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Inducting/Integrating the concept of "principles"

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What context do I take as a given in asserting the validity of principles? Here's what I've thought of so far...
 
Metaphysics: Reality
Looking around me, *this* is reality
 
Epistemology: Reason
How do I know *this* is reality? By sense perception. I'm able to condense the percepts into concepts which lets me deal with a wider range of information. Once I understand what a concept is I'm able to form the concept of "principle".
 
I think the concept of principle precedes ethics, right?
 
A principle is a concept, except it has two additional criteria. The first is that the term true/false applies  to the concept. Does not the categorization of true/false apply to every concept? If I say "car is false" that doesn't make sense, but what I mean is "car is an invalid concept and therefore a false one". So true/false applies to every concept. 
 
The other criterion is that a principle is a general truth on which others depend. From Rand's lexicon: A principle is “a fundamental, primary, or general truth, on which other truths depend.”
So existence, identity, consciousness, the three fundamental axioms are principles. Everything depends on them.
 
Out of curiosity, fundamental/primary/general truth are the same thing, but the repition there is for emphasis of some kind right?
 
What about a single truth on which none others depende? E.g. some complicated physics law which is at the pinnacle of research. Is that not a principle?
 
If I jump ahead and look at ethics. What general truths depend on the principle of honesty? 
 
If a truth must depend on a principle, then random arbitrary assertions are not principles. E.g. "No lieing" is not a principle because true/false does not apply, it's an assertion. "Lying is bad" can be categorized as true/false, but is not true so it's not a principle, right?
So when we are speaking colloquially and say religious principles, we don't actually mean principles - but rather "assertions". 
 
I've heard the statement "being unprincipled on principle". I'm confused how that would work. If you don't act on principle, then your not acting on principle. So you can be unprincipled, but not unprincipled on principle.
 

 

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I would concur, a principle(s) precede ethics.

 

I would not consider a principle a concept, rather I would consider a principle a proposition.

  • I would apply 'valid' or 'invalid' to concepts.
  • I would apply 'true' or 'false' to principles.

The three Objectivist primary axioms are tautologies, converting them essentially into axiomatic principles.

 

All truths depend on the validity/invalidity of the concepts involved which invoke said principle.

 

As to fundamental, primary or general truths: I tend to hold that to the propositions as asserted; i.e.; are the propositions true based on the validity of the concepts invoked to assert them.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Thanks for the response, dream_weaver.

 

 

 

 

All truths depend on the validity/invalidity of the concepts involved which invoke said principle.

It will not be a principle if it invokes invalid concepts, correct?

 

What about propositions at the pinnacle of scientific research, would they be considered "principles", even when nothing depends on them?

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This is from Philosophy: Who needs it

 

You have no choice about the necessity to integrate your observations, your experiences, your knowledge into abstract ideas, i.e., into principles. Your only choice is whether these principles are true or false, whether they represent your conscious, rational convictions—or a grab-bag of notions snatched at random, whose sources, validity, context and consequences you do not know, notions which, more often than not, you would drop like a hot potato if you knew. . . 

False principles are not principles... So then you do have a choice. You either hold principles or you don't. So with this I never really understood Peikoff's quote "being unprincipled on principle" - if your not principled, your not principled. 

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Thanks for the response, dream_weaver.

 

 

It will not be a principle if it invokes invalid concepts, correct?

 

What about propositions at the pinnacle of scientific research, would they be considered "principles", even when nothing depends on them?

A principle with an invalid concept would be an invalid principle, in principle.

Holding an invalid or false principle would show up in the form of a contradiction at some point.

 

A proposition is broader. We hold our knowledge in the propositional form, but not all propositions are principles.

 

A principle is a tool of thought used to guide. Here's an off the cuff example:

 

 Instead of having to know that water freezes at 32° F, and that other liquids freeze at their various respective temperatures; we might generalize to say: the lower the temperature the more liquids you would encounter as solids. In this sense, the generalization serves as a scientific principle, or guide. You could impliment it when addressing the question: How might I turn this liquid into a solid? Reduce the temperature until it solidifies.

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False principles are not principles... So then you do have a choice. You either hold principles or you don't.

Your choice is not whether to hold principles or not; it's which to hold.  Even if someone wanted to abandon all principles (as some people do)- the rejection of principles, itself, is a principle.

You are correct that principles precede ethics.  What we refer to as 'principles' in ethics (honesty, integrity, etc.) stem from epistemological generalizations.  We all must live by principles (though not necessarily any particular principle) because concept-formation itself is an inductive process of generalization.

 

What context do I take as a given in asserting the validity of principles?

The nature of your own mind.

And anyone who asserts that principles aren't valid, as such, is trying to escape themselves.

 

The other criterion is that a principle is a general truth on which others depend.

In your second criterion (I have nothing to add to Dream Weaver's explanation of the first) :thumbsup:  the essential thing to notice is not that other things depend on it (because they don't always), but that it's a generalization which can apply to a wide variety of situations.

 

A principle is a concept, except it has two additional criteria.

A principle is a generalized proposition.  So the assertion "all men are mortal" is a principle because:

  1. It's a proposition which links the concepts of "man" and "mortality" together in a certain way
  2. It's generalized across "all men"

The assertion that "some men are mortal" is a proposition, but not a principle.  The proposition that "all women are bad drivers" would be a principle, but not a correct one; the same for the principle that "all compromise is good".

 

If I jump ahead and look at ethics. What general truths depend on the principle of honesty?

Well, first let's define the "principle of honesty".

If you were attempting to explain to a small child why they should not lie, what else would you have to explain first?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold

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Out of curiosity, fundamental/primary/general truth are the same thing, but the repition there is for emphasis of some kind right?
 

Fundamental and primary could be used fairly synonymously here, but general usually speaks more broadly.

 

Fundamental would appear to lay at the root of all generalizations.

Primary would rest on the fundamentals, but serve as the basis within selective branches. Volition, is fundamental to epistemology, but primary resting on being a corollary of consciousness.

General then, would be a derivative induction that would rely on primary and or fundamental inductions that would lead to principles such as honesty, independence, justice,  productivity, etc.

 

 

Edited: Added.

Edited by dream_weaver

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