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The Logical Leap by David Harriman


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He seems to have been pretty open about his views and statements throughout this controversy.

Not to mention he posted in this very thread a page ago. Hes obviously willing to clarify his views for anyone who feels that they need to know. At this point its like spouting off about someone as if theyre not standing right next to you.

j..

Added on edit: I thought the book was presented fairly well, but Thomas, youre starting to sound like youre on ARIs payroll.

Edited by JayR
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This is interesting, and I appreciate the replies to my previous posts. It seems as if some people are reading what I read on Whewell and coming to different conclusions. I basically said: THERE'S A K

I don't know why West took down his post about the NoddleFood posting regarding the controversy, but I thank him for supplying the link. In that post there is a letter from David Harriman saying that

Those interested in Whewell, and especially the debate he got into with John Stuart Mill over the nature of induction, may find interesting Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Soci

I don't post terribly much and I ought to know better than to post in a topic like this, but if I get flamed for this, so be it.

This sort of feuding going on is exactly the sort of reason why Objectivism hasn't been and by all indications won't be widely accepted in academia any time soon. I am seeing entirely too many posts that seem to endorse what Harriman is saying simply because it is Harriman and he is endorsed by Peikoff. All that should be important is the merits of the work itself, regardless of who wrote it or who likes it. If you like The Logical Leap because you think it is a legitimately great book, fantastic. Maybe it is a great book. I haven't read it.

What really bothers me is the idea that something coming out of an Objectivist scholar is somehow above or outside criticism. This is exactly the opposite of how academia works. When you put a work out there, you need to expect it to be attacked and contested from every angle (sometimes even unfairly!). You're prepared for it, you're strong enough to take it, and you certainly don't get insulted by it. The essence of academia is thick skin and many folks in ARI circles, most especially Mr. Peikoff, don't seem to have it. I don't have any reason to attribute this trait to Mr. Harriman, not from the evidence I've seen anyhow. Maybe he does have the greatest advance in inductive reasoning ever. I hope he does. If that's the case, his work will stand on its own merits against ALL comers, much as a work like Atlas Shrugged does.

I would like to see more serious discussion of Objectivism in academia, and in fact I try to introduce that into my own discourse with students and colleagues as appropriate. My hat is off to scholars like Tara Smith who are wrangling with the academic system and all it entails. In order to do good work, though, you've got to get rid of any shred of argument from authority or experience, and it seems to me Peikoff has taken something personally here, though I have no idea why he should.

The best thing to do in this whole debate is take all the names away. Nullius in verba. Forget who said what and focus only on WHAT is said, then check that against reality. In the end, reality is the final arbiter of everything. It is also fruitful to consider what Sophia said above - Objectivism is ONLY the work of Rand herself. No one else, not Peikoff or anybody, is writing more Objectivism. But that's OK. The point is to get at reality here, not to try to piggyback off of the monumental achievements of Rand.

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You're prepared for it, you're strong enough to take it, and you certainly don't get insulted by it. The essence of academia is thick skin and many folks in ARI circles, most especially Mr. Peikoff, don't seem to have it. I don't have any reason to attribute this trait to Mr. Harriman, not from the evidence I've seen anyhow.

I'm curious how the following email by Harriman to the Hsieh's affects your opinion of the thickness of his skin, particularly what's in bold:

Dear Paul:

I don't think you need access to private emails in order to reach a judgment on this conflict.

Professor McCaskey has published a negative review of my book on Amazon. He has also published articles expressing some of his own views on induction, and praising the ideas of William Whewell (a 19th century Kantian). Anyone who is interested can read my book, read the writings of McCaskey, and come to their own judgment.

I realize that most people know little about the history of science, and so they may believe that they lack the specialized knowledge required to make a judgment in this case. But I do not think the basic issues are very complicated.

