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Post 20

Thursday, January 6, 2005 - 11:17amSanction this postReply
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I don't get to the computer often, hence my delay.

My post was no doubt confusing, because I was relying on a faulty recollection of the question, assuming Rasmussen had been asked what the scientific evidence for AR's theory was. My post was directed at anyone who would ask that question.

So, if you ever asked yourself that question concerning measurement omission, that's my reply.

And thank you, whoever gave me the Atlas points.




Post 21

Thursday, January 6, 2005 - 5:59pmSanction this postReply
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My post was no doubt confusing, because I was relying on a faulty recollection of the question, assuming Rasmussen had been asked what the scientific evidence for AR's theory was. My post was directed at anyone who would ask that question.

So, if you ever asked yourself that question concerning measurement omission, that's my reply.
I think that based on what I associate your viewpoint with in my experiences, your view of the relationship between philosophy and science is incorrect, but since you haven't fleshed out the particulars of your belief, there isn't much point in discussing it.

Cheers.




Post 22

Saturday, January 8, 2005 - 8:36amSanction this postReply
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Tibor,

"Well, I was in the audience and wasn't stunned, nor did anyone else seem stunned."
Thanks for your imput. Maybe I was the only one "stunned." or maybe "stunned" was the wrong word. Anyway, Thanks again and it was nice sharing some time with you in Boston.
See you next year in New York.

Fred



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Post 23

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 7:19amSanction this postReply
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Re: "since you haven't fleshed out the particulars of your belief, there isn't much point in discussing it."

Well, my comment wasn't posted as an invitation to a discussion with opponents. Just a heads-up to those who might wonder, and might be stymied by the putative question.




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Post 24

Monday, January 10, 2005 - 6:07pmSanction this postReply
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A question for Fred--or others who actually attended the Ayn Rand Society meeting:

I heard from Doug Rasmussen that when he presented his reply to Bob Pasnau's comments, he quoted a paragraph from Leonard Peikoff's dissertation.

A woman in the audience objected mightily, not just to the point that Doug R was making (namely, that Aquinas-style moderate realism had more to offer to Rand than she and later Objectivists seem to have realized), but also to Doug's use of Peikoff's dissertation as a source.

Does this agree with your recollections?  If so, who was the person making the objections?

Also, has Peikoff stated anywhere that he no longer accepts positions that he took in his dissertation? 

Robert Campbell

(Edited by Robert Campbell on 1/11, 6:55am)

(Edited by Robert Campbell on 1/11, 3:00pm)




Post 25

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 12:56pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

Yes, some woman did object to Doug quoting Peikoff’s dissertation. I don’t know the woman. I am unaware of Peikoff disowning the positions he developed in his dissertation. Maybe Tibor can supplement my recollections.

Fred






Post 26

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 12:47pmSanction this postReply
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I am not an academic, so please bear with me. My question is: When a dissertation is not published, does it have the same status as a published work by the author?  Thanks.




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Post 27

Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 7:58amSanction this postReply
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Hello, Fred!

You mentioned that you once asked an Objectivist if he thought people actually use measurement omission to form their concepts. In your recollection, he replied that he didn't really care how people actually form concepts, since anyway, Rand had shown the right way to do it.

I suspect you were hearing a garbled version of a conclusion I had reached in my essay "Capturing Concepts." That essay appeared in the first issue of my philosophy journal Objectivity (1990 1(1):13-41). I know you are familiar with this journal because I published your essay "On Newtonian Relative Space" in it (1993 1(6):37-53).

That premier issue of Objectivity was widely circulated among Objectivist types. Preceding the passage in "Capturing Concepts" that was to become somewhat famous, I had observed that logic is not a method we are always bound to employ (correctly) in our reasoning. I mentioned John Macnamara's conception of logic as a theory of competence in reasoning. Then, I wrote:
Similarly, Rand's theory of concepts might best be seen as a theory of competence in conceptual function. Her model for concept formation should perhaps not be taken as a model of how we must conceive things, but of how we, as adults, can conceive them when we want to clarify our concepts and understanding. Rand supposed that in rendering exact the meaning of one's concepts one is retracing to some extent the logical steps by which they were formed (IOE 51, 41). Perhaps we need only trace logical steps by which they could have been formed. I suggest that the model process of concept formation may not be always our way of generating or regenerating conceptual thought, and yet it may be our way of validating those thoughts. (And in validation do we not reform?). (p.34)

In this 1990 article, I assimilated the latest research on categorical perception and on preschoolers' conceptual development. It was on those bases that I concluded that Rand's theory of concept formation by measurement omission is not the child's earliest method of concept formation; that, rather, measurement omission is an advanced and ideal method. The research I assimilated in this article included results from Anne Treisman, Jean Mandler, John Macnamara, Linda Smith, Frank Keil, and many others.

Mr. Parille, if you or anyone else reading this post would like to have a copy of my "Capturing Concepts," just send me a note at boydstun@rcn.com.

