What is the goal of scientific reseach? Finding the truth or what?

I think this issue is well overdue at TSZ. I have quoted professor Lewontin’s well known statement on another OP that received some mixed feelings. To me, at least, it sheds doubt as to how science is done vs how it is supposed to be done…
Judge it for yourself:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that Miracles may happen. “- Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and one of the world’s leaders in evolutionary biology.

It is quite baffling how a relatively small group of people has been able to implement this kind of ideology into the world of science and education and bully anyone who dared to challenge this ideology…

There is no difference between Darwinian ideology and Communism, Nazism or any other tyrannical rule by the iron fist…

The minority bullies the majority into their ideology or beliefs system they call “science”.

“A lie repeated often enough becomes true”… – said the best propaganda man of the Nazis…” …and you may even find yourself believing it”

192 Replies to “What is the goal of scientific reseach? Finding the truth or what?”

  1. fifthmonarchyman
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    Kantian Naturalist: The principle follows from the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics as developed by Heisenberg.

    so you are saying that it’s not science but math??

    Interesting

    Is there no way to (ever) verify it empirically?

    peace

  2. Neil Rickert
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    fifthmonarchyman: … the Heidelberg uncertainty principle …

    It is so uncertain, that you are even uncertain of the name.

  3. fifthmonarchyman
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    Neil Rickert,

    Lol never underestimate my lack of attention to trivial detail

    Always good for a laugh

  4. BruceS
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    In response to a journalist claiming different interpretations of SR are equally valid, Rovelli here

    It is not just a question of aesthetics, because science is not static, it is dynamic. Science is not just models. It is a true continuous process of better understanding reality. A better version of a theory is fertile: it takes us ahead; a bad version takes no part. The Lorentzian interpretation of special relativity assumes the existence of entities that are unobservable and undetectable (a preferred frame). It is contorted, implausible, and in fact it has been very sterile.

    On the other hand, realizing that the geometrical structure of spacetime is altered has led to general relativity, to the prediction of black holes, gravitational waves, the expansion of the universe. Science is not just mathematical models and numerical predictions: it is developing increasingly effective conceptual tools for making sense and better understanding the world. When Copernicus, Galileo and Newton realized that the Earth is a celestial body like the ones we see in the sky, they did not just give us a better mathematical model for more accurate predictions: they understood that man can walk on the moon. And man did.

    The journalist tries to use some basic philosophy (ie underdetermination of theory or its interpretation by empirical evidence) to “grill” Rovelli. But Rovelli knows both more philosophy and more physics than the journalist.

    The article also has a bit more on Rovelli’s philosophy of time which has come up elsewhere at TSZ. Rovelli at some points gets exasperated with the journalist’s ignorance of Rovelli’s work. Reminds me of some of the posts in biology-related threads at TSZ.

  5. Entropy Entropy
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    BruceS,

    Woa, that’s beautifully described. Thanks for posting it.

  6. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    BruceS,

    Very interesting interview! And I was amused at Rovelli’s annoyance at Hunt’s amateurish questions. I suspect that Rovelli is using the word “time” in a much more precise sense than Hunt realized.

    One issue that they dance around is Prigogine. Prigogine’s insistence on the fundamental reality of time is due to the fact that he worked in thermodynamics, and in particular, far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics (for which he received the Nobel Prize). I’m quite interested in far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics because that’s the physics that biology and cognitive science needs. So the question about the reality of time could be rephrased in terms of the relation between quantum mechanics and (far-from-equilibrium) thermodynamics.

  7. Neil Rickert
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    Kantian Naturalist: Very interesting interview!

    Indeed. I certainly found it interesting.

    And I was amused at Rovelli’s annoyance at Hunt’s amateurish questions.

    I thought it was more frustration than annoyance. What Rovelli is saying, is not easy for most people to grasp.

    Let me expand a little on his flat earth analogy.

    I sometimes like to quip that “flat earth” is obviously wrong because there’s a pot hole down the street. But my quip misses the point (and deliberately).

    The point of “flat earth” is not whether it looks flat. It is whether we can usefully describe it as if it were flat. And we can, if we exclude parts of the earth. A mercator projection (map) is flat. But it does not extend to the poles. It is a mathematical theorem, that a flat metric cannot extend to the entire sphere.