McCaskey claims that Galileo discovered the law of free fall without even understanding what is meant by "free fall" (since Galileo allegedly had no clear concept of friction). Likewise, Newton discovered his universal laws of motion without understanding the concepts of "inertia," "acceleration," and "momentum." In effect, scientists stumble around in the dark and somehow discover laws of nature before they grasp the constituent concepts. This view is typical of academic philosophers of science today. I am well acquainted with it; in my youth, I took courses from Paul Feyerabend at UC Berkeley. But how believable is it?

In short, I ask you which is more believable -- that Isaac Newton was fundamentally confused about the difference between "impetus" and "momentum," or that John McCaskey is confused about this issue?

A favorite pastime among academics today is to find "feet of clay" in great men. But that is not the purpose of my book.

Sincerely,

David

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In science (and I would assume the same in philosophy) it is not about having 'thick skin". It is about valuing correct identification of reality above the appearance of being right. This is why the best of scientists value and welcome critical evaluation of their work. They meet at conferences, present their work and open themselves to questions, comments, and to factual review. If it is true - the work will withstand the scrutiny. It may aid in the improvement of the idea or it may improve one's ability to adequately defend it. Sometimes the critics are wrong - other times the idea is wrong. Although errors in this process can happen and are made - overall this process is what made science into our most objective truth teller. Ultimately, the benefit only comes from being in-sync with reality.

The question in my mind is: Does this incident indicate that this process can not happen at ARI?

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I'm curious how the following email by Harriman to the Hsieh's affects your opinion of the thickness of his skin, particularly what's in bold:

Hi Brian. I'm glad you brought that up. I actually have already seen that e-mail but it's good to put it in the post to give context. That really doesn't change my opinion on the thickness of Harriman's skin one way or the other...I still don't have an opinion. The only thing it makes me wonder about is why he feels the need to trace the purported source of McCaskey's argument back to "academic philosophers" like Paul Feyerabend (who, by the way, whatever his other faults may be had some great criticisms of the logical positivists). It makes it seem as if he is trying to discredit McCaskey's criticism by pointing to its supposed source rather than tackling the substance of the criticism which is, again, all that ought to matter. I think this is a somewhat bad habit in Oist circles, of trying to show that an idea is corrupt because of its supposed root. It can be useful to put ideas in context and I admit to having profited greatly from a basic knowledge of the history of ideas, much gleaned from Rand in fact. But that doesn't change the truth that a wrong idea is wrong, regardless of its source, and if it can be shown to be wrong it doesn't matter where it came from. I would prefer to see Harriman address the substance of McCaskey's critique, because I'm not satisfied that he did. Then again, it may not be his priority to do so, and that's his business.

As to whether scientists grope around in the dark, to some extent we do. Hopefully not often, and hopefully not as a primary way to come up with hypotheses, but we do it. I say this as a scientist myself. I can really only speak to the life sciences, which is my perspective. Coming up with a viable hypothesis worth testing is tough and sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places. As long as you have some reason to think it will work (this is the important part that a lot of scientists forget, and that's where they get out-and-out fanciful), you go for it. Like I said, you don't do it as a rule and you try your best to build your hypotheses on solid preexisting data, but sometimes you really do have to guess around at first. That's where you get the information you can use in further integrations. There is probably a bit of luck involved, though not much. You can find ways to put yourself in positions to "make your own luck", if you understand my meaning.

Sophia, I understand where you're coming from, but the truth is I really do mean thick skin in the conventional sense. It may not be right or ideal but that is how modern academia is run. You will often be attacked if you come up with anything the slightest bit substantive, especially in my field, and those attacks may even be unfair or mean-spirited, especially if they're from a senior researcher in the field who feels untouchable. You have to be able to brush it off and stick to your guns, knowing that it's not about feelings, it's about finding the facts. Some grad students have been reduced to tears and some researchers have nearly come to blows at conferences. I'm sorry but if you can't control yourself like that you have no business in academia no matter how smart you are. If I ever cried at a conference or even came anywhere close to losing composure like that I hope my advisor throws me out on my ass.

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Some people who have read "The Logical Leap" are having difficulties with what Harriman called "first-level generalizations." First-level generalizations are those cause and effect sequences that one can directly observe. They are self-evident and do not need to be proven. They are the starting point of scientific inquiry and the basis of any rational thought about the world.

