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patrik 7-2321

What exactly is "full validation" of an idea in Objectivism?

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In Objectivism, a "proof" of an idea is reduction. One thereby goes backwards "down" through the steps necessary to reach the abstract idea, which can be a proposition or a concept, through the necessarily prior ideas, until one reaches the most basic kinds of observations on which the idea depends.

The prime example of this would be the Objectivist proof of the principle of egoism. It is normally proved by reducing the concept "value" down to its necessary prerequisites, which are entities acting to achieve goals in face of the fundamental alternative of life or death.

However, according to Objectivism as I understand it, this kind of reduction-based proof is not enough for a person to be justified in claiming certain knowledge that an idea is true. It is for instance said in How We Know that "full validation" of an idea, as it is called, requires at first reduction but then also non-contradictory integration into one's total knowledge (I think OPAR says this too, for instance at the bottom of page 138 and in other places where proof is discussed, but perhaps not as explicitly).

So, one aquires certain knowledge of an idea after a "full validation" has been performed, which necessarily involves reduction and integration with the rest of one's knowledge.

But where does induction fit into this picture?

Peikoff's course Objectivism Through Induction (OTI) makes a really big deal out of the idea that real understanding and validation of an idea is based on induction. He repeatedly uses the term "inductive proof" (which btw. seems to run contrary to the definition of proof given in OPAR as essentially "reduction". What would "inductive reduction" be?). "Inductive proof" or derivation is the only way to fully validate an idea he basically says - this presupposing a reduction to begin with.

What I end up with is that "full validation" of an idea requires reduction and integration, the integration being based on induction - when I combine the works of OPAR, HWK, and OTI (and more). However why isn't this explicitly stated in either OPAR or HWK, that induction has this crucial role in the integration-part of "full validation" of an idea, if indeed this is the case? Why does this role of induction only show up kind of obscurely in OTI if it is so crucially important as it is claimed in that course?

"Mere" integration of an idea "into the sum of one's knowledge" to me implies a sort of inward-looking, assuming that the content of one's mind is the test of an idea rather than the content of reality, and for that reason the focus on "induction" as in the OTI course appeals to me, because there one is taught to integrate data from direct observation. It sounds more objective to me.

But I'm confused. What is "full validation"? What essential steps do you have to go through to reach certain knowledge of a given proposition?

Edited by patrik 7-2321

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It seems like you're pointing to an apparent conflict between the following claims:

  1. Full validation only requires reduction and integration.
  2. Full validation requires induction.
  3. Induction is distinct from both reduction and integration.

The solution will require rejecting or modifying one of these three claims somehow (probably the third).

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A very accurate summation I would say!

You can also tack on that I am, as perhaps more of a side-issue, confused by Peikoff's occasional usage of the term "inductive proof" in the course OTI [1]. I am also confused by the lack of reference to the importance of induction in the written materials, when it is lauded as so crucially important in the OTI course.

Refs:
[1] just google "ayn rand campus peikoff "inductive poof" " and you should be able to immediately see some relevant transcripts from Peikoff's course on the ARI campus page.

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OTI was created long ago with the laudable goal of combating a tendency toward rationalism.  However, there was not an actual theory of induction within Objectivism during Rand's lifespan (and arguably there still isn't since Objectivism as Rand knew it became a closed system upon her death).  So it is a question whether what Peikoff and Rand were doing in OTI is actually induction in the technical philosophical sense.

Binwanger is unreliable due to his radical dualism.  In any contradiction between Binwanger and Rand or a Peikoff/Rand presentation dump Binswanger.

Peikoff and Harriman authored "The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics" which is little more than the claim that the process of concept formation is induction.  That doesn't satisfy many people looking for a theory of induction who are not already Objectivists and many who are.

Peikoff's lecture course "Art of Thinking" lecture 6 covers "aspects of certainty excised from OPAR for space".  The four aspects covered are thinking about the future, thinking in terms of statistics, does present context of knowledge limit certainty, and does certainty imply error is impossible.   I wonder how much your line questioning here is motivated by an underlying confusion about certainty, and if that should be your next question.

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9 hours ago, Grames said:

Binwanger is unreliable due to his radical dualism.  In any contradiction between Binwanger and Rand or a Peikoff/Rand presentation dump Binswanger.

Respectfully, I think this is the wrong methodology. When two authors disagree, the right reaction isn't to decide ahead of time that one of them is right and the other is wrong just because of who they are. Instead, I think we ought to study each author carefully until we have a solid grasp of what each respectively is saying, then compare the two positions to determine which has better evidence and arguments in its favor.

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10 hours ago, William O said:

Respectfully, I think this is the wrong methodology. When two authors disagree, the right reaction isn't to decide ahead of time that one of them is right and the other is wrong just because of who they are. Instead, I think we ought to study each author carefully until we have a solid grasp of what each respectively is saying, then compare the two positions to determine which has better evidence and arguments in its favor.

Yeah, but it would be a digression from the topic of the thread to go over Binswanger's dualism and then why dualism is bad.  A heuristic was in order, IMHO.

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