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Thursday, July 4 - 9:08pmSanction this postReply
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Karl Popper is often misunderstood because he says the debates for several major philosophy issues involve a false dichotomy. The question is misconceived; both sides are wrong; a new way is needed.

(Whether there are exactly two standard positions, or actually more in some cases, doesn't affect my point.)

Popper's epistemology is the most innovative epistemology of note. By that I mean it changes more from prior epistemology than any of its rivals do. It's the most different. That makes it harder to understand.

(Also, to be clear, Popper personally is not important. Like all philosophers, different people have read his books and interpreted him to be saying a variety of different things. I am interested here only in what I regard as the correct, best interpretation. This includes refinements by David Deutsch and myself.)

What commonly happens is Popper (or a Popperian, or a person advocating a Popperian idea, whatever) says a particular epistemology idea is mistaken and tries to explain why. Then people usually interpret Popper as being on the other side of the dichotomy from them, because he's disagreeing with them. "If he says I'm wrong, he must be on the opposing side from me!" That's an easy conclusion to reach when you don't fully understand the point being made. But actually Popper is taking neither of the standard sides.

It's hard conceiving of a new way of looking at an issue. That's harder than understanding that someone has an opposing position which you've heard before and have arguments about. The standard opponent is within your framework, which is easier to deal with.

Look at it another way. For many issues, there are two sides which disagree but also have some points of agreement. For example, they agree on what the right question or dichotomy is, but give opposing answers to it. When popper says that not only is their answer wrong, but also their question is wrong, Popper is disagreeing with them more than their opponents do! So he could be misunderstood as an even more disagreeable version of their opponents, even though he isn't.


This is relevant to Objectivism because Objectivists have misunderstood Popper, and their criticisms of Popper rely on misunderstanding his positions. There aren't any Objectivist refutations of the Popperian ideas I'm advocating. (Nor are there Objectivist answers to Popper's actual criticisms of some Objectivist positions, like induction).

Popperian epistemology does not contradict all of Objectivist epistemology. There are many points in common, such as valuing clarity and accepting the possibility of humans attaining objective knowledge. But there are some major points of disagreement such as induction and self-evident axioms. Objectivists have the opportunity to learn something, and should be happy about that (just as, for example, Popperians could and should learn a lot from Objectivist morality and politics).


Let's look at some example issues where there is a false dichotomy which Popper rejects: certainty and proof, induction, justification, support.

Take certainty or proof: there is a false dichotomy between having certainty and not having knowledge. There is an assumption, shared by both sides, that certainty is a requirement of knowledge. Popperian epistemology rejects that package deal, and offers a new way: a non-authoritarian, fallibilist way to gain objective knowledge.

Take induction: the two main positions both center around the problem of induction. One position is that we can solve the problem of induction (some claim they already did solve it, some expect it to be solved any decade now). Another position is that the lack of solution to the problem of induction presents a big problem for epistemology. The popperian position is that it's the wrong problem, the wrong question. Popper instead raised a different better question and solved it.

Take justification: there is a false dichotomy between "yes we can justify our beliefs/ideas/knowledge" and "no we can't, justification fails due to regress [and several other arguments], therefore knowledge is impossible". The Popperian view is that both of these positions are wrong. They both agree on an incorrect concept of what justification is and why we need it. They package justification together with knowledge.

Take support: consider the idea that we can support our beliefs with evidence and arguments. Some people say we can't, therefore our beliefs are irrational. Some people say we can, and it makes our beliefs rational. Both sides have accepted that we need to support our beliefs with evidence and argument for them to be rational. Popper disagrees with both standard sides. He says we don't have to support our beliefs with evidence and argument for them to be rational; that isn't actually how you get rational knowledge; but there is a different way of getting rational knowledge.

There is a package deal combining rationality and support. And it creates a false dichotomy where either you have both rationality and support, or neither.


Popperian epistemology is a complex subject requiring study to understand well. I cannot cover it all here. I'm going to talk about one example in more detail to give you a sample.

Do we have to support our beliefs with evidence and arguments for them to be rational? Pretty much everyone agrees the answer is "yes". That includes both people who think we can do this and thereby get rational knowledge, and also people who think that our inability to do this prevents us from getting rational knowledge (skeptics).

The Popperian view is that rationality is not about support. It is achieved by a different method. Rational ideas are ideas which are open to criticism. If there's no way to improve an idea, it's stuck, it's bad, it's irrational. If it's open to improvement via criticism – if it's open to reform, refinement, error correction – then it is rational.

Whether ideas are open to error correction does not depend on how much support they have. That is not the issue. (And actually, sometimes when people say, "I've proved my case with all this supporting evidence," it can indicate they are not open to criticism.)

Think, for a moment, about what we want to accomplish in epistemology. For example: we want to sort out good ideas from bad ideas. We want to improve our ideas. We want to get knowledge – ideas that are connected to reality and effective in reality.