It is not necessary to prove that which you directly observe. Like kicking a ball makes it roll, knocking on a door makes a noise, typing on the keypad brings up letters in the edit box, pinching oneself brings pain, a candle can be lit by touching a flame to it, drinking water quenches one's thirst, turning the windshield wipers on cleans one's windshield, and birds fly through the air. All of these cause and effect events are directly observable -- they are self-evident to perception. Thus these generalizations are first-level generalizations, meaning they are not built upon previous generalizations. They are built on prior conceptualization -- i.e. one needs the concepts "candle" and "flame" to form the generalization that "a candle can be lit by touching a flame to it." But a generalization is not the same thing as a concept -- it is an integration of concepts into a whole sentence based on causality.

And the solution to the long-standing problem of induction is precisely the fact that such first-level generalizations are composed of concepts. Concepts omit the measurements of the referents subsumed under it, so that a discovery of a generalization for some of the class applies to all of the class if the class is organized according to the nature of the referents -- i.e. if it is a valid concept. Thus, in the above examples, "candle" covers all candles and "flame" coves all flames, "ball" covers all balls, and "windshield wipers" covers all windshield wipers. Because of this fact, it is not necessary to prove that a generalization applies to all of a class of referents. The mere fact of using concepts covers all those bases.

These are the fundamentals of "The Logical Leap" and one has to understand them to be able to grasp the importance of the book.

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I need to make an edit to my previous post when I wrote about birds, since inductive generalizations need to be of a cause / effect relationship:

It is not necessary to prove that which you directly observe. Like kicking a ball makes it roll, knocking on a door makes a noise, typing on the keypad brings up letters in the edit box, pinching oneself brings pain, a candle can be lit by touching a flame to it, drinking water quenches one's thirst, turning the windshield wipers on cleans one's windshield, and birds fly through the air [*using their wings*]. All of these cause and effect events are directly observable -- they are self-evident to perception. Thus these generalizations are first-level generalizations, meaning they are not built upon previous generalizations. They are built on prior conceptualization -- i.e. one needs the concepts "candle" and "flame" to form the generalization that "a candle can be lit by touching a flame to it." But a generalization is not the same thing as a concept -- it is an integration of concepts into a whole sentence based on causality.

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I need to make an edit to my previous post when I wrote about birds, since inductive generalizations need to be of a cause / effect relationship:

Thank you, Mr. Miovas, for your many excellent posts concerning this new book, The Logical Leap!

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Thank you, Mr. Miovas, for your many excellent posts concerning this new book, The Logical Leap!

You are welcome, and thank you for your post. I had to read the book carefully twice before it started to sink in. Harriman has a way of writing inductively that I am not used to, so it was difficult going. I hope scientists read it and learn better how to do science, and I hope it gets picked up in a few colleges and universities.

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What do you make of the claim that only an "accomplished scientist" could come up with a specific solution to how induction is done in a specific scientific field, like physics, combined with the fact that Harriman isn't really an accomplished individual in the field of physics?

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In science (and I would assume the same in philosophy) it is not about having 'thick skin". It is about valuing correct identification of reality above the appearance of being right. This is why the best of scientists value and welcome critical evaluation of their work. They meet at conferences, present their work and open themselves to questions, comments, and to factual review. If it is true - the work will withstand the scrutiny. It may aid in the improvement of the idea or it may improve one's ability to adequately defend it. Sometimes the critics are wrong - other times the idea is wrong. Although errors in this process can happen and are made - overall this process is what made science into our most objective truth teller. Ultimately, the benefit only comes from being in-sync with reality.

The question in my mind is: Does this incident indicate that this process can not happen at ARI?

Great post. This is a good question I would like answered also.

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What do you make of the claim that only an "accomplished scientist" could come up with a specific solution to how induction is done in a specific scientific field, like physics, combined with the fact that Harriman isn't really an accomplished individual in the field of physics?