    Rovelli is saying the same thing about time, and I have been suggesting the same thing about space (at a different forum). Our standard viewpoint is local and depends on local standards. It is entirely possible, and perhaps likely, that our local notions of time and space cannot be extended to the cosmos as a whole. That’s what Rovelli is saying about time. I know, from my experience at that different forum, that most people have difficulty grasping the idea. It’s not only Hunt who has that problem — it is very widespread. Hence Rovelli’s frustration.

  8. BruceS
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    Kantian Naturalist:
    BruceS,

    So the question about the reality of time could be rephrased in terms of the relation between quantum mechanics and (far-from-equilibrium) thermodynamics.

    I’m not sure what you are referring to here. Explaining time via change of state from non-equilibrium to entropy at equilibrium is standard. I don’t see how adding extended an non-equilibrium status in living systems makes a difference to that approach.

    I do see from Wiki that Prigogine tried to extend QM to provide an interpretation which explained the passage of time differently (I think). In all the reading I have done in philosophy of physics, I have never seen Prigogine’s views presented. It seems those views have little traction among philosophers or physicists involved in QM interpretations.

    Thermodynamics is often a part of the explanation of our experience of time. There is a video here in which Rovelli describes his views on time and his version of Loop Quantum Gravity. Start at 17:00 to skip intro and some background. The Q&A is also helpful; there are some technical questions but around 32:00 he explains why entropy is objective (ie it is is NOT just about us) and on the difference between CHANGE and TIME.

    There is no time in the form of a variable “t” in LQG.

    But from there he goes on to explain why he thinks humans do experience the passage of time. It is often explained with entropy, for example the experience of fixed past memories but open future “memories”. Rovelli focuses on the role of th Past Hypothesis in these thermodynamic approaches (see note)*. In brief, he says entropy is not a property of a system alone, but rather of the coarse graining imposed by the relation between two systems. So the initial low entropy depends on the human relation to understanding/measuring the initial state of the universe and that is the basis of our experience of time passing.

    At 45:00 mark, philosopher Jenann Ismael talks about emergent becoming, which is expounded in her book How Physics Makes Us Free. Her talk concentrates on the issue of how our experience of time emerges from physics and ourselves considered as observing, representing, and acting systems. The book is probably better for understanding her views, since her talk involves her reading from a technical philosophical exposition.

    —————
    Note on Past Hypothesis: Statistical mechanics says that, with astronomically high probability, entropy increases in an isolated system (until equilibrium is reached). But due to time reversibility of Newtonian mechanics, bare statistical mechanics also says that with astronomically high probability entropy increased towards the past: that is, it is much, much more likely that an egg originated by reforming from a broken one than by being laid by a hen. To avoid this, we hypothesize entropy was very low in the initial state of the universe. That has to be carefully phrased to avoid circularity if we are explaining past versus future. See SEP for more.

  9. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert:

    I thought it was more frustration than annoyance.What Rovelli is saying, is not easy for most people to grasp.
    I thought it was more frustration than annoyance.What Rovelli is saying, is not easy for most people to grasp.

    Sure, but Rovelli did write a well-reviewed popularization of his ideas and I think his frustration was that the journalist did not work hard enough to understand it. Instead, the journalist harped on some sophomoric philosophy.. Now he did goad Rovelli into some helpful explanations, but open ended questions would have been a better way to do that.

    Rovelli is saying the same thing about time, and I have been suggesting the same thing about space (at a different forum).Our standard viewpoint is local and depends on local standards.It is entirely possible, and perhaps likely, that our local notions of time and space cannot be extended to the cosmos

    I’m not sure if emergent from more fundamental physics is what you mean, but my understanding is that space is not fundamental but is instead emergent in current theories of quantum gravity

    There aren’t many things in quantum gravity that everyone agrees on,” says Eleanor Knox, a philosopher at King’s College London who specializes in the philosophy of physics. “Yet the one thing many people seemed to agree on in quantum gravity was that we were going to have to cope with space and time not being fundamental.”

    On interesting question is when, if ever, are we justified in calling an emergent property ‘real’.

  10. Neil Rickert
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    BruceS: On interesting question is when, if ever, are we justified in calling an emergent property ‘real’.

    A natural language is neither logic nor epistemology. We call something “real” when the practitioners of that language choose to call it “real”. No justification is needed.

  11. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert: A natural language is neither logic nor epistemology.We call something “real” when the practitioners of that language choose to call it “real”.No justification is needed.

    So quarks are real if enough physicists say ‘quarks are real’?

