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Does determinism debunk praxeology?

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Azure replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 12:52 PM

zefreak:

It matters to people trying to eliminate muddled reasoning and mysticism from our understanding of the universe.

There are plenty of unanswerable questions, which "Free Will" is unless it can be shown to have consequences outside of our own heads. Attempting to answer them hardly seems like "eliminating muddled reasoning and mysticism."

How is Bayesian probability even relevant to the question of determinism?

You can't say with any certainty what the "real probabilities" are. Probabilities as we estimate them are merely a measure of our information, and unfortunately priors are just as subject to scrutiny as the information we derive from them. Thus, the degree of determinism which exists in natural processes is of no consequence.

My apologies if I'm not making any sense, I should probably get some sleep.

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 3:23 PM

Joel:

First, it seems you are begging the question, assuming to begin with that normative propositions cannot be factual statements.

Secondly, even if there is a distinction, how can it be proven that the latter cannot be derived from the former?  (Also, necessary (logical) truths can be deduced without any premises.)

Thirdly, what about inductive reasoning?

Fourthly, there are, in fact, normative propositions that can (and have been) proven to be false (thus clearly falsifiable): e.g., by pointing out a self-contradiction or showing that it relies on a vacuous concept, or is inconsistent with the nature of things.

I am not begging the question. All deductive statements are, at bottom, tautological as the conclusion must be ultimately contained within the premise. This shouldn't be controversial.

If a normative conclusion can be derived from a proposition, then the proposition must have entailed or contained that conclusion. Hence, the premise is, by necessity, normative. To believe otherwise is a confusion of logic.

Of course, if normativity is somehow a property of the object then every positive statement is implicitly normative. Such a belief in the immeasurable and untestable which is not necessary to explain any phenomena whatsoever would surely be dislodged by Occam's Razor if consistently applied.

Secondly, logical truths cannot be deduced without premises, regardless of how 'necessary' you think they are. They can be asserted as foundational premises within an axiomatic system, but they certainly aren't deduced from anything.

Thirdly, inductive reasoning

1. Doesn't exists (or shouldn't be called reasoning). It is logically fallacious to move from a set of specifics to a general statement. We do it anyways, and it works well for us. However, it should not be confused with logic.

2. Doesn't apply to ethics as there is no way of measuring or falsifying ethical premises (this should answer your fourth statement). Ethics is the string theory of philosophy -- building logically consistent models that have no testable propositions.

 

 

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 3:53 PM

Azure:

There are plenty of unanswerable questions, which "Free Will" is unless it can be shown to have consequences outside of our own heads. Attempting to answer them hardly seems like "eliminating muddled reasoning and mysticism."

Appeal to ignorance. Almost all (in some views, all) questions can be collapsed into an unanswerable form, as almost all questions are inductive in nature. If they aren't, but are analytic in nature, then they rely on the 'truth value' of the rules of deductive interference which are axioms and cannot be justified in a non-circular way.

 

'You can't say with any certainty what the "real probabilities" are. Probabilities as we estimate them are merely a measure of our information, and unfortunately priors are just as subject to scrutiny as the information we derive from them.

Thus, the degree of determinism which exists in natural processes is of no consequence.'

- non sequitur -

I think you are confusing Bayesian probability. Probabilities that are the result of Bayes' Theorem are not actual properties of whatever it is being questioned. If I get a 99.98% probability of God existing given my priors and conditions, it does not follow that God actually has a 99.98% probability of not existing. Bayesian probability deals with belief under uncertainty, and that is all. To posit the existence of a deterministic universe does not require probability calculation at all. Believing in determinism would.

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Joel replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 7:40 PM

zefreak:

I am not begging the question.

Nothing you said here responds to my first piont.  You are assuming that ethical propositions are nonfactual, and then using that to prove that ethical propositions cannot be deduced from factual propositions.  If you are just saying that ethical statements cannot be deduced from non-ethical premises, then even if true, so what?  If statements of class A cannot be deduced from statements of class B, so what?  That does not prove that all statements of A are non-factual.

All deductive statements are, at bottom, tautological as the conclusion must be ultimately contained within the premise. This shouldn't be controversial.

If a normative conclusion can be derived from a proposition, then the proposition must have entailed or contained that conclusion. Hence, the premise is, by necessity, normative. To believe otherwise is a confusion of logic.

I would modify this to say that the conclusion is entailed in the premises. plural.  entailed in the conjunction.  There is no need for it to be contained in a single (non-conjunctive) premise.  Suppose statement X and statement Y were both outside the class of statements A.  It could still be the case that the conjunction ("X & Y") is a member of A (or entails a proposition that is in A).

Secondly, logical truths cannot be deduced without premises, regardless of how 'necessary' you think they are. They can be asserted as foundational premises within an axiomatic system, but they certainly aren't deduced from anything.

This is not true.  By definition, a logical truth is entailed by "the empty set."  The can be proven by an argument with no premises.  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-classical/

I had a link to a website with a good explanation of this and several examples, but the link is not working.  I'll try to make up my own example:

The statement "if x implies y and x is true, then y is true" (modus ponens, "((x -> y) & x) -> y" ) is a logical truth, deducible with no premises:

Subproof: Suppose (x->y) & x

(~x or y) & x                       By definition

(~x & x) or (y & x)               By distributivity

~(~x & x)                             By logical contradiction

y & x                                   By process of elimination

y

(end of subproof)

Therefore ((x->y) & x) -> y

Thirdly, inductive reasoning

1. Doesn't exists (or shouldn't be called reasoning). It is logically fallacious to move from a set of specifics to a general statement. We do it anyways, and it works well for us. However, it should not be confused with logic.

I agree induction is not deduction, and produces only probable arguments, not deductively valid ones.  But practically we must go on such things.  Deduction is only the study of the relationships among propositions.  It doesn't tell us the truth of any particular proposition.  We have to have propositions we already believe to be true before deduction is of any use to us. (Except, perhaps, in the case of logical truths.)

2. Doesn't apply to ethics as there is no way of measuring or falsifying ethical premises (this should answer your fourth statement). Ethics is the string theory of philosophy -- building logically consistent models that have no testable propositions.

But you didn't address my fourth point at all.  There are ethical statements (and arguments) that can and have been falsified.  Suppose I said, "You should be an ostrich."  If we can show that your being an ostrich is conceptually impossible and meaningless by being contrary to the nature of actual things, then therefore it cannot be a fact that you should be an ostrich.  At least some ethical statements can be shown by observation to be contrary to the nature of man.  Or if an ethical proposition can be shown to be self-contradictory, then it has been proven to be false.

