Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Previous Fields

  • Country
    Not Specified
  • State (US/Canadian)
    Not Specified

Tom's Achievements

Junior Member

Junior Member (3/7)



  1. Introspection also presupposes having identified yourself as the entity behind products of consciousness. Man must be capable of subsuming facts about himself under a concept of self before he can relate the products of consciousness to himself. So the list of presupposed powers currently reads consciousness, memory, inference, and abstraction.
  2. Cathy Young outlines an apparent conflict between the rights of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs and the rights of children to the objectively best care possible. http://reason.com/0204/co.cy.sound.shtml Do children have any rights? If they do, to what extent should government attempt to resolve conflicts between parents and children?
  3. There is only one mental relationship among cognitive products which accurately, precisely, and completely matches the causal relationship you are trying to grasp. If you have multiple theories which reduce to tautologies, either only one of them is true or none of them is true. Recognize that you're still in the abductive phase and gather more knowledge. If you only have one theory whose propositions reduce to tautologies, stop testing them as mere hypotheses, bind them to their respective metaphysical contexts, and move on because you're done. In the case of getting zapped by a doorknob, you'd look toward a relationship between feet-shuffling, free electrons, identities about charged bodies, and the broader natural laws of orbital shells. Once you find that relationship, you can reduce it to an identity by means of some theory. However, you would never regard your theory as contextless or complete, only correct within certain metaphysical ranges, some of which may be unknown to you. In the case of boiling water, you'd look toward a relationship between water molecules, molecular kinetic energy, the resulting vapor pressure, and atmospheric pressure. Once you find that relationship, you can reduce it to an identity by means of a theory of molecular behavior. However, you would never regard your theory as contextless or complete, only correct within certain metaphysical ranges, some of which may be unknown to you.
  4. It has been many years since I've read it, but it was a highly readable and concise introduction to logic. I found his rules for definitions to be particularly comprehensive. If you are interested in something more in-depth, consider reading "Introduction to Logic", by H.W.B. Joseph. It went out of print in the early 20th century but Harry Binswanger rescued it with a fresh copy.
  5. Any true proposition identifies something about reality. Any false proposition attempts to identify the contrary to fact. In either case, the nature of something is presupposed. (Observe that these propositions are interconvertible with the conception of truth as recognition of reality)
  6. Where exactly do you think I've denied the validity of the senses? Where exactly do you think I've denied the role of reality? I have no difficulty accepting that my senses and the evidence at my disposal indicates that a doorknob shock is caused by charge separation. But the notion that a set of explanatory propositions about charge separation is sufficient as the product of induction neglects the contextual nature of knowledge and the broader natural laws at work. So anyone who even mentions the problem of induction suffers from a pathology? This is not how to fight Hume (and he does need to be fought).
  7. No, always. You cannot even form concepts without relating things. Since undetected contradictions compound errors in judgement and decision, it is crucial that you check for contradictions. Yes, you need to get as much of it right the first time as possible. Yes, you need to be sufficiently comfortable with your models in order to act. But you shouldn't be carelessly comfortable with your models. You cannot understand the explanation for calico phenotype without the generalization that genes for calico are inherited. How do you know whether you've grasped the properties you are trying to grasp? You can't say "when you can reduce the phenomena to a set of identities" because the notion of "chain of identities" brings up the question of whether you've recognized the chain of identities. Knowledge is much more than justified correspondence. Yes, proof presupposes knowledge, but you need something similar to proof in order for the result to be knowledge. On a less contentious note, here's what we've mapped out so far regarding the process of induction: 1) You abstract something from the content of your observations, subsume your observations under that concept, and then form a hypothesis (preferably several). 2) If you find that your hypothesis withstands experimentation and demonstrates predictive power, then you're ready to start hunting for the cause. 3) After investigating matters further, you may find evidence that the phenomena you were studying was an instantiation of some subtler, wider phenomena. At that point, you can attempt a causal explanation. It's still only probable at this point, but you're closer to induction than hypothesis alone. 4) If you have enough evidence to settle upon one explanation out of many alternatives, then you can be even more certain. 5) If being correct within the context of your knowledge is sufficient for induction, then you're done. But if we need more...
  8. That's all I meant. In order to understand the particular things one deals with in one's life, it is necessary to apprehend the relationships between things. If some of your generalizations lead to A and other generalizations lead to NOT-A, it is to your benefit that you resolve the apparent contradiction. How can you do that without showing how the nature of the thing causes the action? If two of your generalizations contradict, you've screwed up. Period. If further investigation tells you that a certain causal inference is wrong, you did NOT identify the causal properties of the entities. How do you know when you've found it? When can you say that a set of rational, explanatory, apparently tautological propositions matches the chain of identities you are trying to grasp?
