agit-prop, opinion manipulation and well-poisoning games Darwinist rhetorical tactics governance Lessons of History Logic and First Principles of right reason Media Manipulation, Agit-Prop &/or Lawfare reason

WJM vs Popper and his supporters on error and progress

Spread the love

WJM often provides quite refreshing insights. Here, in the challenge of criticism thread, he responds to CR (and to Origenes), and in so doing, addresses Popper:

WJM, 8: >>

Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve.

Who decides what a problem is? Who decides what constitutes an “error”? Who decides what form criticism should take? Who decides what it means for a criticism to be considered valid? Without self-evident truths to draw from, everything CR says is nothing but word salad that could be interpreted and criticized infinitely.

Most of the time I don’t even bother reading CR’s nonsense.

Our systems of checks and balances are steeped in traditions—such as freedom of speech and of the press, elections, and parliamentary procedures, the values behind concepts of contract and of tort—that survive not because they are deferred to but precisely because they are not: They themselves are continually criticized, and either survive criticism (which allows them to be adopted without deference) or are improved (for example, when the franchise is extended, or slavery abolished).

This is just so wrong I don’t even know where to start. Criticism of an idea without a self-evident truth to draw from could be applied in any way – for more slavery or less, to abolish it or reinstate it. Where does one’s criticism begin? What form does it take? What is it trying to accomplish? Without a necessary direction, it can be used to accomplish and argue anything.

Democracy, in this conception, is not a system for enforcing obedience to the authority of the majority. In the bigger picture, it is a mechanism for promoting the creation of consent, by creating objectively better ideas, by eliminating errors from existing ones.

Look at the assumed direction of the criticism; Popper is relying on the recognition of self-evident truths in order to plead his case, even though it could equally be pled in the opposite direction. “Better” ideas? According to whom? “Errors”? According to what system of evaluation? Why shouldn’t Democracy be a mechanism for forcing the will of the majority upon the minority?

These people spout this kind of nonsense because they know few people have the critical reasoning skills to recognize that they are relying on that which they dismiss to support their case.

If they can get people to dismiss the idea that they have unalienable rights, then they can convince them it’s a good idea for them to give them up by “criticizing” the “effects” of “allowing” them to have those rights.

Thus free speech and the right to bear arms and own property are eroded, all because of nothing is self-evident, a natural right, or necessarily true. That’s exactly what oppressive worldviews want – a populace you can convince of anything with word salad based on rhetoric and emotional pleading – emotional pleading that taps into our internal recognition of truth and the moral good, but twists it for other purposes.>>

Sobering. END

58 Replies to “WJM vs Popper and his supporters on error and progress

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Who decides what a problem is? Who decides what constitutes an “error”? Who decides what form criticism should take? Who decides what it means for a criticism to be considered valid? Without self-evident truths to draw from, everything CR says is nothing but word salad that could be interpreted and criticized infinitely.

    Who decides? I should have thought that was fairly obvious. We do. Who else is there? And we most probably start – started – from scratch, by trial and error. When you’ve got nothing and no one else to help you, that’s all you can do. Sure it’s messy and there’s lots of mistakes along the way but, whatever we do achieve, it’s all down to us, no one else.

    Besides, even if we didn’t do it all, even if we got help along the way, got nudged in the right direction, somebody, somewhere must have been the first, must have started from scratch. So why not us? Unless you’re saying that we, or at least the knowledge of us are somehow eternal.

    This is just so wrong I don’t even know where to start. Criticism of an idea without a self-evident truth to draw from could be applied in any way – for more slavery or less, to abolish it or reinstate it. Where does one’s criticism begin? What form does it take? What is it trying to accomplish? Without a necessary direction, it can be used to accomplish and argue anything.

    How about we start with us? What do we need? What do we want? What are the best ways to fulfill our needs and wants? Should we consider the needs of the many or just the lucky few? It’s not that difficult. Well, actually, it can be quite difficult but that’s no reason not to do it.

    Thus free speech and the right to bear arms and own property are eroded, all because of nothing is self-evident, a natural right, or necessarily true.

    Who stated that free speech or the right to bear arms or own property are unalienable rights? People did. People who, as an ideal at least, wanted the best for everyone. They didn’t always practice what they preached but their hearts were basically in the right place.

    I call myself a Millian libertarian because I support the case for the right of the individual in society set out by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty. Basically, an individual should be free to do whatever they like up to the point where it infringes on or harms the rights and well-being of others in society.

    For example, people should be able to own and shoot firearms for sport or recreation providing it is done in such a way as to minimize danger to others. I don’t see that as unreasonable. The Second Amendment guaranteed that right for the purposes of a well-regulated militia. At the time, the deadliest weapon available was the muzzle-loading flintlock rifle. A really skilled marksman might get off three rounds a minute but you aren’t going to be able to carry out a mass shooting with one. I doubt the Founding Fathers envisaged for one moment that any yahoo or deranged person could get their hands on something like an AR-15 and kill as many people as they could before the police got them or they put a bullet through their own brains. I doubt anyone would think individuals have a right to do that but I suspect almost everyone would agree that we, as other members of society, have a right to be protected from that sort of thing.

    See, it’s not so difficult to work these things out if we put our minds to it. Who needs self-evident truths?

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM vs Popper and his supporters on error and progress — headlined.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    I think I need to ask who the “We” are, given say Lewontin:

    . . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads [==> as in, “we” have cornered the market on truth, warrant and knowledge, making “our” “consensus” the yardstick of truth . . . ] we must first get an incorrect view out [–> as in, if you disagree with “us” of the secularist elite you are wrong, irrational and so dangerous you must be stopped, even at the price of manipulative indoctrination of hoi polloi] . . . the problem is to get them [= hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations,

    [ –> as in, to think in terms of ethical theism is to be delusional, justifying “our” elitist and establishment-controlling interventions of power to “fix” the widespread mental disease]

    and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth

    [–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]

    . . . . To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists [–> “we” are the dominant elites], it is self-evident

    [–> actually, science and its knowledge claims are plainly not immediately and necessarily true on pain of absurdity, to one who understands them; this is another logical error, begging the question , confused for real self-evidence; whereby a claim shows itself not just true but true on pain of patent absurdity if one tries to deny it . . . and in fact it is evolutionary materialism that is readily shown to be self-refuting]

    that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality [–> = all of reality to the evolutionary materialist], and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test [–> i.e. an assertion that tellingly reveals a hostile mindset, not a warranted claim] . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us [= the evo-mat establishment] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute [–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door . . . [–> irreconcilable hostility to ethical theism, already caricatured as believing delusionally in imaginary demons]. [Lewontin, Billions and billions of Demons, NYRB Jan 1997,cf. here. And, if you imagine this is “quote-mined” I invite you to read the fuller annotated citation here.]

    There is much afoot in our civilisation.