Is the answer that because he is an Objectivist, he is automatically wiser than everyone who is not an Objectivist? :confused:

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What do you make of the claim that only an "accomplished scientist" could come up with a specific solution to how induction is done in a specific scientific field, like physics, combined with the fact that Harriman isn't really an accomplished individual in the field of physics?

I'd tackle the question by trying it out on some concretes. If some one says he has discovered some specific new principle in Physics, would I trust myself (who last did Physics in high school) to judge it, or would I trust someone who has a much deeper understanding of the subject? Chances are, that someone with (say) a masters in Physics is going to know many objections to the new principle that I could never think of. Other than this specific theory, such a person would likely have some knowledge about other theories that were later proven false, and might understand the types of experiments that ought to be done to examine other aspects of the newly-suggested principle. If the person did not just study Physics, but actually worked as a scientist, he's likely to be an even better candidate as a "validator" of a new theory, because experience teaches things that one doesn't get from the classroom. If he's an accomplished scientist, one would trust him even more, ceteris paribus.

Similar requirements apply to going beyond a particular theory in Physics, and coming up with general principles about how any such theory of Physics ought to be validated. An accomplished scientist is far more likely to have a very broad, and yet very concrete (aka "well chewed/reduced") view of the subject than, say a high-school Physics teacher who has never done lab-work outside college.

I would not read any more into Rand's statement than the above (particularly since it was Q&A and not even the core focus of the Q&A). That is to say, the principle behind it is this: to develop an understanding of what types of explorations and facts make a theory acceptable as knowledge in a particular area requires that one has both a deep and broad understanding of the particular subject, based on actually doing "real life" work in the subject. I take Rand's point to be saying that a Philosophy student cannot hope to read up about (say) Physics and read diaries of Physicists and interview Physicists, and come up with a satisfactory set of rules to be used in Physics. Rather, it has to be someone who is good at Physics himself. (As an aside: being knowledgeable in the field is not a sufficient condition either. One has to be the type of person to looks to the "meta-questions", and who is also willing to study the history of discovery rather than just the end product).

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I sent an email to Dr. McCaskey about three days ago asking him if we were going to be hearing anything else from him on an assessment of "The Logical Leap" since he has said that his book review was not meant as a professional review of the theory presented. He hasn't replied back, so I'm assuming he is busy and thinking about what else he will say about "The Logical Leap," if anything. Given the Hsieh's long post on their own forum on the controversy, it doesn't seem as if we are going to hear much else about it, since everyone had their say in that post.

As to whether or not someone has to be an accomplished physicist to write a book on induction in physics, obviously from reading the book Harriman knows what he is talking about. The whole book is inductive and he knows the specific physics theories very well-- and proves them inductively. I don't know what else one can ask for in a theory of induction in physics. I don't think one needs to have a Nobel Prize in physics to write a book on how induction in physics is done.

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I recently friended John McCasky over on FaceBook and this seems to be confusing to some people. here's part of what I had to say on FaceBook:

I never said that McCaskey was a Kantian, I was referring to Whewell when I said "There's a Kantian in the room." So, I don't owe McCaskey an apology for that, because I wasn't calling him a Kantian. Now, McCaskey's continued support of Whewell means that I am suspicious of him, and that hasn't changed. And until I know more about Whewell, that will remain my position. I don't see where a rational man would be supportive of a Kantian, but McCaskey has indicated that Whewell's Kantianism didn't interfere with his understanding of induction. Since I don't know much about Whewell, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt -- maybe Whewell had something rational to say, I don't know. But I have no evidence that McCaskey is a Kantian, and never accused him of being one. I friended him on FaceBook simply because I want to know more about him, it is not a ringing endorsement of McCaskey.

Also, I am still against McCaskey's review of "The Logical Leap" but I have discovered that several long-term Objectivists friends do not see the value in "The Logical Leap" so it is not as clear to them as it is to me. Given this, I have to give McCaskey the benefit of the doubt that he doesn't understand the importance of "The Logical Leap." Yaron Brook in the Hsieh memorandum about the controversy has indicated that there is no "excommunication" going on, so I am giving McCaskey the benefit of the doubt. I'm certainly not giving him a ringing intellectual endorsement -- I don't even know what his knowledge of Objectivism is.