  9. We seem to be talking passed each other. There is often more than one set of rational, explanatory, apparently tautological propositions possible given the same set of facts. At that point, you should regard those sets as tentative--as probable but not certain. But even if you settle on one set of propositions, you still still face the problem of bridging the gap between abduction and induction. At what point should you regard the set of propositions as a recognition of the chain of identities? Should you just add the qualifier "within the context of my knowledge" and leave it at that? If so, how do you reconcile your view with the necessity of proof? If not, how do you reconcile your view with the contextual nature of knowledge?
  10. No, the question is whether there is only one possible interpretation of the same set of facts. I would argue that as we know more and more about the identities involved, there will be fewer and fewer possible interpretations. This is true, but it doesn't address the point. The predictive power of a hypothesis is established after the hypothesis has been formed. Of course they are validated by their relationship to reality. But as you form more and more inductions, you will often find that two generalizations can be accounted for or expalined by a wider generalization subsuming the phenomena covered by the two generalizations (and even phenomena you haven't studied yet). Consider the following phenomena: * getting zapped by a doorknob after walking on carpeted floors with socks on * lightning * a spark jumping from your car battery to your jumper cable They're all examples of voltage overcoming air-resistance. Now consider the following classes of phenomena * voltage overcoming air resistance * induction of current by magnetic field * light They're all accounted for by a set of laws explaining the behavior of orbital shells. All phenomena are validated by reference to reality, but they are explained by logically prior generalizations. If you find that the implication of a phenomenon defies a wider generalization, then something is wrong. Maybe your inference is bad. Maybe your generalization depends upon a condition which you hadn't known about. Maybe one of the assumptions behind your generalization is inapplicable to the particular phenomenon. But something is wrong. This is why it is very important to organize your generalizations hierarchically. But competing theories are reducible to sets of identities. If you're after a very small set of identities, then you're applying a principle subsuming Newton's rule of "necessary and sufficient" and Einstein's advice of "keep it as simple as possible but no simpler".
  11. points of agreement: * causality is entity-based * the end result of induction is knowledge of the nature of entities * such knowledge can be summarized by chains of identities * causal reasoning plays an important role in induction * predictive power is a consequence of how well the theory corresponds to the facts of reality * predictive power is insufficient for induction points of disagreement: * whether only one chain of identities is possible given the same set of facts * the exact role of predictive power in inductive certainty points to reflect on: * For man's knowledge to be fully integrated, the conclusion of an induction must logically follow from wider generaliztions. If it does not, then either the wider generalization is wrong or the induction is wrong. But inductions can't be wrong, so the wider generalization must be missing a condition. Thus, a chain of identities might very well be the end product of a particular induction, but by no means should we treat such a chain as the first cause. For example, consider how the 19th century notion of magnetic vortices was subsumed by wider generalizations regarding electrons. * There is a trend of simpler theories replacing more complicated, last-ditch efforts at salvaging older theories. That trend doesn't happen without new conceptualizations of the phenomena. Thus, the increasing complexity of a math-heavy scientific theory is often symptomatic of the end of the theory as the best theory, and fertilizer for the formation of a new concept. * When building chains of identities, care must be taken so that they are truly connected (i.e. not mere tautologies).
  12. I am merely pointing out the practical consequences of Betsy's position. But Betsy rejects predictive power as a criterion for evaluating theories. See her earlier post.
  13. Betsy: NO, they are sufficient when they reduce to an identity -- when the actual characteristics of the units of the concept are the SAME as the phenomena. Betsy: It as nothing to do with a "conception of the cause" but with actual, perceivable, provable identities. TOM: For the actual characteristics of the units of the concept to be the same as the phenomenon, you must have some conception of the causal mechanism. Which brings me to your dismissal of predictive power: Both quantum wholeness and QED can be expressed as chains of identities, the former resting on propositions about pilot waves and the latter resting on propositions about the relationships between photons and time-traveling electrons. Both match reality by every standard we have--except predictive power. QED is *slightly* better in terms of predictive power. If we toss out predictive power, how will we decide between quantum wholeness and QED?
  14. Brian wondered: She didn't. Here's what happened:
  15. My question was how to know whether the conditions and characteristics one has identified are sufficient to explain a phenomenon. Betsy said: In your example of Darwin, you use two facts to define the concept of natural selection and proceed to subsume species-variation under that concept. Thus, your answer to my question seems to be: They are sufficient when they define a concept which subsumes the phenomenon. This is fine if there is only one possible conception of the cause, as was the case with natural selection and bacterial resistance. Unfortunately, the same phenomenon can often be conceptualized in multiple, equally acceptable ways. For example, there are a number of equally acceptable interpretations of quantum strangeness--equally acceptable in terms of predictive power.
  • Create New...