    And phlogiston was real but is not anymore since many thermodynamicists said it was at some point but none say so today?

  12. fifthmonarchyman
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    Neil Rickert: It is entirely possible, and perhaps likely, that our local notions of time and space cannot be extended to the cosmos as a whole.

    I’ve been thinking about relativity as a perspective on space/time.

    If you think about it relativity is about looking out from a particular point/wave to the universe and QM is about looking in to a particular point/wave.

    Two strangely parallel perspectives.

    I think that connection is pregnant with meaning and might suggest a way forward in the endeavor to unite the two.

    peace

  13. fifthmonarchyman
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    BruceS: So quarks are real if enough physicists say ‘quarks are real’?

    And phlogiston was real but is not anymore since many thermodynamicists said it was at some point but none say so today?

    It’s all about who has the most votes. 😉

    peace

  14. Neil Rickert
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    BruceS: So quarks are real if enough physicists say ‘quarks are real’?

    That may make them real to physicists.

  15. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    BruceS: On interesting question is when, if ever, are we justified in calling an emergent property ‘real’.

    I’m inclined to go full Dennett on this question: properties are real, in the only sense that actually matters, if assertions involving terms that refer to those properties are embedded in successful predictions. We can be perfectly profligate in what counts as real: space, time, things — ecosystems, currencies, waves of political unrest, etc. Should it turn out that none of these things occur in the equations of fundamental physics, it just means that fundamental physics is more removed from the world of ordinary experience than we thought — not that those things are any less real. Rovelli doesn’t deny the existence of his neighborhood cats just because there aren’t any cats at the level of fundamental physics.

    Here’s another way of putting it: perhaps the lesson here is that fundamental physics, while quite fascinating in its own right, has much less to do with metaphysics than we thought!

  16. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert: That may make them real to physicists.

    So in your view as I have understood it from several conversations:
    There is a mind-independent reality but we can say nothing about it except through a conceptual scheme. Anyone is free to choose any scheme that works for their purposes and, in particular, to call something real (where ‘real’ is defined as part of constructing of the scheme).

  17. BruceS
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    Kantian Naturalist: I’m inclined to go full Dennett on this question: properties are real, in the only sense that actually matters, if assertions involving terms that refer to those properties are embedded in successful predictions.
    […]
    Here’s another way of putting it: perhaps the lesson here is that fundamental physics, while quite fascinating in its own right, has much less to do with metaphysics than we thought!

    That makes sense to me. However, I think Dennett’s stuff needs formalization to become objective, eg as L&R do it in Everything Must Go. I don’t know if that account is right. FWIW, Wallace also cites it in his book on the Everett interpretation to explain how the everyday and scientific world(s?) emerge from the wave function.

    I agree that physics does not specify an ontology, but it does constrain the ontologies of other sciences in some sense. Understanding “in some sense” is probably a better way of phrasing my question about how to understand emergence and reality.

  18. BruceS
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    fifthmonarchyman: It’s all about who has the most votes.

    peace

    When I get on a plane, I trust the navigation. That navigation is based on a spherical earth, not a flat earth. But I don’t know which view would get the most votes if everyone in the world voted. Nor do I care. Instead, I trust the knowledge arrived at by science and (through it) engineering.

  19. Neil Rickert
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    BruceS: There is a mind-independent reality but we can say nothing about it except through a conceptual scheme.

    Yes, right so far.

    Anyone is free to choose any scheme that works for their purposes and, in particular, to call something real (where ‘real’ is defined as part of constructing of the scheme).

    That’s a bit too simple.

    The purpose of language is to communicate. If we all pick arbitrary conceptual schemes, there won’t be much communication. So we need to align our conceptual scheme with that of the community, though perhaps the alignment will be imperfect.

    My point about “real” was to object to the idea that “real” somehow has a meaning that is independent of the language community. Presumably that special meaning comes directly from God (I guess the god of atheist metaphysicians).

    Of course, the metaphysicians might want a special technical meaning. But, in that case, they should carefully define it — which they probably cannot do.

    As you can see, I am skeptical of metaphysics.

  20. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    BruceS: I agree that physics does not specify an ontology, but it does constrain the ontologies of other sciences in some sense. Understanding “in some sense” is probably a better way of phrasing my question about how to understand emergence and reality.

    Yes, “in some sense” is doing all the work here!