    KF

    PS: At risk of triggering a huge side debate, I suggest that the founders and framers as well as the dissenter church leaders who insisted on explicit amendments constituting a bill of rights, were speaking in contexts other than shooting sports. They knew that an armed people were the basis on which a successful defense of secession from Britain was made, on issues of growing trends of tyranny, cf the Dutch DoI of 1581 also. Therefore it is not oh the tech of our day is what we have in mind, it is that the people individually and collectively need to be equipped, disciplined and organised so that they can credibly protect the nation or their families. (They also knew of Indian wars, some of which started as surprise attacks on settlements.) As far as weapons go, an AR-15 is a semi-automatic, intermediate power weapon of relatively mediocre effective range. Where BTW, I am not satisfied with the “bump stock” — which can be a belt loop — narrative on the Las Vegas shooting, the first burst was way too long, it suggests 120 – 140 rounds, more consistent with a belt fed weapon. Drums and coffin magazines tend to max out at 50 – 100. The timeline as reported was also questionable, but I have not followed up closely in recent months. I also find the narrative on the designated perp a bit questionable, likely he was doing money laundering and gun running or worse. Let me add, that the TX church massacre shows that when seconds count, police tend to be minutes out. The next door neighbour with the same despised AR-15, who was an instructor I gather, proved the significance of the power of an armed and prepared citizenry acting in self defence. I also beg to differ on the yahoos carrying out massacres, cf Deerfield etc as proof of the realities the founders and framers had to bear in mind. I think in a day of Jihadism and the settlement-jihad strategy as well as narco-terrorism, gangs and other threats, the USA collectively needs to look seriously to the pattern set by the Swiss and consider carefully just how vulnerable you are to terrorist attacks. I have previously discussed the need for organised units of defence for all sorts of institutions, and I have suggested a more robust calibre, 6.5 mm Grendel and the Tavor bullpup design; for longer range, I think more robust rounds will be needed e.g. the Creedmore, but think the sectional density issues make 6.5 mm a sweet spot. [The caseless ammo developments may overtake, too.] I will only mention EMP, given what the North Koreans seem to be up to. The Iranians, too, and I have little confidence in the wishful thinking of those seeing the regime there as hopefully collapsing. The backlash after brutal suppression will be hardline, multiplying the dangers. I am particularly concerned for the rapidly growing Christian minority.

  4. 4
    Origenes says:

    Seversky: Who decides? I should have thought that was fairly obvious. We do.

    Tell that to CR. His explanation of knowledge does not involve persons — no need for any stinking knower. Knowledge, according to CR, is independent from consciousness.

    Seversky: Who else is there?

    Two entities: ‘Variation’ & ‘Selection’ — a.k.a. ‘guesses’ & ‘criticism’.

    CR: Neo-Darwnism is the theory that the growth of knowledge in organisms grows via variation and selection. This falls under the umbrella of the universal theory that knowledge grows via variation controlled by criticism of some form. …

    What is knowledge? Knowledge is information that, when embedding in a storage medium, plays a causal role in being retained.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Plato in his Ship of state parable, on where “we” can go:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

    I trust this is enough of a wake-up call. KF

  6. 6

    God help us, so many people think like Seversky. He thinks he is being reasonable and coming to rational conclusions, when all he is doing is taking his own preferences and wrapping them up with rhetoric and emotional pleading, churning out a baseless, value-less word salad he thinks should be meaningful, when it’s all nothing more than “I prefer X” and then finding rationales that he thinks will appeal to others.

    See, it’s not so difficult to work these things out if we put our minds to it.

    All you have “worked out” is your own personal narrative that supports your preference. Nothing more. That’s all a moral subjectivist can do – begin with their personal preference and then work backwards trying to create a rhetorical argument for it. That kind of logic can literally endorse any human behavior at all.

  7. 7

    WJM @ 6: “God help us, so many people think like Seversky.”

    God has helped us. He gave us you and UD!

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Origenes:

    Idiosyncratic redefinition then used as though it were established usage has a name.

    The fallacy of the kidnapped word.

    In this case, knowledge.

    KF

    PS: Notice the refusal to acknowledge complex, functionally coherent and specific organisation and associated information. Not to mention the only actually observed source of such: intelligently directed configuration.

  9. 9
    john_a_designer says:

    Seversky @ #1 (again) is being extremely dishonest and disingenuous. He “champions” consensus but never does anything to create any kind consensus. (Of course, maybe we’re not the kind of people he thinks he can do that with.) He doesn’t even do anything to create any kind of common ground; rather he always take a contrarian an argumentative point of view. He apparently thinks that being argumentative is the same thing making an argument. Arguments must begin with premises or propositions that are either self-evidently true or at least plausibly true. What is self-evidently true about Seversky’s subjective opinions about moral truth, inter-personal obligations or human rights? He doesn’t even address that question.

    Seversky either has several screws which are loose or he is extremely contemptuous of people who believe that there are some things which really are morally or “objectively” true.

  10. 10

    JAD @ 9: “Seversky either has several screws which are loose or he is extremely contemptuous of people who believe that there are some things which really are morally or “objectively” true.”

    Maybe a bit of both.

  11. 11
    RodW says:

    (I might as well jump in here)

    “Seversky either has several screws which are loose or he is extremely contemptuous of people who believe that there are some things which really are morally or “objectively” true.”

    It seems to me this debate is between one point of view that sees morals like platonic ideals and the other which doesn’t. But philosophers and mathematicians still debate over whether numbers are objectively real and just abstractions.
    I think that both sides here are drastically simplifying the discussion on what truth etc is as a way to get rhetorical leverage for the next debate: whether God does or doesn’t exist.

  12. 12
    RodW says:

    kf:

    Thus free speech and the right to bear arms and own property are eroded, all because of nothing is self-evident, a natural right, or necessarily true

    How is bearing arms a natural right? How does it connect to Truth with a capital ‘T’?

    The people in Australia have given up their right to own guns and everyone there on both the left and the right seem to think it was a great idea. Gun violence has gone almost to zero.
    The US Constitution gives us the right to form a militia and ‘bear arms’ but it doesn’t say which arms we can own and which we can’t. Can we own all of them? Who decides which ones we can own and which we cant and if we need to make decisions like this on a case by case and year by year basis doesn’t that suggest this is not connected to any fundamental ‘Truth’ in the universe?

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    RW,

    You have misdirected the question, and the quote, which properly belong to WJM.

    I will, however, note that self-defence is an obvious natural right [we can see how the animal kingdom is replete with equipment for defence and that includes naturally provided weapons as well as means to detect and evade threats], an extension of the right to life, as means to effect the defence.

    Where, as humans are not particularly well equipped naturally, we have long created weapons as tools of self defence. Firearms are an extension of this in the era of modern technologies. A story that started with stones, sticks, slings, flint knives, spears and bows.

