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On 5/2/2018 at 5:01 PM, SpookyKitty said:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet...

I am been struggling to understand the import of your answer, and cannot find common ground. Alternatively, I’ve been struggling to figure out whether there is any difference between your account of theory and mine, apart from mode of expression. The main difference that I see is that my account ties a theory to a thing, and yours ties it to a field. The main reasons why I can’t relate to your treatment of the lorem ipsum problem is that you assert without giving evidence that the material you are analyzing is language; you also presuppose something about what the individual recurring symbols are, and I don’t know what that assumption is or where it comes from. It doesn’t come from the field of linguistics, which simplifies my problem – this is work carried out in some other field (just guessing, maybe computer science). I'm not just nit-picking, but it seems to me that your account is based on some number of field-choice stipulations, and not on observations of things out there.

You sought to illustrate three models within a theory, and by adjusting the content of the theory, you can just as well illustrate a single model resulting from each of three different theories. Here are three alternative and competing theories: (1) Word→P* and P→{lorem, ipsum…}, (2) Word→P* and P→{a,b,c…}, (3) Word→P* and P→{lo,rem,ip,sum…}. Each theory has a single model, so there is no issue of evaluating models within a theory; you just have to decide which theory you plan to use. I don’t know how you would do that. My theories are embedded in an integrated epistemology, where theories are inextricably bound to the thing that they are a theory of, and are independent of specific field of study (granting that linguists usually don’t make theoretical statements about quarks and physicists usually don’t make theoretical statements about the structure of syllables). And you?

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I don't know if we disagree, because either we're in agreement or we're talking past each other. So I'll state my point as clearly and briefly as I can, and then you tell me what you disagree with and why.

A scientific model is an abstract representation of a real thing. For example, scientists talk of a model of the hydrogen atom, a model of a star, a model of the solar system, a model of a mechanical system, and so on.

A scientific theory is what tells you how to build models of things. For example, the theory of quantum mechanics gives you a set of assumptions and tells you how to build quantum mechanical models of atoms from those assumptions; the theory of hydrostatics combined with the theory of nuclear fusion and the theory of gravity tell you how to build models of stars; Newton's theory of gravity tells you how to build models of the solar system, etc.

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On 5/3/2018 at 6:50 AM, AlexL said:

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?

Yes.

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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?

This sentence is ungrammatical, and I can't guess what you're trying to say. But not being causal doesn't mean that the theory isn't a good theory.

Being anti-causal, in the sense that future events can effect the past, however, would mean that it isn't a good theory.

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Can you now view a(t) as the effect and F(x,y,z; t ) as the cause? If not, why not?

No. In physics, a cause is an event and the effect must also be an event. Accelerations and forces are not events.

Edited by SpookyKitty

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Spooky Kitty, I take it that you're thinking of causality in terms of one event causing another, contrary to the view preferred by Rand, that actions are caused by the entities that act.  Is this a fair statement?

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On 5/1/2018 at 8:56 AM, SpookyKitty said:

No. A cause must precede its effect. The acceleration and force are always simultaneous.

 

On 5/1/2018 at 4:15 PM, AlexL said:

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?

 

On 5/3/2018 at 2:01 AM, SpookyKitty said:

Yes. Definitely. In SR, forces are entirely local, and so there is no instantaneous action at a distance.

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.)

Edited by AlexL
Clarity

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On 5/3/2018 at 5:31 AM, SpookyKitty said:

So if I close my eyes, then the sun ceases to shine? Your definition of causality is absurd.

If you close your eyes, you stop seeing the sun. Your lack of comprehension is absurd.

 

On 5/1/2018 at 12:26 PM, SpookyKitty said:

A cause must precede its effect.

Is retrocausality a theory of causality?

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On 5/1/2018 at 12:36 AM, human_murda said:

Force produces a change in the state of motion of the object

I don't disagree with you, but philosophically speaking isn't "Force" epistemological. Change is directly perceptible. Force is derived conceptually. Motion is also perceptible. But "state of motion?" i.e. category of motion?

What I'm getting at is shouldn't any definition of "Theory" include the fact that it is an attempted epistemological representation of an aspect of existence? (or maybe that is obvious) 

Some will say that a "theory" exists.

