Pan Critical Rationalism

A few of us have been having a contentious debate in the comments section after I claimed that it wasn't true that everyone uses induction in their lives.

I do hold that some people might use philosophical induction with the intention of achieving absolute truth but that this is invalid. There are people who say, "The sun rose in the past so it must rise today."

It certainly is a method you could use to take a stab at the truth but it is so prone to error that it is likely to fail. Popper called this psychological induction. I say it's likely to fail because it is prone to error. Just because the sun rose yesterday and the day before does not mean it will always rise. I'm sure most people who would agree with this solar statement are smart enough not to use the method in this case although they may be mistaken in thinking they are in fact using it anyway. This is the error that Popper believed Hume made.

Now I feel the opposition has so far even failed to understand my position. I cannot even get him to the point where he understands Popper. Sometimes I'm just not sure how to get another person to see things correctly. I'm not saying that he must see that I'm right but that he at least understands my position. Then I might accept his claims as valid criticism, true or not.

In that spirit I went out to try and find a worthy opponent. Someone who I feel understands Popper and has a criticism I accept as valid. I had heard arguments in the past that were, I thought, acceptable criticisms of Popper. I thought I'd show one to move the argument up to the point where I am, and not remain stuck on the failure to even understand Popper.

So why then do I still maintain my position? The answer is that I didn't. I'm not a strict Popperian in the sense of being a believer in everything Popper says. I never was since I disagreed with him on some issues. I was however accepting of part of his beliefs. I was a critical rationalist but had to abandon that when I found arguments that showed critical rationalism to be false. I modified my beliefs to more in line with Bartley. I'm currently a variety of Pancritical Rationalist.

Does that help? Well, yes and no. I no longer have to deal with the prior criticism that worked on Popper but there are new criticisms that work on Bartley's position. I also accept that criticism. We'll get into why I continue to believe in a modified Pancritical Rationalism later.

The criticisms of Popper and Bartley that I accept are expounded upon in an article by Armando Cíntora titled "Miller's Defence of Bartley's Pancritical Rationalism ". You can read it here. Here's a google in case that link goes bad.

Here is the criticism of Bartley that I accept:

"W. W. Bartley thought it was possible, however, to reform Popper's critical rationalism into a consistent and comprehensive theory of rationality («pan critical» rationalism: PCR, also called comprehensive critical rationalism: CCR.) Bartley claimed that it was possible to reform critical rationalism into a theory that allegedly does not lead into a fideism of ultimate commitments. Bartley proposed a new rational identity one that allegedly does not lead into conflicts of rational integrity. Bartley's pan critical rationalist can be characterized as one,

... who is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions, including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his basic philosophical position itself open to criticism; one who protects nothing from criticism by justifying it irrationally; one who never cuts off an argument by resorting to faith or irrational commitment to justify some belief that has been under severe critical fire; one who is committed, attached, addicted, to no position. (Bartley, p. 118; emphasis added.)

This pan critical rationalist justifies nothing and allegedly criticizes everything, even his own rational attitude or position, he is not committed to any position, not even to a belief in the value of argument. This doesn't mean that the PCrationalist is without convictions, but only that he is willing to submit his convictions to critical consideration. PCR, however, leads to logical paradox, thus consider the following argument, due to Bartley himself and inspired by a critique of J. F. Post, an argument that Bartley finds unobjectionable:

(A) All positions are open to criticism.

And because of PCR's intended comprehensiveness it then follows,

(B) A is open to criticism. And,

Since (B) is implied by (A), any criticism of (B) will constitute a criticism of (A), and thus show that (A) is open to criticism. Assuming that a criticism of (B) argues that (B) is false, we may argue: if (B) is false, then (A) is false; but an argument showing (A) to be false (and thus criticizing it) shows (B) to be true. Thus, if (B) is false, then (B) is true. Any attempt to criticize (B) demonstrates (B); thus (B) is uncriticizable, and (A) is false. (Bartley, p. 224.) (Emphasis added.)

Hence, PCR is refuted and this conclusion is a result of the self-referential character of PCR -- a theory that intends to be a theory of all theories itself included, and it recalls the logical difficulties of classical rationalism, which also wanted to be comprehensive. Bartley claims that the paradoxical nature of PCR could be dealt,

...by type and language-level solutions, Zermelo-type solutions, category solutions, radical exclusion of all self reference... (Bartley, pp. 219-20.)

But, this is too vague, mere possibilia. "

I agree with this and I also agree that Miller was not able to resolve the issue to my satisfaction.

So, you might ask, "If I accept this criticism of Bartley then why do I continue to claim to be a Pancritical Rationalist?" The answer is that I have a solution in mind that is not in this list of "possibilia".

I leave it to the reader to see if they can come up with a solution. Remember to always consider the possibility that the problem was improperly stated.

If the problem is misstated then this would not be an excuse for Bartley since he was the one who formulated the precise statement based on a critique by J. F. Post. If any error was made it was certainly Bartley's.

So what's the solution?

Also, who the heck spells Defense as Defence? Is that a British thing?

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I don't really get the problem

Pan critical rationalism appears to refer to what the person is willing to do:

"... who is willing to entertain any position and holds all his positions, including his most fundamental standards, goals, and decisions, and his basic philosophical position itself open to criticism"

and

"This pan critical rationalist justifies nothing and allegedly criticizes everything, even his own rational attitude or position, he is not committed to any position, not even to a belief in the value of argument."

But the paradox you mention is a matter of the logic internal to the thing itself, it's not a matter of personal willingness.

"I hold something open to criticism" does not contradict, "attempts to criticize it are ultimately self-defeating." The critical rationalist is not responsible for this. It is not he who rejects the possibility of criticism, it is merely the logic of the situation that happens to turn criticism back on itself.

It's like the difference between, "I will always react to any action", and, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." The latter is not my fault - it is physics, which can hardly be blamed on me.

Maybe I simply am failing to understand something here.

That was the solution I was hinting at actually

Yes, you got it. That was the main problem with this argument that I was hinting at. I'm surprised Bartley didn't get it, at least according to this article. It's been so long since I've read one of his books that I can't remember his exact position. He might have worked through this.

The problem expressed and disproven does not capture the original claim of the pancritical rationalist, which is about personal belief. It instead is a universal claim about statements in general and one that is false.

There is one additional error that turns on the definition of "criticism". One can accept the validity of the disproof only if one accepts a certain peculiar notion of criticism. Do you see it?

Non-the-less both these errors are Bartley's since he formulated the example.

I see equivocation

There is one additional error that turns on the definition of "criticism". One can accept the validity of the disproof only if one accepts a certain peculiar notion of criticism. Do you see it?

There seems to be equivocation about whether "criticism" means "attempted criticism" or "successful criticism". I also noticed a jump from a statement being false to there being a criticism of it, but this seems less glaring because that problem can be patched. I'll copy the argument with my comments added:

(A) All positions are open to criticism.

Does this mean attempted criticism or successful criticism? It must mean attempted criticism, since true positions are not open to successful criticism, and presumably some positions are true. Let us keep this firmly in mind.

And because of PCR's intended comprehensiveness it then follows,

(B) A is open to criticism. And,

Since (B) is implied by (A), any criticism of (B) will constitute a criticism of (A), and thus show that (A) is open to criticism. Assuming that a criticism of (B) argues that (B) is false, we may argue: if (B) is false, then (A) is false; but an argument showing (A) to be false (and thus criticizing it) shows (B) to be true. Thus, if (B) is false, then (B) is true.

No. If (B) is false, then (A) is false, indeed. But it does not follow from the falsehood of (A) that there is an argument showing (A) to be false. Something can be false without there being an argument showing that it is false.

There is a more charitable interpretation of the above. The argument might be: Suppose that there is a successful criticism of (B). Then there is a successful criticism of (A). Therefore there is a criticism (successful or unsuccessful) of (A). Therefore (B) is true. That's fine. But (B)'s falsehood by itself generates no criticisms of (B), and therefore no criticisms of (A). So the falsehood by itself does not cause (B) to be true.

But I will allow this portion of the argument anyway, because the next step requires only the following:

Any attempt to criticize (B) is by logical implication an attempt to criticize (A). (Or if not, then one could construct a direct criticism of (A) simply by tacking on an inference from (B)'s falsehood to (A)'s falsehood to the criticism of (B).) It therefore demonstrates (B), since (B) asserts that there can be an attempt to criticize (A). This is what is used in the next step:

Any attempt to criticize (B) demonstrates (B);

That is true because of the argument I gave. So we did not need "if (B) is false, then (B) is true".

thus (B) is uncriticizable, and (A) is false.

No, because (A) asserted only that all positions are open to attempted criticism. It did not assert that all positions are open to successful criticism. So, even if any attempt to criticize (B) demonstrates (B), it does not follow that there can be no attempted criticisms of (B). It follows only that there can be no successful criticisms of (B). So (A) is not shown to be false.

Yes, only works if criticism is defined as succesful criticism

You got it. This proof is only valid if criticism is defined as being successful at proving something false. Which is an unreasonable definition since then A) would translate as "All positions are false". Which ensures we can prove A) false because it is self contradictory. The proof does it indirectly through B) but that isn't strictly necessary.

The proof assumes in one of the steps that only successful criticism counts as criticism. Using that definition of criticism we can directly say, "If A) is true it cannot be criticized, therefore it is false." So no need for position B).

golly

Dragging personal digs out of the comments an into a whole post is sinking pretty low. All I ask here is that you get Hume's position right- he is obviously not praising induction for its rational results, he is saying that it's an inescapable method that we all rely on. Criticisms of how "stupid" induction is won't do, because that's largely Hume's point.

You're either being disingenuous in your characterizations of "Hume's problem" to score a cheap debate point, or you really don't get it. I'm not sure which. Sentences like "Just because the sun rose yesterday and the day before does not mean it will always rise" are obvious and silly straw men. Of course it doesn't mean that it will ALWAYS rise. But try attacking one "because the sun has always risen in the past it is more likely than not to rise tomorrow." Does that seem wrong? Are you prepared for a sunless world (and before someone gets into what a sunless world would look like- consider cyanide caplets for painless suicide, do you have those? And anyway, there are other better examples of this if we have to go there.)

Was that "whole post" a personal dig? No.

The reason I made this an article is because it was suggested that we move this conversation out into a separate post by one of the administrators.

The entire post wasn't a personal dig and the worst I said was pretty mild. I claimed you were not a "worthy opponent" on the topic of Popper, which is true since I've read more of his works than you and actually got what he was claiming. Heck, you aren't even aware of the evolutionary concepts embedded in his work.

I think it is clear that my "digs" have been much milder than yours. Your last comment contained the sentence, "Make a ranting post about how I just don't understand your tortured brilliance."

There is no power differential here as you have the same posting rights here as me, so I'm not abusing power or anything. In fact you post anonymously while I'm using my real name so I'd say you have the upper hand. So even if I did humiliate you it would only be an alter ego which suffered and you could discard that like a molting lobster.

I don't recall using the word "stupid" and you misread what I was saying regarding Hume. I didn't attack him in the way you thought I did. I said "I'm sure most people who would agree with this solar statement are smart enough not to use the method in this case although they may be mistaken in thinking they are in fact using it anyway." I was not claiming that he would think the sun will always rise forever, and I think most people are smart enough to realize this. Hume's mistake refers to the second part about be confusing about what method they are using to come to a conclusion. I didn't imply that second part wasn't an easy trap for smart people to fall into.

Now to respond to your argument.

"Sentences like "Just because the sun rose yesterday and the day before does not mean it will always rise" are obvious and silly straw men. Of course it doesn't mean that it will ALWAYS rise."

This is exactly what induction claims. Induction claims that if we observe something enough times we are justified in deriving a universal from it. Universals are "all" and "always" types of statements like "all swans are white".

"But try attacking one "because the sun has always risen in the past it is more likely than not to rise tomorrow." Does that seem wrong?"

Yes, it does seem wrong. Probabilistic induction is invalid for the same reasons that regular induction is. Just because the series 1, 2, ... 1,000,000 is less than 4,000,000,000 doesn't mean it will continue to be as we follow the series.

Which is not to say that believing the sun will rise tomorrow seems wrong. That doesn't seem wrong because I have a theory rich understanding of why the sun rises. Something primitives didn't have and why eclipses might bother them more psychologically.

You really are failing to understand the fact that all your arguments are based on theories you've implicitly accepted. That floors are likely to turn into packs of werewolves is actually a theory. That observations of a single object in the future vs. the past are not tied in any way is a theory. The idea that all possible future observations should be as likely as any others is a theory. The idea that psychological induction somehow is useful in getting rid of such theories is nonsense.

If I held the theory that my floor was likely to change shape on every new observation to an infinite number of possible forms then isn't that just like believing every objects form shifts by the same odds as throwing a close to infinitely faced die? Isn't it also true that when you throw a die, or flip a coin, that the odds are precisely the same regardless of prior results. So if you hold the theory that all outcomes are equally likely then induction doesn't help you. Just like getting four heads in a row during a coin flip doesn't tell you what the fifth flip will be, neither will four observations of your floor tell you the shape it will take on the next observation.

In fact no amount of observations are going to help in this regard, since the floor might operate like my counting series example. It might just be ticking down to the point at which it changes into a pack of werewolves.

The problem here isn't something induction can solve because induction, as Hume pointed out, just doesn't work. Nor can probablistic induction quell ones fears. Since there is no way to choose between the theories of the behavior of floors based on mere observation. Observing a solid floor for a million observations is still consistent with a near infinite number of ticking down to disaster floor theories, and consistent with a far lesser number of stable floor theories.

