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DavidOdden last won the day on May 3

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  1. @LER, I think you are missing the contextual nature of moral evaluation. If I have a choice between buying 5x toilet paper and having no toilet paper at all (returning to the sponge on a stick days), I will spend 5x on toilet paper. The proper question is not whether the law of supply and demand is overridden by some theory of non-governmental price controls, the question is why my supply (of money) is and what my demand (for TP) is, and how that relates to supply and demand of other people (stores and online sellers). Where the supply is very low and the demand is high, you expect the price to go up. If you actually have TP in your store, that changes the supply equation for you, so of course you would not spend 5x on online TP, you would only spend 1.5x to buy it at the store. The reality is that the shelves are still bare (ymmv). Your analysis of the situation is wrong, when you imply that the online seller is the creator of the shortage. This implies that there is some constant natural force which provides our needs without any effort on our parts, which the “speculator” has unnaturally interfered with. If you want to assign blame, you can blame the store for not getting more TP, or the manufacturers for not making more TP, or your neighbor for buying TP (whether it is in ordinary amounts or in horder amounts). It is morally inconceivable that blame should be assigned to a person simply because they recognized an opportunity to make a buck. This goes for TP as well as eclipse glasses. Temporary shortages exist all the time, and in a free market are generally solved when the producers increase production. That TP on the shelf is the property of the store owner. It becomes the property of the bulk-buyer when he puts it in his cart and pays for it. That TP is not your, until you actually buy it. It’s a risky business, reselling. There is no such a thing as a moral economy that predates modern capitalism: “moral economy” is the same as and came into existence as modern capitalism.
  2. Moral principles guide your actions when part of an integrated view of existence. While a moral principle is focused on a very narrow question, such principles can’t be trivially applied by dropping knowledge context. There is no principle of Objectivism that says “I should charge as much as I can”, but arguable there is a principe that says “I should charge as much as I can consistent with reality and my long-term goals”. Market-backlash is an example of a quasi-rational consideration, that is, it is irrational to pretend that people do not behave irrationally. Any non-coerced transaction adds value (i.e. not gunpoint sales), but they also have a cost – the question is whether the transaction adds net value to the seller. The buyer, likewise, has to consider whether the transaction adds value for him. Neither party should care about the rationality of the other party’s decision to engage in the transaction. But, both parties should consider whether a disadvantageous transaction for the other party will in fact turn out to be disadvantageous for themselves. This is why I patronize a local hardware store that charges a bit more for stuff, but also provides invaluable technical assistance that is not available at cheaper outlets. The value-computations that have to be performed are very complicated, and ultimately depend on fragmentary knowledge (is it even possible to buy toilet paper for less money at another store). A business has to operate with awareness of the quirky views of customers, and cannot rely on the thinking “we’re the only game in town”, which may be true today but in a free market is an invitation to competition. Customer irrationality is part of what it means to “do business”. The problem in the OP is a consequence of poor planning and bad assumptions by an erstwhile businessman. You have to read the lease carefully; or, in the case of E-commerce, the terms of service. When you sign up for a service that retains the option of evicting you and putting you out of business, you either accept that risk, or get a different landlord who doesn’t retain arbitrary social-justice rights to your life.
  3. Nuh-uh. If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules. This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government. A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws. The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. (non-consecutive quotes) I understand how tempting it is to generalize from “rights” and “initiation of force” to “protect”, “threat”, “foreign” and “invasion”, but flies don’t “initiate force”, and novel facts are not foreign invasions, so it is not the job of government to protect citizens from the threat of an invasion of flies. It is not the job of government to fight “things from the outside”, or “things that endanger people”.
  4. At the very beginning of the outbreak in the US, the death rate in Washington was very high, I believe around 20%. It is now substantially lower. The explanation is that the disease spread first through a specific elder care facility. There was a very strong correlation between “might be tested” and “was a patient at that facility”. This is a reminder that there are lots of unreported variables – facts about being tested, testing positive, and dying are not randomly distributed in the population. If you believe the statistics (my message is, don’t!), Italians recover better than Americans – US recovery rate is 2.5% and Italy’s is 12%. I suspect that it’s not that around 90,000 Americans still have the disease, instead there is a difference in reporting. The highest rates of infection are in Andorra, San Marino, Iceland and Luxembourg: basically, cities elevated to the status of country. The really low incidence of the disease in Africa is explained by the fact that people don’t move around much there. The one case where I think we can reasonably attribute something political to the number of cases is Iran, compared with Afghanistan and Turkey. I think they see this as an opportunity to get sanctions lifted.
