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Sideline to the Grayson - Neoclassical debate on methodological dualism

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AJ Posted: Mon, Aug 2 2010 6:33 PM

 

Neoclassical writes: Mises actually relied upon an unquestioned empirical theory. Folk psychology is an empirical theory about human behavior, embracing concepts such as "belief" and "desire." Mises used such terms to explain and predict behavior (at least within economic situations). But I contend that as science advances, such concepts (e.g., "hope") will be reduced to purely physical terms (explained within neurobiological or computational terms, probably both). Thus, folk psychology will more and more be recognized like the concept of "center of gravity"--a useful fiction for everyday discourse, but not illuminating for genuine knowledge. That is, human behavior can and will be more fully be explicated in physical terms.

As Francis Crick, the Nobel prize-winning scientist, said in 1994, "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules." As science advances, more and more of human behavior can be explained as such, within the "panphysicalism" that Mises conceived as inapplicable to our species.

He seems to have misunderstood Mises and/or subjectivism here. Whether or not one's hopes, beliefs and desires can be explained by chemistry and biology, I believe Mises's methodology deals only with an individual's subjective experience of hoping, believing and desiring. He is no way relying on folk psychology, or any psychology at all, as far as I can tell, but merely on the quite uncontroversial notion that people feel the subjective experience of "having hopes and desires." (To the reader: Do you?)

---

Now I would still say Mises's theory is, in the final analysis, empirical but only in the most trivial sense: he, as an human being, has presumably noted that he has subjective experiences and, in particular, always acts to improve his subjectively judged state of affairs. And moreover that it is plainly obvious and not at all controversial that everyone else does the same. He can only know these things through observation, but only in that trivial sense are these things empirical. 

Neoclassical said in another thread today that he doesn't believe in absolute apodictic certainty (presumably about the so-called a priori). I agree, but only in the trivial (at the level of real world economic analysis) sense that, for instance, yes, one can't be totally sure other people aren't just robots who have no subjective experiences. But it is an undeniable fact that certain given assumptions necessarily entail certain results. The only uncertainty is in the validity of the assumptions themselves (and in the possibility that you've made a logical error in determining what follows from those assumptions; but if we get into that we must start doubting all our other beliefs as well).

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"Bob" damnit! I really want to reply, but Lilburne has forbade me from doing so!

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allow it to inform your response to lilburne then

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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My first reaction was: What does it matter if the subjective preferences are the result of free will or could be explained by science?

In either case the praxeological implications of the actions resulting from those preferences remain the same.

Right?

The older I get, the less I know.
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Hi everybody.  I'm administering a Mises Academy course right now.  I'll be able to post later tonight.

"the obligation to justice is founded entirely on the interests of society, which require mutual abstinence from property" -David Hume
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Eric replied on Mon, Aug 2 2010 9:20 PM

I really enjoy these debates. It is great too since we have two very intelligent and interesting participants.

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chloe732 replied on Mon, Aug 2 2010 10:56 PM

Yes, as Consultant said, "What does it matter..."

Is Neoclassical trying to demonstrate that all of human action can be quantified in terms of chemical activity?  

If so, then why is neuroscience enough?  How would we know that neuroscience is the end-all?  

So what if we can understand "thoughts" to be nothing more than chemical A shooting across synapse B.  Why is that sufficient?  Why don't we then have to explain what is happening inside the neurotransmitters? Surely, we must have to explain these things down to the last quark, the last string acting in planck space and planck time. We must be able to predict and explain the movement of the last string in the 10th dimension. 

Let's say we discover that consciousness resides "above" the quantum membrane in the 10th dimension. [EDIT: I am not being silly here, physics does not preclude the existence of up to 10 dimensions of space, but I'm no expert on subject either, obviously]

Now what?  What does it matter?  Praxeology, the scientific study of human action, would still be valid, relevant and useful.

I don't see the relevance of Neoclassical's position. 

"The market is a process." - Ludwig von Mises, as related by Israel Kirzner.   "Capital formation is a beautiful thing" - Chloe732.

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Conza88 replied on Mon, Aug 2 2010 10:59 PM

"A story Mises related to me about the logical positivists and their impact was characteristic of his wit and charm. He was walking around Vienna with his good friend, the German philosopher Max Scheler.

"What is there about the climate of this city," Scheler waved around him, "that breeds so many blankety-blank logical positivists?"

"Well, Max," Mises replied, in Vienna there are two million people, and there are only twelve logical positivists. So it couldn't be the climate."

The logical positivists presented their own grave challenge to economic theory, charging that economic law could only be established tentatively and hesitantly, and then only by "testing" the consequences of such laws by empirical (in practice, statistical) fact. Based on their own interpretation of the methods of the physical sciences, the positivists tried to hack away at methodologies they saw as "unscientific."

The onslaughts of the institutionalists and especially the positivists on economic theory forced Mises to think deeply about the methodology of economics, and also on the basic epistemology of the sciences of human action. Thinking deeply about the subject, he arrived at the first philosophically self-conscious defense of the economic method used by the earlier Austrians and some of the classicists. Furthermore, he was able to demonstrate the truly "scientific" nature of this correct method, and to show that the developing positivist methodology of much neo-classical economics was itself profoundly mistaken and unscientific. In brief, Mises demonstrated that all knowledge of human action rests on methodological dualism, on a profound difference between the study of human beings on the one hand, and of stones, molecules, or atoms, on the other. The difference is that individual human beings are conscious, that they adopt values, and make choices — act — on the basis of trying to attain those values and goals. He pointed out that this axiom of action is self-evident, that is (a) evident to the self once pointed out, and (b) cannot be refuted without self-contradiction, that is without using the axiom in any attempt to refute it. Since the axiom of action is self-evidently true, any logical deductions or implications from that action must be absolutely, uncompromisingly, "apodictically," true as well. Not only is this body of economic theory absolutely true, but therefore any talk of "testing" its truth is absurd and meaningless, since the axioms are self-evident and no "testing" could occur without employing the axiom. Moreover, no "testing" can take place since historical events are not, as are natural events in the laboratory, homogeneous, replicable, and controllable. Instead, all historical events are heterogeneous, not replicable, and the resultant of complex causes. The role of economic history, past and contemporary, then, is not to "test" theory but to illustrate theory in action and to use it to explain historical events.