Think about all possible series of numbers that begin "1, 2, 3, .... one googleplex" but continue on. Only one of those series actually continues on to run through all the integers in order. The rest of them, and there is an infinity, do not. To make it more obvious say the first googleplex of the list were ones. Thus we have "1, 1, 1, ... 1" for googleplex instances. Well their is only one series where this continues consistently to remain as the value 1 for infinity. All the other series do something different like "1,1,1, ... 1, 2, 2, 6 ...".

So if you truly believe that observations of the same objects from one go to the next are totally unrelated then probablistic induction isn't going to help because you still have an infinity of bad possibities for every good one. The only thing that will help is to switch your implicit theory of the way the world works. You need to believe that things don't just change for no good reason. It's not a switch that can be arrived at by the means of induction.

So induction just doesn't work in getting us to absolute certainty or even probabilistic certainty about anything, without prior acceptance of the theory that the universe is consistent in some way. That acceptance was not derived in an inductive way but is simply a guess to be refuted or not. So far it hasn't been refuted.

I would also like to point out that you are taking phrases like "trial and error" and "test and test" to literally. That it was I who first brought up natural selection, and did so because of the natural analogy to Popper theory, and because Popper wrote about this.

You are also totally off in thinking this is about genetic determinism. That is neither Constant's nor my position. It turns out that our senses are "theory rich" and not tabular rasa. This too is not anything original on our parts, but was pointed out by Popper. I could explain further if you are in a listening mood.

The only original thought I've encountered so far was Constants comments on Lamarckism. Although my probablistic argument above was original (but I'm not sure if it was unique).

So we are not actually dodging and weaving as you imply. Nor is it this result of some quirky and presumably wrong rationalization by some tortured genius. How else to interpret calling my posts, "rants" by "by a tortured genius", or my claims as "disingenuous".

I honestly think you are mistaken and I have been trying to help you "get it". These are all "models" of reality that we are dealing with so we can expect none of them to be perfect. However I think it clear that Popper's theory is better than Hume's, and Bartley's is better than Popper's. I'm also biased in thinking mine is better than all three but it's mostly due to a comparative midget standing on the shoulders of giants.

widgets and midgets

I claimed you were not a "worthy opponent" on the topic of Popper, which is true since I've read more of his works than you and actually got what he was claiming.

I find it almost a little embarrassing to have to even mention obvious stuff like this, but you are not credible enough to simply make declarations about your opponent's "worthiness" or lack thereof. That's not a slight against you (though a credible case could be made that IS a slight against you) but rather a function of the fact that we represent opposing sides in a debate. It'd be like asking a boxer to step away and declare who was the better boxer. The analogy can be made more applicable to the current situation by positing that the boxer in question (i.e. you) is also constantly saying he's going to leave the ring, running away and covering his face, accidentally hitting himself in the face, and then
running to another room to shout
about how that other boxer doesn't even know what a boxing glove is. We'll be returning to this again and again, as you seem to think that it's some kind of a point to say "you didn't understand" or "I don't think you're original."

Heck, you aren't even aware of the evolutionary concepts embedded in his work.

No, I simply took your position to be as you stated it, not as identical to every philosopher you mention of cite. "Evolutionary concepts" are probably embedded in every post-darwinian rationalist's work, by the way.

Your last comment contained the sentence, "Make a ranting post about how I just don't understand your tortured brilliance."

Which was a hypothetical. Whatever one judges as mildness, I offered a peace treaty which you didn't even so much as mention.

There is no power differential here as you have the same posting rights here as me, so I'm not abusing power or anything.

It's not a question of power- it's a question of etiquette. Someone else can help me out here, but it seems to me pretty petty to hurl insults and accuse someone you're arguing with on this very blog of ignorance. I mean, I'm not going to put this response as a post and why not?

In fact you post anonymously while I'm using my real name so I'd say you have the upper hand.

Which reminds me, who reads the anti-chomsky reader without reading chomsky? Someone who wants to know what to think, I guess. (Also, since you haven't read Hume you might stop accusing me of having "inferior knowledge of Popper" given that the context of our discussion was MY post on Hume not YOUR post on Popper.)

I don't recall using the word "stupid"... I said "I'm sure most people who would agree with this solar statement are smart enough not to use the method in this case although they may be mistaken in thinking they are in fact using it anyway." I was not claiming that he would think the sun will always rise forever, and I think most people are smart enough to realize this. Hume's mistake refers to the second part about be confusing about what method they are using to come to a conclusion. I didn't imply that second part wasn't an easy trap for smart people to fall into.

I'm about to use the word "stupid." You characterized that phrase as representative of the "inductionist" position (i.e. that induction is a necessary evil), which it's not at all. I know of no person who would defend it. So why mention it? The same reason anyone mentions a straw man.

This is exactly what induction claims. Induction claims that if we observe something enough times we are justified in deriving a universal from it. Universals are "all" and "always" types of statements like "all swans are white".

And here's why you look so foolish prancing around and accusing people of just not understanding how deep you are. You do not understand the problem of induction.

From the Wiki page on Hume: "Inductive inference operates on the principle that the past acts as a reliable guide to the future (sometimes called the principle of the uniformity of nature). For example, if in the past the sun has risen in the east and set in the west, then, inductive inference suggests that it will probably rise in the east and set in the west in the future. But how are we to explain our ability to make such an inference?" (emphasis mine.)

And further, for all of your talk about me just not getting you- I have made my points about induction in just such a manner from the very outset.

Those put off by blood and gore might want to turn away, because it turns out that Karl Popper (yes the same Karl Popper that I was just being lambasted for not "understanding") both acknowledges the problem:

"The first, the false idea, is that we must justify our knowledge, or our theories, by positive reasons, that is, by reasons capable of establishing them, or at least of making them highly probable"-Popper 54, 74

and the fact that Hume mentioned the problem:

"And he [Hume] added that it did not make the slightest difference if, in this problem, we ask for the justification not of certain belief, but of probable belief."- Ibid

The very one that you can scroll up and see Brian not understanding.

Probabilistic induction is invalid for the same reasons that regular induction is. Just because the series 1, 2, ... 1,000,000 is less than 4,000,000,000 doesn't mean it will continue to be as we follow the series.

Now see, as you might should know, these are points that I'm making. Remember that my post was about how i think induction is irrational. Glad you agree.

Which is not to say that believing the sun will rise tomorrow seems wrong. That doesn't seem wrong because I have a theory rich understanding of why the sun rises. Something primitives didn't have and why eclipses might bother them more psychologically.

But you need one more step: You think that your "rich understanding" applies to future events. If you didn't, then how could you possibly be justified in believing such a thing about "tomorrow"? And so, for the millionth god damn time (yeah maybe you don't believe in induction since you seem to keep hoping that if you avoid this obvious point for long enough you'll wake up and be right) you have to answer why you think that theory is applicable to the future, at least moreso than another unfalsified theory (like tomorrow the sun will turn into a werewolf.)

So if you hold the theory that all outcomes are equally likely then induction doesn't help you.

In the case we're discussing- transparently- induction is the only thing that prevents you from such a belief.

Just like getting four heads in a row during a coin flip doesn't tell you what the fifth flip will be, neither will four observations of your floor tell you the shape it will take on the next observation.

Again, I'm glad we agree that induction is irrational.

So if you truly believe that observations of the same objects from one go to the next are totally unrelated then probablistic induction isn't going to help because you still have an infinity of bad possibities for every good one. You need to believe that things don't just change for no good reason.

The point is that I don't believe that observations from one to the next are unrelated. I'm not arguing for the primacy of induction (obviously) so you needn't convince me that there are other good tools aside from inductive reasoning. OF COURSE there are other good tools aside from induction. What there isn't is a way to use those tools to act without relying on induction.

That acceptance was not derived in an inductive way but is simply a guess to be refuted or not. So far it hasn't been refuted.

BUT... Why use it tomorrow? Why, instead of all other possible unfalsified theories, should we rely on that one?

The only original thought I've encountered so far was Constants comments on Lamarckism. Although my probablistic argument above was original (but I'm not sure if it was unique).

Well, what a surprise. The guy running around agreeing with you is to you "original" and I'm not. Boy, I'll tell you... I'm just heartbroken.

How else to interpret calling my posts, "rants" by "by a tortured genius", or my claims as "disingenuous".

I'd love to see an intellectually honest citations of me "calling your posts" written "by a tortured genius." I'm well aware of how I used that phrase and I challenge you to back up your claim.

I'm sure that I don't see a

I'm sure that I don't see a difference between gaining a-theory-of-how-some-aspect-of-the-world-works and using induction to explain some aspect of the world. As has been asked several times, "Why Theory X (unfalsified but falsifiable) and not Theory Y (also unfalsified but falsifiable)?"

Can you explain?

I'm sure that I don't see a difference between gaining a-theory-of-how-some-aspect-of-the-world-works and using induction to explain some aspect of the world.

Well, such a theory might be gained by random guessing combined with testing against the evidence. So really, it could be any theory at all that was unfalsified but falsifiable, and you would not see a difference between gaining that theory and using induction.

Have I misunderstood your statement?

As has been asked several times, "Why Theory X (unfalsified but falsifiable) and not Theory Y (also unfalsified but falsifiable)?"

That's an interesting question, but what does it have to do with induction? You have already explained - or so I understand - that, whichever of the two theories X or Y we adopt, you would not see a difference between it and induction.

So induction, as you understand it, provides no basis for choosing between Theory X and Theory Y. Have I misunderstood?

So when you ask why X and not Y, you're not really asking about induction at all. You're asking about something completely different. You are changing the subject.

I do happen to have an answer for your question. Occam's Razor, or the Principle of Parsimony. I have some arguments for it which I may go into. However, I do not want to change the subject. I am replying here only to ask for clarification.

talk about not understanding

Constant, that's not "changing the subject"- he's reiterating (as he says he is) points that I've been raising. Again, the problem isn't "how how can we know which theories are false" (falsification answers that nicely) but it's "how can we know which theories are likely to be true?" The fact that we rely on the "best tested theory" is a demonstration of inductive principles (the only thing underlying that it that our experience with theory in the past is some guide to the future.) If you finally understand this point, it might be interesting to go back through our correspondence and read the practical volumes I've been producing on this point.

That's not to say that lovelace's succinct expression of the problem isn't as good or better than mine, however. We can pick up the conversation from here, if you like.

Incoherent

Cute, but what I did was to point out that his comment was internally incoherent (or appeared to be - as I explained in detail). Taking his first sentence as characterizing "induction" and his second sentence as voicing the challenge, then the challenge seemingly changes the subject. If you assert that his challenge does not change the subject, then until you or he has clarified I will conclude his first sentence falsely characterizes the subject.

Any adequate answer to my comment would need to resolve the apparent incoherence, thereby clarifying either the first or the second of the two sentences. I searched your comment in vain for any such clarification. All you did was endorse his comment, claiming that you have been saying the same all along, and the effect of your endorsement is merely to suggest that your own comments have been as incoherent as his seems to have been.

It's been stated several

It's been stated several times that instead of using induction to know the world, we use theories of how things work. It's not apparent to me how one can get a useful theory of how the world works (a theory that might be True) without relying on induction.

So when you ask why X and not Y, you're not really asking about induction at all. You're asking about something completely different.

Taking his first sentence as characterizing "induction" and his second sentence as voicing the challenge, then the challenge seemingly changes the subject.

If we don't use past observation to inform our decisions, how do we choose between Theory X and Theory Y? If your answer is Occam's Razor, then I have to ask, "Why the simplest solution and not the most complex?"

What are you implying?

It's not apparent to me how one can get a useful theory of how the world works (a theory that might be True) without relying on induction.

I'm not sure what you even mean by that. After all, we can get a decent theory by accident, in the sense that it is logically possible. Set a monkey in front of a typewriter, and it is possible - improbable but logically possible - that he might just type up a true and useful theory of how the world works. And we may adopt it, because we love the monkey (say). Does induction enter into this at any point? Sometimes the things that you or Polarized (mostly Polarized) says seems to suggest that the very act of adopting a theory as a theory, the very act of believing it and acting on that belief, is itself an act of induction. But on the other hand, the monkey that types up a theory isn't basing the theory on any observations - it is really just randomly punching some keys. No observation involved. And usually induction is treated as involving observations of the past in some way.

Now, modify the above. Suppose the monkey types up random theories one after another. We grab a theory from the monkey's pile of theories and adopt it. But we can't honestly keep on believing a theory that has been disproved, so each time the evidence disproves our current theory we crumple it up, toss it in the waste paper basket, and grab another theory from the monkey's pile and repeat the process.

Exactly where does induction come in here? The only real difference is that the monkey is more prolific and that we practice falsification.

In any case, this process may eventually lead to us settling on a true theory. We settle on it because, being true, it is simply never falsified so we never crumple it up. The big question I have is, where does induction come in?

If we don't use past observation to inform our decisions, how do we choose between Theory X and Theory Y

Well, let's get one thing clear. In asking that question, are you suggesting that you think that we do use past observations to choose between Theory X and Theory Y? After all, recall that both theories are fully consistent with past observations. How would you go about using something that agrees with both to choose between the two?

It seems to me that if past observations agree with both, then if we are to choose between them, we have little choice but to look for some other criterion. Parsimony is a candidate. (It may not be sufficient to decide, but it certainly has some impact.)

If your answer is Occam's Razor, then I have to ask, "Why the simplest solution and not the most complex?"

Because there is a simplest solution, and there isn't a most complex. This is related to the fact that (for a given computer language) there is a simplest program that will produce a given set of outputs but there is no most complex program that will produce that same set of outputs. There are infinitely many programs, each more complex than the last, which produces a given set of outputs. (There are, in contrast, only finitely many programs as simple as, or simpler than, any given program.)

Therefore the criterion, "the most complex", cannot be implemented. There is no "most complex solution". There is only an infinite set of arbitrarily complex solutions without an upper bound.