    This natural right and linked right to effective means obviously hold for the individual, the family, the institution and the community. Where we should note that in a typical situation, when seconds count the suitably armed police are dozens of minutes away as a rule. We need seconds men now.

    Of course, the specifics of defence in a given time will change, but that is the application.

    The natural law right of defence by effective and responsible means is therefore so obvious that those who distort, denigrate and dismiss it are actually highlighting themselves as irresponsible and lacking in prudence.

    This right of defence by effective means is not a self-evident right in itself, it is an extension of it, based on the actual self-evident first right: life. The second self-evident right is next to this: liberty. Where, clearly, he who would rob me of my liberty would subject me to theft, violation or death at his pleasure. The tyrant is at war with humanity. His henchmen, agit-prop operators and propagandists, lawfare operatives and such like, are enabling the triumph of tyranny.

    Which are substantially illustrated by the instructive case I have been putting up, which case I notice is consistently ducked, distorted or dismissed.

    Namely, that it is self-evidently wicked, evil and even demonically mad, to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child for one’s sick pleasure. This being, unfortunately, a real world case.

    Your characterisation of Australia is I believe a bit less than the full story, but in Commonwealth nations there is generally a licensing system for ownership of firearms etc, which is usually fairly restrictive. This is actually a dangerous imbalance in current, positive law based thought in the Commonwealth; it opens the door in jurisdictions that are less well managed, for a clash between a militarised and unaccountable police force on one hand and more or less organised and militarised criminals on the other with an unarmed and frightened populace caught in the middle.

    The Swiss model is a far more sound, that every man has a duty to contribute to the common defence, and is to be trained, organised, and equipped to do that. (And to misuse arms in a criminal fashion would therefore be an offence under military statute.)

    In the US, my understanding is that the people at large are viewed as the militia, in unorganised form [reserves], and with an organised form, currently of voluntary participation [the National Guard]. However, adults are required to register should a draft ever be required in a sufficiently serious emergency. Where, hunting, fishing and many sports are actually elements of related training.

    In a day and age of the re-emergence of savage warfare by deliberate slaughter of the innocents [all members of a community being viewed as responsible for real or imagined crimes thus targets], this has to be re-visited. I have argued that the Tavor in semi-auto, 6.5 mm Grendel, would be a suitable basis for arming a voluntary guardian corps for institutions, businesses, meeting places, events, etc, and that a disciplined organisation more or less on the Swiss model is more than possible. This weapon with suitable sights credibly goes out to 800 – 1,000 m [the upper end stretching it], but the main context is the first 100 m with high precision.

    For the long range challenge, I suggest the 6.5 mm Creedmore, as the 6.5 mm calibre is a sweet spot for sectional density and will have the advantages of an intermediate round.

    Pistol rounds are strictly short range.

    It is to be noted, too, that current massacres are strongly correlated with “gun free” zones. Where guns are barred by law, only the outlaws will have guns.

    The role of various drugs in driving the mindset behind massacres should be reckoned with. The erosion of the value of life through the promotion of mass slaughter of posterity in the womb needs to be examined also, also that of the general system of relativist morality.

    But, recognising that now every gathering needs to provide responsible defence should be patent.

    Not just passive defences such as we can see in the ME where Christians were long since disarmed by their Muslim conquerors. I suspect a few lawsuits are likely to be coming on this subject.

    The far more dangerous threats are things like organised mass terrorism, local breakdowns of civil society and continental scale breakdowns due to EMP attack.

    We must also reckon with IslamIST radicalism, which in Iran is at nuclear threshold, same having now recreated the first phase of the Persian Empire by putting Mesopotamia and the Levant coast under their hegemony.

    The legacy of 15 years of failed geostrategic efforts, and of a manipulated public that does not have a clue as to what they are up against thanks in very large part to a media culture that has now passed irresponsibility into frankly, betrayal.

    March of ruinous folly.

    The days of easy solutions are over.

    The price in blood that now credibly lies ahead, will be horrific. And I would not be surprised that, if there is a major EMP attack, civilisation will revert centuries, at least 150 – 200 years. With mass die-offs.

    All of this is multiplied by the current rise of 3-d printing technologies. Going forward, weapons cannot be effectively restricted, never mind the UK’s attempt to now go after “knife crime,” etc.

    Welcome to the 21st century, a horror show already in inexorable progress.

    As for the idiosyncratic interpretation of the US Constitution, Amdt 2 you present, no.

    The direct implication of the life-setting context is that a locally based militia, implying organised and reserves, is required for the defence of liberty. This militia needs to be well equipped, reasonably trained and ready at a moment’s notice.

    In this context both historically and as a matter of court decisions that (however reluctantly) have had to reckon with that history, the right of the people to keep and bear arms implies a right down to the family and the individual, and in context, the weapons that a common private soldier would carry.

    This would imply edged weapons and reasonable firearms that can mount same, both side arms and long guns; but not, crew served heavier weapons. Those, one presumes would be in centralised locations. Indeed the battle of Bunker Hill in April 1775 was about attempted seizure of just such centrally stored weapons.

    The instant lesson of history here, is that had the minute men not had personal weapons at home and were they not readily capable of the use of such on a small informal unit basis, then they would have been helplessly overwhelmed. As it was, they administered a serious check to the Redcoats, and fired the shot heard around the world.

    We owe much to their sacrifice.

    Of course when things went well beyond that level, there was need for professional training.

    So, we are all well aware of the volunteer European officers who came and trained an army as a force in being that though often checked and defeated was never destroyed. So, there were interventions of support, from France in particular and the Americans eventually won by forcing exhaustion, loss of public support for the fight and strategic retreat.

    Now, a very familiar tale.

    After that fight, the Constitution was written to deliver on the promises of the DoI, and the amendment in question was in the Bill of Rights wisely insisted on by the dissenters.

    Yes, trusting the people to keep and bear arms is dangerous. Disarming the people in a day such as this is even more dangerous.

    And in the US case, on the relevant history an attempt to actually disarm the public would trigger a civil war and breakdown of government, which we cannot afford as a globe. Such an attempt would have to be initiated through a ruthless, deceptive propaganda and agitation campaign first, which would have to slander millions and distort history and facts as well as heavily defaming people. Beyond a certain point, if things get out of hand, someone is going to decide that rule 303 applies to the more irresponsible media personalities. That will be a terrible day, but it is predictably coming.

    I suspect what is actually at work is not a responsible expectation that the US can be disarmed, but a ruthless, cynical polarisation between the big city urban centres and the people of the hinterlands, as part of a broader divide and rule strategy. As a capital illustration, ponder the significance of remarks some years ago about bitter clingers to God and guns. Those behind the agenda are playing with fires that I do not think they understand.

    Don’t ever forget, Admiral Yamamoto warned the Japanese Government that an invasion of the USA would face a rifle behind every blade of grass.

    I think some serious rethinking is in order.