Trying to support ideas was a false goal. It's not really what we wanted. It was a way of getting something else. It had indirect value. It's important to identify this gap and separate the concepts. We can reject support but still find a different method to get the useful stuff support was intended to achieve.

Supporting ideas is meant to sort out good ideas from bad ideas. The ones with more support are good. This method does not work. One unsolved problem with it is to define exactly when, why and how much any given idea supports any other ideas. A second problem is whether a less supported idea could be the best one. If it can, what does it really matter that it's less supported?

However, a different method of sorting out good ideas does work: criticism. Ideas which are not refuted by criticism are sorted out from those which are refuted by criticism. (These critical classifications are always open to revision in the future as we learn more.)




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Friday, July 5 - 8:09amSanction this postReply
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Temple: "Supporting ideas is meant to sort out good ideas from bad ideas. The ones with more support are good. This method does not work. One unsolved problem with it is to define exactly when, why and how much any given idea supports any other ideas. A second problem is whether a less supported idea could be the best one. If it can, what does it really matter that it's less supported?"
It is a cliche in college math and physics classes that "I understood the lecture, but I could not do the homework."  Your essay is clearly written, but lacks examples.  You seem to be among that minority of humans who can be given a general rule and then generate specific cases.  Most people seem better at making up general rules to explain isolated examples.  That explains the "problem of induction" and also how superstitions begin. 

In the citation above, can you give an example from politics?  For instance, both socialism and capitalism rest on large "supports" i.e., explanatory theories pointing to salient facts.  Popper called Freudian psychology and astrology both non-scientific because they offered only explanation.  ("He thinks that way because he is a Taurus."  I am a Taurus and I do not agree with him.  "Ah, but he has a Saturn rising and you have a Venus rising."  -- In other words, with astrology, given the framework explanations are always possible.  Falsifiability eludes them.) 

With socialism, falsifiability is not allowed.  You cannot just file some papers with the county clerk and opt out of regulations and taxes.  However, in a capitalist society, socialist utopias are allowed. See California's Utopian Colonies by Robert V. Hine.  So, capitalism admits to falsifiability. 

But, as you say, we have no common standard of "how much support."  And, it may be that a less supported idea could be better than one that is well-supported. Again, though, examples are lacking. I suppose we might say that at this point, your better claim has less support.




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Friday, July 5 - 10:36amSanction this postReply
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Your essay is clearly written, but lacks examples. You seem to be among that minority of humans who can be given a general rule and then generate specific cases.

Haha I agree with you. Giving more examples is something I've been trying to keep in mind when writing. You should see the original draft of this! It had the 4 examples that say "Take X" but not the one at the end where I did one of them in more detail. My friend told me I had to add a more concrete example than the "Take X" paragraphs, so i did one of them one layer more concrete.

The main reason I don't add more examples and concretes in this essay is length and focus. I am going to write some more essays to explain my position better. I was trying to keep this pretty focused and the main topic was abstract.

(I also generally have an expectation that if people have questions or don't understand something, they should ask, and I can give more info. It's hard to predict in advance which additional info readers might want. Or they can also wait until I write another thing, and gradually build up a better idea of what I'm saying.)


OK, for politics, let me explain a little first, then I'll try examples. There are two categories of argument called "support" that I want to differentiate. They are the rational and the irrational. For the rational ones, you can always "translate" the argument -- keeping the main point, but changing the format -- so that it is a critical argument refuting rivals. In those cases where such a "translation" is possible, I think maybe we don't have such a big disagreement. For irrational ones, you cannot do such a translation. Also, many arguments are ambiguous about which one they are.

OK what's that mean?

Capitalism has supports like: compatible with freedom, worked well in 19th century USA, the book Human Action, the book Atlas Shrugged, it's good for the masses.

Each of these can be translated into critical arguments. You can criticize a rival of capitalism for being incompatible with freedom, failing to explain why capitalism seemed to work in 19th century USA, or not addressing the arguments from HA or AS.

In each case, if we're comparing to some rival idea, either this critical argument does or doesn't refute the rival. If it doesn't refute it, then it's irrational to say capitalism is better for that particular reason. Neither capitalism nor this hypothetical rival is refuted by "systems should be compatible with freedom" so they both do equally well on that issue, neither should get supported above the other, so amounts of support isn't a useful concept.

That point about the masses is more problematic. It's true that capitalism is a system that's really good for the masses. You get mass production which makes high quality stuff cheap. You end up in a lot of cases with the rich buying the same stuff as the rest of us, e.g. they drink the same coke we do. However, if you try to translate it and say "any economic system which doesn't treat the masses really well is bad", i would be concerned. Sure capitalism is good for the masses and that is nice and worth understanding, but i'd be worried if you started thinking that how good a system is for the masses adds that much support. And I don't think it translates very well to a critical argument because if a system isn't so good for the masses that doesn't mean it's wrong.