Mises also saw that economic theory was the formal logic of the inescapable fact of human action, and that such theory was therefore not concerned with the content of such action, or with psychological explanations of values and motives. Economic theory was the implication of the formal fact of action. Hence, Mises, in later years, would name it "praxeology," the logic of action.

In his critique of logical positivism, Mises saw that a philosophy that treated people as if they were stones and atoms, whose behavior could be predicted and determined according to quantitative laws, was particularly likely to lead to the viewpoint of social engineers, who deal with people as if they were inanimate physical objects. Indeed, positivist Otto Neurath was one of the leading socialist theorists in Central Europe. Mises wrote that this allegedly "scientific" approach would study the behavior of human beings according to methods Newtonian physics resorts to in the study of mass and motion. On the basis of this allegedly "positive" approach to the problems of mankind, they plan to develop "social engineering," a new technique that would enable the "economic tsar" of the planned society of the future to deal with living men in the way technology enables the engineer to deal with inanimate materials.[35] - MNR (Ludwig von Mises, Scholar, Creator, Hero)

Well I'm looking forward to being amused by neoclassicals defense of methodological monism.

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chloe732 replied on Mon, Aug 2 2010 11:52 PM

I will reveal myself to be a fool, but, Neoclassical's avatar, who is it?

"The market is a process." - Ludwig von Mises, as related by Israel Kirzner.   "Capital formation is a beautiful thing" - Chloe732.

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Angurse replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 12:14 AM

Chloe,

That is an excellent point. Trying to bypass conscious action with chemical activity within the brain is simply ignoring their distinct characteristics. Further, such an adherence a dependence on neuroscience as would obviously lead one to the field of neuroeconomics (and away from neoclassical!)

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chloe732 replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 12:56 AM

Grayson Lilburne:
Praxeology is distinct from every kind of psychology.  Praxeology spells out the logical implications of end-seeking behavior.  It says nothing about whatever phenomena may lie behind those ends. (emphasis added)

It says nothing about whatever phenomena may lie behind those ends.   What is left for Neoclassical to respond to?  Neoclassical's position rests upon the phenomena behind those ends, which is not relevant to praxeology. 

"The market is a process." - Ludwig von Mises, as related by Israel Kirzner.   "Capital formation is a beautiful thing" - Chloe732.

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 3:01 AM

I think it should be pointed out for the readers and those following - that there are probably only going to be two sides presented or delved into in depth. That of Mises epistemology via lillburne? and that of neoclassicals monism. There is however another position, that of Rothbard's epistemological differences with Mises which I think should be made clear. Whether it gets to that point of actually mattering I don't think so, but regardless;
 

"Rothbard defends Mises' methodology but goes on to construct his own edifice of Austrian economic theory. Although he embraced nearly all of Mises' economics, Rothbard could not accept Mises' Kantian extreme aprioristic position in epistemology. Mises held that the axiom of human action was true a priori to human experience and was, in fact, a synthetic a priori category. Mises considered the action axiom to be a law of thought and thus a categorical truth prior to all human experience.

Murray Rothbard agreed that the action axiom is universally true and self-evident but argued that a person becomes aware of that axiom and its subsidiary axioms through experience in the world. A person begins with concrete human experience and then moves toward reflection. Once a person forms the basic axioms and concepts from his experiences with the world and from his reflections upon those experiences, he does not need to resort to external experience to validate an economic hypothesis. Instead, deductive reasoning from sound basics will validate it.

Rothbard, working within an Aristotelian, Thomistic, or Mengerian tradition, justified the praxeological action axiom as a law of reality that is empirical rather than a priori. Of course, this is not the empiricism embraced by positivists. This kind of empirical knowledge rests on universal inner or reflective experience in addition to external physical experience. This type of empirical knowledge consists of a general knowledge of human action that would be considered to be antecedent to the complex historical events that mainstream economists to try to explain. The action axiom is empirical in the sense that it is self-evidently true once stated. It is not empirically falsifiable in the positivist sense. It is empirical but it is not based on empiricism as practiced by today's economics profession. Praxeological statements cannot be subjected to any empirical assessment whether it is falsificationist or verificationist.

In a 1957 article in the Southern Economic Journal, Rothbard states that it is a waste of time to argue or try to determine how the truth of the action axiom is obtained. He explains that the all important fact is that the axiom is self-evidently true for all people, at all places, at all times, and that it could not even conceivably be violated. Rothbard was not concerned with the controversy over the empirical status of the praxeological axiom. Whether it was a law of thought as Mises maintained or a law of reality as Rothbard himself contended, the axiom would be no less certain because the axiom need only to be stated to become at once self-evident. In Rothbard's words:

Whether we consider the Axiom "a priori" or "empirical" depends on our ultimate philosophical position. Professor Mises, in the neo-Kantian tradition, considers this axiom a law of thought and therefore a categorical truth a priori to all experience. My own epistemological position rests on Aristotle and St. Thomas rather than Kant, and hence I would interpret the proposition differently. I would consider the axiom a law of reality rather than a law of thought, and hence "empirical" rather than "a priori." But it should be obvious that this type of "empiricism" is so out of step with modern empiricism that I may just as well continue to call it a priori for present purposes. For (1) it is a law of reality that is not conceivably falsifiable, and yet is empirically meaningful and true; (2) it rests on universal inner experience, and not simply on external experience, that is, its evidence is reflective rather than physical; and (3) it is clearly a priori to complex historical events.2

The Aristotelian, neo-Thomistic and natural-law-oriented Rothbard refers to laws of reality that the mind apprehends by examining and adducing the facts of the real world. Conception is a way of comprehending real things. It follows that perception and experience are not the products of a synthetic a priori process but rather are apprehensions whose structured unity is due to the nature of reality itself. In opposition to Mises, Rothbard contends that the action axiom and its subsidiary axioms are derived from the experience of reality and are therefore radically empirical. These axioms are based on both external experience and universal inner experience. By 1978, Rothbard was stronger in voicing his opposition to Mises' Kantian epistemology:

Without delving too deeply into the murky waters of epistemology, I would deny, as an Aristotelian and neo-Thomist, any such alleged 'laws of logical structure' that the human mind necessarily imposes on the chaotic structure of reality. Instead, I would call all such laws "laws of reality," which the mind apprehends from investigating and collating the facts of the real world. My view is that the fundamental axiom and subsidiary axioms are derived from the experience of reality and are therefore in the broadest sense empirical. I would agree with the Aristotelian realist view that its doctrine is radically empirical, far more so than the post-Humean empiricism which is dominant in modern philosophy.3
 

Rothbard nevertheless continued to endorse Mises' monumental, integrated, and systematic treatise, Human Action, as a complete and true paradigm based on the nature of man and individual choice. Although he disagrees with Mises' epistemology, he does agree that Mises' praxeological economics appropriately begins with, and verbally deduces logical implications from, the fact that individuals act. Rothbard contends that it's time for Mises' paradigm to be embraced if we are to find our way out of the methodological and political problems of the modern world." - Edward W. Younkins


But back to the first post at hand:

"We no longer need to acquiesce to methodological dualism." - neoclassical

Haha..

"Even the most fanatical champions of the "Unified Science" sect shrink from unambiguously espousing this blunt formulation of their fundamental thesis. There are good reasons for this reticence. So long as no definite relation is discovered between ideas and physical or chemical events of which they would occur as the regular sequel, the positivist thesis remains an epistemological postulate derived not from scientifically established experience but from a metaphysical world view.

The positivists tell us that one day a new scientific discipline will emerge which will make good their promises and will describe in every detail the physical and chemical processes that produce in the body of man definite ideas. Let us not quarrel today about such issues of the future. But it is evident that such a metaphysical proposition can in no way invalidate the results of the discursive reasoning of the sciences of human action. The positivists for emotional reasons do not like the conclusions that acting man must necessarily draw from the teachings of economics. As they are not in a position to find any flaw either in the reasoning of economics or in the inferences derived from it) they resort to metaphysical schemes in order to discredit the epistemological foundations and the methodological approach of economics." - Mises, Intro to Theory and History

Well Mises sure had someone pegged... lol. laugh

So neoclassical - Mises: "and will describe in every detail the physical and chemical processes that produce in the body of man definite ideas."

Well.. lets see it. Describe away.

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baxter replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 4:24 AM

I don't understand the hullabaloo over methodological dualism.

I think a chemist uses methodological dualism when he deals with atoms and molecules. After all, an atom isn't a magical thing independent of the rest of the universe. It's a bunch of quarks and leptons subject to QED and QCD on a non-Euclidean manifold. Of course, no sane chemist would think in that way since it renders even trivial problems involving more than a couple of bodies impossibly difficult to calculate or understand.

Likewise, to expect an economist to track the evolution of 10^30 particles in a human brain is insane. Especially when there are 10^10 brains are interacting with each other sometimes at speeds near the speed of light.

Another problem is that, if methodological dualism is false - if minds are just a bunch of particles - then there can be no true or false ideas in the universe. There are only minds with different patterns of particles. This seems to lead to a contradiction - how can methodological dualism be false if there is no such thing as falsity?

P.S. Did you hear about the chemist that fell in a pool of acid? She was absorbed in her work.

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chloe732, it's Alfred Marshall.

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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Conza88, it probably won't surprise you to know that I greatly admire the logical positivists! smiley

(Of course, I really dig Mises, too!)

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 9:57 AM

I'm sorry to hear that.

Funny though; because:

"In fact, one could argue that Mises despised logical positivism more than, say, socialism." - Robert P. Murphy

...

"Others have argued that logical positivism itself is contradictory. There are different versions of LP, but they all say something like this: In order to be meaningful, a claim must be verifiable (or falsifiable in the Popperian tradition). So then one can turn this back on the logical positivist and ask, "What of your claim right there? How can you verify that with appeal to the natural world?" Thus if logical positivism is true, then logical positivism is at best meaningless and at worst false."

 

As Mises said in The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science :

"The essence of logical positivism is to deny the cognitive value of a priori knowledge by pointing out that all a priori propositions are merely analytic. They do not provide new information, but are merely verbal or tautological, asserting what has already been implied in the definitions and premises. Only experience can lead to synthetic propositions. There is an obvious objection against this doctrine, viz., that this proposition that there are no synthetic a priori propositions is in itself—as the present writer thinks, false—a synthetic a priori proposition, for it can manifestly not be established by experience. (p. 5)"

And Hoppe in Socialism and Capitalism;

"First, I will demonstrate that the empiricist position proves to be self-defeating at closer analysis because it itself must at least implicitly assume and presuppose the existence of non-empirical knowledge as knowledge about reality.

...

In spite of the apparent plausibility of empiricism’s central ideas, it might be noted at the very outset that even on the level of intuition things do not seem to be exactly the way empiricism would want them to be. It certainly is not evident that logic, mathematics, geometry, and also certain statements of pure economics, like the law of supply and demand or the quantity theory of money, because they do not allow any falsification by experience, or rather because their validity is independent of experience, do not give us any information about reality but are merely verbal quibble.

The opposite seems much more plausible: that the propositions advanced by these disciplines—for instance, a statement of geometry such as “If a straight line S and a circle C have more than one point in common then S has exactly two points in common with C,” or a statement more closely related to the field of action with which I am concerned here, such as “One cannot have his cake and eat it, too”—do in fact inform about reality and inform about what  cannot possibly be different in reality at pain of contradiction.93 If I had a cake and ate it, it can be concluded that I do not have it anymore— and this clearly is a conclusion that informs about reality without being falsifiable by experience.