And this by the way touches on one of the reasons for using Occam's Razor. If we make a few assumptions (assumptions which are pretty much necessary for us to have any hope at all of arriving at the truth by any means), then the consistent application of Occam's Razor guarantees that we will eventually discover the truth (though it does not guarantee that we will know it when we find it).

In a nutshell, if you consistently choose the simplest theory that agrees with the evidence that you have so far gathered, then if that theory turns out to be false you will eventually discover that it is false (if you don't ever, then that represents a false theory that will never be falsified, which makes the prospect of ever discovering the truth rather dim - we more or less rely on the world eventually falsifying false theories). Once a theory is falsified, you move on to the new simplest theory that agrees with the evidence. You keep doing this. Eventually every false theory that is as simple as, or simpler than the simplest true theory will be falsified. At that point your theory will be true. You won't know that it's true, though. Hey, you can't have everything.

This works because of the way that the criterion of simplicity orders the set of theories. Strictly speaking, you don't need to use the criterion of simplicity - anything that orders the set of theories in a certain way will do. But the criterion of simplicity does work.

Anyway, another reason to employ the criterion of simplicity is economical: the more complex a theory is, the more difficult it is for us to adopt it and use it. If we have no other particular reason for choosing between two theories, then we still have an economic reason for choosing the simplest theory.

Best justification of Occam's Razor I've ever heard

I was satisified with Poppers justification of Occam's Razor but I think I like yours even better. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Great thing is that I can have both. Source?

Me I guess

As far as I know, I came up with the justification based on ordering.

The justification based on economy is old and is mentioned in Wikipedia (it's mentioned as "practicality").

Again, the problem isn't

Again, the problem isn't "how how can we know which theories are false" (falsification answers that nicely) but it's "how can we know which theories are likely to be true?" The fact that we rely on the "best tested theory" is a demonstration of inductive principles (the only thing underlying that it that our experience with theory in the past is some guide to the future.)

All you are doing here - for all your patronising, overconfident posturing - is demonstrating that you don't understand Popper's point. We don't "know" which theories are likely to be true and we don't rely on the "best tested" theory. Any theory will do until it gets falsified. Popper's insight - which you seem determined to ignore - is that we ought only hold to our theories *tentatively* and be prepared to abandon them in the face of contradictory evidence. If you have a theory for X that has been "best tested" and I have an alternative theory which hasn't been tested at all, that counts for nought in Popper's books. Indeed he recommended that we make "bold conjectures". There is no reason to prefer your theory over mine on the basis of confirmatory evidence as confirmatory evidence is invalid. Of course my theory might well be outlandish and fail the very first test - which is why Popper recommended we ought not look for confirmation of our theories but instead seek refutation of them - in which case the decision to choose yours or mine is moot. But it's not induction that gets us to choose between competing theories - it's often (always) the case that the theory which ends up getting overturned has a "better track record" than the new theory which replaces it - we don't need to choose between them until one fails.

Best Tested

Popper does use the term "best tested" but it doesn't mean what Polarized wants it to mean. It' isn't about observation, but about criticism.

This is how he defines "best tested":

"In other words, there is no 'absolute reliance'; but since we have to choose, it will be 'rational' to choose the best tested theory. This will be 'rational' in the most obvious sense of the word known to me: the best tested theory is the one which, in the light of our critical discussion, appears to be the best so far; and I do not know of anything more 'rational' than a well-conducted critical discussion. "

all comers

Constant:

Taking his first sentence as characterizing "induction" and his second sentence as voicing the challenge, then the challenge seemingly changes the subject. If you assert that his challenge does not change the subject, then until you or he has clarified I will conclude his first sentence falsely characterizes the subject.

I can imagine why you'd rather try and make me argue apologetics for another commenter instead of the real point. Not that it'd matter, but since lovelace said "gaining a theory" you could take it to mean a theory that was thought to be likely. After all the model of an infinite bed of theories which get weeded out one falsification after another seems to leave little room for "gaining." If you characterize the "theory usage" idea (as Popper does, for instance) as using the "best tested theory" as a general rule, then that would be perfectly inline with my point- not different than induction, which is perhaps better said as "not distinct from induction."

Any adequate answer to my comment would need to resolve the apparent incoherence, thereby clarifying either the first or the second of the two sentences. I searched your comment in vain for any such clarification. All you did was endorse his comment, claiming that you have been saying the same all along, and the effect of your endorsement is merely to suggest that your own comments have been as incoherent as his seems to have been.

Yeah, I guess you didn't see that large post right above this in which I actually laid out a case about the issue at hand. I admit it, a debate in which I'm supposed to defend the statements of another commenter is one you might be better equipped to win (though maybe not in this case- lovelace sounds pretty reasoned.)

I'll hit all the rest later.

On hitting the rest later

Here it goes.

To everyone: what of actions about which you don't have deep underlying theories? A good example is water flowing from a tap- which physics notoriously can't explain- on what do you base your theories there? I mention this only because it seems likely to be the sort of point that actually might get through to ya'll.

Constant:

After all, we can get a decent theory by accident, in the sense that it is logically possible. Set a monkey in front of a typewriter, and it is possible - improbable but logically possible - that he might just type up a true and useful theory of how the world works. And we may adopt it, because we love the monkey (say).

Ignoring questions about intentionality and exactly what a theory is, I think we fault you here for being a bit pedantic. Suppose someone said "It's not clear to me how one we can find a compromise that will satisfy everyone in the middle east on the Israel Palestine issue without listening to both sides." I think someone who responds "What in the hell are you talking about? What if we put monkeys in a room with a typewriter and they produced the perfect compromise?" Well okay, somebody's out to score cheap debate points...

But we can't honestly keep on believing a theory that has been disproved, so each time the evidence disproves our current theory we crumple it up, toss it in the waste paper basket, and grab another theory from the monkey's pile and repeat the process.

But now when you hit upon a theory that isn't falsified instantly, do you continue using it or do you randomly grab another theory out of the pile? Why or why not? Furthermore suppose someone followed that procedure (and of course they'd end up dead, but let's forget about that) and when a theory was not falsified when first put to use, they just shuffled it back into the pile at the bottom and took the next sheet (called "the world works by having you dress up as an astronaut and sit on a teeter-totter") which also hadn't been falsified. Now's the time for honesty- do you have nothing to say to that person? Is his method as useful and reasonable as yours? He didn't discard his unfalsified theory but he didn't inductively assume it was any more likely to be true than any other theory he hadn't falsified yet. So, which is it?


In any case, this process may eventually lead to us settling on a true theory. We settle on it because, being true, it is simply never falsified so we never crumple it up. The big question I have is, where does induction come in?

You seem to be taking this hypothetical and stretching it more and more to try and make it look like a realistic theory of behavior. Are you going to fall back on "suppose" again? Or are you going to claim that this is how you get your beliefs?

After all, recall that both theories are fully consistent with past observations. How would you go about using something that agrees with both to choose between the two?

Such situations are extremely rare. (Holsinger 1980)

Because there is a simplest solution, and there isn't a most complex. This is related to the fact that (for a given computer language) there is a simplest program that will produce a given set of outputs but there is no most complex program that will produce that same set of outputs.

This is an interesting claim, and while I'm not convinced by it (though there are other good arguments for Occam's razor, including Popper's) it might be a good subject for another blog post. Let's take pains to distinguish a discussion of Occam's razor from a discussion of induction. If you think Occam gets you out of the trap, then make the case, but I think you'll find that the ceteris paribus clause of Occam's razor really just rely's heavily on the sort of inductive issues we're right now discussing. In my opinion, it'd be a highly circular argument to try and solve the riddle of induction with a theory that relies on something like ceteris paribus but if you think you've got a case make one.

Frank:
Frank said: For all your patronising, overconfident posturing - you failed to consider my patronising overconfident posturing

Maybe my rhetoric translator is breaking down, but that looks about right to me.

We don't "know" which theories are likely to be true and we don't rely on the "best tested" theory. Any theory will do until it gets falsified.

Really? Any theory will do? So right now if you decided to adopt the unfalsified theory "This Ferrari Enzo is a non-material illusion" over the equally unfalsified assumption "This Ferrari Enzo is made of steel and will probably kill me if I step in front of it" and you step in front of it and die you are the very paragon of reason?

Popper's insight - which you seem determined to ignore - is that we ought only hold to our theories *tentatively* and be prepared to abandon them in the face of contradictory evidence.

Don't take this as reflective on you, buddy, but jumping into the middle of a discussion that has about 20 pages of history is bound to make you look like a dummy. Go ahead and mosey on over here and break out the old CTRL-F for the word "tenatively" and see how "determined I am" to ignore it.

Or read this:
(from 5/21)
Because I have a whole bunch of theories that I hold tentatively.

Polarized: Which is of course what induction is. You wouldn't have to use it if you could experience the totality of time and experience at one time. Then you would know whether things radically change tomorrow or not. Of course everyone holds inductive theories "tentatively" in the philosophical sense- if faced with concrete evidence of a black swan you don't get the induction crown going back to what they wrote about only seeing white swans before.

Or consider this: Do you think that your decision to get on an airplane is consistent with someone who supposedly holds their unfalsified theories "tentatively" and thinks that their theories about why the plane will stay up are no more likely to be true than other unfalsified theories like "Jet fuel won't burn above 2000 feet as of 30 minutes from now"?

If you have a theory for X that has been "best tested" and I have an alternative theory which hasn't been tested at all, that counts for nought in Popper's books.

As I've said over and over.

But it's not induction that gets us to choose between competing theories - it's often (always) the case that the theory which ends up getting overturned has a "better track record" than the new theory which replaces it - we don't need to choose between them until one fails.

Why needn't we choose again? Why stick with theory that hasn't been falsified yet instead of-say- shuffling it back to the bottom of the pile? Why not try out some other theories in order to see if they get falsified (it actually seems like a pretty reasonable solution since eliminating theories is the only way we can really progress)? And of course, I'd ask you to consider again the act of getting on a plane and turning on a faucet. Do you think it's reasonable to get on a plane if don't think it's any more likely to fly than to not? Do you think it's reasonable to turn on a faucet when we don't have anything like a theory of how it will spit water?

Brian:

I've already responded to this on the old thread, and Singer makes mincemeat of it. After all, here's Popper trying to use the verbal tricks of petty-Wittgenstein disciples. You can explain what you mean as a response to one of points if you think it's applicable.

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A good example is water flowing from a tap- which physics notoriously can't explain

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Thanks for reading

Wikipedia entry on Turbulent Flow

Also, go here for all of the other things I could've mentioned for the field of physics. Pretty interesting reading, I think.

Still don't see the point of the sentence

Physics explains water flowing out of a tap in terms of pressure, not turbulence. A failure to have a good theory of turbulence doesn't prevent one from figuring out when water will flow out of a tap. That's what confused Constant. It sounded like you were saying we don't know why water comes out of the tap.

Everyone here knows there are unexplained phenoma, that theories are not perfect models of the world, etc. So if your point was that we don't understand turbulence perfectly the answer is. "so what". I don't however need to understand something with an omnescent perspective to have a model that works. In fact, we are not totally ignorant about turbulence. We can certainly design low turbulence taps.

I really don't get the lesson you are trying to teach us. I already accept the fact that I cannot know the absolute truth of anything. I already know we don't understand things perfectly. If we did there would be no need for science. Science is the journey not the destination.

The answer to your question, "To everyone: what of actions about which you don't have deep underlying theories? " is that I don't have theories for those things so I have no guide upon which to act. So I either don't act, avoid the situation, or just live with it as a given. I can't predict the rain so I keep and umbrella at home, at the office, and in the car.

A-E

A. How the heck do you know what "confused" Constant?
B. Don't be so afraid of seeming "dumb." There' no shame in not knowing that I was referring to turbulent flow. Nobody needs to post a vague question mark just so they can later pretend like they understood the whole time and just questioned the usage.
C. I can't really apologize for you misunderstanding my words, but it should be obvious enough that there are plenty of thing we don't have "theories" for and yet act as if we know.
D. Correct me if I'm wrong (and I mean that seriously, I don't know too much about piping and sewage and whatnot) but based on the wiki page I read and linked, I think the piping which underlies water from the tap also relies on turbulent flow.
E. Your answer to the final question gets at the general thrust of my question. That's exactly my point: on what is your theory of airplane lift (which I think involves turbulent flow) based? You don't have a theory that can really prove exactly why your plane wing will create the flow that it does to allow your plane to stay up. Do you not act? I.E. do you not get on the plane?

What is your argument?

Earlier it seemed that your argument was:

If you characterize the "theory usage" idea (as Popper does, for instance) as using the "best tested theory" as a general rule, then that would be perfectly inline with my point- not different than induction, which is perhaps better said as "not distinct from induction."

In short, you appeared to be characterizing induction as the means by which we select a theory from among the infinity of unfalsified theories.

But now you seem to be asserting that we act in the world without using theories:

You don't have a theory that can really prove exactly why your plane wing will create the flow that it does to allow your plane to stay up. Do you not act? I.E. do you not get on the plane?

You seem to be saying that he has no theory at all which says that the plane will stay up, and that therefore he must rely on induction.

So on one account, induction is a means by which we select among theories. On another account, induction is a means by which we dispense with theories.

Turbulence

"Don't be so afraid of seeming "dumb." There' no shame in not knowing that I was referring to turbulent flow. Nobody needs to post a vague question mark just so they can later pretend like they understood the whole time and just questioned the usage."

Oh, please, I didn't put the question mark and I'm a science buff who's read a couple books on chaos theory and actually invented several devices based on hydraulics. I've had to calculate the flow of water out of a pipe because of building a siphon for a lake I used to own.

Did you know that for standard PVC pipe there are tables that you can look up the expected frictional resistance due to turbulence. Some hardware stores sell books with these tables. Even plumbers understand this stuff to a certain degree. So your sentence is wrong no matter how we take it.

mysterious

I'll respond later, but my comment under Constant's "useless" has been is gone now and so has Dawkins'. Is this more spam filter tweaking?

emoticons gone?