One subscriber to Objectivity was Allan Gotthelf, and he wrote me a thoughtful letter concerning "Capturing Concepts." He found the article competent and interesting. He noted that I was obviously very familiar with the related psychological research and that I handle the Objectivist material well.

He entered a reservation, however, which I think is good to keep in mind in this sort of undertaking. In my "Capturing Concepts" (and in the child-development section of my more recent article "Universals and Measurement"), I integrate with manifest ease the results of psychological research by a wide range of researchers, who have a variety of sometimes conflicting frameworks that may structure their evidence and its interpretation. In my articles, I don't get to say very much about those variations in research frameworks or the nuances of their theoretical concepts. Think of the term competence. Is it used by Kagan, by Macnamara, and by us in the same way? To corroborate my judgment about the significance of the research I bring to bear on Rand's theory, the reader may want to dig into the source references I supply.

By the way, Fred, Gotthelf remembers me and Objectivity to this day. Although I had attended some sessions of the Ayn Rand Society over the years, Prof. Gotthelf and I had never really met. So when I spotted him at PSA in Austin this past November, I went over and introduced myself. He immediately turned to the young graduate student from Pitt with whom he had been speaking and said: "This is Stephen Boydstun. He was the editor of Objectivity. He comes from a scientific and technical background." It is so nice to hear that someone remembers you were here and what you were about.

I clearly remember---and appreciated---your participation in the discussions of my paper "Universals and Measurement" at the Advanced Seminar of TOC in 2003. As you will recall, the major section of that paper is on the logicomathematical analysis of concepts under Rand's formula; the shorter section is on theory of the formation of concepts. In the analysis section, the phrases "formation of concepts" and "concept formation" are never used. They are inappropriate for work in that new grand garden growing out of Rand's theory.
 
As I hope you know, Fred, my essay "Universals and Measurement" was published last spring in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (V5N2). That issue of JARS has been sold out, but if anyone would like to have a free electronic version of "Universals and Measurement," just send me a note at boydstun@rcn.com.

Stephen





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Post 28

Saturday, January 15, 2005 - 8:26amSanction this postReply
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Michelle,

An unpublished dissertation doesn't have the same status, in academic circles, as a published book or article by the author.  One reason is pragmatic.  An unpublished dissertation is assumed to be harder to get hold of than published work.  Though in the days of UMI Digital Dissertations (formerly Xerox University Microfilms), nearly any dissertation from an American university can be obtained by anyone who wants to pay the fee.  The other reason is that academic publications have undergone peer review of some kind, and dissertations have been reviewed only by the dissertation committee.  So there is a presumption that dissertations may not be as high in quality.

However, a dissertation can be fairly expected to reflect its author's thoughts on the subject matter, and academics will cite unpublished dissertations (I've done it several times).

Peikoff's dissertation is on the status of law of contradiction in classical "logical ontologism" (you think Chris Sciabarra is the only one to sling "Polish" words around :-)?)  It was completed in 1964.  Since the subject is one of central importance to Peikoff, as well as to Rand, he finished the dissertation after more than a decade of close contact with her, it's reasonable to assume that Rand read the drafts as closely as anyone on his committee did, and his remarks about "moderate realism" were made after Rand had worked out her theory of concepts and not long before she wrote Intro to Objectivist Epistemology--how could the dissertation not be a significant source on the matter at hand?

Doug Rasmussen obtained a copy of the dissertation around 30 years ago, and has long considered it an important source on the relationship between Objectivism and older traditions, including Thomism.

Now, if Peikoff had stated that he no longer accepted some of the positions he took in his dissertation, or some of the arguments for those positions, that would be a whole different story. At the very least, anyone who cited the dissertation would be obliged to mention that Peikoff had rejected it.  If there are significant discrepancies between positions taken in the dissertation and positions taken in Peikoff's published writings, that would matter, too--though in that case the person who objects to citing the dissertation needs to be forthcoming about the specific differences.

To complicate matters: for most academics, published academic books or articles in academic journals have a far higher status than "trade" books or articles in "popular" magazines.  Leonard Peikoff has never acted as though he cares a hoot about this set of evaluations--all of his publications of any importance are non-academic.  And significant chunks of his work are still available only as audiotaped lectures, which makes them much harder for most people to access than the dissertation is.

Robert




Post 29

Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 9:28amSanction this postReply
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Stephen,

Nice to hear from you. I first met Allan in 1967 or 68 before the break. He was speaking at a private home in Youngstown Ohio on his way to debate Albert Ellis in Chicago on the topic of Rational Emotive Therapy. Funny what sticks with you after all these years but I remember him saying the porn was ok for lovers to watch if it helped them achieve you know what. He is now at Pitt, about 3 miles from my home and Pitt recently gave him a "Allanfest" where a number of his colleagues in Aristole's biology come together to honor him. I made mention of this on SOLO.

Fred



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