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I'm having a conversation with a physicist regarding "The Logical Leap" and I think he is being too technical. he's basically saying that we need to know the mechanism of a causal sequence before we can generalize. I disagree and here is what I wrote him:

I understand your position more clearly now, so thanks for writing. You're saying that without knowing the mechanism, then one cannot form a generalization, that one has to know the cause in terms of a specific mechanism before one can generalize. And you are correct in thinking that this disagrees with "The Logical Leap." After all, Galileo was able to form the generalization "All things fall at the same rate, sans air" without knowing the inverse square law for gravity. In fact Harriman says that Galileo didn't even have the concept "gravity" and yet he was able to do it. And also, look at it this way, we still don't know the mechanism of gravity, we don't know what makes it work, and yet we can generalize about it and send rockets to the Moon and beyond predictably.

Let's take some other examples. A child knows that when he flips the switch the lights will come on in the house. That is a generalization he can make. He doesn't have to know anything about electricity or that he is completing an electric circuit by flipping the switch. He just makes the connection between flipping the switch and the lights coming on. This would be similar to your singing ball example. The child knows that if he shakes the ball it will make a noise. He doesn't have to know anything about recorded sounds or electrical mechanisms to come to the conclusion that shaking a ball will make it sing. Or take striking a match. One doesn't have to know anything about the chemical reactions going on or that friction is generated when he strikes the match leading to heat and a chemical reaction with the oxygen in the air. He just knows that when he strikes a match he will get a flame.

In these kinds of cases, we know something about the mechanism, just not the whole causal sequence, but as long as we can make the connection between initializing a causal sequence and getting an effect, that's all we need to know in order to generalize. Or we need to be able to observe part of a causal sequence to realize that we can generalize.

So, I think one has to be careful not to become too technical when it comes to grasping induction. No one starts off knowing the latest greatest scientific law when he is generalizing, that is a later development. Of course, the more we know about it, the better our generalization will be, and the more precise will be our wider generalizations, which are the laws of nature. I would suggest not being too technical. Just go by what you can observe and integrate from there until you grasp more of what induction is all about.

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Some further thoughts once I got a reply back from the physicist regarding those generalization outlined above are not true in all circumstances -- i.e. if there is no electricity, the light switch won't work; if the match is wet, it won't light; etc.

I think you know this but are not applying it to induction, there are no intrinsically absolute truths; all truths are contextually objectively absolute -- given this set of circumstance and as far as we know everything else being equal, these generalizations are true for the entire class due to ITOE and the nature of the entities once we identify the cause / effect relationship. And in those cases where it doesn't hold true, we need to investigate further and find out why not. Otherwise man would never know anything.

It's like you saying Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation is not true because it doesn't apply to Mercury. The orbit of Mercury isn't that far off from an ellipse predicted by Newton, but it is off, so we need to find out why. And the cause is gravity as understood by Relativity -- that close to the sun there are obvious relativistic influences. Likewise with the wet matches or the miswired circuit. The generalization holds true *under a certain set of circumstances*; and when those conditions are not met, then it doesn't work any longer. Finding out why it doesn't work leads to gaining more knowledge by expanding our context of knowledge. But such knowledge -- because we are not omniscient -- always means "as far as we know given what we know about reality."

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Well I finally finished The Logical Leap (I had been quite busy the last couple of weeks so I wasn't about to get around to getting it done until yesterday). It is a very good book, in my opinion. The essentializations of the processes of Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and those surrounding the atomic theory of matter were enlightening and definitely fun to read. The basic outline of induction in the book (that first-level concepts and generalizations are absolute, that concepts serve to enable and indeed force certain inductive generalizations, that causal relations are understood by the methods of agreement and difference, and that inductive generalizations are possible and valid (and therefore true) iff the generalization covers the amount of information as is necessary to integrate the data, that all generalizations and concepts in it must be validly derived from the data, and that the theory/generalizations must form an integrated whole and not conflict with other knowledge) is correct, so far as I can tell. I applaud Harriman and Peikoff, because I think their theory has enormous promise.