 

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6 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

What I'm getting at is shouldn't any definition of "Theory" include the fact that it is an attempted epistemological representation of an aspect of existence? (or maybe that is obvious) 

Some will say that a "theory" exists.

 

I’m going to say “no” (to adding to the theory of theory), for three reasons. First, that is not part of the definition of “theory”, i.e. it is not crucial to distinguishing “theory” from other things. Taking the definition of “man” to be the classical example of the definition of a concept, the facts that man can talk and freely make choices are true of man, but that is not part of the definition. Second, the description “attempted epistemological representation” is problematic. All representations are epistemological; and I don’t see what “attempted” buys you – so, why not just “a representation”? Third, the connection to epistemology is via the fact that a theory “allows man to grasp”, which directly says “Hey guys, this is something epistemological” – there is no need to further say “Also, this is an aspect of epistemology”. The underlying principles of cognitive economy are part of the general Objectivist epistemology: and I grant that if you take extract the two line theory of theory and deposit it in a neo-Kantian epistemological framework, questions will arise. But burdening the theory of theory with stuff that contradicts the theory (“too much non-essential verbiage”) poisons the theory.

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6 hours ago, DavidOdden said:

(“too much non-essential verbiage”) poisons the theory.

I see your point. Fair enough, all representations are epistemological. And I would suppose that “a system of identifications” is obviously epistemological.

I should have specified true/accurate representations rather than “attempted”. Isn’t the continuum to go from random to a hypothesis, to theory, to fact?

You would agree that there are epistemological “things” that are closer to reality and other epistemological “things” that are far from real.

I have trouble with the idea of defining “theory”, omitting the continuum that Invictus mentioned. Doesn’t a hypothesis basically contain “more doubt” than a theory (as a distinguishing characteristic) but similar in the fact that they are both probable truths?

I probably would say “gravity will slam this (object) against the floor” or "I feel the pull of gravity". Not “based on the theory of gravity, it is very likely that this will slam against the floor”

Obviously, some theories are treated like “the truth” even though the particular truth is based on a theory. A fundamental distinguishing factor seems to be that a time-tested theory is a kind of “mutable” truth. Unlike something like the law of identity which is immutable.

An absolute (system of identifications) is NOT like a theory that at some point is susceptible to some phenomena or experiment that can prove it wrong.

Which brings up a question: is the law of identity a theory? (Per your definition, isn’t it a system of identification that helps grasping …) And then what about Axioms? Are the rules of logic theoretical?

 

 

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“Fact” refers to the existent and not to a proposition, whereas “theory” etc. are epistemological. By “random”, I assume you are referring to the arbitrary, that is, statements having no relationship to knowledge – they have no proper place at the table of epistemological discussion. The difference between hypothesis and theory is not just position on the certainty scale: a theory has wider scope. A theory entails predictions (hypotheses) about innumerable concretes, and when applied to a specific instance, you have a hypothesis. For example I might have a theory of chemical reactions that predicts a foamy mess if I pour this bottle of vinegar into that box of baking soda (it predicts a lot of other things). The theory gives me the conceptual grounds to say that this is a probable outcome, and after I do it, the hypothesis is now confirmed as a certainty, and the theory that generated the hypothesis is advanced in probability. Even when a theory is confirmed beyond reasonable doubt, it generates concrete hypotheses (which can be confirmed, if you want).

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You would agree that there are epistemological “things” that are closer to reality and other epistemological “things” that are far from real.

I’m afraid I don’t get the point you’re making. Are you referring to distance from the directly perceived? For example, “mammal” is perceptually further from perception than “dog” (it is more abstract).

The question that I’m raising is not about how most people normally talk about theories (if they talk about theories at all), instead I’m looking into the question of what “theory” refers to. In normal talk, you don’t say based on the theory of gravity, it is very likely that this will slam against the floor”, partly because you’d have to say “based on Newton’s theory of gravity”, and mostly because 99.9% of people who say that are lying / bloviating, in that they don’t actually know that basis, and really they mean “based on prior experience” (which is not a theory). I think AlexL could legitimately get away with appealing to Newton’s theory; I certainly can’t. If you don’t talk about theory at all when you talk about gravity, that’s okay with me.