    KF

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    RW, on morals and rationality, no. The issue is, are we responsibly and rationally free, morally governed creatures with consciences that sense something real; or, not? If not, then we must reckon with how reason itself is bound by duties of care to truth, sound logic, fairness and much more, so much so that to imply that such a sense of being under a moral law of our nature is delusional, would self-referentially take down all of rationality in an avalanche of grand delusion. Even in the discussions here, we see the implicit recognition of that moral government. Further, the issue is on self-evident, certainly knowable, first principles of reason, where these include the import of distinct identity. In that context, Popper’s fallibilism is taken up in the OP, and is rightly seen as a self-defeating, incoherent position. The liked resort ot cultural relativism also collapses. Unfortunately, all of this is highly relevant to our civilisation at this time. KF

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    TWSYF, your #10, WJM seems to produce sometimes breathtakingly profound, but always highly significant, insights, hidden in plain sight from the rest of us, by their very familiarity.

    To him, things we fail to spot, to recognize, seem as clear to him as the intelligent design of the universe is to almost all of mankind.

    A very rare intelligence he must have, even among the leading thinkers of history ; not metaphorically – though that too – but in his identification of radical errors man has grown up and lived with since the year dot. In particular, I will never forget the first time I read his identification of our very thought-processes at every moment of the day, as utterly supernatural and mysterious. And there was simply no gainsaying it; Certainly our resident and visiting professors of atheism posted no attempt to refute it.

  16. 16
    jdk says:

    Everything WJM said in 6 is true of theists also: rationalization for theistic preferences and preconceptions.

    And RodW at 11 is right.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK (attn RW), truth says of what is, that it is and of what is not, that it is not. Not hard. Ari got that right 2300 years ago. Numbers are real enough to constrain many phenomena, and tie to the well-known power of the logic of structure and quantity in the physical sciences. Debating Platonism and things related thereto is hardly going to change that; especially if the thrust is to sneer at a name that is often despised. As for reality of numbers, in another thread my discussion has hinged on the logic of distinct identity: W = {A|~A}. No distinct identity, no distinct world. If distinct identity, two distinct ones thus two-ness. From this by logical relationships, the naturals; cf the von Neumann construction etc. These, as necessary framework in any possible world, which dovetails with the power of the logic of structure and quantity, such is baked into the framework or dna on another metaphor. What I would suggest is more relevant than sterile debates over proving God real, is the pervasive importance of distinct identity in understanding reality. If you want to go down the debating God route, I would point to the logic of being and to the logic of morally governed being. Once God is a serious candidate necessary being, the issue is: impossible of being or else actual. And it would be hard to argue he isn’t a serious candidate (unlike flying spaghetti monsters and the like ill-informed parodies). I think you would find it more relevant to notice the actual focal issues: knowledge, warrant, error, fallibilism and the significance of self-evident truth, Those are more than worthwhile foci in their own right in a day that has got epistemology in a first class mess, one that seems to be at the root of a lot of fruitless debating here and elsewhere. I am not seeing theists here struggling to acknowledge [–> fighting tooth and nail to evade, resist or dismiss?] self-evident, certainly knowable truths such as first principles of right reason connected to distinct identity, or error exists, or that one knows one is conscious or that 2 + 3 = 5. Or, that it is self-evident that our interior rational lives are morally governed by duty to truth, sound logic etc, on pain of letting grand delusion loose. Or, that it is self-evidently wicked to kidnap, bind, sexually assault and murder a young child for fun. Not to mention, resisting that inductive reasoning has validity, which can be tied to core characteristics of distinct identity leading to consistent, observable behaviour patterns. KF

  18. 18
    jdk says:

    kf writes, frequently:

    Truth says of what is, that it is and of what is not, that it is not.

    This is an empty statement. It is a tautology about the definition of truth, but tells us nothing about what is actually true.

    I agree with RodW that there are two fundamental ways of looking at the world, no matter what details you bring in: a Platonic one in which, somehow, ideas precede and inform matter (the physical world), and one in which the material world exists and from it we abstract ideas about characteristics that are embedded in that world.

    This is a perennial issue, and not one that will ever be resolved.

    I also believe that adherents of each perspective have invented philosophical perspectives which do a good job of accounting for their view: all such views touch upon what might be true within what you might call a literary philosophical framework. Philosophy is a form of literature: story-telling about the world in ways which attempt to bring to life a coherent whole.

    However, I also agree with RodW when he writes,

    I think that both sides here are drastically simplifying the discussion on what truth etc. is as a way to get rhetorical leverage for the next debate …”

    .

    For many the next debate is, as RodW states, whether God exists or not, but I don’t think that is necessarily the only next debate, or even, perhaps, the most general next debate: the most general next debate is probably the Platonic vs non-Platonic one.

    But I have also come to believe that the big philosophical debates are actually disguising, in a non-productive way, the issues we should be discussing: more down-to-earth issues about how to come to some common understandings with people who do take different ideological positions.

    The kind of arguments that take place here at UD are far too dichotomous, polarizing, and ungenerous to actually be productive in a way that is good for the participants.

  19. 19
    critical rationalist says:

    Popper’s answer is: We can hope to detect and eliminate error if we set up traditions of criticism—substantive criticism, directed at the content of ideas, not their sources, and directed at whether they solve the problems that they purport to solve.

    WJM: Who decides what a problem is? Who decides what constitutes an “error”? Who decides what form criticism should take? Who decides what it means for a criticism to be considered valid? Without self-evident truths to draw from, everything CR says is nothing but word salad that could be interpreted and criticized infinitely.

    Are those genuine questions? Did you not attempt to actually look into what Popper’s position was? Do you expect the answers to those questions to be present in a blog comment though a few paragraphs?

    The point being made is that Popper thought the OP was asking the wrong question. I quoted that in contrast to justifying an idea.

    Who decides what is a problem? I’m not even sure we’re in agreement as to if there are genuine moral problems to solve. Rather, you seem to think there are only moral truths that are separate from any particular concrete situation we find ourselves in. For example, what of the concrete problem of unwanted or dangerous pregnancies. Is that actually a moral problem?

    Who decides what constitutes an “error”? We do via fallible reasoning.

    Again, from the article

    Fallibilism, correctly understood, implies the possibility, not the impossibility, of knowledge, because the very concept of error, if taken seriously, implies that truth exists and can be found. The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit on the creation of objective knowledge nor, therefore, on progress. The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone except tyrants and charlatans, because what the rest of us want from ideas is their content, not their provenance: If your disease has been cured by medical science, and you then become aware that science never proves anything but only disproves theories (and then only tentatively), you do not respond “oh dear, I’ll just have to die, then.”

    The theory of knowledge is a tightrope that is the only path from A to B, with a long, hard drop for anyone who steps off on one side into “knowledge is impossible, progress is an illusion” or on the other side into “I must be right, or at least probably right.” Indeed, infallibilism and nihilism are twins. Both fail to understand that mistakes are not only inevitable, they are correctable (fallibly). Which is why they both abhor institutions of substantive criticism and error correction, and denigrate rational thought as useless or fraudulent. They both justify the same tyrannies. They both justify each other.