    I do think that we should allow the sciences to specify their own ontologies, for the most part. We should accept the existence of niches and trophic webs because ecologists find it helpful to talk about those things in building testable models, etc. Likewise for fluid dynamics and molecular biology, etc. I’d even be happy to put the social sciences into the story here. (Lately I’ve been enjoying the look of puzzlement and confusion on the faces of other Sellarsians when I ask them if sociology is part of the scientific image.)

    I’m not a fan of “reduction,” because it’s a term fraught with peril and confusion. So I don’t see any hope of “reducing” the various sciences to fundamental physics, or even explaining them in terms of fundamental physics. (Indeed, without a single unified theory of fundamental physics, I don’t see any hope for any reductions here at all. We might be stuck with pluralism all the way down.)

    The most I’d say is that none of the sciences which do not belong to fundamental physics should be permitted to posit entities that violate a law of fundamental physics. And that’s such a weak constraint it hardly seems mentioning! But I don’t know if we can get a stronger constraint than that.

  21. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    One of the big ideas that I took from Every Thing Must Go is that being a committed naturalist means thinking that the universe does not conform a priori to any standards of rationality or reasonableness. (The first inklings of this idea to reach Euro-American consciousness took a rather exaggerated form, as we see in Lovecraft.) Another way of putting the point, I think, is to say that the world lacks categorical structure; the world does not act as a rational constraint on thought. The absence of any rationality or categorial structure to the world is the major epistemic implication of what Nietzsche called “the death of God.”

    Up to this point, Neil and I are in agreement, with the further implication that it’s really hard to uphold any metaphysical realism that isn’t just a God-substitute (what Nietzsche calls a “shadow of God”, in The Gay Science 108).

    The question at this point becomes: does the world have a structure that makes a difference to what we can say about it, even if that structure is not categorial? Can we make sense of what I call ‘cognitive friction’ — the idea that the world (the world “in itself”, if you wish) has a structure that makes a difference in what is thinkable — while still taking “the death of God” with utmost seriousness?

    That, at any rate, is the question at which my thinking about Kant, Nietzsche, C.I. Sellars, Rorty, McDowell, and Dennett is currently structured around.

  22. stcordova
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    What is the goal of scientific reseach?

    To secure another research grant. 🙂

  23. BruceS
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    Another way of putting the point, I think, is to say that the world lacks categorical structure; the world does not act as a rational constraint on thought.

    The question at this point becomes: does the world have a structure that makes a difference to what we can say about it, even if that structure is not categorial?

    I agree on the understanding that by ‘rational’ you mean one that is not subject to the processes of science including but not limited to empirical study.

    The question at this point becomes: does the world have a structure that makes a difference to what we can say about it, even if that structure is not categorial?

    I would guess one must think that in order to be a Dennettian scientific realist. At the least, that structure would reflect objective version of Dennett’s Real Patterns.

    .

  24. BruceS
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    Kantian Naturalist:

    The most I’d say is that none of the sciences which do not belong to fundamental physics should be permitted to posit entities that violate a law of fundamental physics. And that’s such a weak constraint it hardly seems mentioning! But I don’t know if we can get a stronger constraint than that.

    I think we can have local reductions via mechanisms (used in the modern sense, ie Craver and Bechtel and that lot).

    On conforming to the laws of physics: is that not equivalent to causal closure of physics. Or perhaps even a stronger condition (depending on your metaphysics of causes versus laws). This assumes that entities are characterized by the functional/causal properties.

  25. fifthmonarchyman
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    Neil Rickert: My point about “real” was to object to the idea that “real” somehow has a meaning that is independent of the language community. Presumably that special meaning comes directly from God (I guess the god of atheist metaphysicians).

    God is part of the language community….. the most important part.

    peace

  26. BruceS
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    stcordova: To secure another research grant.

    I am not sure how seriously you meant this, but I think this is true and not something for a scientist to be ashamed of. Unless you are a tenured prof doing math or philosophy or theoretical physics by yourself, you need somehow to pay for your research lab. And presumably you think your work is of value to society and so should be paid for — not thinking that would be an issue.

    But there is a real issue associated with how society, eg the mechanisms must not be discriminatory by sex.

  27. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    Kantian Naturalist: The question at this point becomes: does the world have a structure that makes a difference to what we can say about it, even if that structure is not categorial?

    No. The best we can do is to make better models. Unfortunately we are limited in our understanding.

    Can we make sense of what I call ‘cognitive friction’ — the idea that the world (the world “in itself”, if you wish) has a structure that makes a difference in what is thinkable — while still taking “the death of God” with utmost seriousness?