The diploma emoticon would be nice about now...

Oh, please, I didn't put the question mark and I'm a science buff who's read a couple books on chaos theory and actually invented several devices based on hydraulics.

Yet you seemed to have a special stake in showing that Constant at no point wasn't aware of the Turbulent flow problem and how it related to sinks. All I was saying is that there's no shame in that. I didn't say you put the question mark. It's cool that you're a science buff- I love that stuff. I just downloaded "the science wars" and it's awesome.

Did you know that for standard PVC pipe there are tables that you can look up the expected frictional resistance due to turbulence. Some hardware stores sell books with these tables. Even plumbers understand this stuff to a certain degree. So your sentence is wrong no matter how we take it.

Huh? People understood that an apple would fall long before the Principia- so what of it? Does that mean they had a deep underlying theory about the apple falling just because they knew about it? Of course it doesn't.

Emoticon reply

"People understood that an apple would fall long before the Principia- so what of it? "
Just demonstrating that turbulence isn't relevant and that I was already aware of it. Your point seemed to be that we were dumb for not knowing you were talking about turbulence. Which apparently now wasn't important and perhaps some kind of tangent. We don't need deep theory to act but it helps us to act in more advanced ways. You can certainly board a plane without deep theory but it's much harder (but not impossible) to design a super efficient turbulance utilizing airplane without some deeper theory.

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Your point seemed to be that we were dumb for not knowing you were talking about turbulence. Which apparently now wasn't important and perhaps some kind of tangent.

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A-E response

"A. How the heck do you know what "confused" Constant?"

I have this theory that Constant has a good grasp of physics, or at least enough of a grasp to realize that we do understand why water comes out of taps. I meant he was confused as to your meaning since on it's face it was silly. We know why water comes out taps.

"I can't really apologize for you misunderstanding my words, but it should be obvious enough that there are plenty of thing we don't have "theories" for and yet act as if we know."

Theories don't have to be as complex as you make them out to be. They can be merely "Planes can fly" or "Planes are safe" or "Engineers and mechanics are smart". We don't need them to act and when we do use them we don't need them to be logically proven.

You see the way people actually use the word "know" as in "I know planes can fly" is not the way certain philosophers have posited they do. Certain philosophers set the standard too high when they say that "to know" means to "logically prove" in this case. I think it's based on an equivocation and misunderstanding of what people actually are doing. People don't mean that it's based on a foundationalist logical argument. So what they are claiming isn't false. They really do know that planes can fly.

"Correct me if I'm wrong (and I mean that seriously, I don't know too much about piping and sewage and whatnot) but based on the wiki page I read and linked, I think the piping which underlies water from the tap also relies on turbulent flow."

I didn't read the wiki page because I'm already familiar with the concepts. Taps can be designed to cause turbulent flow or not, they don't rely on turbulence in order for the water to come out. One purpose of designing turbulence into the flow would be to mix the cold and hot water before it hits your hand. If the flow were laminar on a cold/hot tap it might be possible to put your hand in the right position so the cold water flowed down one side while the hot flowed down the other. You could get scalded that way.

No, airplane lift does not as of yet depend much on turbulent flow. It does in insects and humminbirds and perhaps flocks of geese but not so much with airplanes. Airplanes main source of lift on the wings is the angle of attack and a secondary source is the curvature of the wing. I learned this from a fellow who used to build model airplanes. He had one with no curvature to the wings that would still fly.
An easy way to understand this is to image a fan with flat blades an an angle of attack, vs. curved blades with no angle of attack. Both will move air although the second is kind of counterintuitive since it always move the air in the same direction regardless of spin direction.

"You don't have a theory that can really prove exactly why your plane wing will create the flow that it does to allow your plane to stay up. Do you not act? I.E. do you not get on the plane?"

Why do I need that level of understanding to get on the plane? I merely need to "know" it can fly. I know that on the first observation. I could hold the theory "Planes can't fly" then see a plane fly and that theory is then falsified. You'll then ask why not the many other theories like planes can fly on mondays but not thursdays. Well now we are in the territory of choosing between theories, for which induction doesn't have much to say. Fact is that I observe planes both flying and crashing. It's not mostly about my observations but the theories I interpret those observations with.

Of course there are other ways I can know it such as a trusted source. We have theories about trusted sources also. It doesn't all merely rest on the one theory that "Things today will be like tomorrow" as Hume suggests. In fact, I don't actually believe that theory in general. I believe it for some things but not others and it depends on my other theories. Theories that were either imbuded in me partially by natural selection, and cultural selection. I still view this idea that we operate on induction a very narrow and blinkered view of the world.

I don't think you want to move in the direction of why I trust airplanes. I understand the idea of induction and I think it would be much easier for you to argue your case on some other example. I would suggest, if you want to move in a direction that would make it harder to grasp my point of view that you move to an example utilizing reflexive behavior. Let me give you an example.

Suppose you wanted to examine my claim that I don't base my beliefs on induction. Suppose further that you captured me and stuck me in a room with a red light and a green light. Occasionally you turn on the green light and occasionally the red light. After the red light however you always hit a switch that sends current through an electrical grid through the floor. After a while you observe the fact that I flinch, blink, or take some sort of evasive movement every time you light the red light.

I would conceed in this situation that I probably would flinch after observing a red light. Now you may think that this would show me a liar, or at least in a state of self deception. Isn't it obvious that I am inducing the arrival of the shock from the observations of red followed by a shock. Isn't it further obvious that this is beyond my control since it is at a reflexive level. You might claim that despite my protestations that my actual actions belie the fact that I am actually acting on the belief that I will get shocked after every red light.

So I've made your argument for you. I think I've done a credible job of it, don't you? Don't you further think that this demonstrates that I understand your position? Doesn't it appear that I have no way out of this?

A-E response response

I have this theory that Constant has a good grasp of physics, or at least enough of a grasp to realize that we do understand why water comes out of taps. I meant he was confused as to your meaning since on it's face it was silly. We know why water comes out taps.

I said we can't explain "water coming out of a tap" i.e. how and where it will go and you completely agree I'm correct (as far as i can tell.) So why puff up your conclusion-jumping and misinterpretation like it's some kind of point (that because you didn't get it, it's "on its face silly")? I made a statement that you agree is true, Constant wrote question mark likely indicating that indicating that he didn't understand what I meant. You wrote a post that made it seem like you were reading Constant's diary or something and knew that he wasn't asking for clarification, but was rather was assuming that I meant physics couldn't explain the principles by which water gets to a tap. 'nuff said.

Theories don't have to be as complex as you make them out to be. They can be merely "Planes can fly" or "Planes are safe" or "Engineers and mechanics are smart". We don't need them to act and when we do use them we don't need them to be logically proven.

We're covering this further on down, so answer this one: is "planes can fly" the only unfalsified theory you have about planes? What are some of the others that you didn't name? How about "in 2 hours my plane will crash?"

You see the way people actually use the word "know" as in "I know planes can fly" is not the way certain philosophers have posited they do. Certain philosophers set the standard too high when they say that "to know" means to "logically prove" in this case. I think it's based on an equivocation and misunderstanding of what people actually are doing.

I agree, for the most part. It seems very much to me like what you are doing further down the page with your "prove this deductively" stuff though.

I didn't read the wiki page because I'm already familiar with the concepts. Taps can be designed to cause turbulent flow or not, they don't rely on turbulence in order for the water to come out. One purpose of designing turbulence into the flow would be to mix the cold and hot water before it hits your hand.

I'm not trying to be pedantic here, but all signs point to "physics can't understand how water flows from a tap." It can't understand the piping in some cases, it can't understand the turbulent mixing that takes place before it flows out of the tap, and it can't explain the turbulent behavior once it hits the sink.

No, airplane lift does not as of yet depend much on turbulent flow.

From what I gather it is affected by turbulent flow, and of course relies on an ability to withstand severe turbulent flow. Which is to say, we don't have a theory that will show exactly why turbulent flow won't just bring the craft down. You know where this is going.

Why do I need that level of understanding to get on the plane? I merely need to "know" it can fly. I know that on the first observation. I could hold the theory "Planes can't fly" then see a plane fly and that theory is then falsified.

Now we're seriously getting somewhere. So after that one time a plane flies without crashing you hold the theory "planes can fly"? Am I correct?
If not please explain and tell me both why or why not, what theory you hold the first time, and when you finally hold the theory "planes can fly."

You'll then ask why not the many other theories like planes can fly on mondays but not thursdays. Well now we are in the territory of choosing between theories, for which induction doesn't have much to say.

Induction doesn't solve? I think it rather does. After a reasonable number of experiences we conclude that the future will tend to resemble the past and that our laws and deep understanding of the many physical processes that underlie flight are likely to apply to planes tomorrow and not just yesterday. It lets us take our knowledge and say "Relativity is more likely to be true tomorrow than alchemy is." We still hold out theories "tentatively" ("therefore a wise man apportions his belief to the evidence")

I still view this idea that we operate on induction a very narrow and blinkered view of the world.

It'd be "blinkered" if we suggested that we always used induction, or that we should prefer induction. Saying that we all must regrettably rely on it seems more broad-minded and honest to me. After all, do you not think I'd rather act 100% rationally? Of course I would! I think every secular rationalist holds that as an ideal. From that perspective I see the regrettable inductionists as being the ones who are honest with themselves and the Popperians as people so stubbornly committed to their ideals that they turn backflips (even to the point of dishonesty) trying to avoid admitting that they must allow irrationality into their lives. After all, it's not as if Induction gives you immortality or lifetime supplies of candy- we don't support it because we like it, but rather because there's no choice.

I don't think you want to move in the direction of why I trust airplanes. I understand the idea of induction and I think it would be much easier for you to argue your case on some other example.

Because I happen to think that getting on a possible death machines when you think that past action is no guide to future action seems like a rather foolish choice. Much less one that's not held "tentatively." Add to it the fact that we have no deep understanding of how a plane is able to stay up despite turbulence (apart from "it has in the past") If one really thought that "this plane will successfully fly" is no more likely to be true than "this plane will crash today" (given that they are both unfalsified) I have a seriously hard time imagining why that person gets on a plane.

I would conceed in this situation that I probably would flinch after observing a red light. Now you may think that this would show me a liar, or at least in a state of self deception. Isn't it obvious that I am inducing the arrival of the shock from the observations of red followed by a shock.

I'm posting that so I can respond to the next part and those reading can follow along.

So I've made your argument for you. I think I've done a credible job of it, don't you? Don't you further think that this demonstrates that I understand your position? Doesn't it appear that I have no way out of this?

I think you have a simple way out of it. Much of our simple reflexes happen at the spinal level with almost no brain activity. I'm not interested in deep reflexes; I'm interested in decision. Actions which are chosen, not those that are involuntary. This could be clear from my example, and if you understand the point I'm making you'd see why I wouldn't be interested in reflexes. Go back to my example about the plane, above.

Induction by Induction

It has been posited by you that every person must use induction in their lives. I think this theory is false because I don't use induction to arrive at my beliefs. Unforunately that's a subjective experience, which can be explained but perhaps not believed. As with anything a person can keep asking why to every response. So I'm going to take a different approach and ask why in the other direction.

These set of questions are for anybody who believes in the claim that, " It is unavoidable that every individual must use induction." To be clear I am assuming this is "psychological induction" not "philosophical induction".

1) Did I mistate the claim?
2) Do you believe that "psychological induction" works.
3) Are you aware that this belief is a universal theory about the real world?
4) How did you come to believe this belief?
4a) Was it by induction? If so then how to reconcile this with Hume's claim that you can't do this?
4b) Was it by deduction? If so then how to reconcile this with Hume's claim that you can't do this?
4c) Was it by some other means?
5) If induction must be used to build up a body of knowledge then how do you explain evolution. Is Darwin wrong? Was the genetic knowledge that has been built up by organisms on how to survive in the world a process of induction?
6) Do you see a difference between induction and pattern matching?
7) Are you assuming any process that uses pattern matching or pattern identification is "induction"?
8) Do you believe the mere use of an observation by an epistomological process counts as induction?

Conmack

Constant:

Earlier it seemed that your argument was:

If you characterize the "theory usage" idea (as Popper does, for instance) as using the "best tested theory" as a general rule, then that would be perfectly inline with my point- not different than induction, which is perhaps better said as "not distinct from induction."

Earlier my argument was that and it still is. If you find the model of "theory construction" useful for understanding how the human mind works then fine. My only point is that none of the models thus far proposed (and it's really hard to see how it could be any other way, given that we can't know the future) have managed to avoid the problem of induction, and Popper's doesn't either. Exactly what I said.

In short, you appeared to be characterizing induction as the means by which we select a theory from among the infinity of unfalsified theories.

If that's the model that you think represents your behavior (and even human behavior) you're not avoiding induction. My point wasn't that agreed with that model, but rather saying that it doesn't free us from relying on induction (of course, if it did it'd be worth asking if it was true or not.)

But now you seem to be asserting that we act in the world without using theories:

You don't have a theory that can really prove exactly why your plane wing will create the flow that it does to allow your plane to stay up. Do you not act? I.E. do you not get on the plane?

You're smarter than this. Saying that we don't have theories for certain things does not imply that we "act in the world without using theories."
You ever run into a guy named Serpent on the messageboards before?

Unforunately that's a subjective experience, which can be explained but perhaps not believed. As with anything a person can keep asking why to every response. So I'm going to take a different approach and ask why in the other direction.

If it was as simple as me believing your claims about your subjective experience that'd be one thing. My contention is that there's no way could function as a normal human without using induction. Period. If you say you can then you're either not understanding or not telling the truth or both. Furthermore, this is not my point but rather Hume's point.