    I am not a nihilist.

    WJM: Without self-evident truths to draw from, everything CR says is nothing but word salad that could be interpreted and criticized infinitely.

    Again, what you call self-evident truths are ideas that we currently lack good criticism of. Reason always has its say first.

    How do you propose to get around this? God wanted our reason to infallibly exhibit some minimum level of success?

    WJM: This is just so wrong I don’t even know where to start. Criticism of an idea without a self-evident truth to draw from could be applied in any way – for more slavery or less, to abolish it or reinstate it. Where does one’s criticism begin? What form does it take? What is it trying to accomplish? Without a necessary direction, it can be used to accomplish and argue anything.

    How have you managed to infallible identity a supposedly infallible source? How can you infallibly interpret it?

    If reason always has its say first, then you’re starting from, well, reason, not the infallible source or truth.

    It’s unclear how you can separate what your idea of what perfectly good God would be like and, therefore, which supposedly infallible source about God you defer to. The same can be said about salvation. Surely, Muslims are mistaken about the nature of God, Jesus and the holy spirit because it’s obvious that only Jesus’ blood could save us. And that obviously as nothing to do with your ideas about justice, redemption, etc.

    Look at the assumed direction of the criticism; Popper is relying on the recognition of self-evident truths in order to plead his case, even though it could equally be pled in the opposite direction. “Better” ideas? According to whom? “Errors”? According to what system of evaluation? Why shouldn’t Democracy be a mechanism for forcing the will of the majority upon the minority?

    According to reason and argument and persuasion. Because it always has its say first.

    Note my emphasis in the following….

    The fact is, there’s nothing infallible about “direct experience” either. Indeed, experience is never direct. It is a sort of virtual reality, created by our brains using sketchy and flawed sensory clues, given substance only by fallible expectations, explanations, and interpretations. Those can easily be more mistaken than the testimony of the passing hobo. If you doubt this, look at the work of psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, and verify by direct experience the fallibility of your own direct experience. Furthermore, the idea that your reminiscences are infallible is also heresy by the very doctrine that you are faithful to.

    I’ll tell you what really happened. You witnessed a dress rehearsal. The real ex cathedra ceremony was on the following day. In order not to make the declaration a day early, they substituted for the real text (which was about some arcane theological issue, not gravity) a lorem-ipsum-type placeholder that they deemed so absurd that any serious listener would immediately realize that that’s what it was.

    And indeed, you did realize this; and as a result, you reinterpreted your “direct experience,” which was identical to that of witnessing an ex cathedra declaration, as not being one. Precisely by reasoning that the content of the declaration was absurd, you concluded that you didn’t have to believe it. Which is also what you would have done if you hadn’t believed the infallibility doctrine.

    Again, reason has its say first. But, by all means, feel free to explain how it doesn’t.

  20. 20
    critical rationalist says:

    For example…

    We used to think that, like breath, blood had some special animating role in life. And that was integrated in the idea that blood sacrifices had special significance in the forgiveness of our sins. That assumption is key in the idea of Jesus’ blood being even more special. Yet, we now know that blood transfers oxygen though our cells. And it will eventually be synthesized. This is because, unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from doing so is knowing how. That is creating that knowledge.

    At which point the entire idea of salvation via the blood of a man who is somehow 100% man and 100% God, seems arbitrary and even barbaric. It’s a bad explanation because it’s easily varied. Jesus’s role is only related to salvation through the myth itself. There is no hard to vary expiation for why to prefer it over some other divine action.

    Muslims think it’s heresy to think that men could kill anyone who was divine. Or that God is somehow not one substance and person. Both claim to be infallible source of God’s word. The source you choose to defer to represents your view on justice, the nature of God, forgiveness, etc.

    Reason always has its say first.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, if “truth” does not accurately describe reality, both being and non-being, then Truth is dead. It is no empty tautology to point out the bar claimed truths must surmount. Yes, that criterion does not tell us what is true, it just sets up a plumb-line so that crooked yardsticks will be exposed as untrustworthy. A necessary and even vital service. FYI, on contents of truth, start here, in an earlier but still active thread. Lastly, that you have tried to dismiss the criterion of accurate description of reality as the key meaning of truth is already a big red warning flag over any further claim or comment you make. You just committed a first class self-referential credibility kill-shot. Thanks for the warning, which is henceforth duly noted. KF

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I have little time just now so just for a note: stifling someone or bleeding them out will very rapidly show the special significance of breath and blood. You want to go from there to ridicule Christian theology of atonement, knowing full well that this for good reason is not a proper focus for this blog. I suggest that this sort of tactic by now goes to character, as there are many readily available places that such can be discussed. I simply note that a great many competent people, including scientists, physicians, mathematicians, philosophers, legal minds and educators — not just theologians, find Christian theology a highly satisfactory view for cause, not the sort of thing that can be crudely set up and knocked over like a strawman target using Internet Atheist-style talking points. Such, being little more than the modern form of the Village Atheist on a soapbox. I suggest, you need to ponder your ways. KF

    PS: I see also, you are still setting up a strawman of irrationalism. A clue: someone who argues from the self-evident first principles of right reason that pivot on distinct identity and from the government of reason by duties to truth, sound logic and fairness etc, simply cannot be an irrationalist or advocate of blind adherence to claimed authority. Do you realise the magnitude of strawman target error you have been making?

  23. 23

    Sure, CR. Let’s just pick out of thin air where we want to end up, find a starting point convenient to that conclusion, build a rhetorical narrative pathway from point A to point B and then call that process “reasoning”.

    You cannot reason your way to a principle of reason to use in your reasoning process. Reason cannot create itself. Criticism cannot form itself out of nothing. Or is that what you are attempting to claim? That you can build the first hammer using a hammer?

  24. 24
    jdk says:

    kf writes,

    JDK, if “truth” does not accurately describe reality, both being and non-being, then Truth is dead. It is no empty tautology to point out the bar claimed truths must surmount.

    Yes, truth should accurately describe reality: that is the definition of truth. I agree with that. However, deciding that any particular proposition is true (i.e., accurately describes reality) is the hard part.

  25. 25

    CR: will you agree that, in critcizing a thing, you cannot use that same thing as the means by which you apply your critical process and to validate your critical conclusion? In other words if you challenge the validity of a yardstick, you cannot use that same yardstick to measure itself?

    Axel @15,

    Can I get you to do the eulogy at my funeral? Good grief, man, you made me blush! Thanks for your kind words.

  26. 26

    jdk said:

    Yes, truth should accurately describe reality: that is the definition of truth. I agree with that. However, deciding that any particular proposition is true (i.e., accurately describes reality) is the hard part.

    It is impossible without a foundation of self-evident truths (such as the LoI) from which and by which such propositions are measured for their “truth-ness”.