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 8:03 PM

Joel:

The statement "if x implies y and x is true, then y is true" (modus ponens, "((x -> y) & x) -> y" ) is a logical truth, deducible with no premises:

Subproof: Suppose (x->y) & x

(~x or y) & x                       By definition

(~x & x) or (y & x)               By distributivity

~(~x & x)                             By logical contradiction

y & x                                   By process of elimination

y

(end of subproof)

Therefore ((x->y) & x) -> y

Perhaps I was not being clear. The above is clearly validly deduced, without premises in the formal sense. However, it still relies on (what I meant when I used the word premise) the rules of deductive inference, the law of identity, and the law of the excluded middle. These may not be premises within the structured argument, but the truth of the above conclusion is predicated on those previously discussed axioms.

Joel:

But you didn't address my fourth point at all.  There are ethical statements (and arguments) that can and have been falsified.  Suppose I said, "You should be an ostrich."  If we can show that your being an ostrich is conceptually impossible and meaningless by being contrary to the nature of actual things, then therefore it cannot be a fact that you should be an ostrich.  At least some ethical statements can be shown by observation to be contrary to the nature of man.  Or if an ethical proposition can be shown to be self-contradictory, then it has been proven to be false.

"You should be an ostrich" is not falsifiable nor is it contradictory, although it may be meaningless (as are all ethical statements). The possibility of achievement might be a good practical heuristic for deciding your moral principles, but it is not a prerequisite. "You should reject your human nature" (I grew up in a Protestant family) is not incorrect because it is impossible, as it is a normative, counter-factual statement (describing what is right to be, not what is).

Certainly ethical arguments can be contradictory, and thus falsified. Of course, if you read my post thoroughly you would see that I specified normative premises as being infallible. An argument may be logically invalid, but even valid deductions rely on the truth of their premises.

I could qualify my argument by stating that there is no way of verifying or falsifying validly deduced ethical systems. There are infinitely many logically consistent ethical systems, which diverge according to the chosen axioms.

 

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Joel replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 8:11 PM

zefreak:

Probabilities that are the result of Bayes' Theorem are not actual properties of whatever it is being questioned....Bayesian probability deals with belief under uncertainty, and that is all.

Actually, Bayes' Theorem is mathematically derived from frequency analysis.  It deals only with quantifiable frequencies.  Any assignment of numerical probabilities to anything but frequencies is arbitrary and invalid.  (Let alone multiplying and dividing those numbers.)  But then (in the only cases to which it applies) the results of the theorem are actual properties of the thing.

For example, consider a tub of marbles, multiple colors, some opaque and some translucent.

Suppose you know that:

60% of the opaque marbles are green,

30% of all the marbles are opaque, and

40 % of all the marbles are green.

Then Bayes' Theorem would tell us what percentage of the green marbles are opaque:

(60% * 30%)/40% = 45%

And this is an actual property of the tub of marbles, of which we can have certain knowledge.  (Thus the 45% does not represent any uncertainty.)

Likewise with die rolls, the percentage numbers are the measurable average frequencies of outcomes (e.g., on average, a particular face will come up one sixth of the time).

Numerical probability deals with actual properties of large classes of things (marbles, die rolls, etc.).  The uncertainty in such cases lies not with the whole class, but with particular cases.  Thus the probability numbers do not represent our uncertainty about particular cases, but our knowledge (certainty) about the class.

 

I still have no idea how it has anything to do with determinism.

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zefreak:
I could qualify my argument by stating that there is no way of verifying or falsifying validly deduced ethical systems. There are infinitely many logically consistent ethical systems, which diverge according to the chosen axioms.

I don't understand this.  You said ethics is meaningless, but then point out that there are, I would drop infinitely because impossible is still part of the human condition, but you say "many logically consistent ethical systems".  Thereby you identify that there are ethical systems and to do that, that would mean a qualifier to identify these various ethical systems has to be present to denote the meaning of each one being distinctly one of the "many logically consistent ethical systems".

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 8:14 PM

wilderness:

zefreak:
I could qualify my argument by stating that there is no way of verifying or falsifying validly deduced ethical systems. There are infinitely many logically consistent ethical systems, which diverge according to the chosen axioms.

I don't understand this.  You said ethics is meaningless, but then point out that there are, I would drop infinitely because impossible is still part of the human condition, but you say "many logically consistent ethical systems".  Thereby you identify that there are ethical systems and to do that, that would mean a qualifier to identify these various ethical systems has to be present to denote the meaning of each one being distinctly one of the "many logically consistent ethical systems".

Assuming that moral statements have meaning then. If the axioms are assumed to be true, then of course the system built on those axioms will be true.

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zefreak:
Assuming that moral statements have meaning then. If the axioms are assumed to be true, then of course the system built on those axioms will be true.

ok.  And I leave this discussion with a reminder in the understanding of why economics historically started in the ethics department because the argument over property scarcity is not only an ethical but an economic argument.

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 8:33 PM

Joel:

zefreak:

Probabilities that are the result of Bayes' Theorem are not actual properties of whatever it is being questioned....Bayesian probability deals with belief under uncertainty, and that is all.

Actually, Bayes' Theorem is mathematically derived from frequency analysis.  It deals only with quantifiable frequencies.  Any assignment of numerical probabilities to anything but frequencies is arbitrary and invalid.  (Let alone multiplying and dividing those numbers.)  But then (in the only cases to which it applies) the results of the theorem are actual properties of the thing.

For example, consider a tub of marbles, multiple colors, some opaque and some translucent.

Suppose you know that:

60% of the opaque marbles are green,

30% of all the marbles are opaque, and

40 % of all the marbles are green.

Then Bayes' Theorem would tell us what percentage of the green marbles are opaque:

(60% * 30%)/40% = 45%

And this is an actual property of the tub of marbles, of which we can have certain knowledge.  (Thus the 45% does not represent any uncertainty.)

Likewise with die rolls, the percentage numbers are the measurable average frequencies of outcomes (e.g., on average, a particular face will come up one sixth of the time).

Numerical probability deals with actual properties of large classes of things (marbles, die rolls, etc.).  The uncertainty in such cases lies not with the whole class, but with particular cases.  Thus the probability numbers do not represent our uncertainty about particular cases, but our knowledge (certainty) about the class.

 

I still have no idea how it has anything to do with determinism.

Sure, Ok, but Bayesian probability is often used with regards to rational belief in the face of uncertainty. I know I have read Caplan, Taleb, and Yudkowsky from lesswrong use it in this manner. Perhaps this is a misuse of Bayes' Theorem but that's how it goes, and that's how it was being used in this discussion.