But much more important than intuition, of course, is reflexive analysis, and this will prove the empiricist position to be simply self-defeating. If it were true that empirical knowledge must be falsifiable by experience and that analytical knowledge, which is not so falsifiable, thus cannot contain any empirical knowledge, then what kind of statement is this fundamental statement of empiricism itself? It must again be either analytical or empirical. If analytical, then according to its own doctrine this proposition is nothing but some scribbling on paper, hot air, entirely void of any meaningful content. It is only because the terms used in the statement such as “knowledge,” “experience,” “falsifiable,” etc., have already been given some meaningful interpretation that this might at first be overlooked. But the entire meaninglessness of analytical statements follows conclusively from the empiricist-positivist ideology. Of course, and this is the first self-defeating trap, if this were true, then empiricism could not even say and mean what it seems to say and mean; it would beno more than a rustling of leaves in the wind. To mean anything at all, an interpretation must be given to the terms used, and an interpretation of terms, to be sure, is always (as long as one expression cannot be explained in terms of another one) a practical affair; an affair, that is, in which the usage of a term is practiced and learned with real instances of the concept designated by the term, and by which a term is thus tied to reality.94

However, not just any arbitrary interpretation would do: “falsifiable,” for instance, does not mean what one means by “red” or “green.” In order to say what empiricism- positivism evidently wants to say when formulating its basic tenets, the terms must be given the meaning that they actually have for the empiricist as well as for those whom he wants to convince of the appropriateness of his methodology. But if the statement indeed means what we thought it did all along, then it evidently contains information about reality. As a matter of fact it informs us about the fundamental structure of reality: that there is nothing in it that can be known to be true in advance of future confirming or falsifying experiences. And if this proposition now is taken to be analytical, i.e., as a statement that does not allow falsification but whose truth can be established by an analysis of the meanings of the terms used alone, as has been assumed for the moment, then one has no less than a glaring contradiction at hand and empiricism once again proves to be self-defeating.[95]" - Hoppe

No wonder you were petrified of defining your terms. wink Logical positivism in the social sciences is a disease.

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 10:01 AM

(From the main debate.) Neoclassical writes:

"Likewise, I am not sure what "trying" is in a non-physical sense. Could you satisfactorily explain "trying" without appealing to natural science?"
 
Now this is a bit odd. Mises is referring to the subjective experience of "trying," that is, the individual's experience that he may identify in his own mind as him attempting to do something. Whether he can actually attempt or whether everything is predetermined is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the individual (presumably) experiences that subjective feeling that we all are familiar with, which we label "trying" when explaining the feeling to others. 
 
Now at bottom, what is required for a thinker to realize the error above it to note that his own sensory experience - including all scientific knowledge which is only accessible through such sensations - could all be a dream. It seems highly instructive that when Grayson confronts him with this very argument, Neoclassical's response is:
 
"Many people have seen flying witches, but I discount their claims."
 
See how he explicitly refers to the third person point of view? But the "this could all be a dream" observation is about the first-person point of view: "I." "I in my own mind." "What do I really know?" "How relatively certain can I be of each of the various categories of sensation I experience?"
 
Any mistrust of one's direct sensory experience automatically implies an even deeper mistrust of one's indirect sensory experience, such as one's viewing of a science article that relays the results of an experiment. Neoclassical is effectively dodging this point (though perhaps unintentionally), and I predict that the debate will hinge on this very issue - or something equivalent to the same - if it is to reach any resolution at all. This is make or break for both sides.
 
 
"Methodological dualism, by its very nature, claims to have access to the human mind in a psychological sense--otherwise it would just be natural science, right?"
 
Watch out for possible equivocation on the term "psychology": which of the following does Neoclassical mean?
 
1. The scientific aspect of psychology that does NOT rely on subjective reports, or 
2. The non-scientific "folk" aspect of it that does rely on subjective reporting
 
It seems here he means (2), whereas Grayson seemed to be using the term in the sense of (1). 
 
 
"To understand this more sharply, you will agree that Mises used the term "satisfaction." By that term, what did he mean?"
 
Again here, Mises meant that particular subjective feeling we are (presumably) all familiar with. Not the communicative phenomenon of someone reporting that they are "satisfied," nor the physiological phenomenon involving endorphins, etc. (although that may indeed be happening). 
 
This underscores the fact that Neoclassical seems not to understand the notion of subjectivity as Mises was using it. Instead he is thinking in terms of subjective *reports* from a person, versus scientific observation of that person's biological processes.
 
Reporting of subjective experience != subjective experience.
 
 
"Now, what do you make of free will? Does it exist or not? If so or if not, what consequences are present for the Misesian notion of "choice"?"
 
This is a trap (not a deliberate one; I think Neoclassical is caught in it as well). To say "free will doesn't exist" is not even wrong. To say it does exist is also not even wrong. Free will is an incoherent concept (or a trivial one). An artifact of language, an artifact of the need to explain one's experience to others to make sure they are on the same page. If you don't believe me, see here. http://lesswrong.com/lw/oh/righting_a_wrong_question/1qxa?c=1
 
Most importantly, Mises's conception does not rest on free will or actual choice, but merely on the subjective experience. Which subjective experience you ask? That one you might be inclined to label "free will" or "the feeling of the ability to make a choice" for explanatory purposes when talking to someone else.
 
No one can tell you what it would feel like not to have this feeling. Or when they do, they always mention something that is obviously not the case so that free will becomes trivially true (such as, "It would feel like I have no control over any of my actions." Obviously most people don't feel that way, so obviously you have this trivial type of free will). Hence free will is an incoherent or trivial concept, as is its opposite ("determinism" is sometimes its opposite, sometimes not - depending on how it's defined). 
 
 
"Methodological dualism can lead to accurate predictions; I don't doubt it. I, however, find it to be a bit too constricting. To be clear, I consider your defense of methodological dualism (Austrian economics) to be a rejection of empiricism."
 
Interesting. I don't know exactly what methodological dualism encompasses, but if it is taken to exclude all empirical knowledge (whatever that is to mean - including physics, for instance?), that could be a problem for Grayson's side as phrased in the debate OP.
Interesting. I don't know exactly what methodological dualism entails, but if it rejects all empirical knowledge (whatever that is taken to mean - includes physics, for instance?), that could be a problem for Grayson's side."Likewise, I am not sure what "trying" is in a non-physical sense. Could you satisfactorily explain "trying" without appealing to natural science?"
 
Now this is a bit odd. Mises is referring to the subjective experience of "trying," that is, the individual's experience that he may identify in his own mind as him attempting to do something. Whether he can actually attempt or whether everything is predetermined is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the individual (presumably) experiences that subjective feeling that we all are familiar with, that we label "trying" when explaining the feeling to others. 
 