OK now consider some (claimed) "supports" of socialism: it's kind, it's good for the masses, it has a heart, it's efficient, it deals with public good problems, it is fair, it is egalitarian, it helps those in need, it avoids wasteful competition, it's well organized. Marx was really smart and he advocated it, and so did many other intellectuals.

How are these to be evaluated? Some of them we might say are false and worth zero support. Others, well, maybe they score a little bit of support? It does have a "heart" for some meaning of "heart". It does do some things to help some people in need, at least in the short term. It does avoid a lot of competition. It does have some kind of organization to it.

In a lot of cases I would have to say: so what? I would demand: if you are making a good point, please translate it into a criticism of capitalism. In what way is capitalism is because of this point? If you can't give a way that your argument refutes capitalism, then why is it worth any support points at all? Why does that get you anywhere?

The last argument -- that some intellectuals (supposed authorities) like socialism -- is a particularly irrational argument. It's an appeal to authority. And it can't be translated to a good critical argument. It would come out like, "Capitalism is false because there were some intellectuals who didn't advocate it". That doesn't make any sense. The idea that authorities add support (it's just not fully conclusive) is kinda plausible to a lot of people -- but actually irrational -- but it doesn't work at all in critical arguing.


What I think it comes down to is that each good argument rules out some ideas. If an argument doesn't rule anything out, it's no good, it's irrational, it's not differentiating between the ideas we're trying to choose between. If an argument does rule some things out, then those are refuted, and the things that aren't ruled out are not refuted. There's no degrees of support here, you just have two categories, the stuff that has and hasn't been critically ruled out.


Well, OK, there's some examples about how to use this approach to analyze things. Does that help?



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Friday, July 5 - 2:42pmSanction this postReply
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re: If there's no way to improve an idea, it's stuck, it's bad, it's irrational. If it's open to improvement via criticism – if it's open to reform, refinement, error correction – then it is rational.

I have an idea that people should not be raped.

Is that idea open to reform, refinement, error correction?

Is that idea rational?


A rapist could not readily use Popper's ideas to convince anyone that his idea about rape were rational, even though those ideas are certainly open to criticism, reform, refinement, and error correction.

I could sleep like a baby being accused of being intransigent and even, in some worldviews, irrational, based on my idea that people should not be raped.

Ditto my idea that people should be free and should interact with each other on the basis of free association, as opposed to forced association, as that is clearly what makes rape 'rape' is that very concept.

However, I would understand, in the context of freedom, in a free nation, why advocates of paradigms that demand forced association would have an absolute need to suggest that folks clinging to ideas about freedom loosen their grip a bit; that such ideas be subject to reform, criticism, and improvement.

It's just that, when illustrated with the idea of 'rape' and what rapists want, the absurdity of this applied to some contexts is crystal clear.

regards,
Fred






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Friday, July 5 - 7:11pmSanction this postReply
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Fred,

You're advocating being closed minded. That's not Objectivism.

Rape is a complicated subject. There are many different ways of thinking about it, some better than others. There is room for nuance, refining one's thinking, improvement, progress.

For example, quite a few people seem to think that if a woman drinks any alcohol prior to sex, and regrets the sex afterwards, that is rape. This is a serious problem. Not all anti-rape positions are acceptable.

But even setting that aside, issues of exactly what constitutes consent are by no means trivial. (What constitutes sex can also be tricky.)

What you are advocating is a "frozen, arrested state of knowledge" (ITOE) with regard to rape. That's bad with regard to anything.



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Friday, July 5 - 9:04pmSanction this postReply
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Elliot,

I became interested in looking into Popper's epistemology after reading your statement, "Objectivists have misunderstood Popper, and their criticisms of Popper rely on misunderstanding his positions." And I'll take the time to read what you've read carefully and see if I can improve my thinking in this area.

But in the meantime, I was stunned by your reply to Fred. I'm strongly in agreement with what he wrote.

When we talk about rape we are aware that there can be nuances around the legal edges... the boundaries. How does one legally derive the age of consent? It differs from state to state, and has changed over time. Why wouldn't it vary from individual to individual? Is there a better way to measure incapacity from alcohol as it relates to ability to consent? Some people function better than others despite having the same or more alcohol by body weight. And so forth.

But things like these are just our attempts to provide a bright line that can be used in application of the law. Law isn't a statement of knowledge. It is a guideline to sort out what we judge as acceptable from unacceptable actions, and to do so in a way that can be enforced (and hopefully, it has arisen as an attempt to best represent individual rights).

So the law is our best effort, one hopes, to provide adequate concretes for the application of the moral principle in a legal context.