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Joel replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 9:00 PM

zefreak:

Perhaps I was not being clear. The above is clearly validly deduced, without premises in the formal sense. However, it still relies on (what I meant when I used the word premise) the rules of deductive inference, the law of identity, and the law of the excluded middle.These may not be premises within the structured argument, but the truth of the above conclusion is predicated on those previously discussed axioms.

That seems a strange way of putting things, but I don't think it matters for what we are saying (if we can consider the rules of inference to be 'non-ethical'?).  Deducing without premises (other than inference) can still be useful.  There are some statements that we cannot deny or disprove without assuming it to be true, thus establishing itself as an axiom by something like reductio ad absurdum.  (E.g., "Reality exists.")

Consider the following hypothetical form of argument that might deduce a conclusion of class A from premises not of class A:

Premise P1 (not in class A)

Premise P2 (not in class A)

Subproof:

     Suppose ~X (a statement of class A)

     .... (deduction steps)

     ~P1

~X -> ~P1    (from subproof)

X    (modus tollens, given premise P1)

 

Then X has been deduced from P1 & P2.  I think Ayn Rand's argument for objective ethics is similar to this.  We can point out that if anything cannot rationally be denied by any rational being who has the relevant facts, then we can consider it as being objectively true.  So we can search for and find ethical propositions that cannot be rationally denied by a rational being with the relevant facts.  (e.g., denying it would entail denying that you are a rational being.)

"You should be an ostrich" is not falsifiable nor is it contradictory, although it may be meaningless

The end being meaningless or impossible tells us that it cannot be a moral end, because to pursue the end would be absurd/irrational.  And if there are true ethics, then they must be rational/logical.

"You should reject your human nature" (I grew up in a Protestant family) is not incorrect because it is impossible, as it is a normative, counter-factual statement (describing what is right to be, not what is).

(I consider myself "Protestant."  That's not exactly the teaching of the N.T.)  Your statement taken literally is false because it entails a contradiction.  It can be proven false by reductio ad absurdum.

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zefreak replied on Mon, Jan 18 2010 9:27 PM

Rather than go point by point through your post, I'll just say that I understand your position and that myself and others have discussed it in detail in other threads. I just don't have the energy or desire to get into another (this would be the 4th!) detailed discussion on the possibility of proving ethical statements via performative contradiction. I recommend you dive into one of those threads, both AJ and Brainpolice offer substantive critiques of Argumentation ethics and estoppel, and I have written about Rand and other forms of objective ethics.

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Joel,

to let you know, AJ, Brainpolce, and zefreak simply go on and on saying there are no ethics but never are able to say anything that makes sense when it boils down to the 'why' of their assertion.  I mean it simply could be they're unable to type how they feel into words, which is something one or all of them have used as an argument before and then simply throw up their hands and declare they've refuted ethics.  Simply by saying that..lol.  so i wouldn't waste my time on this

good daySmile

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Mike replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 9:57 AM

Ethics, free will, determinism, and praxeology don't have to be incompatible.

Determinism is just a bigger word for causality.  Humans do not act arbitrarily (unless they are specifically trying to just to be difficult... but then that would be your "why" right there).  Think of any action you've ever taken, and you can think of the reasons you took it.  Young children are notorious for making adults aware of this fact (think of the unending chain of "Why?").  From this vantage point it's really not much of a stretch to suggest that the human mind is a big input/output machine (especially if you've read Dennett).

Nevertheless, if free will is an illusion as determinism suggests, it's still an important illusion.  Take two people, one who says "Well there is no free will so I don't really know why I do anything so I'm not gonna do anything" while the other says "Yes, I am in control of my actions and I must be conscientious to be successful."  Who's more likely to succeed and who's more likely to end up a loser?  If free will is an illusion, it's one we cannot escape, and one we attempt to escape only to our own detriment.

Ethics, seemingly dependent on free will but really workable also in the face of an inescapable illusion of free will, is perfectly compatible here.

Praxeology, as others here have pointed out, is kind of a whole other thing.  Mises himself in Human Action stressed repeatedly that all that matters is that man acts and that he reveals his value structure in his actual realized actions, and that the psychologists and philosophers cannot change this.

I'm personally skeptical of the a priori infallibility of praxeology as Mises presents it, because I've never seen it expressed in the syllogistic language of logic, which theoretically must be possible of any valid deductive system.  Either that's something nobody's bothered to do yet, something I've just never found (not for lack of searching), or praxeology has some holes.

 

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scineram replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:12 AM

zefreak:
2. Doesn't apply to ethics as there is no way of measuring or falsifying ethical premises (this should answer your fourth statement).Ethics is the string theory of philosophy -- building logically consistent models that have no testable propositions.

Then how do you choose from them?

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I. Ryan replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:17 AM

Mike:

Ethics, free will, determinism, and praxeology don't have to be incompatible.

Determinism is just a bigger word for causality.  Humans do not act arbitrarily (unless they are specifically trying to just to be difficult... but then that would be your "why" right there).  Think of any action you've ever taken, and you can think of the reasons you took it.  Young children are notorious for making adults aware of this fact (think of the unending chain of "Why?").  From this vantage point it's really not much of a stretch to suggest that the human mind is a big input/output machine (especially if you've read Dennett).

Nevertheless, if free will is an illusion as determinism suggests, it's still an important illusion.  Take two people, one who says "well there is no free will so I don't really know why I do anything so I'm not gonna do anything" while the other says "Yes, I am in control of my actions and I must be conscientious to be successful."  Who's more likely to succeed and who's more likely to end up a loser?  If free will is an illusion, it's one we cannot escape, and one we attempt to escape only to our own detriment.  Ethics, seemingly dependent on free will but really workable also in the face of an inescapable illusion of free will, is perfectly compatible here.

Praxeology, as others here have pointed out, is kind of a whole other thing.  Mises himself in Human Action stressed repeatedly that all that matters is that man acts and that he reveals his value structure in his actual realized actions, and that the psychologists and philosophers cannot change this.

I'm personally skeptical of the a priori infallibility of praxeology as Mises presents it, because I've never seen it expressed in the syllogistic language of logic, which theoretically must be possible of any valid deductive system.  That's either something nobody's bothered to do yet, or praxeology has some holes.

Murray Rothbard, From "Man, Economy, and State", Chapter 1:

The suggestion has been made that, since praxeology and economics are logical chains of reasoning based on a few universally known prem­ises, to be really scientific it should be elaborated according to the symbolic notations of mathematical logic.[44] This represents a curious misconception of the role of mathematical logic, or "logistics." In the first place, it is the great quality of verbal propositions that each one is meaningful. On the other hand, algebraic and logical symbols, as used in logistics, are not in themselves meaningful. Praxeology asserts the action axiom as true, and from this (together with a few empirical axioms—such as the existence of a variety of resources and individuals) are deduced, by the rules of logical inference, all the propositions of economics, each one of which is verbal and meaningful. If the logistic array of symbols were used, each proposition would not be meaningful. Logistics, therefore, is far more suited to the physical sciences, where, in contrast to the science of human action, the con­clusions rather than the axioms are known. In the physical sciences, the premises are only hypothetical, and logical deductions are made from them. In these cases, there is no purpose in having meaningful propositions at each step of the way, and therefore symbolic and mathematical language is more useful.