But that's just it. It shows promise. There are all sorts of questions. Most of which have been brought up by McCaskey and Norsen in various locations. There was a passage in TLL where it seemed that Harriman could be open to some "spiral" phenomenon in the process of induction, paraphrasing, he said "analysis of the data mandate the formation of a new concept, which can then be used in generalizations and further analysis." That seems to be, roughly, what McCaskey is saying, except that while you are forming/clarifying your new concept in your head (for example, in the pre-word stage) your investigations will lead you to make it more precise.

That and a few other questions (what is the context, exactly? how do I find it? etc. etc.) mean that this is NOT a "solution to the problem of induction." It is a sketch of a solution, it is the theory which will drive the final solution (in my judgment). But it is not a finalized product, there are still open questions, and they are very important ones (particularly that one about context, for if it is too small the generalizations are useless, and if it is merely "the generalization is valid except when it isn't" that isn't helpful either, etc.). As a result, I cannot claim that Harriman and Peikoff have solved the problem of induction, for their theory isn't water-tight yet. Are they on the right track? Yes! Is TLL useful for guiding a scientist's thinking? Yes! Will I incorporate the ideas in it in my own work as a physicist? Yes! Have they fully solved the problem of induction? No. The Logical Leap is a very good book, enlightening, even. But it isn't the final answer to the problem of induction.

Finally, after finishing the book, I feel better qualified to speak on the McCaskey affair, and I'll make this quick. McCaskey said, essentially, that the historical examples might be oversimplified, and that there are complexities, particularly in the stage of forming the concept, that should be taken into account. On my reading of the book, I see where McCaskey is coming from. I also see that his complaints could be incorporated without, in my opinion, damaging the theory. I believe McCaskey has said that, essentially, this disagreement may be about what we mean by "concept". He sees it as the final, word-designated mental product. If it also includes the pre-word idea of a concept, which is not finalized and is not yet defined explicitly in the mind of the scientist, than his complaints largely disappear (it was on a recent Noodlefood post I think) as then it is still open to development and greater clarification as research continues. Then, near the end of the research, the concept is put into a final form, taking its place as one of the theory major features in an explicit and consistent whole theory. From what I have seen of McCaskey's criticisms (and Travis Norsen's), they are reasonable and should be addressed by Harriman/Peikoff, rather than written off as absurd and wholely destructive of not only the theory but also Objectivist epistemology (which I just find ridiculous, after having read TLL, ITOE, and everything McCaskey has said on the affair).

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I think you are getting hung up on things that have already been covered before "The Logical leap" and I see Travis Norsen doing the same thing. One book doesn't have to cover every aspect of cognition for it to be the answer to a long-standing problem. For example, context is the same for induction as it is for everything else. To quote from the Ayn Rand Lexicon on "context":

"From a child’s grasp of the simplest concept integrating a group of perceptually given concretes, to a scientist’s grasp of the most complex abstractions integrating long conceptual chains—all conceptualization is a contextual process; the context is the entire field of a mind’s awareness or knowledge at any level of its cognitive development." Ayn Rand

And: "Knowledge is contextual . . . By “context” we mean the sum of cognitive elements conditioning the acquisition, validity or application of any item of human knowledge. Knowledge is an organization or integration of interconnected elements, each relevant to the others . . . Knowledge is not a mosaic of independent pieces each of which stands apart from the rest . . . ." Dr. Leonard Peikoff

So,I think Peikoff and Harriman cover that when they talk about the "conceptual framework" (what concepts you have) and stating that the induction cannot contradict the rest of your contextual knowledge. Realistically speaking, induction is not really some separate thing you do to acquire knowledge. We all have to be inductive in our lives -- i.e. have to be focused on the facts of reality and we have to generalize. And as Harriman points out, induction is something we have been doing, he just codified it. But if you are looking for some sort of formulaic approach to induction, you won't get that, because induction is a methodology, not a formula.