The moral principle in the case of rape is quite clear. If we value the freedom to choose, if we believe that we own our bodies, and if we consider the initiation of physical force to be wrong, then we will be opposed to someone initiating force to achieve their sexual ends with another.

It won't matter about any quibbles over what precisely is "sex" or the legal boundaries of consent, because we will absolute in our certainty that we want the best guidelines we can come up with so that we can be the most effective in stopping such an awful evil as rape.

For the purpose of this discussion, imagine someone snatching a young child off the street and using brutal force to achieve sexual penetration against the child's will and in spite of the child's fierce struggle to get free. That's clear isn't it? Are there any nuances that need to be addressed? I don't think so.

From that perspective I see a clear cut evil to be addressed and I freely acknowledge that there will be other examples that present difficulties at some of the boundaries.

Taking a different case, one near a fuzzy legal boundary, there will be times when someone will have to decide if a case is morning-after-remorse mixed with denial, or a real rape. But that doesn't make 'rape' unknowable - it just makes it a category that some things go in, and others don't. This is a rape, and that isn't. And those choices will be fallible but it is only an issue because the attempts to draw bright legal lines that maintain integrity with the underlying moral principle, yet giving concretes that allow us to parse any future case - and that is difficult near contextual boundaries.

What are our alternatives? Have no definitions, no laws, take no actions, make no judgments... all because we can't claim some final, irrevocable knowledge of what definitions of actions will constitute rape in all possible situations? Or do we declare that all laws, definitions, actions, judgments are going to be flawed and none can be seen as better than others? So it doesn't matter - that none can be seen as right? just embrace relativism? I'd swear that what you replied to Fred appeared to stake out the position that we are doomed to never having knowledge, or that all knowledge is equally right/wrong/relative. As if we were held hostage by nuance.



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Friday, July 5 - 9:17pmSanction this postReply
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Culture clash can often be shocking. But it can also be fruitful. This is something Popper talked about.

Anyway, omniscience is not the standard of knowledge. (That is the Objectivist position, as well as the Popperian position.)

So don't treat your knowledge as if it were omniscience or infallible. All knowledge should be considered potentially open to progress and improvement, not frozen.

This is both the Objectivist and Popperian view.

What are our alternatives? Have no definitions, no laws, take no actions, make no judgments... all because we can't claim some final, irrevocable knowledge of what definitions of actions will constitute rape in all possible situations?

Exactly none of those. Just don't shut your mind. Don't attack fallibility, pretend omniscience, say some things are not open to critical questioning and discussion, etc

If there's no criticisms of an idea, no known problems, great, use it, act on it. If there are criticisms, then to dismiss them simply because you think you have The Truth, so they can't matter, would be irrational.

Or do we declare that all laws, definitions, actions, judgments are going to be flawed and none can be seen as better than others?

Just because a bunch of ideas about laws are flawed -- not omniscient, not infallible, not perfect -- doesn't mean they are equally good. That is a non sequitur.

I'm not advocating relativism or skepticism. Look at what Fred said:

Is that idea open to reform, refinement, error correction?

The meaning is: he advocates some ideas are not open to reform, refinement, error correction. They are omniscient, infallible. That is what I take issue with.

He's saying that if he feels sure enough about some of his ideas, then that's the end, and no more thought on the topic is ever needed again. The ideas are frozen.



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Saturday, July 6 - 7:36amSanction this postReply
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The genius of the 1st Amendment is that it illuminates in two directions. But, tone is hard to read in this medium.

I'm hoping you are making a joke when you say that rape is complicated and/or subject to nuanced debate. Because, when not said as part of some dark humor, it just ... illuminates.

Or, freedom; for the same reason.

When a candidate rape victim is assessed as being 'closed minded' and not nuanced enough for modern philosophies, there is no mistaking what the basis is for the claim; some just want what they want, and the principle of 'free association' is an impediment to that. An existentially terrified human being in a sinking lifeboat is an example. But in its calmer forms, I'm reminded of the truly clumsy indoctrination that used to go on at my own Disneyland, one of the long time Seminaries of Social Scientology, a veritable mandrel of thought in service to a failed agenda based on forced association, launched by a global adversary of freedom now long smouldering on the dust heap of history.

Did yours take, or were you making a joke?

A mandrel, interestingly, is a tool used to hold some material while it is, via force, shaped into another form.

Some resist the force in those choke points of indoctrination, and escape with an education. The weak cave in, and shuffle out as a certified tribe member with their instructions.

I'm not a card carrying Objectivist, by the way. I can't even comprehend the what that would be like. It reads like you're here to take on a club that doesn't exist, because it largely eschews 'clubs.' But with some irony, feel free.

regards,
Fred





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Saturday, July 6 - 7:41amSanction this postReply
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Steve:

For the purpose of this discussion, imagine someone snatching a young child off the street and using brutal force to achieve sexual penetration against the child's will and in spite of the child's fierce struggle to get free.