Simply to develop economics verbally, then to translate into logistic symbols, and finally to retranslate the propositions back into English, makes no sense and violates the fundamental scientific principle of Occam's razor, which calls for the greatest possible simplicity in sci­ence and the avoidance of unnecessary multiplication of entities or processes.

Contrary to what might be believed, the use of verbal logic is not inferior to logistics. On the contrary, the latter is merely an auxiliary device based on the former. For formal logic deals with the necessary and fundamental laws of thought, which must be verbally expressed, and logistics is only a symbolic system that uses this formal verbal logic as its foundation. Therefore, praxeology and economics need not be apologetic in the slightest for the use of verbal logic—the funda­mental basis of symbolic logic, and meaningful at each step of the route.[45]

I think, though, that we will, at some point, have to abandon the unsystematic, ambiguous system of colloquial english.

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Mike replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:25 AM

I. Ryan:

 

Murray Rothbard, From "Man, Economy, and State", Chapter 1:

The suggestion has been made that, since praxeology and economics are logical chains of reasoning based on a few universally known prem­ises, to be really scientific it should be elaborated according to the symbolic notations of mathematical logic.[44] This represents a curious misconception of the role of mathematical logic, or "logistics." In the first place, it is the great quality of verbal propositions that each one is meaningful. On the other hand, algebraic and logical symbols, as used in logistics, are not in themselves meaningful. Praxeology asserts the action axiom as true, and from this (together with a few empirical axioms—such as the existence of a variety of resources and individuals) are deduced, by the rules of logical inference, all the propositions of economics, each one of which is verbal and meaningful. If the logistic array of symbols were used, each proposition would not be meaningful. Logistics, therefore, is far more suited to the physical sciences, where, in contrast to the science of human action, the con­clusions rather than the axioms are known. In the physical sciences, the premises are only hypothetical, and logical deductions are made from them. In these cases, there is no purpose in having meaningful propositions at each step of the way, and therefore symbolic and mathematical language is more useful.

Simply to develop economics verbally, then to translate into logistic symbols, and finally to retranslate the propositions back into English, makes no sense and violates the fundamental scientific principle of Occam's razor, which calls for the greatest possible simplicity in sci­ence and the avoidance of unnecessary multiplication of entities or processes.

Contrary to what might be believed, the use of verbal logic is not inferior to logistics. On the contrary, the latter is merely an auxiliary device based on the former. For formal logic deals with the necessary and fundamental laws of thought, which must be verbally expressed, and logistics is only a symbolic system that uses this formal verbal logic as its foundation. Therefore, praxeology and economics need not be apologetic in the slightest for the use of verbal logic—the funda­mental basis of symbolic logic, and meaningful at each step of the route.[45]

Honestly, that strikes me as a cop-out.  Rothbard here has not provided a convincing reason that such a logical exposition is impossible.  It sounds more like he is saying "Here's why I'm not going to give you one."

He really misuses Occam's Razor to this end, using it as an excuse to avoid what would be a useful elaboration.  The Razor is supposed to just be a heuristic for making a tentative decision between plausible alternatives.

I'm not saying it's all bogus.  I'm an Austrian School adherent.  I'm just saying praxeology is not the reason I am.

 

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ladyattis replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:49 AM

Okay, lets put to rest the bullshit that causality is determinism, because it's not. Determinism is a special because it's two-way causality. That a cause has an effect and an effect has a cause, this makes their relationships absolute, which is why in physics they're trying to figure out if it's reversible or in simpler terms DETERMINISTIC. If physics is not reversible in any capacity, then causality flows one way, unhindered by backward linkage, which would prevent any sort of determinism to be formed.

In essence, the appeal of determinism is that it's god-like, that some how the Universe works like a perfect clock. But since the Universe at the quantum scale has no such backward linkage to make the forward movement of time the only consequence of the cause/effect links so far, that means there's other possibilities that can be expressed either logically or physically (in an alternative universe), but none of  this proves freewill either. Quite the contrary, you can be an indeterminist and still reject freewill. This means the current debate of in/determinism crap doesn't even answer the questions of what is freewill and does some creature on Earth have it, because the quality of self-determination or self-control is in itself not necessarily defined by external states of the Universe.

Anyways, my point is causality isn't determinism, but determinism can be called a kind of causality. You all dig?

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I. Ryan replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:52 AM

Mike:

Honestly, that strikes me as a cop-out.  Rothbard here has not provided a convincing reason that such a logical exposition is impossible.  It sounds more like he is saying "Here's why I'm not going to give you one."

He really misuses Occam's Razor to this end, using it as an excuse to avoid what would be a useful elaboration.  The Razor is supposed to just be a heuristic for making a tentative decision between plausible alternatives.

I'm not saying it's all bogus.  I'm an Austrian School adherent.  I'm just saying praxeology is not the reason I am.

He did not intend to claim that "such a logical exposition is impossible". He merely intended to claim that "such a logical exposition" would be round-a-bout.

My contention is that such a system, of which Rothbard opposes the utilization, would depart from common, colloquial english in just two ways: (a) it would be contextless, use variables, like "A", instead of categories, like "entrepreneur" or "individual", and (b) it would be systematic, entirely regular and unambiguous. But praxeology, atleast once it introduces its first empirical assumptions, consistently refers to and requires those categories. For praxeology does not refer to A, it refers to entrepreneur A, it does not refer to 1, it refers to 1 good.

So the answer is to develop a system which would depart from colloquial english in just the second way, b, not also the first way, a. Such a system would basically be a systematized, entirely regularized, disambiguated version of any natural language.

Note that, contrary to what our associations often suggest, a symbol like "||" is not necessarily any more "scientific" than a symbol like "or". The only reason why the symbol "||" happens to be more "scientific" than the symbol "or" is that the meaning of the symbol "||" is entirely regular and unambiguous whereas the meaning of "or" is not.

If I wrote it more than a few weeks ago, I probably hate it by now.

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Mike replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 12:08 PM

I understand what you're saying, but I think what it really means is essentially an admission that praxeology does not actually possess the deductive rigor it is often claimed to.  But I'll have to think about it some more because I don't entirely wrap my head around what you're saying.