  5. We have two questions here: whether we believe people will ever behave like Objectivists on a mass scale, and whether it will ever be more than a philosophy of the few. The second question is easier to either answer or dismiss, since it’s unclear what you mean by this. There are a few people, such as Harry Binswanger and Leonard Peikoff, who have a profound understanding of the philosophy. I do not believe that it will ever come to pass that the majority of the adult population in some society will have that level of understanding and acceptance of Objectivism. Or even 10%: I do not believe that more than 10% of the population will ever have a deep intellectual understanding of any philosophy. I allow that it could be true in a strange circumstance, where a ship full of Objectivists travel to uninhabited planet (asteroid) Galt’s World. Since there’s no mechanism for voting to determine “what Objectivists believe” especially w.r.t. such a specific and non-essential question, all I can do is apply Objectivist principles to the question and conclude that you should not believe that under normal circumstances, all humans will become advanced philosophers (of any kind). Even after they have invented robots to do all the plowing, laundry, and programming. It’s much more plausible that people will act like Objectivists on a mass scale, where “mass” is counted as at least 20% of the adult population. The problem is knowing whether that has happened. It’s easy to detect the signs that a person isn’t acting like an Objectivist, e.g. when they lie, cheat, steal, and vote for expanding the welfare state. Self-sacrificial ethics may in some cases be obvious, but I think it is actually difficult in most cases to tell whether a person is acting in a certain way because they feel it is their duty to subordinate their lives to others, versus whether they are acting benevolently and in a rationally self-interested way. But still, the question is whether it is reasonable to think that we will ever achieve that level of rationality in some society. I don’t expect that to happen in my lifetime, or my grandchild’s lifetime. Or in a millennium. However, Objectivism is not a political philosophy, it is an integrated philosophical system. Before asking your question, I suggest looking deeper into the question of what aspects of the philosophy relate to political predictions and actions. The hardest thing for people to “get” is that one should chose one’s actions based on a moral code that puts your living as your central purpose. I would then divide that into the more intellectual art of understanding the nature of reason, and the more emotional / psychological art of acting as you know you should. Objectivism does not say that either of these things can be accomplished trivially. Objectivism does not say how you cause yourself to understand what “reason” is, it just says what reason is. If Objectivism were wrong about what reason is, then indeed Objectivism would have “failed”: but it’s not wrong, and it hasn’t failed on that front. Objectivism doesn’t exactly have a philosophical principle that explains why people follow emotion rather than reason, though it does tell you that it has something to do with treating emotion as a source of knowledge. My own analysis, not a doctrine of Objectivism, is that people make a fundamental choice very early in life, regarding how they relate to society. Basically, you learn what you should do by analogy to what others do. If everybody says that recycling is good and you should recycle, then you don’t need to think about it, you just recycle. If everybody argues by saying “You wouldn’t want X” (pollution, death, slavery, unregulated economic exchange…), you can go with the crowd and impute to others your emotional reactions to facts, and tell people to trust my emotions.