For the purpose of this discussion, imagine a stronger individual or mob snatching a weaker individual or mob off the street and using brutal force to achieve any whim at all against the weaker individual or mob's will and in spite of the weaker individual's or mob's fierce struggle to get free.

That illuminates the 1:1 relationship between the ethics of gang rape and Pure Democracy, unfettered by any principle other than the ethics of 'what we want.'

regards,
Fred






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Saturday, July 6 - 7:46amSanction this postReply
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Elliot,
I'm not advocating relativism or skepticism. Look at what Fred said:
Is that idea open to reform, refinement, error correction?
The meaning is: he advocates some ideas are not open to reform, refinement, error correction. They are omniscient, infallible. That is what I take issue with.

He's saying that if he feels sure enough about some of his ideas, then that's the end, and no more thought on the topic is ever needed again. The ideas are frozen.

It's kind of a straw-man fallacy to argue that Fred was using a frozen abstraction -- a particular instance taken to be a generalization of all instances (i.e., a species treated as if it were actually the genus). The irony is that in order to get into the position to do that you, yourself, used the fallacy of the frozen abstraction! Fred was asking if the idea of forced penetration is open to reform, not whether statutory rape laws, etc., were open to reform -- yet you took his particular instance, expanded it to include all these peripheral ideas about federalism and intoxication and buyer's remorse and whatnot, and then branded it as:

1) omniscient
2) infallible
3) emotive; based on feelings (rather than on noncontradictory thinking)
4) frozen

It's a little early to tell, but I'm pretty sure that you are advocating relativism or skepticism. And another 10 or so posts from you on the topic should be enough to make that pretty clear, either way.

Ed




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Saturday, July 6 - 8:11amSanction this postReply
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Elliot:

The meaning is: he advocates some ideas are not open to reform, refinement, error correction. They are omniscient, infallible. That is what I take issue with.


You should then feel free to proudly stand behind your embrace of rape and other forms of unfettered by any principle forced association, even with a self-awarded "I'm Open Minded!" ribbon. This is exactly the kind of information needed for people to freely associate.

And on those same subjects, I will proudly admit my absolutist, intransigent, closed mindedness, will readily cop that I find no wiggle room on the subjects of rape and other forms of unfettered forced association, and sleep like a baby.


I'm left with one curious observation, however; if all rational ideas are open to reform, refinement, and error correction(or else they are omniscient and infallible, which is something you take issue with, I understand), then would that include the idea that all rational ideas are open to reform, refinement, and error correction, or else they are omniscient and infallible?


Or, like in all True Religions, is that The One Absolute Truth? Because I got to tell you; it reads like a self-defeating truth. It reads like what a carny huckster would tell someone at the carnival when trying to get them to release the vise like grip on their wallet. "Say there; are you being closed minded about the fact that is your wallet? You should loosen your grip a little..."

Only the subject here is, our very lives, and the carny hucksterism of those who seek dominion over them.


Don't worry; millions have fallen into the True Religion trap. It happens all the time.

Take Kant(who should properly have been called Kan.) Did anyone ever stop to ask the question, "If there is an innate difference between a thing and itself that 'we' cannot perceive, then how did Kant ever perceive it to bring us the news that it actually exists?"


Or Rawls(who is fine with the name Rawls.) If there is a hypothetical state of perfect unbias, behind a 'veil of ignorance' about future outcomes, the ideal state in which to make our 'initial choice,' then... how is it that only Rawls is able to travel to that perfect state, pierce its 'veil of ignorance' and miraculously conduct rigged polls of its denizens? Which, to our complete surprise, happen to confirm the politics of Rawls and his?

Because when I borrow his must-be Magic Carpet and fly there to conduct my own polls, and ask the simple question, "Would you prefer to live in a tribe governed by rules of free association or forced association governed by a tribe of Ivy League Elites?" the results are overwhelming and obvious and not nuanced in the least.


See? Happens all the time.

regards,
Fred



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Saturday, July 6 - 8:56amSanction this postReply
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Ed, I said "frozen" not "frozen abstraction". Frozen means no change, no progress, ever.

You accuse me of misreading Fred, yet Fred himself has now posted saying it again. And also commenting that he's not an Objectivist (so, my interpretation, don't be so surprised that his comments contradict Objectivist epistemology).

Fred doubled down. I said, "The meaning is: he advocates some ideas are not open to reform, refinement, error correction. They are omniscient, infallible. That is what I take issue with." and Fred ran with it and argued with me about it, instead of saying that's not what he meant.

So I still think I got him right.