As for your questions, as you know there's about 10 pages of responses to your claims on this matter from me that you simply haven't responded to. I'll direct you to them if you like, but as is standard you can feel free to ask questions within the bounds of basic discourse as I have been doing (except on the occasion that you were simply not responding and so I tried to condense.) To be honest many of these questions smack of time-wasting and misdirection. In fact the way you describe it makes it sound like just such a ploy, and I think that your questions are often- by intent or accident- overly vague and of the sort that would cause a blind alley of terminological confusion.

That said, I'll answer quickly

1) Did I mistate the claim?

I don't think so, no.

2) Do you believe that "psychological induction" works.

This is a poorly asked question. Mu. Do I think it's logically valid? Obviously not. I do think it "works" in a sense though, because the future very often does resemble the past in the ways we assume it does.

3) Are you aware that this belief is a universal theory about the real world?

Very poorly phrased. My belief that we all use induction is a universal theory?

4) How did you come to believe this belief?

I have no idea. If you asked me who the author of the Declaration of Independence was I could tell you Jefferson but I certainly couldn't answer "how I came to this belief."

4a) Was it by induction? If so then how to reconcile this with Hume's claim that you can't do this?

Again with the "this belief." Which belief are you referring to? What and why "can't I do it"?

4b) Was it by deduction? If so then how to reconcile this with Hume's claim that you can't do this?

Here you'll really have to explain- Hume has a case against Premises that logically entail their conclusions? Do tell. I suppose he said that he knew some married bachelors as well, eh?

4c) Was it by some other means?

See 4.

5) If induction must be used to build up a body of knowledge then how do you explain evolution. Is Darwin wrong? Was the genetic knowledge that has been built up by organisms on how to survive in the world a process of induction?

Whatever specific capacity humans have for reasoning and acting, I really fail to see how it has serious implications for evolution as a whole. No doubt our capacity to reason is rooted in evolution (by definition of course.) As an aside, let me stress that I don't stress the "primacy of induction" but rather the "necessary reliance on induction." My claims are descriptive not prescriptive, and obviously insofar as one can understand the world using logically sound methods one should (which is to say avoiding induction to the furthest extent possible.) Along with Hume however, I must stress that there is simply a large extent to which we cannot avoid it- not a one of us.

6) Do you see a difference between induction and pattern matching?

Beef this up a little more. Me committing to my interpretation of a question that uses an undefined term will get us nowhere.

7) Are you assuming any process that uses pattern matching or pattern identification is "induction"?

See 6. Also, give an example.

8) Do you believe the mere use of an observation by an epistomological process counts as induction?

"use of an observation by an epistemological process"? The process "uses" the observation? If I understand you then the answer's pretty clearly no- my focus in on action here. Anyway, I can kind of feel you sweatily hovering over this questionnaire, hoping to find some sort of terminological disagreement that you can go off on a tangent about, misdirecting the whole issue. I hope that's not the case.

As usual, useless

As usual, your comments are more annoying than enlightening.

My response

On 3) the question is about your belief that everyone must use induction. I asked if you realize that it is a universal theory. All x are y. In this case all humans are using induction.

4b) The claim is a universal "All humans are using induction". Do you think you can deduce this? If so how?

5) The purpose of the question was not what you thought it was. I want to know if you literally think evolution depends on induction. Do you think that the information garnered by the process of evolution was inductive. If you do that would be a sticking point to you understanding my position.

6) Pattern matching means pretty much what it sounds like. Having a set of observations, positing a pattern and deciding if a new observation matchs the pattern, or not. If I have A, B, C, for which I posit pattern X then have another observation D, I can decide if the D matches my proposed pattern or not.

7) The example you requested. Every swan I've seen is white. The pattern of my personal observations is that every swan is white. So on possible posited pattern is "always white". If I go to the local pond and see a white swan then it will match that pattern. If I see a black swan it will not match that pattern. Another example, I have a pair of dice, I roll the dice four times and get snake eyes each time. I posit pattern "always snake eyes". My son rolled the dice yesterday. If I ask him what happened and he tells me that it was snake eyes then it matches the pattern, and if not then it doesn't match the pattern.
The reason I say posited pattern is because

I hope that clears things up with regard to the questions.

I dispute your contention that I have not been responsive. The problem is that you go off on so many tangents it's hard to address them all or know which is important to you. For example the red herring of bringing up Noam Chomsky. Is that somehow relevant?

"Anyway, I can kind of feel you sweatily hovering over this questionnaire, hoping to find some sort of terminological disagreement that you can go off on a tangent about, misdirecting the whole issue. "

No, you imagine wrong. I just think you don't understand my position or how I arrived at it. The questions are to clarify why you are making the claims you are about how I do things.

I thought it would be clear from my previous responses to your questions that I think it's an entirely separate issue how I came to believe what I believe and how I use what I believe. So the issue of what I do in the morning to get out of bed has no relevance to how I arrived at my beliefs. I mostly get out of bed in the way I do out of habit. I thought that was clear. I don't even think about why the floor is where it is. So I don't see how induction is involved. Whether I am using induction is tightly tied to how I hold my beliefs and how I arrived at them.

So you know where I'm going. Many of the arguments used against "conjecture and refutation" are equally or more valid as criticisms of induction.

For example, Searles complaint that Poppers theory fails at the point of falsification works just as well against induction but at an earlier stage. After all if the objection upon seeing a black swan is that "Well how do we know it's a swan or how do we know it's black" then that objection can be made for the original observations that were suppose to be used to make the inductive conclusion in the first place. If we posit that we are too stupid to categorize swans or recongnize colors then perhaps we were observing black ducks (and not white swans) all along.

I've shown that induction leads to bad theory all the time. I've asked why I would use it in that case but you haven't provided an answer. I don't use it because it doesn't work. It will always fail at an earlier stage.

I also don't see why you care so much about the future. Your claim that "we can't know the future" isn't true in that we merely have to wait for the future to arrive. The time of the observation doesn't matter to most theory (unless it's a theory that includes a time factor). My belief that floors don't just transmute into werewolves is tested equally by recorded observations from the past, contemporaneous observations of other floors, etc. So one can abstract that all away.

The answer to the question of what to do if we have two theories that both match the data. Well we can use either. Of course, a theory of conjecture and refutation suggests that we determine a set of circumstances that differentiates them and try to cause it. If we are able to do so and one of the theories fails then we know it's false (of course assuming we were able to observe things properly). Of course if we don't assume we are able to observe it properly this makes induction fail as well.

Again, I don't know were your error lies so I can't tell what response is going to satisfy you. I did respond to your floor example but you gave no valid counterpoint. You merely restated your claim, and/or your question. You haven't proven your claim by deduction. You can't because it's a universal about the real world. Obviously if you did so by induction that would be invalid also. So how exactly have you arrived at it?

I started using floors long before I had any conception of how they worked. I didn't "induce" this from observation. I didn't even think about the validity of "this floor will always be here", or must be here tomorrow. Frankly, I don't remember ever making such assumptions. I'm pretty darn sure that at a young age if my house burned down I would have asked "what happened" and not stated "This is impossible, I have induced that the house must be here today". I'm completely puzzled as to why you would hold to such a theory of the mind.

First time I heard the "all swans are white" example of induction I thought it was obvious. No kidding, I thought.

I have some additional things to say about the nature of theories, and patterns, that will further show that one doesn't need philosophical induction. I'll save those for later. I'm interested in your answers to my questions in the meantime.

On 3) the question is about

On 3) the question is about your belief that everyone must use induction. I asked if you realize that it is a universal theory. All x are y. In this case all humans are using induction.

This still isn't making sense- a universal theory to me is one that explains everything. Would you say that "all humans shit" is a universal theory? I wouldn't. Of course, a baby who dies 12 hours after birth may not have shit yet. Same for induction (mutatis mutandis.)

4b) The claim is a universal "All humans are using induction". Do you think you can deduce this? If so how?

It's not a universal as I understand it. There are some humans not presently using induction, some who never have (as specified above), etc. That's not to say that "everyone" doesn't do it. Let's not let the language of conversation confuse us about what is being said. All humans must use induction for many things (with the extremely rare exceptions as noted above that are assumed by everyone in polite conversation.)

5) The purpose of the question was not what you thought it was. I want to know if you literally think evolution depends on induction. Do you think that the information garnered by the process of evolution was inductive. If you do that would be a sticking point to you understanding my position.

No, I don't think "evolution depends on induction." I honestly don't find such thinking helpful in any way.

On pattern matching:
It is very similar to the process of induction itself, as far as i can tell, but it isn't closely tied to the problem of induction. That is to say, it's not a way out of the problem of induction. The major problem: we have to act. Take the snake eyes example; someone asks you to guess how the next die roll will fall. What do you say, and why? No fair saying "it fits the pattern"- who cares if it fits the pattern- you need something deep like "I always guess based on the pattern of past results."

I dispute your contention that I have not been responsive. The problem is that you go off on so many tangents it's hard to address them all or know which is important to you. For example the red herring of bringing up Noam Chomsky. Is that somehow relevant?

It's always easier to blame the other person for your own inability to hold a logical conversation isn't it? I don't find you a model of clarity either, but I hope that if you ever get me on some debate points I have the decency not to pretend I simply can't understand you. Of course, if you look over my posts, one thing you'll notice is that (like this one) I stick to the simple and direct format of responding almost line by line, focusing my words on specific arguments and claims of yours. If you want to call that a "tangent" then that's fine- I happen to think that's the most appropriate manner of board discussion.

RE: chomsky, Sorry those two sentences threw you off track. What a tangent that was!

I just think you don't understand my position or how I arrived at it. The questions are to clarify why you are making the claims you are about how I do things.

Spare me.

So the issue of what I do in the morning to get out of bed has no relevance to how I arrived at my beliefs. I mostly get out of bed in the way I do out of habit.

Do you realize that you're basically quoting Hume at this point?

I don't even think about why the floor is where it is. So I don't see how induction is involved. Whether I am using induction is tightly tied to how I hold my beliefs and how I arrived at them.

You might not think about the "socrates is a mortal" syllogism when you say "socrates is a mortal" either. There's a distinction (obvious and old) to be made between our specific processes of reasoning, and the logical conjectures that underpin them.

For example, Searles complaint that Poppers theory fails at the point of falsification works just as well against induction but at an earlier stage.

I presume you're referencing this?

...And yet the manner in which we hold our positions is so different as to be night and day. Supposing that what you say is true, the Humean has no quarrel. As everyone knows (and I really, really hope you get by now) the inductionist position is "it's obviously not logically sound but we do it anyway." Popper's was "It's not logically sound but we need not do it- here's the logically sound method that we do use." Popper was incorrect in many ways, and to say that those ways invalidate equally the process and theory of induction is completely fine. Of course the logical flaws in "theory falsification" are largely present in induction- that's basically my point.

Suffice it to say, responding to my criticisms of "theory creation" by turning them against induction will hardly suffice since- as was clear from my very first post- I don't think we have a logically sound method of reasoning from the past to the future. You do.

I've shown that induction leads to bad theory all the time. I've asked why I would use it in that case but you haven't provided an answer. I don't use it because it doesn't work. It will always fail at an earlier stage.

You use it because you have no choice. You have nothing better. Again and again, I say "I'm not arguing for the supremacy of induction" (and the fact that I've had to say that might tell you something about who really isn't understanding who, given that nobody claims this and my whole original post was crystal clear on the issue. Relied on it in fact) and yet you continue to try and argue "Induction is logically invalid" as if that's some kind of point on your side.

I also don't see why you care so much about the future.

Because we have to act.

My belief that floors don't just transmute into werewolves is tested equally by recorded observations from the past, contemporaneous observations of other floors, etc. So one can abstract that all away.

But is it anymore likely to be true than another unfalsfied theory (like "tomorrow the floor will turn into a werewolf" and others)?

The answer to the question of what to do if we have two theories that both match the data. Well we can use either.

This might be a good stopping point: why are you stressing "match the data"? I can think of no other reason than the fact that you think theories that rely on confirming data from previous experience is more likely to be true than those that don't. If you answer nothing else, answer this: when you're discussing what to act on, why did you specify that the choice was between two theories that "matched the data" and not the entire bed of "unfalsifiable theories"? Why do you choose to act on theories that match the data, rather than those that don't?

Again, I don't know were your error lies so I can't tell what response is going to satisfy you.

Theory: it's especially hard to find errors in things that are true.

I did respond to your floor example but you gave no valid counterpoint. You merely restated your claim, and/or your question.

Go ahead and direct me to this, and I'll show you how you missed the response. Guaranteed.

You haven't proven your claim by deduction.

Please prove every claim you've made with deduction first and then I'll go. Start with the one about PVC pipes having turbulent flow instructions written on them- remember I'll need that proof deductively.

I'm pretty darn sure that at a young age if my house burned down I would have asked "what happened" and not stated "This is impossible, I have induced that the house must be here today". I'm completely puzzled as to why you would hold to such a theory of the mind.

I'm confused. These points that- when I make them- are written off an incomprehensible rants by you, are suddenly golden when you make them? Go back to my post from 5-21 called "trying to condense" and read my statement:

" You wouldn't have to use it (induction) if you could experience the totality of time and experience at one time. Then you would know whether things radically change tomorrow or not. Of course everyone holds inductive theories "tentatively" in the philosophical sense- if faced with concrete evidence of a black swan you don't get the induction crowd going back to what they wrote about only seeing white swans before."

So next time you're about to write about how I just don't understand you, take a moment to consider: did Polarized already cover this point three weeks prior?

No, I didn't read your latest article

"I presume you're referencing this?"

No I haven't read that article yet.