The Law of Identity would be a theory if and only if it is a system of identifications regarding an existent which allows man to grasp the properties of the existent. Is existence an existent? Are there facts about the composition of existence that determine what existence does? I would say no, and therefore the Law of Identity is not a theory. Axioms (true axioms) are not theories.

I don’t frame the theory of theory in terms of “mutability” because I don’t understand what that means. I will say that “mutability” is a desideratum of my metatheory: new knowledge does not automatically invalidate existing concepts, in case we learn that the theory is in error in some way and needs correcting. OTOH I reject the Popperian requirement where it must be possible to disprove a theory (the reasons are complex: it suffices to point to the sloppy modal “can”. If a theory is in fact correct, it cannot be shown to be wrong). Objectivist ethics and epistemology are good examples of non-scientific theories: they are true and in the relevant sense not mutable, but they are not axiomatic.

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On 5/10/2018 at 6:31 PM, AlexL said:

 

 

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.)

This is true, but the local relation between force and acceleration has nothing to do with whether or not a theory is causal.

Imagine that you have a ball sitting at rest on a table. Now imagine that a leaf falls somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy. The ball, according to Newton's theory of gravitation will begin to move at the same instant that the leaf does. Thus, we have no way of telling whether it was the leaf that caused the ball to move, or whether it was the ball moving that caused the leaf to fall.

On the other hand, in relativity theory, the disturbance in the force caused by the leaf has to propagate at at most the speed of light, and so, we always have that the cause precedes its effect.

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On 5/19/2018 at 7:08 PM, DavidOdden said:

The question that I’m raising is not about how most people normally talk about theories..., instead I’m looking into the question of what “theory” refers to. In normal talk, you don’t say based on the theory of gravity, it is very likely that this will slam against the floor”, partly because you’d have to say “based on Newton’s theory of gravity”, and mostly because 99.9% of people who say that are lying / bloviating, in that they don’t actually know that basis, and really they mean “based on prior experience” (which is not a theory). I think AlexL could legitimately get away with appealing to Newton’s theory; I certainly can’t. If you don’t talk about theory at all when you talk about gravity, that’s okay with me.

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:

On 5/19/2018 at 7:08 PM, DavidOdden said:

A theory entails predictions (hypotheses) about innumerable concretes, and when applied to a specific instance, you have a hypothesis.

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.

Edited by AlexL

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On 4/4/2018 at 4:45 PM, DavidOdden said:

I confess that I have a draft of a theory of “theory”, in the more literal scientific or philosophical sense (thus excluding uses where someone says that they “have a theory that X”, when they mean that they “feel that X is so” or they “have an idea that X may be true”). A theory is (defined as) a system of identifications which allow man to grasp the nature of a (conceptualized) subject. It presumes a definition of the subject concept, thus “theory of gravity” presumes a concept “gravity”, which implies a definition of “gravity”. Likewise “theory of mammals” presumes a concept “mammal” (and therefore a definition of “mammal”). A theory of a subject is a set of (highly) probable propositions which state the essential properties of that subject. The underlined parts here are my theory of “theory”.

The appearance of the term 'probable' could be a problem unless objectively defined.  If 'probable' is allowed to be construed informally as 'highly plausible' then subjectivity creeps in when what seems plausible to one person seems less plausible to another.  And then there is the related issue of 'how high is "highly"?'.

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2 hours ago, Grames said:

The appearance of the term 'probable' could be a problem unless objectively defined.  If 'probable' is allowed to be construed informally as 'highly plausible' then subjectivity creeps in when what seems plausible to one person seems less plausible to another.  And then there is the related issue of 'how high is "highly"?'.

"Probable" comes from and is as defined in OPAR: above "possible", below "certain". I added "highly" to indicate that the propositions should be closer to "certain" than "possible": I admit that the "highly" part needs more elaboration. Tenatively, I would sub-divide Peikoff's evidentiary strength binarily into "weakly probable" and "highly / strongly probable" (likewise, "weakly possible", though "certain" and "arbitrary" have no subdivisions).

"Plausible" isn't part of the OPAR system, but I think it is the same as "possible", and thus "highly plausible" is too weak. As in OPAR, this is about objective evidence / proposition relations, so the proposition is "certain" or "probable", and we don't talk about the emotional state of the person evaluating that evidence.

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