Now at bottom, what is required for a thinker to realize the error above it to note that his own sensory experience - including all scientific knowledge which is only accessible through such sensations - could all be a dream. It seems highly instructive that when Grayson confronts him with this very argument, Neoclassical's response is:
 
"Many people have seen flying witches, but I discount their claims."
 
See how he explicitely refers to the third person point of view? But the "this could all be a dream" observation is about the first-person point of view: I. I in my own mind. What do I really know? How sure can I be of the various categories of sensation I experience? Any mistrust of one's direct sensory experience automatically implies an even deeper mistrust of one's indirect sensory experience. He is effectively dodging this point (perhaps unintentionally), and I predict that the debate will hinge on this point - or one equivalent to the same - if it is to reach any resolution at all. This is make or break.
 
 
"Methodological dualism, by its very nature, claims to have access to the human mind in a psychological sense--otherwise it would just be natural science, right?"
 
Watch out for possible equivocation on the term "psychology": does Neoclassical mean 
 
1. The scientific aspect of psychology that does NOT rely on subjective reports, or 
2. The non-scientific "folk" aspect of it that does rely on subjective reporting
 
It seems here he means 2, but Grayson seemed to be using it in the sense of 1. 
 
 
"To understand this more sharply, you will agree that Mises used the term "satisfaction." By that term, what did he mean?"
 
Again here, Mises meant that particular subjective feeling we are (presumably) all familiar with. Not the phenomenon of someone reporting that they are "satisfied," nor the physiological phenomenon involving endorphins, etc. (although that may indeed be happening). 
 
Again, it doesn't seem that Neoclassical understands the notion of subjectivity as Mises was using it. Instead he is thinking in terms of subjective /reports/ from a person, versus scientific observation of a person's biolical processes. Reporting of subjective experience != subjective experience.
 
 
"Now, what do you make of free will? Does it exist or not? If so or if not, what consequences are present for the Misesian notion of "choice"?"
 
This is a trap (not a deliberate one; I think Neoclassical is caught in it as well). To say free will doesn't exist is not even wrong. To say it does exist is also not even wrong. Free will is an incoherent concept (and so is its opposite). An artifact of language, an artifact of the need to explain one's experience to others to make sure they are on the same page. If you don't believe me, see here. http://lesswrong.com/lw/oh/righting_a_wrong_question/1qxa?c=1
 
Most importantly, Mises's conception does not rest on free will or actual choice, but merely the subjective experience. Which subjective experience? That one you might be inclined to label "free will" or "the feeling of the ability to make a choice" for explanatory purposes when talking to someone else. No one can tell you what it would feel like not to have this feeling, or when they do they always mention something that is obviously not the case. Free will is an incoherent concept, as is its opposite ("determinism" is sometimes its opposite, sometimes not - depending on how it's defined). 
 
 
"Methodological dualism can lead to accurate predictions; I don't doubt it. I, however, find it to be a bit too constricting. To be clear, I consider your defense of methodological dualism (Austrian economics) to be a rejection of empiricism."
 
Interesting. I don't know exactly what methodological dualism entails, but if it rejects all empirical knowledge (whatever that is taken to mean - includes physics, for instance?), that could be a problem for Grayson's side.
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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 10:33 AM

AJ:

This is a trap (not a deliberate one; I think Neoclassical is caught in it as well). To say "free will doesn't exist" is not even wrong. To say it does exist is also not even wrong. Free will is an incoherent concept (or a trivial one). An artifact of language, an artifact of the need to explain one's experience to others to make sure they are on the same page. If you don't believe me, see here. http://lesswrong.com/lw/oh/righting_a_wrong_question/1qxa?c=1
 
Most importantly, Mises's conception does not rest on free will or actual choice, but merely on the subjective experience. Which subjective experience you ask? That one you might be inclined to label "free will" or "the feeling of the ability to make a choice" for explanatory purposes when talking to someone else.
 
No one can tell you what it would feel like not to have this feeling. Or when they do, they always mention something that is obviously not the case so that free will becomes trivially true (such as, "It would feel like I have no control over any of my actions." Obviously most people don't feel that way, so obviously you have this trivial type of free will). Hence free will is an incoherent or trivial concept, as is its opposite ("determinism" is sometimes its opposite, sometimes not - depending on how it's defined).

This post might be interesting to you:

I. Ryan:

I don't even have to click that link. It is nonsense to argue that "[d]eterminism is contradicted by evidence". It is nonsense to question whether the world is "deterministic" or not. We can't know whether it is or isn't. Nothing observable lets us distinguish between these two situations, (1) just a shortcoming of us knowing what the causal connections between the two things are, and (2) in fact an absence of any causal connections whatever between those two things.

Tell me what you think about that point, and whether you think it has anything to do with why you think that the contrast between "free will" and "determinism" is nonsense.

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

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Neoclassical:

neoclassical economics, its whole mentalistic baggage, can be reduced to more physicalistic terms, if one wanted to do so. Austrian economics forbids this according to methodological dualism, which asserts an unbridgeable gap between natural science and the human mind.

Austrian economics asserts the gap between natural science and the human mind is still unbridged, not that it is unbridgeable. Austrian economics does not forbid it's reduction to more physicalistic terms.

Neoclassical:

In my ideal study of behavior, I would observe the input and the output of a human subject, attempting to understand the entire process intelligibly (from sensory stimuli to the sound waves emitted from the subject's mouth).

The input and output alone will not be sufficient. Every input (and at least indirectly, every output) changes the brain. Even the process of thinking itself changes the brain. It is far more complex than to be able to just provide inputs and observe outputs and somehow infer any internal processes. The current state of a brain is dependent on the entire experience of the brain, every past input, every past thought and chain of thought, every supporting process of the body, every new input as a result of a previous output, and every series of inputs as a result of a serious of prior outputs, etc. To assume the study of behavior to be as simple as to simply provide inputs and observe outputs is to entirely misunderstand what a brain is. It is not a set arrangement of neurons and synapses that responds to the same stimuli the same way. The stimuli necessarily changes the structure of the brain, so that the next time the stimuli occurs, it responds differently (hence learning). The brain is dynamic.