As for notation, I in fact originally had in mind the "English" syllogistic language, you know, "Premise A, Relation B, therefore Conclusion C".  I do not know the symbols but I figure they're just for brevity's sake; I'd be happy to see praxeological theorems expressed either way.

 

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zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

"Statements should be falsifiable."

Is the above statement falsifiable?

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

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Mike replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 12:23 PM

Mike:

I'm an Austrian School adherent.  I'm just saying praxeology is not the reason I am.

I should clarify this.  The supposed logical infallibility of praxeology is not the reason I am.

I think it's a testament to what a great book Human Action is that it had me totally convinced that the Austrians are the only credible economists, even as I was rolling my eyes at all of Mises' assertions of utter certainty.

 

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Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 1:30 PM

ladyattis:

Okay, lets put to rest the bullshit that causality is determinism, because it's not. Determinism is a special because it's two-way causality. That a cause has an effect and an effect has a cause, this makes their relationships absolute, which is why in physics they're trying to figure out if it's reversible or in simpler terms DETERMINISTIC. If physics is not reversible in any capacity, then causality flows one way, unhindered by backward linkage, which would prevent any sort of determinism to be formed.

In essence, the appeal of determinism is that it's god-like, that some how the Universe works like a perfect clock. But since the Universe at the quantum scale has no such backward linkage to make the forward movement of time the only consequence of the cause/effect links so far, that means there's other possibilities that can be expressed either logically or physically (in an alternative universe), but none of  this proves freewill either. Quite the contrary, you can be an indeterminist and still reject freewill. This means the current debate of in/determinism crap doesn't even answer the questions of what is freewill and does some creature on Earth have it, because the quality of self-determination or self-control is in itself not necessarily defined by external states of the Universe.

Anyways, my point is causality isn't determinism, but determinism can be called a kind of causality. You all dig?

 

Pardon me if I’m wrong, but I truly believe that “determinism” is just about single-way causation, no two-way causation.

 

For example, if we know that A brigs about B, and that F also bring about B, if I tell you “today is A”, you’ll know with certainty that tomorrow shall be B. Hence the future is totally and absolutely determined, and cannot “shift” or “branch away” from being B.

 

On the other hand if I tell you: today is B, you can’t say whether yesterday was A or F. thus, in this second occasion, according to your interpretation,  the yesterday-today link wouldn’t be “deterministic” and would be liable to “branching away” and “parallel universes” and such quantum fairy-tales. Yet, I believe we both agree that if today is B yesterday has been either A or F, not some probabilistic median, but either A or F. The link “yesterday-today” is fully determined. We just can’t know what yesterday was.

 

Assuming that there can be such a thing as “branching away” and “parallel universes” as most Copenhagen enthusiast do nowadays is to reject single-way causality outright. I believe that is a major mistake.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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AJ replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 8:38 PM

Solid_Choke:

zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

"Statements should be falsifiable."

Is the above statement falsifiable?

Not if "should" is taken in the normative sense.

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No, Mises dealt with this in the first 100 or so pages of HA. Read it.

 

The supposed logical infallibility of praxeology is not the reason I am.

I think it's a testament to what a great book Human Action is that it had me totally convinced that the Austrians are the only credible economists, even as I was rolling my eyes at all of Mises' assertions of utter certainty.

Or perhaps you should stop the rolling motion of your eyes and properly read it. He says if the axioms are known and the deductions properly followed, then the theory is logically incontestable. Which is true. He never claims to be utterly certain of everything.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Mike replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:26 PM

Jon Irenicus:

No, Mises dealt with this in the first 100 or so pages of HA. Read it.

 

The supposed logical infallibility of praxeology is not the reason I am.

I think it's a testament to what a great book Human Action is that it had me totally convinced that the Austrians are the only credible economists, even as I was rolling my eyes at all of Mises' assertions of utter certainty.

Or perhaps you should stop the rolling motion of your eyes and properly read it. He says if the axioms are known and the deductions properly followed, then the theory is logically incontestable. Which is true. He never claims to be utterly certain of everything.

Um, wrong.  He asserts it like hell.  Provide proofs he does not.  Perhaps you are the one who should read it.

 

Jon Irenicus:

He says if the axioms are known and the deductions properly followed, then the theory is logically incontestable.

He does say this.  But that's about as far as he goes with it.  For a pan-skeptical truth seeker like me, this is unsatisfactory.

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Um, wrong.  He asserts it like hell.  Provide proofs he does not.  Perhaps you are the one who should read it.

Asserts what, pray tell? What proofs of anything do you provide? I've read it, you seem to have read whatever you felt like. He discusses determinism in the context of praxeology (Hoppe elaborates in TEEOPP) and not once claims to be absolutely certain of everything. Rather, he makes the claim I mentioned. A rather different one. He is sure we can be certain of some things, but not all things. And also that revisions in logical deductions are possible if errors are made (where does he claim one is infallible, pray tell, by dint of being a praxeologist?) Some Austrians go further and say the axioms might be revised and allow for their misspecification leading to corrections subsequently.

He does say this.  But that's about as far as he goes with it.  For a pan-skeptical truth seeker like me, this is unsatisfactory.

Do I really care? Do you exist? Does this post exist? No? Oh well, nothing to respond to then.

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nandnor:

Does determinism debunk praxeology? One of the praxeological claims is that man acts, makes choices based on his valuations of how he perceives the world. It views the process of making choices as an unknown size, impossible to model or determine, hence the rejection of positicist economics. However if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible, if the same parameters are given to a sufficiently accurate intelligence simulation.

Nandor:

When you write:

"if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible"

...I believe this contains a subtle tautology.   If the world is deterministic, then positivistic modeling of consciousness is possible (because the supposition of this conception of determinism is that a completely mechanistic modeling of consciousness is possible.)

That is, as you write things, determinism (A) is the supposition that a completely mechanistic account of consciousness is possible (B).  

So if A, as you write, then B.

The problem of this kind of determinism can be seen more clearly if we phrased your passage like this:

It is possible that a completely deterministic account of consciousness can be attained in the future, if now, in theory, a non-contradictory account of such a system can be given in which consciousness is described entirely in terms of particles in fields of force.

Instead of the tautological criterion:  If determinism is possible, then that which constitutes determinism is possible....

We might instead say:  Determinism is possible if a non-contradictory account can now be given of its theoretical aims....

 

*****

Here is what I mean by this.

John Searle is a proponent of the kind of determinism you write about. 

Here is a succinct statement of his theory in 14 pages (see the document "Biological Naturalism").

http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~jsearle/articles.html

In this short article, on page 3, you will find the following definition:

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

"Some things, such as pains and tickles and itches, only exist when experienced by a human or animal subject, and they have a subjective or first person ontology."