  6. The proposed amendment saying that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of trade and production is similar to existing amendments that prohibit Congress from restricting speech or freedom of the press. Laws against fraud and threats exist, even with the First Amendment: that is because the rights recognized in the Constitution exist in a hierarchy. The purpose of government – protection of individual rights – is presumed (mentioned in the preamble), and what follows is a specification of how the government may do that. Most of the Constitution says what the structure of the government is and how laws come into being, but part of it describes the powers and limitations on those powers. Laws against fraud and threatening are minimal limitations on an unfettered right to say anything you want, and to use legal parlance, they pass “strict scrutiny”, meaning that those laws are passed to achieve a compelling government interest (protection of individual rights), it is narrowly tailored to meet that need, and it uses the least restrictive means to achieve that end. The “no trade restriction” amendment is, effectively, the repeal of the Commerce Clause. I disagree with the stance that all weapons should be regulated by the government, but do not hold that the government has no business putting impediments in the way of backyard nukes. The apt question is, what is the most narrowly tailored, least-restrictive means of protecting individual rights? This is a tough question to answer, because it deals in an overly-broad concept “weapon”. One approach (the bad approach IMO) is to define weapon in terms of potential use – anything that can be used to violate the rights of another person. A moment’s thought reveals that you are, at this very moment, surrounded by an arsenal of “potential weapons”. The other approach (better, IMO) is to say specifically what things are prohibited. Shotguns can be made, sold, and used. You cannot shoot a person with one – that’s a separate law. Let us say that an H-bomb has no legitimate use by civilians, though it can be used by a government to protect rights. Then Congress can rightly pass a law that prohibits individual ownership of H-bombs, sale of H-bombs other than to rights-respecting governments (let’s leave asign for a moment who decides that), and manufacture of H-bombs, except for sale to rights-respecting governments. This precludes sales to terrorist organizations. A seeming flaw in the above scheme is that it assumes that we are in a rights-respecting society where use of force is subject to objective law. Obviously, individual rights in the US are frequently violated by the government, but still, the fundamental principle of government protection of individual rights is alive in the US. Even more obviously, individual rights in North Korea, Iran and Syria are massively violated, and it is vastly harder to maintain that the notion of “individual rights” has anything to do with the conduct of those regimes. The Second Amendment was not passed to allow men to have hunting weapons or to shoot home-invaders, it was passed because the previous rights-trampling regime did lawfully seize gunpowder and arms (without a warrant) and prohibited importation of arms into America; these weapons were demonstrably necessary for the colonists to resist infringement on their rights by the British government. Times have temporarily changed (maybe that sounds pessimistic, but I do not believe that the Golden Age will last forever), so surely we do not need to have a supply of weapons in order to throw off the yoke of government oppression. But: backyard nukes would not solve the problem of a North Korean style regime qua US government. Even as a means of protecting against government abuse, they are not a reasonable exercise of one’s right to self-defense.
  7. The FDA depends on scientific research to make legal determinations, but the FDA is incapable of conducting the necessary research. This is generally the situation with government and science – Congress empowers some agency to regulate interstate commerce and articulates some incredibly vague standard of interest, then leaves it up to the agency to write rules. The system places the burden of proof on the individual wishing to market a regulated product. Academic researchers are often willing to subcontract with producers to address the science, or basically anybody who has a wad of cash to support their work. There has always been a basic tension between the anti-progress Luddites and more rational men, where the Luddites use the courts or the administrative review process to object to progress. Rational men must then anticipate the argument likely to be addressed by the Luddites, and nip it in the bud. Unfortunately, that is not always possible (and is irrelevant when the attack is through the courts). In addition, Luddite ideologues have infested academe and administration, meaning that factual determinations are not always based solely on facts. I think the degree of cooperation that exists doesn’t constitute “support”, it constitutes “recognition of fact”. E.g. it’s recognition of fact when you pay your taxes.
  8. Facts alone do not settle the issue of what a “fact” is. Facts plus a method of reasoning (supplied by a philosophy) does. In saying “It is understandable why this may seem plausible”, I conclude (based on a a long life of detecting subtle implications and how they are rhetorically encoded) that you disagree something in the preceding quote: I am struggling to figure out what that is. The thing that seems most likely is that there is some question about agreement that you find relevant. I don’t see any claims being made there that have to do with agreement, although at some point I hope that the professor engages normative questions (agreement is evidence of truth only when reason is the only tool used for reaching conclusions). So I am quite puzzled: how can you possibly disagree with the quote?
  9. At the risk of harping on a point, there is a difference between saying that the government owns the land, and saying that the government owns some land. From a moral and legal perspective, there is no such thing as “the land”. Each land-owner has the exclusive right to control his own property. The only difference between individual action and government action w.r.t. control of property is that with the individual, everything is allowed except that which constitutes initiation of force, and with the government, nothing is allowed except that which is necessary to prevent initiation of force. Perhaps this is no longer self-evident – I’d like to see an explicit denial of these premises, if anyone doesn’t accept them. Given this, there are only two questions that need to be answered. The first question is whether it constitutes initiation of force if I exercise my property rights to allow a non-citizen to be present within the geographical confines of the United States (allowing them to exist on my property). If it does, the government must (not may) prevent me from using my property in this manner. The answer to this question better not reduce to saying “there is the potential for harm, therefore prior government approval is necessary”. The second question of the necessity of excluding specific individuals from government property is much more complex – e.g. it is proper that the government exclude persons without security clearances from nuclear missile silos. It is not proper for the government to exclude persons without security clearances from courthouses (but it is proper to exclude persons bearing arms from courthouses). Nor is it proper for the government to exclude from courthouses people with crazy ideas. Invoking invalid notions like “the land” and “public land”, with no specific owing entity and no specific owned land, evades what should be an obvious point, that I exclusively own a specific plot of land, and I may rightfully allow any individual onto my land. I may rightfully operate an airport on my land, which is a right that a proper government cannot abridge. The only property-based argument that can justify denying me that right would be establishing that there actually is no private ownership of land, that all land in the US is government land, held in trust by the federal government.