Fred thinks I want to attack Objectivism. That is not correct. I want to integrate Objectivist epistemology and Popperian epistemology. (Why? Because Objectivism does have a lot of value, and it's important to integrate the best philosophical ideas around.) And as part of that project, I want to do things like talk to more Objectivists and see what they think, and how it differs from Objectivist writing and courses, and what objections they raise that I wouldn't have raised, and so on.


Ed, insisting that our knowledge is not omniscient doesn't make one a skeptic. I guess denying skepticism won't convince you. What would?
(Edited by Elliot Temple on 7/06, 8:59am)




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Saturday, July 6 - 9:10amSanction this postReply
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Surprisingly lacking here so far are any quotes from Popper.  Indeed, we were cautioned at the outset that neither Popper nor his interpreters are important, but only the "Popperian view" that knowledge is attainable and falsifiable.  Perhaps what we really have here are the Templerian assertions.

As I sit here I see a USB drive fashioned as a bottle opener on a ring on which is also a US Morgan silver dollar.  The perception is irrefutable, primary.  If I did not know about the USB drive, the object would still be a bottle-opener.  If I knew nothing about numismatics, the fob would still be a coin.  I know of contacts with cultures that did not have coins or money and for whom the metal objects were not perceived even as having figures and devices with meaning.  The natives apparently did not perceive the queen's head as an image.  But the object stlll existed for them and whoever wanted to keep it, nonetheless put a hole through it, near the rim. 

Argue context all you want, at some level, reality remains unchanged by perception because the question must be asked, "Perception of what?"

As for rape, it is convenient to make an emotional appeal, but not helpful.  We might get more arguments if we were outraged at the case of a young child grabbed from the streets and placed in a public school and forced to accept education in reading, writing, and arithmetic (also, citizenship, music, and art).  Our society forces people to wear clothes.  Here in Austin, it will be under 100 F again, today, as it was all week, a brisk and bracing mid- to upper-90s F.  Why do I have to wear clothes?

Well, we have a lot of good reasons for such laws...  And if you do not like them, Texas as huges tracts of open land where not a person is to be found.  In fact, I know a man who lives in rural Missouri who invariably walks his own extensive farm naked.  Here in the city, we grab naked people off the street and force them to wear clothes.

Maybe in an Objectivist utopia we would not.  It would be interesting to develop an Objectivist case for naturist living as a moral imperative.

If that seems silly to you, then you have to admit that the case is abstract enough not to make you angry and righteous when you argue for objective knowledge. The "rape" argument is sort of like the "Hitler" argument.  Any rational discussion on the pros and cons of state-owned enterprises comes to a complete halt as soon as someone says "Hitler."  So, too, with rape.  When someone punches you in the eye, we do not separately classify that as "ocular assault" or "eye crime."  We all know why.




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Saturday, July 6 - 9:41amSanction this postReply
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Michael, what topic(s) do you want quotes for?

The perception is irrefutable, primary


By irrefutable are you saying it's frozen forever and omniscient? There could never ever be progress on the topic? If not, could you try to speak in a way I'll find clearer?



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Saturday, July 6 - 10:08amSanction this postReply
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Eliot:

I could be wrong, but here is my assessment. This is purely my opinion, not an assertion of facts:

The application of logic to any debate of the conflict between freedom and forced association(or rape) is a fool's errand.

The essence of the conflict, I believe, is 'nuanced.' It is a combination of factors (based on facts), such as:


1] We are not clones. We are similar, but not equal in all respects, including physical, mental / mental / intellectual / emotional features. There is a gradient of capabilities in mankind in all of the above.

2] Modernity is every year increasingly more complex; the rate of acquisition new knowledge is or has long ago vastly outpaced the ability of any one of us during our entire lifetime to acquire the sum of all past and new knowledge. We are thus, with every increasing year, more exposed? dependent? impacted by? the unscrutable calculus and algebra of strangers far over the horizon. All of us.

3] Our genetic makeup is a factor; not all of us are wired the same, have the same weightings/values in certain innately wired wetbits, whatever we would like to call these wired in influences: the God gene: the herd mentality gene. The lone wolf gene. The empathy gene.

4] So there are lots of influences on our political choices, but can't use the word 'politics' without defining it: Politics: the art and science of getting what we want from others using any means short of actual violence. Mega-Politics is the superset that includes force/violence. The desire to forcefully, not via free association, ride others in the tribe like a tribal property pony is a political want, but so is the desire not to be ridden like a pony. Both are examples of 'what we want from others.' To be left alone except under rules of free association is also a political want. But there isn't perfect symmetry on those political axes...

5] Commerce is also a scheme for getting what we want from others; win-win exchange of value for value. But commerce is insufficient to cover all of the wants and needs of the tribe, for the reasons above; it is not universally accepted as the preferred means of getting what we want from others. There is a civil gradient of that, too:

Ask...commerce....beg....politics....crime....war.

(I put modern politics somewhere between begging and crime, because it is for sure nowhere near commerce or asking...)