And on page 11, you will find Searle's own account of the theoretical aims of his theory:

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

"Well, why could we not do that with consciousness – carve off the surface features of what conscious states feel like and redefine them in terms of their micro-causes?  We could, and if we knew enough, for certain purposes, say medical purposes, we might. We could then say, “This guy is in pain, even though he does not feel it yet. The thalamocortical system  definitely shows the presence of pain, though it is unfelt”

 

So Searle provides a definition where pain only exists when experienced by a subject, but yet he says that if his program were successful, we could then say that a subject is in pain even though he doesn't experience it.

Thus, it seems obvious that Searle's account of the theoretical aims of his program are in direct contradiction to one of the primary definitions of his system.   In other words, in theory, his system does not work.   Even if we grant that what he says on page 11 can be attained, this is inconsistent with what he says on page 3, so that one of them must be relinquished for his system to give a consistent account of the phenomena.

But if he relinquishes one or the other of these mutually exclusive accounts, his system most likely will not provide the information he was hoping it would.

*****

This is a problem inherent in the program of metaphysical or dogmatic determinism, what Heisenberg refers to as metaphysical or dogmatic realism. 

(See:  Physics and Philosophy, chapters V and VI)

The question is not, granted that determinism is possible, whether that which constitutes determinism is possible.

The question is whether a non-contradictory theoretical account of the very program of metaphsical determinism can be given.

As far as I'm aware, and apparently as far as Searle is aware, no such non-contradictory account of this program has so far been given.

 


 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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Joel replied on Tue, Jan 26 2010 2:43 PM

Mike:

Um, wrong.  He asserts it like hell.  Provide proofs he does not.  Perhaps you are the one who should read it.

This is ridiculous.  The only possible "proof he does not" would be to paste the entire content of the book.  If you have a quote, then please quote it for us.  Otherwise, we have no reason to believe you over our knowledge of the book to the contrary.

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Adam Knott:

nandnor:

Does determinism debunk praxeology? One of the praxeological claims is that man acts, makes choices based on his valuations of how he perceives the world. It views the process of making choices as an unknown size, impossible to model or determine, hence the rejection of positicist economics. However if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible, if the same parameters are given to a sufficiently accurate intelligence simulation.

Nandor:

When you write:

"if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible"

...I believe this contains a subtle tautology.   If the world is deterministic, then positivistic modeling of consciousness is possible (because the supposition of this conception of determinism is that a completely mechanistic modeling of consciousness is possible.)

That is, as you write things, determinism (A) is the supposition that a completely mechanistic account of consciousness is possible (B).  

So if A, as you write, then B.

The problem of this kind of determinism can be seen more clearly if we phrased your passage like this:

It is possible that a completely deterministic account of consciousness can be attained in the future, if now, in theory, a non-contradictory account of such a system can be given in which consciousness is described entirely in terms of particles in fields of force.

Instead of the tautological criterion:  If determinism is possible, then that which constitutes determinism is possible....

We might instead say:  Determinism is possible if a non-contradictory account can now be given of its theoretical aims....

 

*****

Here is what I mean by this.

John Searle is a proponent of the kind of determinism you write about. 

Here is a succinct statement of his theory in 14 pages (see the document "Biological Naturalism").

http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~jsearle/articles.html

In this short article, on page 3, you will find the following definition:

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

 

"Some things, such as pains and tickles and itches, only exist when experienced by a human or animal subject, and they have a subjective or first person ontology."

And on page 11, you will find Searle's own account of the theoretical aims of his theory:

 

 

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

 

"Well, why could we not do that with consciousness – carve off the surface features of what conscious states feel like and redefine them in terms of their micro-causes?  We could, and if we knew enough, for certain purposes, say medical purposes, we might. We could then say, “This guy is in pain, even though he does not feel it yet. The thalamocortical system  definitely shows the presence of pain, though it is unfelt”

 

So Searle provides a definition where pain only exists when experienced by a subject, but yet he says that if his program were successful, we could then say that a subject is in pain even though he doesn't experience it.

Thus, it seems obvious that Searle's account of the theoretical aims of his program are in direct contradiction to one of the primary definitions of his system.   In other words, in theory, his system does not work.   Even if we grant that what he says on page 11 can be attained, this is inconsistent with what he says on page 3, so that one of them must be relinquished for his system to give a consistent account of the phenomena.

But if he relinquishes one or the other of these mutually exclusive accounts, his system most likely will not provide the information he was hoping it would.

*****

This is a problem inherent in the program of metaphysical or dogmatic determinism, what Heisenberg refers to as metaphysical or dogmatic realism. 

(See:  Physics and Philosophy, chapters V and VI)

The question is not, granted that determinism is possible, whether that which constitutes determinism is possible.

The question is whether a non-contradictory theoretical account of the very program of metaphsical determinism can be given.

As far as I'm aware, and apparently as far as Searle is aware, no such non-contradictory account of this program has so far been given.

 

 

As a follow-up to this idea, I would like to provide a short sketch that further outlines the problem of non-praxeological, naturalistic approaches to consciousness.

We imagine that there is a human subject in a medical setting.   As Searle indicates on page 11 of his summary of his theory of biological naturalism (see above link), the goal is to establish a correlation between the subjective state the subject is in (e.g., pain), and some constellation of physical phenomena.

From the very beginning, as far as I can tell, the goal cannot be to establish merely that A = A, i.e., that  X physical arrangement = X physical arrangement.  The goal would seem to have to be to establish a correlation between two phenomena that are in some sense non-identical.

This accords with Searle's usage, since he clearly refers to two non-identical phenomena:  1) the subject's experience of pain, and 2) some aspect of the subject's thalamocortical system.

I will argue, against Searle, and against the naturalistic program generally, that the following situation cannot be overcome:

1.  If we say merely that X physical phenomena is followed by or co-present with Y physical phenomena, then we have not said anything about consciousness.  We have merely observed two sets of physical phenomena.  Here, consciousness is not "present," and only sets of physical phenomena are present.

2.  If we try to correlate physical phenomena with the reported experiences of the subject, this will not suffice as the rigorous scientific account of the phenomena sought by the naturalist.    If the scientist-observer applies some electrical signal to the subject, and the subject says something such as "right now, I'm feeling a tingling in my finger" or some similar such reportage, this introduces a "subjective interpretation" of the experience into the scientific account which ultimately I believe defeats the naturalist's hope for an objective account of the phenomena.