  10. Compare the statements “There is no such thing as collective, social ownership of the land” and “There is no such thing as collective, social ownership of land”. The latter claim is clearly false, once you sweep away the verbal cruft of “social, collective”. A government can legitimately own stuff – chairs, cars, atom bombs, even land. It owns specific pieces of land. The government does not own “the land”, meaning all of the land in the US, and it does not even pretend that it does. The government does not even pretend that it owns the pieces of land that butt up against Mexico or Canada, except for a very small amount where there are border crossings. I accept the premise that land can be exclusively owned and controlled by a government, which has a definite nature (there’s no serious question what the Government of Tukwila is, as opposed to the Government of King County: they own different pieces of land). You claim that in the case of the Ten Man Group, we have group ownership of land and each member has a 10% claim on the property. I don’t know what it means to have a 10% claim on the property. Instead, I maintain that each member has an equal and undivided interest in the property (I am trying to help you here). If you really want each person to own 10% of the land, it needs to be partitioned so that each party has a specific 10% – I have no problem with that. It simply means that now I can say where my 10% is. Presumably you see how this defeats your argument – I allow people to cross on my 10%. In contrast, when land is owned corporately / collectively (so that each person have an undivided interest), the “rules of the corporation” say how the use of the land is controlled. Maybe the rules grant that control to a single person; or to a board of directors; or to a Facebook up-vote procedure. Because of that rule whatever it is, I don’t individually get to say how the land is disposed of. The current rule allows certain executive branch authorities to promulgate rules about the use of federal government land. Binswanger is not just right in a sense that “The government does not own the country,” he is right in every sense. In order for the government to be able to effectively exercise its property-right to control entry, it must own all possible entry points, which is ever piece of land in the US: and it does not. That is, unless the government really does own all of the land in the US, and we’re just renting from the feds.
  11. I have a meta-question about why you’re saying these things in this particular way. I suggest rearranging the claims in a more hierarchical fashion. For example I conclude that #1 is wrong, but perhaps not literally false. What is most wrong about #1 is that is draws on fragments of concepts but skips lower level concepts that are necessary for making identifications. As for #1, to if-and-only-if with “meaning”. “sentence” concept to “word” for definition, necessary bypassed which the sticking a have is giving the in scheme relate you order. Oops, I meant, sticking with the if-and-only-if scheme for giving a definition, you have bypassed the concept “sentence” which is necessary in order to relate “word” to “meaning”. So first the word-string must be a sentence: it must follow the rules of sentence-syntax. “String of words” refers to a something bigger than “sentence”. However, between the two, there is also “phrase” e.g. “the members of Congress”, which is not a sentence and does not quality as a statement (=assertion), but it has meaning. Words, as well, have meaning. The correct approach to the topic, IMO, is to start with the fact that words have meaning, and word combinations may have a meaning which is composed via a proposition-building function – the rules of the language (I’ll totally skip the details, but they have to do with how word-combinations in an order have a specific meaning in a language, so that “the dog chased the cat” means something different from “the cat chased the dog”). Being a statement (I assume you consider this to be a synonym for assertion) is a property of certain sentences – other sentences are “questions” or “commands”. Only assertions are true or false. “Congress” or “ruins” is neither true nor false, and “the members of Congress” is neither true not false. However, both have meaning. Questions and commands are kind of sentences – they are not just “strings of words”, and they have meaning, but they are neither true nor false. So I conclude that #2 is false: “meaning” applies to more things than just statements. This is kind of fatal to the enterprise of relating units of language to reality. Your corollary A also has to face the problem that questions and commands have meaning and are sentences, but not statements / assertions. I don’t understand what #3 is intended to say (what is its function in your system?). The assertion “The House voted to condemn Trump” is true, that is, it describes a fact. The assertion “The House voted against condemning Trump” is false, which means that it describes the opposite of a fact, or, its denial describes a fact. The assertion “Trump was assassinated in 2018” is also false (does not correctly describe reality), but it clearly has meaning and it does not mean the same thing as “The House voted against condemning Trump”. I especially do not understand what you mean by the relationship between the something that a statement says and the statement’s referent. I assume this is intended to get at the notion of “correspondence” or the fact that a certain proposition describes a fact – I just need some unraveling of this way of talking about truth. Getting back to those rules of language and the proposition-building interpretative function for sentences, sentences like “Sentence A is true” is actually the same problem as “I just saw a rat” or “You found my watch”. They have “loose end” terms: “I”, “you”, “my”, and “Sentence A”. If you take try to interpret language completely out of context, the watch sentence describes (or misdescribes) at least 520 facts, i.e. it is always huge out-of-context contradiction. Clearly, this sentence is true (or false) once we settle on the intended referent of “you” and “my”. There are social rules about how we objectively determine intended reference especially in sentences contructed by other people, though in the case of “I”, it plainly means “the guy talking”. The problem with “Sentence A” is that out of context there is no hope of assigning any referent to that clause (therefore no hope of determining if the sentence is true), but in context, it may be true or false, or neither. Sentences like “Sentence A is true”, “Sentence A is in Spanish”, and “The dog is barking” presuppose the existence of “Sentence A” or “The dog”. I think that sentences with false presuppositions do not describe a fact, so they are false and not true.
  12. If you start, as you do, from the fact that a person has no right to create child porn, it follows that a pornographer does not have a right to the results of his violation of the child’s rights, and he cannot rightfully give away or sell such objects. Child porn is analogous to stolen goods: the fact that you as a customer didn’t steal it doesn’t give you rightful title to the goods. There is no generic ‘right to privacy’, but there are property rights. The only person who could have any right to the porn would be the child. Criminalizing recipt of child porn is analogous to criminalizing receipt of stolen goods.
  13. There is vastly more that distinguishes languages besides “how the languages sound”. Mandarin grammar and Latin grammar as pretty close to opposites on the structural spectrum. There are rational individual reasons for preferring one language over another that aren’t just aesthetics. If I plan to do business in France, it would be more sensible for me to learn French than to learn Russian: and vice versa. I personally like languages that exploit consonants more than vowels and that have a strong rhythmic pattern, on aesthetic grounds. But that’s just language as object of entertainment – it doesn’t determine which languages I will study, where the choice is based on practical utility to me (it turns out that the “pleasing” languages are not professionally so useful to me). Another aesthetic basis for distinguishing languages is the logic of its structure (meaning that you have to actually understand the logic of the language’s structure). Of course, you also need a basis for making a judgement – should you value arbitrary quirkiness, or symmetry and regularity? I value languages which have the superficial appearance of irregularity and complexity whose logical structure is in fact simple and regular, but involves the interaction of rules. There is a competing aesthetic that values transparency: simple rules that don’t involve thinking about the context where the rules apply. My preference for the former is based on what it reveals about cognition, and not whether I might effortlessly learn a language so that I can negotiate contracts. Because the efficiency argument is used widely in discussions of “best language”, I have to point out that counting words and sentences is not the right way to view efficiency. Word can be extremely short or extremely long, and correspondingly, in some languages a single word can frequently convey an entire proposition (example: Greenlandic), but in some languages virtually all propositions require multiple words (example: Vietnamese). Greenlandic words can be very long, Vietnamese words are very short. Efficiency is about effort expended to do something, so what effort is expended in uttering a sentence, or three? You have to move your articulators; you have to compute the structure of the utterance (there is more, but start there). We still have no idea how to objectively measure the cost of uttering or computing a sentence. A slightly better metric would be the number of articulatory units needed to express a proposition (it does not matter how many sentences or words) – the fewer, the better. If it takes 10 minutes to ask for a sandwich, or a ride to the airport, then maybe the language is truly inefficient. My experience is that such a situation when it arises is not a result of the language, it is the result of social norms in that society (don’t just bluntly ask for a ride, circumlocute and get to the point after 10 minutes). So again, a language cannot be evaluated as a floating abstraction, it has to be in the context of a specific purpose. You learning a language will be different from me learning a language. Experiencing sound-aesthetics is something else; analyzing the logical structure of a language is a third thing. Communicating with others is a fourth. The context of you as evaluator matters hugely: do you only speak English and are you picking up a language so that you can do business in Japan? Or are you trying to deepen your understanding of man by learning more about this vital tool of thought?