    No. And we don’t have to. Carve off little bits. Work collectively.

  28. fifthmonarchyman
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    BruceS: But I don’t know which view would get the most votes if everyone in the world voted. Nor do I care. Instead, I trust the knowledge arrived at by science and (through it) engineering.

    I do as well.

    My point was that knowledge about reality is not obtained by polling a particular “language community”.

    It’s obtained by revelation.

    Don’t flip out, I by revelation I don’t mean a megaphone from a cartoon Jerry Garcia setting on a cloud.

    I mean that through grace we come to understand what is real in this world and what is not. It’s a gift.

    peace

  29. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert:

    The purpose of language is to communicate.If we all pick arbitrary conceptual schemes, there won’t be much communication.So we need to align our conceptual scheme with that of the community, though perhaps the alignment will be imperfect.

    Of course. I figured that was covered by “one’s purposes” since most people want to communicate with the people that speak their first language. Also, most scientists and mathematicians want to communicate with others working in their domain (or at least a subset of it) and will adopt the necessary language which could include math, non-math models, etc.

    Although one wonders about the mathematician Mochizui

    My point about “real” was to object to the idea that “real” somehow has a meaning that is independent of the language community.Presumably that special meaning comes directly from God (I guess the god of atheist metaphysicians).

    Of course, the metaphysicians might want a special technical meaning.But, in that case, they should carefully define it — which they probably cannot do.

    I was going to reply to that by saying that I am closer to Quine than Carnap, who seems to be closer to your stand on these issues. But before I do that, it would be helpful to know how you see your views with respect to Carnap’s on these issues.

    As you can see, I am skeptical of metaphysics.

    Does not come as a complete surprise!

  30. fifthmonarchyman
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    Alan Fox:
    The best we can do is to make better models.

    A lot depends on what you mean by better.

    Do you mean more real and true or simply more useful in your personal biased subjective opinion of the situation?

    peace

  31. BruceS
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    fifthmonarchyman:

    My point was that knowledge about reality is not obtained by polling a particular “language community”.

    It’s obtained by revelation.

    Another comment that does not come as a complete surprise to me!

    Epistemologically, I think you are a foundationalist of some some sort. I’ve seen your exchanges with others about your position. I agree with them that foundationalism is the wrong approach to epistemology. And I will leave it at that.

  32. fifthmonarchyman
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    BruceS: I think you are a foundationalist of some some sort.

    nope,

    I think that foundationalism and coherentism are equally flawed

    peace

  33. Neil Rickert
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    fifthmonarchyman: God is part of the language community….. the most important part.

    You must be talking of the made-up god, as in “made up by humans.”

  34. fifthmonarchyman
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    Neil Rickert: You must be talking of the made-up god, as in “made up by humans.”

    Nope not that one. 😉

    peace

  35. Neil Rickert
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    BruceS: But before I do that, it would be helpful to know how you see your views with respect to Carnap’s on these issues.

    I never looked closely at Carnap.

  36. fifthmonarchyman
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    Neil Rickert: I never looked closely at Carnap.

    Have you read much Michael Polanyi?

    if you have some time to kill check this out

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAt4epHvXQY

    peace

  37. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert: I never looked closely at Carnap.

    Here is a summary from Psillos’s Choosing the Explanatory Framework
    Perhaps KN would also add his thoughts, both you your views and where his fit.

    (Start of quote)
    If we go Carnap’s way, then:
    1. Commitment to the reality of a general type (or ontic category) of entity is not at the same level (and is not governed by the same rules) as commitment to particular entities of this type.

    2. Commitment to the reality of a general type of entity is not a matter of evidence; nor a matter of insight into the metaphysical structure of the world; nor a matter of adopting a theory (like an ordinary scientific theory). It is a matter of adopting a framework which posits this type.

    3. The adoption of the framework is not a theoretical issue (though it is influenced by theoretical considerations.

    If we go Quine’s way,then‘ framework’ principles are, in essence,the most general hypotheses of our overall theory of the world:
    1 There is no difference between the framework and the theories within it. The framework is a theory (perhaps a general one) and is judged using the same evidential standards and pragmatic considerations as in the case of ordinary theories.

    2 The entities we are committed to are those that are required for the truth of our overall best theory of the world. These are real entities in the only sense we can make of the word ‘real’.