(this is why, in my opinion, Searle doesn't go this route in his own account of his theory.  This is why he tries to account for the pain felt by the subject without having the subject report his experience of pain to the scientist-observer)

 

3.  If the scientist-observer applies some electrical signal to the subject, and every time he does so, the subject says "pain," and this happens every time without fail, I assert this will not overcome the naturalist's dilemma.  The reason is, if it can be arranged that a subject utters the sound "pain" upon the administering of a specific electrical signal, this will----precisely to the extent such a correlation becomes absolutely mechanical [i.e., to the extent it becomes a physical law]----have eliminated the connection to, or the presence of, the subjectivity of the subject's experience.  That is, the utterance of the sound "pain" will now have become simply a physical phenomenon, absent the presence of a "subjective consciousness".  This would be similar to having a tape recorder, and every time the scientist-observer presses the "start" button, the sound "pain" emanates from the recording machine.

In other words, in the asymptotic approach, as the subject's response to the stimulus becomes mechanical, to this extent is the "subjectivity" of the subject (the presence of the subject's consciousness) eliminated (as opposed to correlated with the stimulus).

****

This is why, unless I'm overlooking something or not understanding something in Searle's account of his own theory, his theory contains a blatant inconsistency (see above referenced inconsistency between what he writes on page 3 and on page 11 of his own summary of his theory).

Searle is attempting to overcome the epistemological or ontological constraints of naturalism, and he completely fails.  (unless there is some explanation for the abovementioned contradiction)

As objective ethicists have not overcome the is-ought gap, naturalists have not overcome the gap between consciousness and the account of nature in terms of particles in fields of force.

As objective ethicists confidently asserted that Hume's is-ought gap could be overcome, dogmatic and metaphysical naturalists such as Searle confidently assert that consciousness can be explained in physical-causal terms.  (the term dogmatic and metaphysical naturalism is a parallel to what Heisenberg refers to as dogmatic or metaphysical realism, pages 81/82 Physics and Philosophy)

These attempts, when closely examined, fail.

The point I'm making is that, as opposed to the question whether physical science may one day succeed in explaining consciousness in physical terms, there is the question----equally if not more important----of whether a non-contradictory account can even be given of the theoretical aims of a naturalistic account of consciousness.

That is, disregarding for a moment, the idea of a naturalistic account of consciousness that may one day emerge or materialize, is it possible in the present, to give a consistent theoretical account of what such a naturalistic account could possibly be ??

If they answer is no, then we obviously would want to know why such an account cannot be given, and this would obviously imply at least the possibility that the very undertaking in question is contradictory in some sense.   At least this possibility would seem deserving of serious consideration.

Searle's own account of what his theory would accomplish, even if successful, and even by his own standards, is (to employ a common expression) "incoherent," for the reasons given above.

The simple question is:  Is it possible to give a non-contradictory account of the naturalists program that seeks to explain consciousness in physical terms?

The problem is one of the same magnitude as Hume's is-ought gap, and is succinctly stated by Heisenberg:

"We would never doubt that the brain acts as a physico-chemical mechanism if treated as such; but for an understanding of psychic phenomena we would start from the fact that the human mind enters as object and subject into the scientific process of psychology."  (Physics and Philosophy, p.106)

(emphasis added)

This is the naturalist's "is-ought" gap, and one the "overcommance" of which I'm unaware.

I think it is possible to describe the situation in an alternate form, which may help to clarify the essential problem:

The naturalist as scientist-observer is seeking to explain the phenomenon of consciousness of which he is privy to by direct experience, by means of objects that appear in the field of his own consciousness.  He is trying to "locate" something called consciousness among the objects of his own consciousness----in various subjects, as combinations of various particles and biological structures, etc.   But these objects are, in the end, still objects of his---the scientific observer's----consciousness.   The naturalist seems to make the initial assumption that he will be able to "find" consciousness among the objects of his own consciousness, as opposed to the (at least equally plausible) opposite assumption that his own consciousness is not locatable in identical duplicate form among that which appears in/for his consciousness.

A loose analogy might be that of actors in a play, who while acting in a play, both acknowledge that they are actors in a play, and seek to interpret members of the audience as actors in a play.

In acknowledging that they are actors in a play, they seem to imply that the audience is an audience.  But nonetheless, they continue to pursue a theory that would demonstrate how the audience members are actors in a play, not realizing that their own acceptance that they themselves are actors in a play (their initial premise or theory), applied to the objects of their experience (those four hundred people sitting down in the dark over there) is the acceptance of a premise that sets epistemological limits on, or that fixes the epistemological form of, further theoretical inquiry.....

 

 

"It would be preposterous to assert apodictically that science will never succeed in developing a praxeological aprioristic doctrine of political organization..." (Mises, UF, p.98)

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nandnor:
However if the world is deterministic, then at least theoretically, positivist modelling of the system is possible

Why you assume that the universe has a beginning? Humbles law was refuted by quasars, there is no reason to think there is a start state you can use to deterministically model the universe to this point. You also cant try to get a snapshot of the state of the universe because even light has a speed limit, making it impossible to gather the data simultaneously.

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AJ:

Solid_Choke:

zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

"Statements should be falsifiable."

Is the above statement falsifiable?

Not if "should" is taken in the normative sense.

That was my point. What justification do you have for telling people their theories should be falsifiable, if your theory that "theories should be falsifiable" is not falsifiable?

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

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zefreak replied on Thu, Jan 28 2010 11:22 PM

Solid_Choke:

AJ:

Solid_Choke:

zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

"Statements should be falsifiable."

Is the above statement falsifiable?

Not if "should" is taken in the normative sense.

That was my point. What justification do you have for telling people their theories should be falsifiable, if your theory that "theories should be falsifiable" is not falsifiable?

The same justification I have for telling people that Occam's Razor is a heuristic they should adopt. Whim, nothing more :)

You can't force an epistemology on people. So long as people are intellectually honest and share certain experiences (critical thinking helps too), I think they will gravitate towards similar positions.

I don't think anyone skeptical enough to reject intelligent design or eastern (woo-woo) spiritual healing can consistently believe in 'moral facts' once applying similar methods of critique. My critiques in any of these threads only holds water within a given epistemological framework (albeit a very popular one).

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zefreak:

Solid_Choke:

AJ:

Solid_Choke:

zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

"Statements should be falsifiable."

Is the above statement falsifiable?

Not if "should" is taken in the normative sense.

That was my point. What justification do you have for telling people their theories should be falsifiable, if your theory that "theories should be falsifiable" is not falsifiable?

The same justification I have for telling people that Occam's Razor is a heuristic they should adopt. Whim, nothing more :)

You can't force an epistemology on people. So long as people are intellectually honest and share certain experiences (critical thinking helps too), I think they will gravitate towards similar positions.

I don't think anyone skeptical enough to reject intelligent design or eastern (woo-woo) spiritual healing can consistently believe in 'moral facts' once applying similar methods of critique. My critiques in any of these threads only holds water within a given epistemological framework (albeit a very popular one).