    CR might claim that the validity of the LoI is achieved via criticism (no good criticisms to date). I suggest that when you realize that criticism itself and the very concept of “validity” depends entirely on a thing, you’ve found that which precedes and is necessary for criticism. The very word and concept “criticism” is dependent upon the LoI for their existence.

    While we may come to know that LoI is fundamental to criticism because we depend on it for every cogent thought, letter, word, argument, criticism and idea, doesn’t mean criticism came first; it just means that we were unaware that the LoI necessarily comes first and that we were using (and necessarily using it) it all along as the fundamental building block – the very starting point – of all thought.

    When CR can show us an example of criticism not built from and entirely out of LoI-dependent words, ideas and conclusions, then he’ll have a case; until then, every letter he writes is a blatant contradiction to his position that “criticism” always comes first.

  27. 27
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR:

    When CR can show us an example of criticism not built from and entirely out of LoI-dependent words, ideas and conclusions, then he’ll have a case;

    I will expect to see CR provide that about the same time he provides UB an example of a quantum storage medium that is not semiotic.

    CR is, above all, deeply dishonest. I appreciate the way WJM, UB KF and others continue to expose him for the benefit of the lurkers.

  28. 28
    tribune7 says:

    At which point the entire idea of salvation via the blood of a man who is somehow 100% man and 100% God, seems arbitrary and even barbaric.

    If Someone who dies for you i.e. lets his blood be shed for you to save you that was never barbaric.

    Now, regarding the Last Supper, if someone can turn bread and wine into body and blood, it’s reasonable to think that someone can save you.

  29. 29
    jdk says:

    to WJM: I accept the fundamental laws of logic. They are tools for working with propositions about the world. Being consistent with the laws of logic is a necessary, but not sufficient, criteria for us to consider a proposition true.

  30. 30

    jdk @29:

    The issue is not whether or not not one accepts them as necessary; the issue is whether or not one accepts them as self-evidently true. IOW, do you recognize they cannot be rationally “proven” true because, in order to even make such an attempt, you must utterly rely on them?

    What “self-evident” means is that without the proposition in question, there is no means by which any rational progress ensues. It doesn’t mean that everyone recognizes it. People can deny their own existence. Does that mean they may not actually exist? Does a willfully blind man cast doubt on what others plainly see? Of course not.

    Error exists – self evidently true.

    1+1=2 – self-evidently true

    Now comes the rub; good and evil objectively exist. Self-evidently true or not?

    Some will claim that they only exist “subjectively”. If true, no rational argument can ensue about morality. All we can do is state personal preferences and attempt to convince others via non-rational means to adopt our preference, because there is no self-evidently true moral statement to begin with.

    Many people say things like “we can reach a consensus”, but that begs the question of why “consensus” is morally different from simply bludgeoning people into compliance. Some might begin with “facilitating maximum good for the most people”, but there is no moral beginning point for what “good” means, or even a foundation for why we should begin with that maxim instead of “whatever serves the desire of the strongest”.

    Indeed, without a self-evidently true moral starting point that is held as binding as the LoI, there is nothing available to set the starting point for rational moral deliberations to ensue from. Without self-evidently true mathematical or geometric statements, there is means by which to progress in those fields.

    Without objectively binding, self-evidently true moral statements represented as fundamental moral principles, all we have is the authority of might (in whatever form that takes) makes right, and all we can do is try to manipulate people or beat them into agreement, because there is no rational starting point that is self-evidently true.

    Therefore, the statement “Good and evil objectively exist” is self-evident because without that statement being true, no rational discourse can progress.

    If you (or anyone) wants to believe that morality is subjective, then have the intellectual courage to simply admit that your moral system is non-rational and entirely based upon subjective preferences, and that you will force it on others in whatever manner you personally feel comfortable with – law, peer pressure, fists or guns.

  31. 31
    jdk says:

    wjm says,

    The issue is not whether or not not one accepts them as necessary; the issue is whether or not one accepts them as self-evidently true. IOW, do you recognize they cannot be rationally “proven” true because, in order to even make such an attempt, you must utterly rely on them?

    I agree with the second sentence, assuming that “they”” refers to the laws of logic which I mentioned in my post.

    I think the laws of logic, as formalized descriptions of rules inherent in our use of language to describe the world, are “self-evident” to rational human beings (although human beings uneducated about their formal existence might not be able to articulate that.) As stated in an early post, I don’t believe we can settle the question of whether those laws arise from, and/or exist in, some Platonic world of ideals: I have come to consider that a fruitless debate.

    So, to me, the issue is do we all accept the laws of logic as necessary elements of our rational attempts to describe the world. If so, we can carry on with the task of actually describing reality in ways that we can commonly accept as true: that’s where the real work begins.

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, did I ever suggest that it would be easy to put things into the set that collects truths, especially in an age of cynical suspicion and hyperskepticism? No. I simply slightly adapted the words of Aristotle in Metaphysics, 1011b to identify what truth is. That is an important step, even a bold one in today’s day and age: A is itself, A; namely and specifically xyzabc. It is no empty tautology, as you instantly dismissed above. You should recall, that I have also recently — some weeks ago — addressed a soft-form common sense of knowledge: warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief. Where, obviously, warrant and degree of credibility come in degrees of plausibility, up to and including relatively rare things that are self-evident and so are undeniably or incorrigibly known to be true. KF

  33. 33
    jdk says:

    No, kf, I don’t mean to imply that you ever said ascertaining truth would be easy.

    Although you do sometimes speak with a great deal of seeming certainty about things you think are true that I think reasonable people might disagree about, especially about things you think are “self-evidently” true.

    Also, as I explained above, I accept the definition of truth as that which accurately describes reality. However saying something like “A is itself, A;” doesn’t really clarify anything, or make the definition any clearer.

    But these types of disagreements are to be expected in serious discourse among knowledgeable, rational people.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, actually, it gets worse. For, as our rational thought-life is pervaded by and is inextricably entangled with duties of care to truth, sound logic, fairness etc etc, to hold such as only subjective — i.e. a euphemism for delusional — is to let grand delusion loose all across the domain of mindedness. Including, in an infinitely regressive self-referential absurdity. This corrupts rationality into deceitful, manipulative rhetoric in pursuit of power — reduction to (usually implicit) nihilism thus absurdity. Indeed, if we ponder the arguments of objectors for some weeks now we see the consistent complaint that by putting up self evident truths and especially moral ones, we are in effect trying to impose some suspect oppressive fascist power agenda under the name of an imaginary entity, God. Those locked into soft, implicit nihilism will project that nihilism to others and will perceive a challenge to their crooked yardsticks as a threat to the power agenda they identify with and hope to benefit from. It requires an incommensurate paradigm-shift to acknowledge what truth is, then to acknowledge that conscious enconscienced existence and mindedness entail certain self-evident truths. Such truths command our respect not because of arbitrary imposition but because they are accurate maps of reality. So, in the end, as we know the truth, the truth shall make us free. But what happens if all one has known are shadow shows and chains in some modern version of Plato’s Cave? KF

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK,

    Let’s list:

    1] To one who is conscious, the bare fact of consciousness is self-evident and such a one cannot be deluded on that bare fact, though there may be errors about contents of consciousness.