6] Not everyone reacts the same to these influences. For example...

7] Since the 1800s, certain Malthusian beliefs based on our comprehension of geometric growth have influenced our politics, especially by way German philosophers of that 19th century. (No relation, but Professor Albert Bartlett/UnivofCo has made a name for himself by clearly illustrating the mathematical consequences of geometric growth.)

8] Pure existential terror-- an extreme form of the above beliefs. Coming of age in a modernity that we barely comprehend, that must appear like 'Magic' to some, with no understanding at all at how we ended up like this, miles above the ground. Imagine waking up at the age of 16, and becoming aware that you are miles out to sea, in deep water, far above the ocean floor, floating...with no idea how to swim. And yet, you are indeed floating. You have some vague awareness of the groundtruth that covers 98% of the earth-- the abject poverty and brutishness on the streets of Bangladesh and much of the world beyond the thin resort crust that most call 'overseas' ... and coupled with an abject cluelessness about how it is we arrived in this state of being, far out to sea, some ... panic, and flail, and act like existentially terrified creatures in a floundering lifeboat, climbing over the backs of others in order to survive.

In such a state, such existentially terrified creatures 'want what they want' -- and no about of logic is going to apply, or calm them down, or help them to to understand their circumstances.

And so, whatever it takes. Safety in numbers -- even if those numbers are forced against their will to have their bodies be our human liferaft-- even as the urge to tie their bodies together into a forced association mass could be exactly what is keeping those we claim we need to forcefully associate with from keeping us all afloat; we claim we depend on them absolutely, which is our justification for chaining them to our needs, in our panic, but that panic and the mass of our great numbers may be exactly what dooms our survival. But the urge to survive could be the greatest value of all, superseding all others when our other faculties fail, including our reason.

And to varying degrees, these existentially terrified children are more or less obvious. The less obvious are calm, and access at least the robes of logic and reason, and make their arguments, ironically, to attack logic and reason, but ultimately do not embrace anything like logic, in fact, regard cold logic and reason as the enemy of what they want, because their absolute is ultimately what they want.

But that is just an opinion.

regards,
Fred



Post 15

Saturday, July 6 - 10:16amSanction this postReply
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Elliot,

I think some of this is more about certainty - a psychological issue - than epistemology (not all of the differences, but some). Fred and I are both of a mind that rape will never be discovered to be a good thing. We are certain. At the same time, Fred and I both hold reason, logic and evidence in very high regard. If someone showed us evidence that our understanding of human nature was so badly flawed that rape was in fact a good thing, we would accede. But at this point our grasp of the principles involved is such that we are certain that would never happen.

It's my belief, from a psychological point of view, that a healthy and effective mind will mirror statistics in some ways - that is, that the level of mental-emotional certainty will mirror the statistical likelihood of the issue at hand being found wrong. I have no doubt that evolution encouraged just such an approach since without motivation, their would be no movement, and that would be fatal, yet the wrong move can also be fatal. A certainty that mirrors reality is strikingly valuable.

A person totally open to suggestion is like a highly tuned recording device that isn't going anywhere till instructed from the outside. A person totally closed to outside objections at a point in time, is a person that will be least distracted and most attuned to acting on what he knows at the time. Both of those extremes might be desirable at one moment, and a disaster at another.

A healthy mind has like a slider switch, one side labeled "Open to new stuff, no actions available but learning" and the other labeled "Closed to new stuff, so as to focus totally on action" and when we walk into a classroom we will move the switch somewhat towards "Open". When we are hit with a burst of adrenalin in a scary situation, but one we understand or have training for, that switch is slammed hard against the "Closed" side to facilitate acting in the present, and contemplating later. In psychology, one the key jobs of a therapist to help the client move the switch towards "Open" at times when neurotic defenses are trying to push it closed.

I find it easy to understand the psychological side of this, but to describe this as epistemological phenomena is a different story.
------------
The meaning is: he advocates some ideas are not open to reform, refinement, error correction. They are omniscient, infallible. That is what I take issue with.
From the viewpoint of psychology, we must act as if some of our ideas are not open to reform, refinement, or error correction - in the moment. Psychologically, the best position is the one where the person has the easiest and greatest control over deciding whether (and how) to introspect on the validity of an idea versus acting on it. That means not being defensive, but also, at other times, not hesitating. Ideas are always available for scrutiny. For this to be a shared process, there only needs be some degree of an accepted standard for discussion. Here at ROR the standard is in the name - "Reason". Fred is responding.... with reason. In that sense he is agreeing that ideas, as a kind of entity, can be examined, and that some will be found lacking. But he is also saying that some are never going to be found in error. This gets us back to epistemology and a discussion of the possibility of A.) Can there be an aspect of reality that is comprehended, B.) Can that resulting idea so relate to reality that it is "True". C.) That so long as the underlying reality does not change, the idea will not require reform, refinement, or error correction. D.) It is reasonable to say that the underlying reality in the context being discussed is not going to change.