"the inductionist position is "it's obviously not logically sound but we do it anyway." "

Yes, everyone here is aware of that. Which really makes it annoying when you interpret my arguments as thinking Hume (or you) believes that it is "logically sound" and that I am somehow trying to show you wrong on that account. I'm not.

I'm trying to show how absolutely futile induction is, and how it's not needed.

"Popper's was "It's not logically sound but we need not do it- here's the logically sound method that we do use."

Well, I think I ken your mistake. Popper doesn't think psychological falsification is logically sound in a foundationalist way. He certainly thinks philosophical falsification is. You probably didn't follow this shift because he doesn't make it explicit, and you have to pick it up from context. It's possible to logically falsify the universal statement "All even integers are less than 10" merely by demonstrating the one case of 12. We have proven this universal statement false.

You'll notice that I had to assume the axioms underlying the integers to claim that (along with a certain logical algebra). Falsification works but because of certain assumptions. Induction just doesn't work no matter what even under those same assumptions.

So how does this transfer to the real world. Well philosophical induction doesn't work in the first place so there is little hope it will work in the real world as psychological induction. Even if we assume certain theories true and our ability to properly observe it will still fail. It doesn't transfer well because we are finite beings and it's used to justify universal theories. Even if we assume all our current theories are true and that we can accurately observe we cannot use induction to prove anything based on observations that lie outside the current assumed theories. That even includes if we assume that the world is "regular" because it doesn't help us know that we have captured enough regularity to get to the proper universal.

Well the analogous process of falsification in the real world doesn't work directly either. It doesn't work regardless of our assumptions, either. Even if we assume all out theories true and our assumptions it seems like we can't derive true theory from falsification either. Seems like it's a draw.

Poppers insight was that we are not actually trying to prove theories, or justify them as old fashioned empiricists or rationalists imagined. Hume's arguments work against old fashion rationalism and empiricism. Poppers insight was that we are instead trimming out false theory. He goes into great detail on this and says some really beautiful stuff about how to measure the informational content of theory. You'll have to read his books to see this.

One of his methodological changes was to say that we should hold to theories tentatively. In which case, and assuming that relevant theory and observational abilities are relevant then falsification would work, and would be precisely philosophical falsification (a form of deduction), and deduction does work. This is not true for induction. Even with such assumptions induction still fails because at the very best it will collapse to philosophical induction, which is invalid.

This doesn't mean that Popper thinks falsification is "logically valid" in the real world. He's merely saying that it is superior to induction under the same circumstances. I don't think he did a good job of spelling this out because he uses terms upon which others could equivocate.

This isn't the whole argument either. He also demonstrates that we should not be looking for justifications for our beliefs but instead should be trying to criticize them, to falsify them. Of course, he has a lot more to say that I can't cover in a comment.

His solution is very similar to Einstein’s theory of relativity. He says that our theories (and observations) are not fixed with regard to any stationary either, or coordinate system. Instead they are free floating with regard to each other. The process of science is not to find the fixation points against the coordinate system, no. Instead the point of science is to find a workable set of relationships between observation and theory that fixes their positions relative to each other. In the process we can weed out theories and observations which don't fit with all the others. Now the search space is infinite and the theories we ever have visible are only a tiny subset of all possible theory. In his view there is little hope that we can ever find the precise arrangement of theories that match all possible observation with all possible theory in a way that is compatible. That doesn't mean however that our attempts at searching this space are "irrational". We can follow certain procedures which make sense given our limited abilities.

One of the reasons I prefer falsification over induction as a theory of how science works is because it accomplishes more. It allows one to demark science from pseudoscience, superstition, and religion, for instance. It explains why I can say I know that not all swans are white with much more confidence than I can claim the universal that all swans are white. I have more confidence precisely because the former relies on fewer assumptions than the latter.

When I do have a universal theory I am much more confident that one that is designed to be falsifiable says something about the world. Something a theory that merely satisfies induction does not provide. An unfalsifiable theory that is based on induction is not one that works for me. Induction is incomplete in this regard. It is not properly a search algorithm the way falsification is.

Evolution operates on what is basically a method of falsification and it does work as a search algorithm. The most basic needs for it to work are replicators, differential survival, and mutation. Those basic features are very crude. Evolution however can invent it's own improvements such as sexual reproduction, chromosomes, etc. It can even invent nervous systems, and the ability to support cultural evolution. Likewise, this base system of falsification can build up theories that are shortcuts for the trimming of false theory at the level of the nervous system. These mental systems may seem to rest on "induction" but in fact their true grounding is in a system of falsification.

In evolution it really doesn't matter how the mutations arise. It doesn't matter if they are by cosmic radiation, rearrangement on the chromosomes, chemical error, etc. Once they are formed they are either good or bad in relationship to the other genes. Similarly, the method of modification to theory really doesn't matter in the Popperian scheme of things. If we want to simulate evolution we need only hold our "theory mutations" up to "critical selection" in relationship to other "theories". When we have that we have the means to progress because we have all the analogous ingredients to explore theory space by a evolutionary search algorithm. That algorithm can invent and use new theories like "the theory of non-contradiction", "deduction", or "occam's razor" that speed the process of navigating that space if need be. Could even come up with a theories on pattern matching, uniformity of physical law, or whatever by means of "conjecture = mutation" followed by "selection = criticism". Hell we could even have as one of the conjectures "induction" prior to our finding better methods.

Does this view guarantee that our knowledge will evolve to something in particular, that it will settle on any particular goal or set of truths? Well no. It isn't however the destination that matters but the journey. We should certainly try to proceed by the most efficient means possible and recognizing the fact that this process is analogous to evolution allows us to more efficiently direct our efforts.

I have taken this to heart and believe this procedure is applicable more broadly than science. One can use it in the realm of religion for instance. One can use it in ones everyday experiences. I base all my beliefs on this philosophy.

I'll deal

It was a polite message based on my scan and that's nice. However, it managed to skip most of what I wrote and go off on the same tangent-style writing that Brian seemed earlier to be decrying. Skipping this part:

Brian: I dispute your contention that I have not been responsive. The problem is that you go off on so many tangents it's hard to address them all or know which is important to you. For example the red herring of bringing up Noam Chomsky. Is that somehow relevant?

Matt: It's always easier to blame the other person for your own inability to hold a logical conversation isn't it? I don't find you a model of clarity either, but I hope that if you ever get me on some debate points I have the decency not to pretend I simply can't understand you. Of course, if you look over my posts, one thing you'll notice is that (like this one) I stick to the simple and direct format of responding almost line by line, focusing my words on specific arguments and claims of yours. If you want to call that a "tangent" then that's fine- I happen to think that's the most appropriate manner of board discussion. (emphasis mine)

One can see why that was an instrumental part, given the response.

Anyway though, I'm not trying to be mean- I'll get to the whole response probably tomorrow.

You want to pursue the meta argument?

I don't get the point of this post. I'm not going to fisk every single one of your comments. I don't have time for it. If you want a particular issue addressed then only reply with that one issue. I've given you at least two polite responses if not more. The "meanest" thing I said in the third response back was perhaps "Oh, please" when Constant or I were accused of being afraid to be made to "look dumb" and Constant was accused of trying to play some trick. Your reply to my original list of questions was also not particularly polite. Please try to read my sentences with their intent in mine.

When I used the word "original" for instance I was trying to point out that Constant and my side of the argument was not novel therefore proving that we were not "dodging and weaving", etc. It wasn't intended to be an insult, nor a debating point. It's quite possible that we were not aware of some devastating anti-Popper argument that would be new to us but that was written long ago. So originality isn't even a requirement to show me wrong.

meta-llica

(having run clean out of bad name puns, I'm forced to rely on even worse cultural ones.)

I'm not going to fisk every single one of your comments. I don't have time for it.

Nobody does every single comment, but they do grab chunks as you started to at the beginning. Look I don't care all that much this one time- as I said I'm fine responding. I was just taken aback after you accused me of going off on long rants that you'd post something like that. From my skim, it looks polite and well-reasoned, so that's good.

About the meta-discussion- I've got some things to say about that too (take a look at your A-E post from yesterday) but I deleted them from my comments yesterday at the last minute for obvious reasons. If we wanna discuss it, it'll be stupid, but I'm game.

the long haul

Matt "the inductionist position is "it's obviously not logically sound but we do it anyway." "

Brian: Yes, everyone here is aware of that.

And yet you wrote and continue to write sentences like "Why would I use an algorithm that isn't any good?" and "Induction can lead to false beliefs" (the latter a paraphrase) which betrays an ignorance of just that point.

Which really makes it annoying when you interpret my arguments as thinking Hume (or you) believes that it is "logically sound" and that I am somehow trying to show you wrong on that account. I'm not.

Shall i cite an argument of yours so you can explain yourself? If so, start with that sentence I just cited above.

Well, I think I ken your mistake. Popper doesn't think psychological falsification is logically sound in a foundationalist way.

And I didn't say he did think that. Why respond to my claim about Popper and then add in "foundationalist"?

It's possible to logically falsify the universal statement "All even integers are less than 10" merely by demonstrating the one case of 12. We have proven this universal statement false.

You might remember when I mentioned this same point a few weeks back:

"The solution he [Popper] offers pertains to a different problem, one that
asks whether past experience can ever justify attributing a truth value
(i.e., either ‘true’ or ‘false’) to a scientific theory. Popper argues,
rightly, that a scientific theory (involving predictions about future
instances) can indeed be shown to be false by present or past
observations. Yet Popper’s arguments here provide no reason for thinking that scientific theories can be shown to be true (or probably
true) by present or past observations. Indeed, Popper believes that no
such reason can be given — and thus he supplies no comfort to the
scientist who has been left wondering, after Hume, whether she can ever
conclude that her empirically based theories are likely to be
true.""

Well the analogous process of falsification in the real world doesn't work directly either. It doesn't work regardless of our assumptions, either. Even if we assume all out theories true and our assumptions it seems like we can't derive true theory from falsification either. Seems like it's a draw.

It would seem like it's a draw, wouldn't it? And as we both know, it is a draw in terms of "ability to produce valid truths." And yet theory falsification restricts our ability to make likelihood claims about propositions that have empirical backing, whereas Induction does ont. Given that we constantly act on likelihood assumptions (as you've basically admitted) it here becomes clear that we constantly rely on induction.

Poppers insight was that we are instead trimming out false theory. He goes into great detail on this and says some really beautiful stuff about how to measure the informational content of theory. You'll have to read his books to see this.

Go back to my quote above. As I've said- I quite like Popper's stuff (though he seemed rather a self-aggrandizing prick as a person) but he just got a little too big for his britches on this one. He thought he was defeating the problem of induction by demonstrating systematically "how and why we can think things are false" when in fact the problem has to do with "how and why we think things are true (and/or likely.)"

One of his methodological changes was to say that we should hold to theories tentatively.

Not at all- people in pre-Popperian antiquity didn't see a man over 7 feet but refuse to grant that men could be over 7 feet because they used to think so. As Hume said (I don't need to remind how long before Poppers "change")- "A Wise man apportions his belief to the evidence."

This isn't the whole argument either. He also demonstrates that we should not be looking for justifications for our beliefs but instead should be trying to criticize them, to falsify them.

And I like this part of Popper- I think that's a fruitful angle from which to view rationality. We needn't discuss it here, but I think Kuhn rather blows it out of the water in terms of systematic science history. Both are unrelated to the argument at hand (because we're talking about how we know something is true or likely and why we act on some theories and not others.)

One of the reasons I prefer falsification over induction as a theory of how science works is because it accomplishes more.

I would prefer your beliefs as well. It's simply that they are incorrect that I find fault with them. Falsification is not distinct from induction- it simply answers a different question.

It allows one to demark science from pseudoscience, superstition, and religion, for instance.

Wouldn't that be nice. As you can see from my original post, I find it unfortunate that our lines of distinction are not so clear. However, I find the positions like yours much more like the religious ones than mine in an interesting way- in trying to be so distinct and rational, they ultimately forsake rational honesty for a seductive untruth. Namely, that we have no necessary or instrumental irrational beliefs.

I see, Poppers a prick

"Shall i cite an argument of yours so you can explain yourself? If so, start with that sentence I just cited above."

The sentence was "the inductionist position is X" to which "I replied everbody knows that".   That refers to your sentence, not X.  

This caps a long list of such misinterpretations of other commenters and Popper.    How you can possibly think that "life after death" is a falsifiable theory is beyond me.  You obviously don't know what the heck scientists are talking about.  I corrected you but you just turned around and say "yes it is" to my "no it isn't because x, y, z", at which point I didn't bother responding.

Now your on about calling Popper a prick, and hailing Kuhn as some kind of credible source on science history.   Let me tell you something.   Kuhn was a laughing stock with all the scientists I've been around.   I haven't met a one who thinks he's credible.    All my science professors used to use him as a prime example of someone who didn't "get it".  

 His idea of approaching scientific thinking as sociological research is from a scientific point of view quite silly, and more silly because he would imbue his observations with his own faulty theory.    The fact that he though the switch from Newton theories to Einstien was a "paradigm shift" is laughable to anyone who knows the actual theory.     His theory of science as progressive shift from one dogma to the next based on a kind of populist fallacy is ridiculous also.

When talking about the fact that Newtons formulas are a special case of Einsteins he says that "Some variant of this argument is quite sufficient to make any theory ever used by a significant group of competent scientists immune to attack."      Really?   So Lamarkism is just a special case of the Theory of Natural Selection?

It's idiotic, really.

but he was critically acclaimed and respected

The sentence was "the inductionist position is X" to which "I replied everbody knows that". That refers to your sentence, not X.

So everyone knows that the inductionist position is a certain thing but doesn't know what that thing is? And that's true about you here as well?


How you can possibly think that "life after death" is a
falsifiable theory is beyond me.

The fact that something as silly as "life after death" follows from your theory is reflective of the theory, not of me.