If you don't know the physical state of the body and brain (which are always changing), and don't have absolute control over all the inputs, how will you understand the outputs? If you don't know all the prior stimuli and physical inputs (food, air, etc) of the life of the subject, how will you understand the current physical state of the body and brain? The problem I'm pointing out here is that it is practically impossible to isolate all relevant variables today, and likely for a very long time, assuming it ever becomes possible. This does not forbid the understanding of the general processes or principles that determines human behavior, but just that the approach of observing inputs and outputs will not provide us with this understanding before some other approaches. This problem is analogous to the empirical approach to economics, where there is no isolation of relevant variables. Considering that the economy is result of the actions of billions of individual humans, who each have their own unique, dynamic, chaotic brains, the number of relevant variables is astronomically large. We are talking about knowing the physical state and history of a not insignificant portion of the universe in at least atomic detail, if not quantum or lower.

Just someone laying in their back yard at night staring at the stars has an effect on their brain and body. The number of variables are practically infinite. Observing inputs and outputs without already sufficient understanding of how the brain works is practically useless.

Neoclassical:

Now, what do you make of free will? Does it exist or not? If so or if not, what consequences are present for the Misesian notion of "choice"?

Ludwig von Mises:

The content of human action, i.e., the ends aimed at and the means chosen and applied for the attainment of these ends, is determined by the personal qualities of every acting man. Individual man is the product of a long line of zoological evolution which has shaped his physiological inheritance. He is born the offspring and the heir of his ancestors, and the precipitate and sediment of all that his forefathers experienced are his biological patrimony. When he is born, he does not enter the world in general as such, but a definite environment. The innate and inherited biological qualities and all that life has worked upon him make a man what he is at any instant of his pilgrimage. They are his fate and destiny. His will is not "free" in the metaphysical sense of this term. It is determined by his background and all the influences to which he himself and his ancestors were exposed.

Inheritance and environment direct a man's actions. They suggest to him both the ends and the means. He lives not simply as man in abstracto; he lives as a son of his family; as a member of a definite social group; as a practioner of a certain vocation; as a follower of a definite religious, metaphysical, philosophical, and political ideas; as a partisan in many feuds and contrversies. He does not himself create his ideas and standards of value; he borrows them from other people. His ideology is what his environment enjoins upon him. Only very few men have the gift of thinking new  and original ideas and of changing the traditional body of creeds and doctrines. - Ludwig von Mises, Human Action - The Scholar's Edition, Chapter 2, Section 6, page 46.

Ludwig von Mises:

Some philosophers are prepared to explode the notion of man's will as an illusion and self-decption because man must unwittingly behave according to the inevitable laws of causality. They may be right or wrong from the point of view of the prime mover or the cause of itself. However, from the human point of view action is the ultimate thing. We do not assert that man is "free" in choosing and acting. We merely establish the fact that he chooses and acts and that we are at a loss to use the methods of the natural sciences for answering the question why he acts this way and not otherwise.

Natural science does not render the future predictable. It makes it possible to foretell the result to be obtained by definite actions. But it leaves impredictable two spheres: that of insufficiently known natural phenomena and that of human acts of choice. Our ignorance with regard to these two spheres taints all human actions with uncertainty. Apodictic certainty is only within the orbit of the deductive system of aprioristic theory. The most that can be attained with regard to reality is probability. - Ludwig von Mises, Human Action - The Scholar's Edition, Chapter 6, Section 1, Page 105.

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 11:18 AM

 

I. Ryan:
 
I. Ryan:

I don't even have to click that link. It is nonsense to argue that "[d]eterminism is contradicted by evidence". It is nonsense to question whether the world is "deterministic" or not. We can't know whether it is or isn't. Nothing observable lets us distinguish between these two situations, (1) just a shortcoming of us knowing what the causal connections between the two things are, and (2) in fact an absence of any causal connections whatever between those two things.

Tell me what you think about that point, and whether you think it has anything to do with why you think that the contrast between "free will" and "determinism" is nonsense.

The contrast is that you're saying, "We can't know whether [the world] is or isn't [deterministic]," whereas I'm saying, "It doesn't make sense to even talk of such things" (or if we define terms so that "free will" does make sense, we immediately find ourselves talking about something that must be entirely non-controversial and trivially true).

What underlies my statement here is that the pursuit of knowledge is not ultimately a public or "objective" pursuit. In the end, I am searching for knowledge, and only because I believe it will better my state of affairs. I may learn from the inquiries of others, but in the end all the results of those inquiries are only available to me through my subjective sensory perceptions (reading a scientific paper, for instance).

Hence, what are my starting assumptions? My very starting assumptions? Just one: "I am experiencing sensations" (pain, pleasure, blueness, whiteness). That's not even technically an assumption; it's just obvious (private sensations, not public sensations regarding what's "out there"; not "the whiteness of this monitor" but just the private sensation of "whiteness"). Knowledge is in itself only available to the conscious mind - by definition! - as sensations. If anyone objects to my saying it's "obvious," remember what I said above:

"In the end, am searching for knowledge, and only because I believe it will better my state of affairs" (meaning get more pleasure while avoiding pain)

If I do not regard, for example, my own subjective experience of pleasure and pain as obvious starting points, there is no point in the pursuit of knowledge anyway! So if you don't like the word "obvious," I'll instead say, "nothing else matters to me (nor, I presume, you)." 

So from there, since sensations are experience, and experience just is sensations, everything I would learn or find out or think or feel or engage in is just sensations, or at least only experiencable via sensations. I cannot coherently mistrust my subjective experience of private sensations; to do so wouldn't even make sense, let alone be wrong/right. Conscious thoughts are also only available via sensations, because otherwise we wouldn't call them conscious.

The trick seems to be that these thought sensations are so brief and rapid-fire that, although we are aware of them, we apparently don't have the short-term memory capacity to recall most of them. I have seen/heard/felt my logical thought processes clearly on occasion, as has Einstein and many others - I would say everyone in fact. There is just little use for us to recall them most of the time, especially given our propensity to care only about what we can convey to others. So we are in the habit of converting these visual/auditory/olfactory/tactile sensations into spoken and written words, which further obscures what is going on, and makes a mess out of the field of philosophy and really all our thinking.