If by "very popular" you mean accepted by a tiny fraction of a percent of people, I guess it is popular.  If you mean popular within the relevant community you should really check your premises. Very few epistemologists are Critical Rationalists. Far more scientists believe they are Critical Rationalists, but don't really act as if they are Critical Rationalists when they are doing science. Normal science is very dogmatic, but as Kuhn pointed out, this might be a feature and not a bug.

Personally, I take certain things like murder and theft as a partial definition of immorality. These are basic to ethics. I will talk about certain actions as being immoral and others will understand what I am talking about. Part of the meaning of 2 is that it is 1+1. This is basic and doesn't need to be justified from other underlying principles. Part of the meaning of moral is pulling a drowning child out of a pond. If you don't care about morality, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or is meaningless. It is meaningful to me and those in my language community (almost everyone I have ever met).

P. S.

BTW, Occam's Razor probably has more going for it then mere "whim" or aesthetics, but you might be just selling it short to make a point.

And before you ask, yes, I believe that the degree of falsifiability is a virtue of theories.

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

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zefreak replied on Fri, Jan 29 2010 2:22 AM

Occam's Razor is a normative heuristic, not a logical principle. Everyone adopts it because it makes sense intuitively and people recognize that they live by the principle every day of their lives in normal decision making. As a purely normative principle, expressing what is 'within one's rights to believe', it is either accepted or not. If accepted, certain results follow. If not, critiques hinging on Occam's Razor fall flat. The vast majority of intellectually honest people on this earth understand that by recognizing the benefits of applying the principle in their lives they are implicitly accepting it as valuable, and won't reject it just to 'win an argument'.

If you define morality to mean actions and ends that are accepted as disagreeable to the majority of people within your 'language community', then fine. Some philosophers and contemporaries use it in that manner (moral fictionalists, cultural relativists, etc). The majority mean something very different when it comes to morality, and that is what is often discussed on this forum.

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zefreak:

Occam's Razor is a normative heuristic, not a logical principle. Everyone adopts it because it makes sense intuitively and people recognize that they live by the principle every day of their lives in normal decision making. As a purely normative principle, expressing what is 'within one's rights to believe', it is either accepted or not. If accepted, certain results follow. If not, critiques hinging on Occam's Razor fall flat. The vast majority of intellectually honest people on this earth understand that by recognizing the benefits of applying the principle in their lives they are implicitly accepting it as valuable, and won't reject it just to 'win an argument'.

This is basically the position I hold, but there are some pretty sophisticated arguments that attempt to justify it on information theory, physics, and probability grounds, but I'm in over my head in terms of evaluating the specific claims asserted in the arguments. Just throwing that out there.

zefreak:

The majority mean something very different when it comes to morality, and that is what is often discussed on this forum.

This is why I usually avoid these kinds of threads. They turn into something analogous to Dr. Pepper vs. Pepsi. Of course we all know it is a law of nature that Dr. Pepper is the greatest soda of all time.

"I cannot prove, but am prepared to affirm, that if you take care of clarity in reasoning, most good causes will take care of themselves, while some bad ones are taken care of as a matter of course." -Anthony de Jasay

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zefreak replied on Fri, Jan 29 2010 2:32 AM

Solid_Choke:

zefreak:

Occam's Razor is a normative heuristic, not a logical principle. Everyone adopts it because it makes sense intuitively and people recognize that they live by the principle every day of their lives in normal decision making. As a purely normative principle, expressing what is 'within one's rights to believe', it is either accepted or not. If accepted, certain results follow. If not, critiques hinging on Occam's Razor fall flat. The vast majority of intellectually honest people on this earth understand that by recognizing the benefits of applying the principle in their lives they are implicitly accepting it as valuable, and won't reject it just to 'win an argument'.

This is basically the position I hold, but there are some pretty sophisticated arguments that attempt to justify it on information theory, physics, and probability grounds, but I'm in over my head in terms of evaluating the specific claims asserted in the arguments. Just throwing that out there.

I understand how probability (not sure about physics or information theory) might explicate the principle and make it more persuasive, but I don't see how either of those fields could possibly offer a logical, epistemic justification. I am interested in reading more on the subject, however. I find Occam's Razor fascinating, and central to my philosophy.

 

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AJ replied on Fri, Jan 29 2010 5:54 AM

Solid_Choke:

AJ:

Solid_Choke:

zefreak:

Ethics has a lot more going against it than just its incompatibility with determinism (if it is indeed incompatible). Not only are normative propositions incapable of being derived from factual statements and thus cannot be verified (if the axioms are brought into doubt), but they aren't even falsifiable.

"Statements should be falsifiable."

Is the above statement falsifiable?

Not if "should" is taken in the normative sense.

That was my point. What justification do you have for telling people their theories should be falsifiable, if your theory that "theories should be falsifiable" is not falsifiable?

If "should" is taken in the consequential sense, i.e., "Statements should be falsifiable if you want them to serve X purpose." is falsifiable.

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yuberries replied on Fri, Jan 29 2010 6:48 AM

I think that even if determinism could be so scientifically developed as to mechanically map out every human behavior, it wouldn't negate praxeology and perhaps would even relate back to it. Praxeology, leaving consciousness aside, does assert a certain mechanical quality to men in the sense that it always chooses that which he finds best for himself. I think it could be possible to prove that the human mind does work that exact way, so in a sense, praxeology would be mechanically correct even when broken down to chemical reactions and neuron interactions in the brain.

More specifically, I think I'm right to say that, mechanically speaking, the mind works by associating correlative data from the senses. I don't know much after that, but I assume it would be extremely compatible with praxeology if each set of data were strongly or weakly associated with a set of action... the action that is performed is that which has the strongest correlation with the data being inputted. Which means, by experience, we collect and assemble data-action pairs to some sort of criteria, which could be instinctive and part of the brain structure or certain areas... but I'm already babbling too much for having thought and studied about it so little.

Anyway, determinism doesn't disprove praxeology at all, for sure. And for all I know, praxeology could very well be merely applied neuropsychology :)

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Joel replied on Fri, Jan 29 2010 1:18 PM

Solid_Choke:

Of course we all know it is a law of nature that Dr. Pepper is the greatest soda of all time.

I know you are making a joke, but this happens to be the type of thing that we can objectively reason about.  We can refute such a proposition by pointing out that the existence of Dr. Pepper (let alone having a Dr. Pepper) is not something inherent to the nature of man, and therefore is no part of natural law.  Indeed many men lived prior to the existence of Dr. Pepper.  By the same sort of reasoning we can conclude objectively that there is no such thing as a natural right to a polio vaccination.

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