I corrected you but you just turned
around and say "yes it is" to my "no it isn't because x, y, z", at
which point I didn't bother responding.

Show me some major points where you think I've relied on assertion and I'll happily point you to some previous argumentation you must've missed.


Now your on about calling Popper a prick, and hailing Kuhn as some
kind of credible source on science history.

You ever read a bio of the guy? If you like Popper so much that you don't even think he was a prick, then you're really taking hero worship to the next level.


Kuhn was a laughing stock with all the scientists I've
been around. I haven't met a one who thinks he's credible. All my
science professors used to use him as a prime example of someone who
didn't "get it".

And yet he was the guy who actualoly paid attention to what scientists did. Anyway though, is a soldier neccesarily the world's foremost expert in military history? Must a tennis player understand high-speed physics?


The fact that he though the switch from Newton theories to Einstien was
a "paradigm shift" is laughable to anyone who knows the actual
theory. His theory of science as progressive shift from one dogma
to the next based on a kind of populist fallacy is ridiculous also.

Tell me again how I just make assertions and you make detailed points with tons of evidence. Oh wait no, tell me the one about how I just go off on unrelated rants that don't seem relevent.  Better yet, head over here .

Well, wow. I guess that wraps the whole post up. There was another whole paragraph so I thought I'd have more to respond to, but you did more "I fart in Kuhn's general direction" stuff. And you wanna see something funny? Here's the little paragraph that Brian decided to spend all his time responding to:

(Polarized:)"We needn't discuss it here, but I think Kuhn rather blows it out of the
water in terms of systematic science history. Both are unrelated to the
argument at hand (because we're talking about how we know something is
true or likely and why we act on some theories and not others.)"

"we needn't discuss it here" "unrelated to the argument at hand and here's why"- sheesh, if you wanna change the subject, you wanna change the subject I guess.

Pitiful

"So everyone knows that the inductionist position is a certain thing but doesn't know what that thing is? And that's true about you here as well? "

You don't have a clue, do you?   At this point you've finally realized you are out of your depth so now you are just spouting gibberish.   The meaning of my sentence was clear and is not even close to this mess.

"The fact that something as silly as "life after death" follows from your theory is reflective of the theory, not of me. "

Alright it's obvious at this point that you are totally clueless.    The fact that you claimed that the afterlife is falsifiable shows that.   I explained why but your response was not to understand the logic of the argument.  I know logic as I do it for a living.  No instead you misinterpret it as new standard for falsifiability.   This is a moronic argument, as you are just asserting that I'm somehow changing the rules when I didn't change them at all.    To falsify is to provide a counterexample which is impossible in the case of the theory that there is an afterlife.    

I wasn't changing the rules I merely proved that you cannot falsify the afterlife.    There is no observation you can provide as a counterexample to the afterlife.    Nada.   So it can't be falsified.  By definition such evidence can't be given to a person in the afterlife.   How can you disprove the afterlife if it is real?   On the other hand there is no evidence you can give to the living that will disprove the afterlife either. 

Your reply was nothing more than an assertion that your original statement was correct.   You incorrectly assert it was beggin the question.  As per usual you can't keep track of the argument that is being made.   During the entire argument I was assuming that the dead have conizant souls.      I wasn't assuming there wasn't an afterlife but assuming there was.    With that assumption it cannot be falsified.     I then switched to the other possibility that there isn't an afterlife.   In that case you can't falsify it either.     The afterlife precisely analogous to Bertrand Russel's celestial teapot in this regard.

My proof that the afterlife is not falsifiable also proved that you don't understand the concept.   Which makes it kind of hard for you to argue against Popper.

This is just one example of what could be a long list of total screw ups on your part.    Really at this point I think you too incompetent to judge your own incompetence in this subject area.  Reason and logic "just aren't your things". 

u mad?

Matt:"So everyone knows that the
inductionist position is a certain thing but doesn't know what that
thing is? And that's true about you here as well? "

Macker: You don't have a clue, do you? At this point you've finally
realized you are out of your depth so now you are just spouting
gibberish.

Let's go back in time for a minute and see how this conversation went. I said that Inductionists all agree that Induction is not logically sound, but they hold that we use it because we muct (as everyone must.) Macker responds" everyone here knows that." So I reply, "Why do you continue to make a logical case against induction when you know that's actually MY position?" This is when the nonsense starts:

Macker says: "The sentence was "the inductionist position is X" to which "I replied everbody knows that". That refers to your sentence, not X. "

I say "So everyone knows that the inductionist position is a certain thing but doesn't know what that thing is?"

He claimed that "everyone knows that the inductionist position is X" while also implying that people didn't know X. That's not a logical contradiction, but seems a little silly. Nevertheless, Macker didn't write about Induction being logically invalid to other people; he wrote it to me. If both of us know then why would he continue to assail it? What's that you say? Because he didn't understand what he was doing and now is trying to cover for it? Surely not.

I gave you plenty of opportunties to just drop this silly line of argumentation. How about now?

Alright it's obvious at this point that you are totally clueless.
The fact that you claimed that the afterlife is falsifiable shows
that. I explained why
but your response was not to understand the logic of the argument.

What made you go back to a 5 sentence exchange from May 21st and to spend your whole post on it? One rather gets the impression you were trolling our posts in reverse chronological order for points you think you got right to try and turn the argument in your favor. I'll take it as a compliment that you had to go back to 5/21.

No instead you misinterpret it as
new standard for falsifiability.
This is a moronic argument, as you are just asserting that I'm somehow
changing the rules when I didn't change them at all.

You suddenly implied that things had to be "falsified with regard to the living" as if Von Mises when he's up in heaven smiling down can't falsify "there is no afterlife."

To falsify is
to provide a counterexample which is impossible in the case of the
theory that there is an afterlife.

If Von Mises could see you and see that when you died you were just going to die, he could falsify his theory that "there is no afterlife for you."

Really at this point I think you too incompetent
to judge your own incompetence in this subject area. Reason and logic
"just aren't your things".

Here's the funny thing. You know as well as I know that this is a cornered tiger gambit and that we both know why you're reaching back for old arguments from nearly a month ago. That's fine. It speaks to your judgment though that you think that citing an argument from 5/21 in the middle of discussion that has moved well past isn't like giving up.  "Hey Spurs, who cares about this series- hows about we talk about that regular season game where at halftime the score was pretty even.  Love, The Cavs."  If you honestly still think that there's any chance you're right, you should consider following the arguments we're presently engaged in.  If not, concede and go back to the old thread and I'll go digging in the vaults with you.

Bait and switch, plus the end of my argument you keep diverting

This was our argument:

A religious person may well say that their test of the religion being true is what happens when they die. That's a falsifiable belief, ...”
The theory that there is an afterlife is not falsifiable. If it is false then you cannot possibly know it's false and neither can anyone else. The theory that there is no afterlife is falsifiable only after you die and only to the dead. It's not a falsifiable theory with regards to the living.

You claimed a religious persons belief in the afterlife was falsifiable. I claimed it wasn't but pointed out the atheists belief there is no afterlife is falsifiable.

Now you are claiming: “If Von Mises could see you and see that when you died you were just going to die, he could falsify his theory that “there is no afterlife for you.”

As you can see you switch from belief that an afterlife happens to belief it doesn't happen. Well of course he as a dead person can falsify my lack of belief in an afterlife or his lack of belief in an afterlife for me. That however was not your original position. You were talking about a living religious person's belief in the afterlife. I showed that that is no a falsifiable belief as you claimed. As an aside I pointed out that believing that the afterlife doesn't exist is falsifiable but only after we die, and only if there actually is an afterlife.

The belief there is no afterlife is however is not falsifiable if there is no afterlife. In that case the living can't falsify it, nor the dead. Von Mises couldn't be sitting in heaven to observe me.

You didn't understand this simple exchange between us. This one example is not an isolated occurrence. It keeps happening over and over. I have been playing with different theories as to why it keeps happening but cannot figure it out. I thought perhaps it was due to the difficult subject at first and your obvious lack of exposure to Popper's actual writings. So I pointed you at an article which I hope you've now read. However, that didn't help. So then I switched theories and tried something different. I've repeated this over and over, and not of my various approaches have helped you understand my position. Heck, I can't even get you to understand my many related points like this one on the afterlife. My theory that you don't understand falsification still stands because you are not passing the tests, but my theories as to why you are not passing keep failing. You see there are a mix of theories here at different levels upon which I am operating.

I am yet again at the point of just giving up on you. It's not because I've used induction to say, “Well I've observed Polarized N times and he just doesn't get it so therefore he'll never get it”. That would be induction.

No, I'm at the point of giving up because although some of my many theories about you are probably correct the ones dealing with how to get you to understand Popper are all failing and I cannot arrive at one that is working. These theories are not invented by “induction”. They don't just fall out of the sky based on observation. They are instead formed by a process of trying to force puzzle pieces together, simulating in my mind how a person wishing to correct error would operate, and coming up with an approach that might convince them.

Why have I picked this particular issue to bring up again? If you can't understand why belief in the afterlife is not falsifiable then there really is little hope in getting you to understand any of the rest. If I can't get you to admit that you made this minor mistake on your part then it seems to me there is little hope that you will be willing to admit the larger, even though there is less potential shame in the larger mistake. One possible theory I have for your behavior is that you just don't like admitting that you are wrong. This is of course, immaterial to the argument but certainly has bearing on whether I'm willing to continue arguing the issue.

Now as an exercise I'm trying to guess your response based on induction and frankly it isn't helping. Assuming the future will “resemble” the past just doesn't help all that much. Which is the point of all my examples of induction not working. You need much more than mere resemblance to predict the future no matter how sophisticated you get about it. It isn't working for me. I can certainly guess that you are never going to understand falsification but how do I know that? You may just turn around in the next comment and prove that wrong. I really have nothing, if I play the inductive game, to go on.

It's not that I couldn't interpret my actions regarding my beliefs as induction, but that I think that is actually a poor theory for how my mind actually works. I remember taking tests where you are given a pattern of numbers like 1,2,3,5,8 and are asked to name the next number assuming it's a series. In this case the answer is 13. Well when I solve such problems I don't just observe and see the answer. I instead come up with theories based on the mathematical operations I know and try them out to solve the problem. That is, I come up with alternate theories in my head and falsify them. Sure, now that I know the Fibonacci series I can just recognize it but the first time I solved the problem I didn't do that.

Try some number series tests and see for yourself. That is where I was going with my examples but I couldn’t get there with all your. The number series problems you do not immediately solve by recognizing a known pattern will not be solved by “induction”. You will instead go pair by pair asking yourself what the differences are between the individual “observations” (observations being the individual numbers). You are trying to find a relationship theory that works between some of the observation, a pattern. You will then test the pattern against all observations. So you solve the problem without any supposed algorithm called “induction”. The answer doesn’t just pop out because “A, A, A, therefore A”. So induction isn’t some algorithm we use. In fact, you can’t write a computer program that does “induction”.

Now after the fact you may justify your answer on the basis of “well I was told the correct observation will follow the pattern so my answer really rests on induction. Hume said that our unstated assumption is that the 'future resembles the past' is what proves we use induction. He generalizes this to something like “ 'Unknown observations resemble known observations' and we must use this fact to act”.

My answer to that is “so what?”. Look at what you (or Hume) are not saying here. You are not claiming that induction is any particular algorithm. You are instead claiming “That if it's just the fact that there happens to be a pattern to find that means you are using induction”. But that is just plain silly. How can you use an unspecified algorithm? Sure you using the assumption that there is a pattern to find, but is that in and of itself “irrational” for the same reasons “philosophical induction” is? In this case it's reasonable because you were told there is a pattern; therefore it is not “irrational”.

What about when we are not told “there is a pattern”. Is it irrational to “assume a pattern” in that case? Well, maybe, but what if instead I “posit a pattern”. At that point I would say it doesn’t resemble “philosophical induction” at all. This is what Popper claims we actually do and as much as it might resemble induction it is not in fact “using induction”.

I hope you see here that what I have called “probabilistic induction” was not at work in solving these problems. I am only addressing Hume's second form of induction, “psychological” and not “philosophical” induction. Probabilistic induction might actually be an algorithm but it is not identical with the concept of “Psychological induction” used to make the claim “we must use it”. It is an equivocation to mix up the two.

I hope you see at this point I understand your conception of induction. What you failed to see is that by this argument you have made psychological induction universal. Every algorithm for solving a problem of predicting a new observation from existing ones must be classified as induction in this regard. Whether you realized it or not. This is true if simply for the reason that if the observations are truly unpredictable then every algorithm (or theory) that posits a prediction is going to fail anyway, and that is solved simply by saying “I don’t know”. When something is unpredictable to us we can simple say “I don’t know”. We can even say “I don’t know how to predict it and I don’t know if there is a way I don’t know about”.

Such a definition, (the definition that induction is the use of an assumption of present from past) is useless because it really says nothing about the world. It has no informational content. How can I use “induction” to predict what is going to happen in the world if it's inherent in every algorithm? It really doesn't tell me how to act because action is a matter of choosing. Induction doesn’t let me make a choice between algorithms when defined as Hume does.

Observations in the world can be classified into at least three cases, predictable, probabilistic, or unpredictable. (Keep in mind that classifying itself is an algorithm based on theory). I am giving these specific meanings to these three words for this argument so don't get confused. Predictable means there is some regular pattern that allows for exact knowledge of unknown observations given enough information. Probabilistic means there is some pattern which allows for probabilistic knowledge of unknown observations. Unpredictable means that there is truly no pattern to the observations.

Examples: Predictable – “electrons repel electrons”. Probabilistic – dice. Unpredictable: “Floors turning into werewolves”.