    3 The best theory of the world is the theory licensed by the scientific method.

  38. Neil Rickert
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    BruceS: Here is a summary from Psillos’s Choosing the Explanatory Framework

    I guess I disagree with both.

    Carnap’s position would make more sense to me, if he did not insist on distinguishing between a theory and a framework.

    Quine’s position seems to make scientists the arbiters of truth. I’m okay with Quine’s (1), but I won’t go along with (2) and (3).

    Perhaps some perspective. If I had not been studying human cognition, I would probably be okay with Quine’s viewpoint (as attributed to Quine). It is from studying cognition (and, particularly, perception), that I have come to recognize that truth comes from us (from the language community) and could not be external.

  39. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert

    Quine’s position seems to make scientists the arbiters of truth.I’m okay with Quine’s (1), but I won’t go along with (2) and (3).

    I would re-word to say scientists make claims about truth about the domains of their science. How and whether those claims have merit is the issue of scientific realism, which is philosophy.

    Perhaps some perspective.If I had not been studying human cognition, I would probably be okay with Quine’s viewpoint (as attributed to Quine).It is from studying cognition (and, particularly, perception), that I have come to recognize that truth comes from us (from the language community) and could not be external.

    As I understand, your views of cognition mean that the conceptual schemes we can invent are limited by the senses and skills evolution gave us.

    My view is that language and science allow us to invent and refine schemes that go beyond that. ETA: These refinements can be to the theories themselves, the entities referred to theories, the types of entities covered, even the processes use to make those changes to the framework.

    ETA: By entities, I mean those defined by the functional/causal properties and which are essential to the language used in a theory.

    Then no miracles argument says they reflect causal structure of mind-independent reality.

  40. Neil Rickert
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    BruceS: My view is that language and science allow us to invent and refine schemes that go beyond that.

    I agree with that.

    ETA: These refinements can be to the theories themselves, the entities referred to theories, the types of entities covered, even the processes use to make those changes to the framework.

    I’m not so sure about that. If the only thing we refine is the theory itself, then we can get something like string theory which physicists are still unable to satisfactorily connect to reality. What needs to be refined, is how we interact with reality.

    ETA: By entities, I mean those defined by the functional/causal properties and which are essential to the language used in a theory.

    Here, the word “causal” is an issue. I see problems with our notion of causation.

  41. BruceS
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    Neil Rickert:

    I’m not so sure about that.If the only thing we refine is the theory itself, then we can get something like string theory which physicists are still unable to satisfactorily connect to reality.What needs to be refined, is how we interact with reality.

    I was trying to say the we refine not just the theory, but the framework in which is embedded.

    And also the process involved in the these refinements.

    The issue of string theory was one I had in mind for scientists questioning the framework itself –namely what constitutes its scope. That is, what activities deserve to be called ‘science’. (One could say they are doing philosophy when doing that, but that differentiation is not important for the point I am trying to make).

    Here, the word “causal” is an issue.I see problems with our notion of causation.

    Who doesn’t?! Certainly not philosophers! Many now want to start with Pearl’s ideas, that is an interventionist approach , eg Woodward. But others see that as addressing only semantic issues, and not getting to the heart of the matter. Even Woodward admits to something like this. Getting to the heart of the matter involves metaphysics, at least according to philosophers.

    In addition to causation, you “forgot” to mention the notion of truth. Or at least figured it was not worth bringing up again, which I’d agree with for now.

  42. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS,

    I shall confess that I never fully understood Quine’s criticism of Carnap.

    I understand the salient difference well enough for cocktail-party conversation: that Carnap distinguishes between the questions internal to a framework about what exists (according to the rules of the framework) and the questions, external to the framework, about which framework to use. And Quine rejects that distinction — for him it is a matter of degree, one that is pragmatist all the way down, about how we shall identify, retain, or revise our ontological commitments.

    But I don’t understand why abandoning the external/internal distinction is supposed to follow from abandoning the analytic/synthetic distinction — as it seems to me that Quine says it does.

    I worry that Quine helps himself to a rejection of the internal/external distinction because he simply doesn’t ‘see’ the point of Sellars’s emphasis on the “polydimensionality” of discourse: that we have many different kinds of discourse, many different kinds of language-game. Once one sees that there are many different things we do with language besides make matter-of-fact assertions, the problem of what is internal or external to a dimension of discourse returns regardless of whether we accept or reject the analytic/synthetic distinction.

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