (Ampère, ca. 1820). The existence of electric and magnetic fields is hypothesized. Then comes the realization that they are not independent. Finally comes Maxwell and unifies both (ca. 1860) with his equations. With this, the theory of electricity and magnetism, “electrodynamics”, is, practically, fully elaborated. Logical and mathematical consequences – deductions - are then studied, tentatively applied to old and new phenomena, and thus solidly confirmed. The most spectacular mathematical consequence was the prediction – deduction - of self-sustaining, propagating electromagnetic waves, with a speed closed to the known speed of light. Maxwell hypothesized, then Hertz confirmed (1887) that the light is an electromagnetic wave. Thus, classical electrodynamics is a theory in Bunge’s sense, that is a body of knowledge presently organized as a hypothetico-deductive system: the hypothesis are the inductively reached assumption of the existence of electric charges, of electric and magnetic fields, and of the Maxwell equations to unify the whole ménagerie :-). Next, all the observed phenomena of the corresponding nature were explained – deduced - using the assumptions (Coulomb, Ampère, and other empirical laws), as well as new ones discovered (e.m. waves, for eyample). The Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism can be applied to an unlimited number of particular circumstances, differing by the relative arrangements of charges and currents, with different environments. IOW, the theory of classical electrodynamics has an potentially unlimited number of consequences. Though your (first?) impression of Bunge was negative, I still think you will find him interesting at least in part: he is a very good and profound physicist, and, as a professional philosopher, completely different from what one usually sees nowadays. Therefore, I recommend you warmly: Mario Bunge, Philosophy of Physics, 1973 (found in any scientific library, I hope). It is mainly for physicists, but you might be interested in his approach which he explains in detail.
  8. AlexL

    A theory of "theory"

    Maybe this makes sense to you (from Mario Bunge, Philosophical Dictionary, Enlarged Edition, 2003): THEORY Hypothetico-deductive system: i.e., a system composed of a set of assumptions and their logical consequences. In other words, every formula of a theory is either an assumption or a valid consequence (theorem) of one or more assumptions of it […]. Again: a theory is a set of propositions closed under deduction (i.e., including all the logical consequences of the axioms). Most people, even some philosophers, confuse theory with ↑hypothesis. This is a mistake, because a theory is not a single proposition but an infinite set of propositions. Therefore it is far more difficult to confirm or to falsify than a single hypothesis. (Analogy: a net is stronger than either of its component threads, hence harder to make and to rip.) Another serious confusion is that between theories and &languages. This is a mistake because theories make assertions, whereas languages are neutral. The mistake is part of ↑formalism, the mathematical component of ↑nominalism. A theory may refer to objects of any kind, nondescript or well-defined, conceptual or concrete, and its assumptions may be true, partially true, false, or neither. The condition of logical deducibility from the initial assumptions confers formal (syntactical) unity upon the theory. This allows one to treat theories as (complex) individuals. These individuals possess emergent properties that none of their components (propositions) possess, such as consistency (noncontradiction). Example 1: Set theory, graph theory, and Boolean algebra are abstract (uninterpreted) theories. Example 2: Number theory, Euclidean geometry, and the infinitesimal calculus are interpreted mathematical theories. Example 3: Classical mechanics, the theory of natural selection, and neoclassical microeconomics are factual theories. Nonexample: The assumptions “All As are Bs,” and “All Cs are Ds,” where the predicates A, B, C, and D are not inter-definable, do not constitute a system, hence do not generate a hypothetico-deductive system. Indeed, no consequences derive jointly from them. HYPOTHESIS Educated guess. A statement that embraces more than the data that suggest or confirm it. All the empirical generalizations and law-statements, even the well-confirmed ones, are hypotheses. Thus, human knowledge is largely hypothetical. However, not all hypotheses are equally plausible: whereas some are proffered as tentative, others are regarded as very close to total truth, and still others as final: ↑plausibility. Examples of definitive truths that started out as tentative hypotheses: “The universe has evolved,” “There are force fields,” “RNA takes part in protein synthesis,” and “Individual decision making is located in the prefrontal cortex.”
  9. Please note that under the label “Objectivism” you will find in internet, including on this forum, a lot of claims which in fact have nothing to do with it. As you are new to Objectivism, you still cannot judge about what is what, so be very careful. It is quite easy to misunderstand a philosophy… OK. And what did she mean? Do you have a reference? I mean a primary reference. As I explained –and you did not address it - the appeal to the concept of a dept toward the victim is useless for your purpose. It is also dangerous, as I have mentionned. So no, sorry, I still do not think this is the Objectivism stand… unless you have a reference. PS: If you are interested, I can recommend you some sources, including in Bucharest. You may write me a Personal Message: put the cursor on my name, select "Message".
  10. Petru, Welcome to this forum (I am NOT a moderator and I am not even a frequent poster here)! I have not (yet) a firm opinion about whether your conclusion – the government should have the right to take action against people who are cruel towards animals – is correct. I’ll wait to hear other participants’ arguments. However, I don’t find your arguments convincing enough. The key assumption of your line of argument seems to be the following: What bothers me is the part “he becomes indebted towards you”. In fact, he is guilty of violating your rights and deserves punishment. Only in relatively few cases justice can be served just by a payment of damages. Moreover, even in such simple cases the intervention of the justice system is often required, for example when there is disagreement between the parties as to if and what right has been violated, and what exactly will “clear the debt”. For these and other considerations, the introduction of the concept of a dept toward the concerned person is useless. It is also dangerous because being indebted towards someone may mean that in all cases the victim has to agree with the punishment, and this excludes any objective system of justice. Să mergem mai departe. In case the victim is dead, you consider that the criminal is indebted toward the society (“your fellow citizens”). You even ascribe this view to Objectivism. This is certainly mistaken. The Objectivism’s view is that there is only one thing that a person owes apriori their fellow citizens: respecting their individual rights. The society is simply the ensemble of the individuals: it is not sentient, does not possess reason and therefore has no rights. While the idea that “the society” is a kind of super-organism to which individuals have obligation, or which has obligations toward individuals is prevalent, is has no basis in fact and logic. Prin urmare: Since the idea of “indebtedness” is untenable in this context, its application to the cruelty towards animals is improper, and the conclusion - govt. intervention is justified - is without base (but not necessarily false). (There are a few essays by Ayn Rand translated into Romanian – here http://ayn-ro.blogspot.ch/ . Traducerea este a mea, dar situl nu este al meu. De asemenea: au fost traduse în limba română Atlas Shrugged “Revolta lui Atlas” şi Anthem – “Imn”).
  11. Oh, it is very generous of you to comment on a post-script! But what about: Also: A "thing" which exists but does not have existence? Must be a very special thing... These conclusions don't bother you at all?
  12. Surprizing... I am not surprized any more: I was immunized by Theorem 25 Look up "anti-concepts" (in the Ayn Rand Lexicon). Might be useful... PS: What do you call a "thing"? In such an axiomatic approach as yours you should have introduced the term - in some way.
  13. Yes, now it did :-( Thanks for the registry path.
  14. It works OK for me, I don't have to reenter the key, at least not in CD-less mode.
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