You might want to read my last several posts on this topic to cover other things Travis has brought up.

But the book is the answer to the problem of induction, because the problem as stated historically is how can you go from the study of some existents to a knowledge of all existents of that cognitive class, and the answer to that specific question is the measurement-omission of objective concepts. Since all of that class only differs by a measurement (there is more or less of it), the same cause will lead to the same effect on that class of existents.

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Perhaps your right about "context." I think that all of it needs to be addressed in a scholarly manner however, along the lines of Tara Smith's "Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics", which has been far more instructive and helpful in getting clear the virtues and what they entail and their justifications on a precise basis than the writings of Rand in many or her essays (because they aren't treated in any depth there, leaving a lot of semi-open questions). I haven't even finished that one yet, but it is fantastic. I had a similar feeling when reading Harriman, but I feel that there needs to be a few works like Tara Smith's in the field of Objectivist philosophy, particularly epistemology. I suppose, by your definition, TLL is the answer to the problem of induction. But it isn't as rigorous a presentation of induction as an academic work like Smith's "Normative Ethics" and the like. A work like that was what I was expecting, and I didn't get that; I got what felt like a popular book on philosophy (granted of very high quality), rather than an academic work on philosophy. Popular books are great for getting ideas out there, but I would have expected the first presentation of Peikoff/Harriman's theory of induction would be in the form of a work of rigorous academic-level philosophy, rather than a more "popular"-type work.

Again, that isn't to say that TLL isn't good, it is very good. But I had expected/hoped for more from a book that billed itself as "the answer to the problem of induction" (which to me indicates that it is going to be engaging with the issue on an academic level). TLL presents the answer, but not as rigorously as I would have liked.

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Regarding Craig Biddle's statement on the resignation of John McCaskey. I think it belongs in this thread, since the resignation was over "The Logical Leap." Craig's statement can be found here. I think he is missing a crucial point, and that is that one can take Dr. Peikoff as not only a credible witness, but an expert witness, if one is going to handle this like a trial. What did Dr.Peikoff witness?

"By the way, from the emails I have seen, his [McCaskey's] disagreements are not limited to details, but often go to the heart of the philosophic principles at issue."

Certainly, Dr.Peikoff is a credible and expert witness when it comes to philosophic detection. That we have not seen the evidence ourselves, I think, means that we cannot condemn John McCaskey. But we have to understand Dr. Peikoff as a witness. So, I am most certainly not going to condemn Dr. Peikoff for this supposed injustice. I haven't seen the evidence myself, so I cannot condemn McCaskey; but I also don't have the evidence Craig claims to have that McCaskey is a moral man and an Objectivist in good standing. I know very little about McCaskey, and as far as I know he hasn't written anything about Objectivism, so I don't know his intellectual stature with regard to Objectivism. His writings on Whewell seem to be written from a rational perspective -- that is I don't think McCaskey is a Kantian even though Whewell is -- and maybe it is possible to understand Whewell more rationally. Until I know more about Whewell, I can't say one way or the other.

I do, however, agree with the overall tenor of many Objectivists who want to see the evidence against McCaskey first-hand, but it doesn't look like we are going to be getting that. I do have evidence (McCaskey's review of "The Logical Leap" and his support for William Whewell) to be suspicious of McCaskey, but I haven't condemned him and will not condemn him until I have the evidence first-hand.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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Craig Biddle personal statement

I wholeheartedly agree with Craig Biddle on the issue of supposedly "not having enough/complete information to judge" and moral neutrality. (I also personally agree with his judgment.)

Thanks for linking to that. I'm glad Biddle posted that for public consumption. I hope a few more prominent Objectivists would take a public stand.

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The saga continues...

ARI has now removed all of Craig Biddle's events from their events page - all of his ARI-sponsored events have been cancelled, from what I understand. Here is what the events page used to list. And here is what it lists now. And one of the folks who helped set up the Michigan event (Alexander Hrin) says that they've received no explanation for why ARI cancelled the event.

There's not a whole lot of information at this point... hopefully more will come out.

Edited by brian0918
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