    2] Error exists, let’s call this E. Thus also we have ~E, the claim that it is so that it is an error to affirm E. Oops, instant absurdity, E is undeniably and self-evidently true. This BTW is one reason why we need warrant to have confidence that certain claims are credibly true and reliable.

    3] For a world we have distinct identity, say of A. Thus W = {A|~A}, thence instantly we see — this is not a proof — LOI, LNC, LEM.

    4] Also, on the same we see two-ness in W, thus we wxtend to the naturals.

    5] In that context, 2 + 3 = 5, self evident to one who understands and the denial is instantly patently absurd:

    || + ||| –> |||||

    6] Going back, apart from the defective, in our consciousness we are aware of duties to truth, sound logic, fairness etc etc, and these are so entangled in reasoning and arguing that their denial instantly lands in grand delusion and nihilism. In this thread you have built on them implicitly, expecting us to intuitively know such.

    7] Going on, an instructive and sadly real-world test case. Namely that it is wicked and even demonically evil to kidnap, bind, gag, sexually assault and murder a young child, and that were we to see such in progress we would be duty bound to try to rescue or at least to bawl for help.

    Now, I hold that a SET will be true, will be seen as necessarily true i/l/o sufficient experience and understanding to clearly see what is claimed, and that the attempted denial will instantly land one in patent absurdity.

    As such SET’s are not subjects of proof from other more plausible claims, they are first points of maximal plausibility from which proofs may proceed. However, we can be led through experiences that educate us so that we can come to understanding and insight. For instance any attempt to prove LOI, LNC and LEM will invariably be circular. However, axiomatic systems can be constructed that will lead to SET’s, as with mathematical systems. I suggest, these axioms will be in aggregate less plausible than 2 + 3 = 5 or the like.

    Now, kindly tell us which of the above is not self-evident, why.

    In the case of the final one, consider yourself to be sitting in the presence of the bereft father and the surviving, now adult sons who grew up with a hole ripped in their lives by a demonic monster who has never been caught and brought to justice. (In Jamaica, in principle, at the end of a rope at St Catherine District Prison. Back then, often twice per week.)

    Let’s hear your response.

    KF

    PS: Note, in discussing the significance of the logic of being and that of moral government, I have put on the table a serious candidate world-root being. I invited and invite proposal of a credible and coherent alternative: _______ That is a very different circumstance, worldview-level inference to best explanation.

  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: In saying A is itself, A, I am pointing out that any distinct entity has its own identity, core characteristics, properties etc as appropriate, and that it is simple truth to acknowledge A to be so. Though, it is often dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, who has raised the idea of ideal forms? What has been on the table is that no possible world can be such that distinct identity does not obtain, so LOI, LNC, LEM are framework elements of any world existing. Linked, the set of naturals, too. Abstract, but constraining what can be — and what cannot be such as a square circle in the plane. How exactly, we know not. And BTW, not just linguistic phenomena, something that is a candidate being that would have core characteristics that stand in mutual contradiction, cannot be in any world. A law of realities and non-realities, not just of thought. KF

  38. 38
    jdk says:

    kf says, “Now, kindly tell us which of the above is not self-evident, why.”

    6 is not self-evident, but I have no interest in discussing this with you and others here again: been there, done that.

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, you just confessed to soft nihilism, an absurdity. The implications of ruling the moral government of duties to truth etc delusional are stark. I suggest you reconsider. KF

  40. 40
    jdk says:

    to kf at 37:

    JDK, who has raised the idea of ideal forms?

    Rod W, at 11.

    Also, a square circle is impossible because of the definitions of those terms. No world can exist with married bachelors either, but I don’t consider that a fundamental property that any possible world must meet.

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    JDK, I’d suggest that a square circle is impossible of being because no entity can be such that it is circular in reality AND square in reality in the same sense and circumstances. The same actually obtains for worlds in which bachelors and married men can and do exist. No man may be married and a bachelor in the relevant senses and circumstances. In both cases we use words to reflect realities. KF

    PS: I want to put it to you that you continue to manifest a sense of mutual obligation towards truth, soundness of logic etc. It is possible to be one sided about that, but at the price of clinging to an absurdity which in the end is self-defeating.

  42. 42
    jdk says:

    I agree that if we define words to describe/reflect reality, and the definitions of the words are such that something can’t be both A and B, then yes indeed it will be impossible for something to exist that is both A and B according to our descriptions of them.

    But “bachelor” and “married man” only exist because we have named certain people who meet certain conditions as such. The impossibility flows from our language out to the world. In a different society, this distinction might not even exist.

  43. 43
    Axel says:

    William J Murray, I was just saying it as I saw it, and still do.

  44. 44
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, I have little time just now so just for a note: stifling someone or bleeding them out will very rapidly show the special significance of breath and blood.

    And, as I indicated, it’s likely we can create a blood substitute to transfer oxygen to cells. Research is already underway to create artificial red blood cells that could significantly out perform natural red blood cells. The only thing that stands is our way is knowing how.

    And introducing a toxin into a system will rapidly show the significance of neurological control over vital functions. Blood can be present, but if the nervous system is compromised it isn’t circulated though the lungs to pick up oxygen and expel CO2, etc.

    You want to go from there to ridicule Christian theology of atonement, knowing full well that this for good reason is not a proper focus for this blog.

    Ridicule? I’m pointing out that the specific doctrine of Christian atonement can seem arbitrary and even heretical to other believers. Let’s not play the victim here to avoid the point being made.

    I simply note that a great many competent people, including scientists, physicians, mathematicians, philosophers, legal minds and educators — not just theologians, find Christian theology a highly satisfactory view for cause, not the sort of thing that can be crudely set up and knocked over like a strawman target using Internet Atheist-style talking points.

    And a great many people find Christian theology a heroical based on the assumption that men could kill anyone who was divine. Or that God is somehow not one substance and person. Are these people not competent, scientists, physicians, mathematicians, philosophers, legal minds and educators?