  14. The question of “best language” has plagued (pestered) linguists for decades, the question being a plague because there are so many different purposes that could be used as the standard for evaluating. Admirably, you specify a particular function – converting concepts into concretes (not e.g. “physical efficiency”, “popularity” and so on). I think it would be advisable to say what it means to evaluate a language as a means of concretizing concepts. However, I have to disagree with Rand’s statement that the function of language is expressing concepts: it is expressing concepts and propositions. We don’t just utter words – “horse”, “eat” – we utter propositions – “I need to borrow your horse so I can get something to eat at the store”. What would it mean for a language to be good for this purpose, or bad? If it were completely impossible in some language to express certain propositions (including contradictions), that would be a “bad language”. But every human language has that capacity. Differences between languages are not in terms of what can be somehow expressed, but in terms of computational efficiency. As an example, in North Saami, there is a word gabba which in a single word refers to “an all-white reindeer”. That language has a concept that is lacking in English: we can express the same thing, but it requires a more complex propositional arrangement (not just white, not entirely white; that color is then attributed to “reindeer”). So where Saami has more vocabulary in a certain domain, we can call on the resources of language rules (and can express “all-white pig; all-white house; all-white horse” and so on in an analogous fashion, where Saami does not have specific words for these other all-white things). Of course they can use the same rule-based mechanism as we do for expressing thoughts about all-white horses; they just have some additional concepts, befitting their particular circumstances. Languages do differ substantially in their systems of rules in a way that might seem to relate to “goodness”. In some languages, the rules for putting words together are very transparent, general and simple (Turkish is usually the example brought out to illustrate that point), and in other languages, the rules are very complex and item-specific – English is on that end of the spectrum of complexity. For example, you know what “up” means, but it doesn’t mean that in collocations like “look up”, “take up”, “mess up”, “give up”. While English is more chaotic in this respect, we still can convey all possible concepts and propositions using the resources of English. It’s just that we have to call on a larger set of more specific rules to do that. There is no real cognitive downside to having more rules that are more specific compared to some other language, as long as there are, in fact, rules in the language. If every proposition required its own rules, that would be a bad language, because you can express an unlimited number of propositions, but you can’t learn an unlimited set of rules. Back to my question: what does it mean for a language to be good or bad for the purpose of expressing propositions?
  15. As Doug Morris says, we need to start by explaining how we form the concepts “if” and “then”. These are hard scientific questions about how children actually form concepts, but it is difficult to tell whether a child has actually formed a given concept at a particular time. Remember that adult concepts are not the same as child concepts (as Rand points out in ITOE). “Mama”, “dada” refer to individuals and are not concepts – they are the names of unique existents. But children can go through a phase of concept-formation where these are concepts (referring to adult family males, or females) and eventually de-conceptualize the words when they realize that “dada” in our culture doesn’t apply to the individuals “grandfather” or “uncle”. The child definition of “man” certainly does not involve knowing about a rational faculty. Before we try to account for forming very high level logical concepts like “if” and “then” (meaning “therefore”, not meaning “at that time” or “subsequently”), we have to discover how children acquire their first logical concepts. The three most obvious to me are “concept”, “property” and “entity”. To be able to define “concept”, you have to have at the minimum the concept “entity” (the existents that can be perceived) and “property” (these entities have some defining property that sets them apart from those entities). If you have a concept “concept” as well as “property”, then you can form the concept “proposition” (the basis for forming the concept of “proposition” is actual propositions which are, in experience, statements about properties of an individual or concept). You can’t form a concept “if” if you don’t have a concept “proposition”. And so on. I think the most that can be reasonably expected is making reasonable conjectures about how children might acquire higher-level knowledge, based on factual knowledge of what children actually do. Actually determining whether these conjectures are at least probably true is quite a tall order. As for the concept modus ponens, that is a concept that most adults do not have, and it is pretty clear that it is explicitly taught and not induced from examples (unless someone has finally figured out a lesson where people can actually induce modus ponens as distinct from modus tollens from examples). What we perceive is somebody saying or writing an explanation of the concept, and it’s similar to coming to know about “ion”, “valence”, “epistemology”.
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