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time and again neoclassical adopts an intentional stance vis himself and lilburne, he can't stop himself ! Teleology is tough to wriggle out of when in an argument with a person.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'" - 
  --  Jedi Master Yoda  neoclassical

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 12:23 PM

Nir, could you explain more about "intentional stance" and "teleology"?

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[MOD EDIT: PLEASE STICK TO THE RULES.]

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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nirgrahamUK:
Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'" - 
  --  Jedi Master Yoda  neoclassical

laugh

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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the 'intentional stance' is modern terminology for adopting a teleological interpretation vis a subject.

teleology comes from the Greek tradition of determining what purpose *things* are aimed at; but for our purposes this is more straightforwardly the presupposition that agents are precisely agents because they have all this stuff called 'believing' 'acting' 'trying' etc.

Methodological dualism means nothing more than just relying on the mechanistic method for questions concerning the physical sciences, and adopting the alternative strategy of a teleological method for those questions concerning purposeful agents.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 12:38 PM

Neoclassical: "If you attempt to define "trying" or "choice" as I asked, you might start grappling with the problem I am addressing. Your plea that "but you must know what I mean!" doesn't work."

OK, I believe I see the problem now: Neoclassical does not understand the nature of words. A word is nothing more than a communication device. It is a signal that the speaker can only hope is interpreted by the listener as the same concept (or pattern of firing synapses, as it were) that it corresponded to in the speaker's mind (or same pattern of firing synapses).

One can only suppose others have subjective experiences like one's own. Having supposed that, one can only try to use words to get the listener to reference those same subjective experiences in themselves. What can be done in the unfortunate situation where the listener either (a) does not experience those particular subjective experiences, or (b) sincerely has no idea which subjective experience the words refers to? I don't know, maybe just give up, try to use different words, whatever. By if Neoclassical sincerely can't identify any subjective private sensation that could possiblt correspond with the word "trying," he's either being stubborn or is severely confused by words.

It all comes back to the fact that he simply doesn't seem to understand what words are. Words are not thoughts. Even Pinker, who would say the same, doesn't in fact fully understand this because he posits "mentalese." No, thoughts are not any kind of "-ese," because thoughts - unlike words - are not communication devices for other humans. They have no need to take on a linear-syntactic form. Thoughts have no inferential gap between people to cross.

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sigh

Can I please jump in? I hate being misunderstood!

"I'm not a fan of Murray Rothbard." -- David D. Friedman

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 12:53 PM

You can incorporate it into the debate posts. 

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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 12:54 PM

Neoclassical:

Can I please jump in?

Nope, you can't!

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

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 1:00 PM

Neoclassical: "I simply don't conceive of "trying" the same way you do: as a motivational umph possessed by a self-determining being that acts apart from the causal world."

I may have been unfair above. What Neoclassical seems to have done instead is imagine that Mises's theory posits or necessitates anything like "motivational umph". This kind of misunderstanding of Mises's ideas seems almost universal. At some point Mises complained that similar notions had "not been understood at all." What Mises is getting at is indeed very, very subtle. Very hard to explain in words without seeming to imply other things not intended.

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I may have been unfair above. What Neoclassical seems to have done instead is imagine that Mises's theory posits or necessitates anything like "motivational umph". This kind of misunderstanding of Mises's ideas seems almost universal. At some point Mises complained that similar notions had "not been understood at all." What Mises is getting at is indeed very, very subtle. Very hard to explain in words without seeming to imply other things not intended.

Disclaimer: I'm far from being an expert on epistemology or even philosophy in general. Please be gentle. :p

Aren't we just going circles around the idea of "demonstrated preference" at this point?

It seems to me some people might be thinking "Since people value things, they act." But really, isn't it the other way around? "Since people act, they demonstrate that they have a preference". In this sense, something like trying is impled by action.

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 1:14 PM

EDIT: The following cross-out portion was based on a misreading of what Neoclassical wrote, so I retract it. I leave the post below because I believe it will still likely be relevant to the debate. Nevermind, I wasn't unfair above. Neoclassical seems firmly in the "thoughts are based on propositions" camp. He says he agrees with this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_attitude

Verbal propositions are communication devices. Thought cannot be, or be based on, propositions or words at all. It can operate in tandem with words, but that is a different thing entirely. Words are just a habit in most people's thought. They don't have enough content to be thoughts, as should really be obvious when you look at it. It's the interpretation, not the words themselves, that people evaluate when evaluating a proposition.

Light fishes last.

Is this saying that fishes that don't weigh very much have a long shelf life? Or is it saying that light is an entity that always waits for everyone else to finish their fishing before it starts? Or is it just three words thrown together randomly?

Certainly we can take one meaning (that is, one thought in our own mind that we suppose this string of words corresponds to) and evaluate whether it follows from our beliefs or not. But in the end we cannot help but evaluate a proposed thought or notion, not a proposition.

We speak in terms of propositions for obvious reasons of convenience (we can't see each other thoughts!), and because it's often possible to phrase things clearly enough to get most listeners to reliably reproduce a thought that corresponds with what we actually intended to convey.

There have been black dogs in the world.

There is some room for misinterpretation, but by and large we can safely assume that in a sufficiently non-rigorous context people will all think of the same idea when encountering this sentence. When the context gets very fundamental, like we are taking about basic questions of epistemology, all sorts of new ways to misinterpret this sentence arise. At some deep enough level of analysis, words become extremely patchy in their ability to cross the inferential gap separating speaker and listener. 

Words are not thoughts. Thoughts are not words. Propositions are only evaluable as interpretations, not as "words." I have said this many times before, but if it has not been understood I will keep saying it until it is understood. There is nothing more important to understand for a prospective philosopher or political theorist than this.

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>>He says he agrees with this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propositional_attitude

i don't see how he can believe in that since " In being a type o fattitude they imply that a person can have different mental postures towards a proposition, for example, believing, desiring, or hoping, and thus they imply intentionality."

and yet he explicitly denies that there is meaning to the concepts referred to by such things as  believing, desiring, or hoping.

I should think that 'agreeing' would be beyond him as well.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 1:22 PM

I dunno, I just saw him say, "I agree totally!" cheeky

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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 1:26 PM

Giant Joe:

Disclaimer: I'm far from being an expert on epistemology or even philosophy in general. Please be gentle. :p

Aren't we just going circles around the idea of "demonstrated preference" at this point?