This is a simplification because in fact it's possible in the real world for it to be even more sinister. One can have meta patterns on top of patterns. Thus water flow is “predictable” under some circumstances and perhaps “probabilistic” or “unpredictable” others. These pattern changes can be predictable, probabilistic, or unpredictable themselves. Again I simplify as there might be additional categories.

Now if you want to know how to act you need to first guess at what class of observation you are dealing with. So you must first observe and then guess at patterns the way you do in solving number series problems. So you don't not in fact just assume that the “past resembles the future”. You then weed out in your mind those that don't match what you are observing. The three categories are not direct observations in and of themselves, they are based on judgments.

Now that was all preparatory so you would understand the argument I will make now. Either a set of observations is unpredictable or it is not which will be labeled case 1 and 2.

Case 1: If it is not predictable then we can try to find patterns (either predictable or probabilistic) to predict other observations. If it is not predictable then we will fail if we “must use induction” or not. The assumption of past resembling the future really doesn’t help at the first level, the naïve level, for unpredictable observations.

So let’s switch to the meta-level. We can assume instead that “past will resemble future with regards to the classification of a set of observations as unpredictable”. We can then act on this assumption by basing our actions on this theorized unpredictability. We can, for instance, avoid situations that involve results that rest on such unpredictable observations.

Now either induction means to include the meta-level or not. If it does not include the meta level then our avoidance decision was not inductive. This can be done at higher and higher meta-levels. One could however go with an induction that means to include all meta levels. This however is not helpful algorithmically since we don’t know at what level to stop, in other words, it classifies every action as being one of induction so we cannot choose. It shares this property with unfalsifiable theories because in a sense the theory of induction is unfalsifiable when stated this way. Unfalsifiable theories say nothing about the world because they are compatible with every possible state of affairs. In this case every possible state of affair with regard to an “unpredictable” set of observations.

Note also that by my definition this unpredictability must happen at every level or otherwise it is some form of meta-probablistically predictable set of observations.

Induction is truly unhelpful both algorithmically and informationally when it comes to unpredictable observations. One can’t “use” algorithmically because it’s not an algorithm, and one can’t use it informationally because it provides no information.

So I don’t use it.

End of case 1.

Case 2) Either the observations are predictable or probabilistic (probabilistically predictable as I have defined it). Well in this case am I justified in assuming that “the present resembles the past”? Well, yes, by definition I am. So it certainly isn’t irrational. Does induction help here? Well not as an algorithm. Does it help informationally? Well no for the same reasons as above. We don’t know at what meta level things will resolve out as either predictable or probabilistic.

Does psychological induction tell us anything about case 2? That is does induction differentiate between this case, case 2) and the above case 1). Well, no, because again it is unfalsifiable, and informationally barren.

End of case 2.

In summary, any algorithm that hopes to guide action, either directly or at some meta-level, must use some assumption about the behavior of the observation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that “the past resembles the future”, since we can always tentatively assume that with this particular set of observations that is not true. Someone can certainly broaden the meaning of “the past resembles the future” to include a prediction of unpredictability but once you do that then you broadened so far that it appears to include every class of observations, including groups of observations where we believe the past is not a guide to the future. One can act on such, beliefs also, as I have pointed out.

So to claim that we cannot act without induction is ridiculous. Taken one way, as a truism that applies to every epistemological algorithm and observational theory, it provides no information content and no way to choose between epistemological algorithms, or theories about the observations themselves. Induction, taken as an epistemological algorithm itself, provides no way to make a decision between observational theories and therefore no guide to action.

In few sentences, “Sure we use past observation to predict future? So what? It either works in which case it is justified, or it doesn’t in which case we are screwed no matter what we choose. If this claim of us “using induction” is a criticism then it is a pretty poor one. If it’s suppose to be an algorithm that we actually ‘use’ well then you are sadly mistaken.”

Popper didn’t solve “psychological induction” by providing a direct solution to the issue. He did so by pointing out it is a non-problem. You avoid the philosophical problem by not assuming your theories are “true” but only hypotheticals (including the theory that the present resembles the past) and by not searching for justifications, among other epistemological actions. If you were never assuming your theories were “true by induction” in the first place (as you indicated with the extra tall man) and were only taking “future resembles past” as a hypothetical then you weren’t really practicing psychological induction in the first place since you were not truly assuming the “future observation must resemble the past”. If you truly were assuming that as an absolute truth then of course you are making a mistake but we don’t do that if we are not naive. Instead we take it as a hypothetical to be judged by falsification as with any other theory.

gluttony

Believe it or not, I'll actually respond to this rant later on today or tomorrow. Despite the fact that Brian went back nearly a month to try and find some disagreement he could pretend was "illustrative" he won't be happy with the result. Even though it's been a long discussion, and I'm quite certain I've made at least 1 error (meaning somewhere in a post of mine there's something someone could find and pretend like "becaus you got that wrong you're wrong about everything"- a pathetic straw man argument if I've ever heard one) Brian still hasn't found it yet. Nevertheless I hope Macker- assuming he doesn't decide to follow through with his continuing threats to "stop this discussion"- will respond point by point instead of simply repeating his old refuted points in 9 page rant format as he's been doing lately.

induction, redux

This was our argument

Oh really? It "was our argument"? I rather thought the one where you didn't understand my point about Plantinga was "our argument." Remember that one? Where I said you were adopting the premises of the EAaN and you- apparently having little experience with reductio ad absurdam- decided to start building a case against the EAaN for me? Why don't I pull that and the countless other threads of argument in which you obviously made mistakes (and were flat out wrong) and proclaim them "our argument" and therefore indicative of the whole discussion. Or how about the one where you demonstrated that you didn't understand the problem of induction at all? Remember that?

Not only do you remember that, but I bet you know why I'm not trying to go back to those; because I'm not so weak in this argument that I need to cling to cheap points. I think it'd be rather pathetic of me to try and dig through volumes of correspondance to find a single good point and then hold it up as if getting this point means anything.

The only thing worse than engaging in that type of argumentation is doing so and having it backfire. Strap yourself in.

 

You claimed a religious persons belief in the afterlife was
falsifiable. I claimed it wasn't but pointed out the atheists belief
there is no afterlife is falsifiable.

Here's what I said: "A religious person may well say that their test of the religion being true is what happens when they die. That's a falsifiable belief..."

Here's the funny thing. In your haste to find some shred of an argument you could cling to, a small sliver of wood that would allow you to convince yourself your boat didn't just capsize because it was made of twine, you're trying to get me to argue "if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound." That is exactly the argument, and I gotta say- that's pretty good. Next time you've lost an argument, tell the other guy he needs to tell you whether the chicken or the chicken egg came first.

As you can see you switch from belief that an afterlife happens to
belief it doesn't happen. Well of course he as a dead person can
falsify my lack of belief in an afterlife or his lack of belief in an
afterlife for me.

No, you simply made a point about it and I responded to it. You quoted yourself above making the point about "falsified for the living."

The belief there is no afterlife is however is not falsifiable if
there is no afterlife. In that case the living can't falsify it, nor
the dead. Von Mises couldn't be sitting in heaven to observe me.

Ah yes, if a tree falls in the forest... I'll respond to this canard in a second. But first let's watch you try and build this 5 sentence-exchange into a cover behind which you can try and ignore the rest of our discussion:

You didn't understand this simple exchange between us. This one
example is not an isolated occurrence. It keeps happening over and
over.

That's right, and it's so hard to demonstrate it that you had to wait weeks and weeks. This is certainly not a transparent ploy; no sir.


and your obvious lack of exposure to
Popper's actual writings.

Interesting that I had to cite Popper to you to correct a basic and silly misunderstanding of yours. No matter though.

It's not
because I've used induction to say, “Well I've observed Polarized N
times and he just doesn't get it so therefore he'll never get it”. That
would be induction.

Oh, cool. So if you've "used induction" then "that would be induction." Got it.


Why have I picked this particular issue to bring up again?

At no point did I sincerely ask this question, that much should be clear. We both know full well why someone would go back to a minor exchange a month back and try to make the argument about that. Especially when they start doing the grandiose "if you're wrong about this thing, then you obviously can't understand anything" combined with "if you can't admit that you're wrong, then what's the point?" That hail mary pass wouldn't beat a Pop Warner team, especially when you have to convince the imaginary ref that you're only down by 6 and not 73.

Try some number series tests
and see for yourself. That is where I was going with my examples but I
couldn’t get there with all your. The number series problems you do not
immediately solve by recognizing a known pattern will not be solved by
“induction”.

But I wonder why you didn't bash your face into the monitor when you were trying to see the answers... Why you presumed that you needed to scroll down using your mouse and see them even though there were no such instructions. Nick Danger said it best: "Popperians use a straw man version of induction." You sure do, you sure do.

<i>Now after the fact you may justify your answer on the basis of “well
I was told the correct observation will follow the pattern so my answer
really rests on induction.</i>

As I've said about 40 times, I'm not arguing about whether induction is the primary mechanism by which we make decisions. Of course, you used induction for this in the manner I discussed above, but directly who cares? My point isn't that you use only induction but rather that you do use it. After this much repitition, I'm actually realizing that you do know this stuff. One must make up one's own mind as to what character defects would make a person continue mischaracterizing a position that's already been elucidated 30 times.

But that is just plain silly. How can you use
an unspecified algorithm?

Let's not be thick here, shall we? Must you understand the processes that underlie vision in order to see? Of course... you have this all mixed up as a prescriptive argument, when in fact it's a descriptive one.

Well, maybe, but what if
instead I “posit a pattern”.

Why? And why maintain that assumption? And why act on it? And why does everyone seem to magically do this when, by sheer chance, they should just as often posit no pattern?

Every algorithm for solving a
problem of predicting a new observation from existing ones must be
classified as induction in this regard.

You didn't make this point at all.

 

Taken one way, as a truism that applies to every epistemological
algorithm and observational theory, it provides no information content
and no way to choose between epistemological algorithms, or theories
about the observations themselves. Induction, taken as an
epistemological algorithm itself, provides no way to make a decision
between observational theories and therefore no guide to action.

I almost feel bad that you wasted so much of your time on that stuff. For future reference it's a bad sign when you respond to simple questions and points made in simple and direct english by trying to replicate the Tractatus. As I've said 1,000 times- I'm not arguing the for primacy of induction. I'm not arguing that it's the sole method by which people make decision and act. I'm arguing that it's relied upon by everyone. Your argument is that falsifiability and pattern-guessing are substitutes for induction and my argument is simply that they are not. Because you were so busy telling me that I didn't read the master and understand you, you must have missed the 40,000 times I said it and suddenly assumed that my point was "Induction is a valid substitute for pattern-matching and falsifiability." My point is only that if those methods are used, they must be used in conjunction with inductive assumptions.

You can see why, from the beginning, I said that this wuold be an easy argument for me. You're trying argue that you have tools that allow you to live your life 100% distinct from induction, whereas I only have to show that you must use it once.

Oh and, for the end, do you think that the belief "Shooting myself in the face with this shotgun won't kill me" is falsifiable? How about "Putting this sunscreen on my arm won't kill me?" How about "detonating 1 300 megaton nuclear warhead on every square mile of earth at the same time won't kill everyone"? If you're smart you'll understand, and see how this answers your first question above, the one you've suddenly started pressing me on. If you don't see, then just answer the questions.

Religious belief about what happens after death not falsifiable

"Strap yourself in. "
So far this has been a kiddie ride, but whatever.

"Here's what I said: "A religious person may well say that their test of the religion being true is what happens when they die. That's a falsifiable belief...'"

Yes you did.  So what does a religious person believe happens when they die as opposed to a non-religious person?   Usually that would be the afterlife.  So the straightforward interpretation is that you were claiming that the theory that there is an afterlife is falsifiable.  I took that interpretation.   Now if you believe that then we have an enormous stumbling block to conversation.   I pointed this out to you back when this happened but you came back with a false claim in rebuttal, and reaffirmed my interpretation by restating your claim in different words.   Then recently you reversed your position to match part of mine, that one can falsify the theory that "there is no afterlife" but only as a dead person.   

I think it's clear that the theory that there is an afterlife is not falsifiable.   If you don't understand that and think it's based on some trick then you really don't understand Popper.

Note that there is no "tree in the forest" trick here.   It doesn't depend on the perspective of the person dying.  You cannot falsify a belief in the afterlife from the perspective of any observer, real or potential.  Believing you won't die if you shoot yourself is not identical in this regard, because others can directly observe the results of your suicide.  

The fact that it cannot be falsified what makes the afterlife a beautiful scam.   I claim that you get a great reward in the afterlife but only if you do as I say.  Speaking loosely, how do you disprove it?  You can't.   There is no way to falsify the claim.

This isn't some side issue it's central to whether you "get it".  So do you stand by your claim or do you admit your error?

BTW, I know you think you've been correcting me in many instances, but you were merely mistaken as to my position, nothing more.   That goes for all the instances you've brought up again here.  I corrected you at the time on many of them.  I've never for instance believed many of the things you claimed I do.   My position is that induction doesn't work and so I don't use it.  I think you fail to realize how utterly induction fails so I've been stressing it.   You keep claiming that I have to use it.  That however is just a mistake on your part.   You haven't thought deeply about what "using induction" means.  Perhaps you should reflect on that.

I skimmed your rat story and I indicates to me you have no clue how a critical rationalist would proceed.   I'll address that when I have the time.

a bit dodgy innit?

Brian Macker said: [insult insult, ad hominem, dodge, insult, dodge, dodge]

 

Fine, I'll ask again:

do you think that the belief "Shooting myself in the face with this
shotgun won't kill me" is falsifiable? How about "Putting this
sunscreen on my arm won't kill me?" How about "detonating 1 300 megaton
nuclear warhead on every square mile of earth at the same time won't
kill everyone"? If you're smart you'll understand, and see how this
answers your first question above, the one you've suddenly started
pressing me on. If you don't see, then just answer the questions.