At this point, I think Ed is right in saying that there is a burden of proof required on your part to show that having absolute certainty on one idea is a claim for omniscience, or infallibility - that is an error in logic. Or that his Fred's "intransigence" represents a kind of emotionalism when he presented his reasoning and a description of the context from which he was reasoning. And Ed made another good point when he implied that holding absolute certainty at one point in time is not necessarily a claim that is frozen forever.



Post 16

Saturday, July 6 - 10:20amSanction this postReply
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Eliot:

I think you misunderstood me; I didn't 'double down.'

I proudly double-downed. On the nuanced topic of the 'emotional' topic of rape, I am closed minded, intransigent, and absolutist. Proudly.

If that makes me one cereal box top shy of admission into some elitist club, then also color me 'relieved' because there but for the Grace of the Universe go I.

'Rape' you see, as the poster child for 'forced association' is an 'emotional', not 'reasonable' topic. Imagine the nuanced conversations in all those dark allies. 'You there, fighting for your life; you are being 'emotional.' Have an 'open mind.' Give it up. Because ... we want what we want, against your will, and we are the Holy majority here.'

What is the opposite of 'double-down?' It is the failure to engage. As in:

I'm left with one curious observation, however; if all rational ideas are open to reform, refinement, and error correction(or else they are omniscient and infallible, which is something you take issue with, I understand), then would that include the idea that all rational ideas are open to reform, refinement, and error correction, or else they are omniscient and infallible?


Yes, some Absolute Religious Truths are best left, dare I say, un-criticised.

regards,
Fred










Post 17

Saturday, July 6 - 10:25amSanction this postReply
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Fred,
Steve,
...
For the purpose of this discussion, imagine a stronger individual or mob snatching a weaker individual or mob off the street and using brutal force to achieve any whim at all against the weaker individual or mob's will and in spite of the weaker individual's or mob's fierce struggle to get free.
You are preaching to the choir. I understand your point and agree with it. My purpose was to create an example that was stripped of nuance so as to bring the moral principle into stark contrast. Elliot was using nuances in the area of law when the subject was not legal, but moral.

I understand and agree that all of the forms of forced associations are a kind of rape. But that is understood to be a metaphorical use of the word rape that clarifies the moral issue, (in the law, on the other hand, we would want to keep far, far away from description by metaphor and be very concrete and direct).



Post 18

Saturday, July 6 - 10:28amSanction this postReply
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I think some of this is more about certainty - a psychological issue - than epistemology (not all of the differences, but some).

Oh! Thank you. I normally read "certainty" as epistemological term, not a psychological term. I will watch out each time I see it now and consider which way it's meant. (When Peikoff talks of "certain knowledge", does he mean psychology?)

But I still don't see how "certainty" is a good term to refer something which you acknowledge as fallible and non-omniscient.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/certain?show=0&t=1373131420

Certainty is kinda defined as infallible. From merriam webster it has meanings like "indisputable" and "incapable of failing". (And also some more ambiguous meanings, as you always run into when looking up philosophy words in the dictionary.) And if you click over to the thesaurus tab it says "not capable of being challenged or proved wrong" as a meaning and then gives synonyms for that meaning.

You say, "If someone showed us evidence that our understanding of human nature was so badly flawed that rape was in fact a good thing, we would accede." In other words you are open to being challenged or proved wrong. So still seems to me that you're using the wrong word. Why do you choose this word?

From the viewpoint of psychology, we must act as if some of our ideas are not open to reform, refinement, or error correction - in the moment.

I do not agree. We should always act as if what's true is true, not like something else.



Post 19

Saturday, July 6 - 10:32amSanction this postReply
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Steve:

A political carny huckster's first duty is to kick out the intellectual legs from underneath his intended victims. As in, their 'certainty' that rape is rape.

Or, that 'freedom' is not just 'vanilla' to the open minded 'chocolate' of Totalitarianism... or whatever we need to call the latest marketing repackaging of the same old jungle tribal politics, Durkheim's "S"ociety/the Tribe is God and Marx's the State is its proper church...


There is an imaginary universe somewhere where I would wilt under the accusation of being a frozen 'absolutist' and close minded on some topics-- as if *that* was an emotional accusation akin to 'rapist' or 'child molestor' ... whereas in the real world, I get to absolutely laugh about those selling the Absolute Truth of " all rational ideas are open to reform, refinement, and error correction(or else they are omniscient and infallible ... except for the idea that all rational ideas are open to reform, refinement, and error correction(or else they are omniscient and infallible."

Perhaps I'm not nuanced enough to fail to see how funny that sounds.

regards,
Fred









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