It seems to me some people might be thinking "Since people value things, they act." But really, isn't it the other way around? "Since people act, they demonstrate that they have a preference". In this sense, something like trying is impled by action.

It is both. They are "logically connected", not "temporally" connected, if you know what I mean. One doesn't precede the other; they are just two levels of description of the same thing.

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises:

Now the controversy whether the whole or its parts are logically prior is vain. Logically the notions of a whole and its parts are correlative. As logical concepts they are both apart from time.

Human Action by Ludwig von Mises:

Logic and mathematics deal with an ideal system of thought. The relations and implications of their system are coexistent and interdependent. We may say as well that they are synchronous or that they are out of time. A perfect mind could grasp them all in one thought. Man's inability to accomplish this makes thinking itself an action, proceeding step by step from the less satisfactory state of insufficient cognition to the more satisfactory state of better insight. But the temporal order in which knowledge is acquired must not be confused with the logical simultaneity of all parts of an aprioristic deductive system. Within such a system the notions of anteriority and consequence are metaphorical only. They do not refer to the system, but to our action in grasping it. The system itself implies neither the category of time nor that of causality. There is functional correspondence between elements, but there is neither cause nor effect.

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

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its starting to annoy me when neoclassical demands to know what Grayson 'believes', having laughed at the notion as the premise of his position.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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I. Ryan replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 1:29 PM

nirgrahamUK:

its starting to annoy me when neoclassical demands to know what Grayson 'believes', having laughed at the notion as the premise of his position.

He probably thinks the terms of what he calls "folk psychology" aren't scientific, not also that they aren't useful as conveniences of ordinary language.

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

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well, if it is perfectly servicable and tractable to forgo such conveniences when searching for truth... surely now is a good time as any to prove it, since he is searching for truth.

(he is not searching for truth. that would be to ascribe an intentional stance to him. )

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

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AJ replied on Tue, Aug 3 2010 1:34 PM

Neoclassical's philosophy of eliminative materialism does seem to underpin his thinking and writing, so anyone interested may want to read or skim this article he linked http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/materialism-eliminative/ [Edit: Neoclassical says he's an eliminative materialist about propositional attitudes. Given that wording, I cannot say whether the following applies to his views.]

Below is an excerpt. To me, this just shows how the whole idea is based on confusing propositions for thoughts, or as being the basis for thoughts. When you do that, you get all sorts of weird paradoxes, like the liar paradox, Curry's paradox, Moore's paradox, etc. Kick the word habit and these paradoxes evaporate. Excerpt from the link:

One final argument against eliminative materialism comes from the recent writings of a former supporter, Stephen Stich (1991, 1996). Stich's argument is somewhat complex, but it can be presented in outline form here. Earlier we saw that eliminative materialism is committed to the claim that the posits of folk psychology fail to refer to anything. But as Stich points out, just what this claim amounts to is far from clear. For example, we might think that reference failure occurs as the result of some degree of mismatch between reality and the theory in which the posit is embedded. But there is no clear consensus on how much of a mismatch is necessary before we can say a given posit doesn't exist. Stich offers a variety of reasons for thinking that there are fundamental difficulties that will plague any attempt to provide principled criteria for distinguishing cases of reference success from cases of reference failure. Consequently, the question of whether a theory change should be ontologically conservative or radical has no clear answer. Because eliminative materialism rests on the assumption that folk psychology should be replaced in a way that is ontologically radical, Stich's account pulls the rug out from under the eliminativist. Of course, this is a problem for the folk psychology realist as well as the eliminativist, since Stich's skeptical argument challenges our grounds for distinguishing the two.

Concluding Remarks

Eliminative materialism entails unsettling consequences not just about our conception of the mind, but also about the nature of morality, action, social and legal conventions, and practically every other aspect of human activity. As Jerry Fodor puts it, “if commonsense psychology were to collapse, that would be, beyond comparison, the greatest intellectual catastrophe in the history of our species …” (1987, p. xii). Thus, eliminative materialism has stimulated various projects partly designed to vindicate ordinary mental states and establish their respectability in a sophisticated account of the mind. For example, several projects pursued by philosophers in recent years have attempted to provide a reductive account of the semantic content of propositional attitudes that is entirely naturalistic (i.e., an account that only appeals to straightforward causal-physical relations and properties). Much of the impetus for these projects stems in part from the recognition that eliminative materialism cannot be as easily dismissed as earlier writers, like C. D. Broad, had originally assumed.

Of course, some claim that these concerns are quite premature, given the promissory nature of eliminative materialism. After all, a pivotal component of the eliminativist perspective is the idea that the correct theory of the mind, once discovered by psychologists, will not reveal a system or structure that includes anything like common-sense mental states. Thus, for eliminative materialism to get off the ground, we need to assume that scientific psychology is going to turn out a certain way. But why suppose that before scientific psychology gets there? What is the point of drawing such a drastic conclusion about the nature of mentality, when a central premise needed for that conclusion is a long ways from being known?

One response an eliminativist might offer here would be to consider the broader theoretical roles eliminative materialism can play in our quest for a successful theory of the mind. Various writers have stipulated necessary conditions that any theory of the mind must meet, and on some accounts these conditions include the explication of various mental states as understood by common sense. According to this view, if a theory doesn't include states that correspond with beliefs, or provide us with some sort of account of the nature of consciousness, then it needn't be taken seriously as a complete account of “real” mental phenomena. One virtue of eliminative materialism is that it liberates our theorizing from this restrictive perspective. Thus, the relationship between eliminative materialism and science may be more reciprocal than many have assumed. While it is true that eliminative materialism depends upon the development of a radical scientific theory of the mind, radical theorizing about the mind may itself rest upon our taking seriously the possibility that our common sense perspective may be profoundly mistaken.

I'm going to go out drinking, so I won't be able to debate or comment for a while. This is the most compelling set of discussions I've been in for a long time. Great fun, everyone discussing is really smart, pretty patient, and understands the need to define terms. Only thing is I feel like an addict, clicking "Show Unread Posts" compulsively with bloodshot eyes.

Off to the bars with me!!

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