    Again, I’m pointing out that which supposedly infallible source one defers to, when to defer to it and how to defer to it is based on reason. And, when you take that seriously, that’s equivalent to what someone would do if they do not subscribe to the infallibility of the source.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you have simply gone off on speculation, without accepting that there is something highly significant to breathing and to the body’s liquid tissue that would make these of particular note and a point of reference for a discussion on life and its spiritual aspect. You also seem unwilling to deal with the Incarnation on its own terms. In short, you are doing little more than the village atheist of old: trying to put a dismissive construction on what you do not seem to have seriously pondered. For matters theological, I suggest you go where such is a main subject, if you genuinely wish to understand what is being discussed. Beyond that, I should note to you that the offer of proof for the Christian faith today is the same as it was in AD 50, the resurrection of Jesus with 500 witnesses. KF

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: You keep on erecting a strawman target, of us looking for some infallible authority for the domain of knowledge to be blindly adhered to. We have shown, long since, that it is more than sufficient for us that we can have self-evident first principles, that help guide and guard our reasoning. Further, such reasoning is i/l/o one of these first principles, that error exists, so warrant is necessary for knowledge. I suggest you ponder a comment I made to WJM at 34:

    as our rational thought-life is pervaded by and is inextricably entangled with duties of care to truth, sound logic, fairness etc etc, to hold such as only subjective — i.e. a euphemism for delusional — is to let grand delusion loose all across the domain of mindedness. Including, in an infinitely regressive self-referential absurdity. This corrupts rationality into deceitful, manipulative rhetoric in pursuit of power — reduction to (usually implicit) nihilism thus absurdity. Indeed, if we ponder the arguments of objectors for some weeks now we see the consistent complaint that by putting up self evident truths and especially moral ones, we are in effect trying to impose some suspect oppressive fascist power agenda under the name of an imaginary entity, God. Those locked into soft, implicit nihilism will project that nihilism to others and will perceive a challenge to their crooked yardsticks as a threat to the power agenda they identify with and hope to benefit from. It requires an incommensurate paradigm-shift to acknowledge what truth is, then to acknowledge that conscious enconscienced existence and mindedness entail certain self-evident truths. Such truths command our respect not because of arbitrary imposition but because they are accurate maps of reality. So, in the end, as we know the truth, the truth shall make us free. But what happens if all one has known are shadow shows and chains in some modern version of Plato’s Cave?

  47. 47
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    You’re missing a key point. Popper’s position is that all life is problem solving. What do we do when faced with a concrete problem? How can some source infallibly tell us what the right choice is to make when we actually need it, in practice? To say something is trivially true is to say that it is trivial in respect to solving problems.

    1] To one who is conscious, the bare fact of consciousness is self-evident and such a one cannot be deluded on that bare fact, though there may be errors about contents of consciousness.

    One example has already been given. if you mistakenly think you are a deceased historical figure, the person you think exists because you think doesn’t actually exist. You’re mistaken. I’m referring to what we could supposedly know infallibly in practice. You are experiencing something could easily just as well be that it wasn’t you who experienced it. How does that help me solve a problem?

    If you mean self-evident in the sense of something that doesn’t refer to experience, as opposed to nothing that is based on evidence, then it seems this would be better described as a priori knowledge. But that means experience of being conscious isn’t part of the equation. Even then, from Wikipedia…”Philosophers also may use “apriority” and “aprioricity” as nouns to refer (approximately) to the quality of being “a priori””

    This means they are still subject to criticism to the degree in which they fit that description.

    2] Error exists, let’s call this E. Thus also we have ~E, the claim that it is so that it is an error to affirm E. Oops, instant absurdity, E is undeniably and self-evidently true. This BTW is one reason why we need warrant to have confidence that certain claims are credibly true and reliable.

    Opps. Strawman. Whether a proposition is true or false is not the same question as to whether one can know a proposition infallibly. Error exists is based on the reasoning that something cannot be true and false at the same time…

    To quote Xenophanes…

    “….But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
    Nor shall he know it,neither of the gods
    Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
    For even if by chance he were to utter
    The final truth, he would himself not know it:
    For all is but a woven web of guesses”

    Objective knowege is possible, but not in the sense that you think.

    While we may come to know that LoI is fundamental to criticism because we depend on it for every cogent thought, letter, word, argument, criticism and idea, doesn’t mean criticism came first; it just means that we were unaware that the LoI necessarily comes first and that we were using (and necessarily using it) it all along as the fundamental building block – the very starting point – of all thought.

    First, I would again point out that to depend on identity of something requires knowing a specific identity is, and we can be mistaken about that. How does it help me solve a problem?

    If you said idea X both solves a problem Z and also doesn’t solve a problem Z, then what does it mean to say that X solves problem Z? Does to solve it part of the time? if so, when? if not, how does it help me, a fallible human being, solve concrete problems?

    For example, see Goodmans new riddle of induction, in which whether a emerald is green or grue cannot be distinguished because grue is green until some future point in time it becomes blue. The expectation of what color it will be in the future is based on our explanations of optics, geology, photos, etc, which can be mistaken. Not it having been green in the past. Or because it is defined as being green, etc.

    Second, pointing out if X were false then we couldn’t do Y, and we seem to be able to do Y is criticism of the idea that X is false.

    Third, do you have an explanation as to how reason doesn’t have its say first?

    Why did you pick the law of identity as a shining example to make your point, among others you considered? Did you not attempt to think of ways or explanations for how it could be false? Like, if it was false, then we couldn’t read blog posts?

    Are you claiming to possess every possibly means by which to criticize that idea right now? Can no better criticism of any idea be had in the future, which might better illustrate why we think other ideas are false and discard errors in the ideas we hold?

    Equality should be observed to women and all members of the human races and that’s it? It seems to me there could be an error in that statement in that it is incomplete. We don’t even know what possible entities we’re not aware of that exist now, or could exist in the future that could be added to that list. What if someone managed to clone a neanderthal? Do they count too? Etc.

    Are you suggesting no new entities could be created in the future that we cannot conceive of today, that should be on that list? If so, on what basis did you reach that conclusion?

    PS: Note, in discussing the significance of the logic of being and that of moral government, I have put on the table a serious candidate world-root being. I invited and invite proposal of a credible and coherent alternative: _______ That is a very different circumstance, worldview-level inference to best explanation.

    Why would I present candidates for a job I do not think the need to be filled or that doesn’t actually exist?

  48. 48
    critical rationalist says:

    @WJM

    You cannot reason your way to a principle of reason to use in your reasoning process. Reason cannot create itself. Criticism cannot form itself out of nothing. Or is that what you are attempting to claim? That you can build the first hammer using a hammer?

    Criticism is instinctual. Just as walking is instinctual for horse and nursing in human beings.

    Example? Regardless of how clear you try to write or say, it can always be misunderstood. This is one of the reasons why most people misunderstand Popper. Yet, for the most part, people end up with fairly accurate interpretations of what people actually meant.

    How? By quickly and subconsciously considering a number of possible interpretations and criticizing them based on background knowledge we already have, such as who wrote it, what they wrote in the previous sentence, context of a conversion, etc. We do this thousands of times a day and have done so for thousands of years without understanding it formally as criticism in the traditional sense.

    Criticism in Popper’s theory of knowledge unifies ideas from natural selection, to instincts, to useful rules of thumb to subconsciously criticism to conscious and intentional debate in informal and formal settings.

    So, when I say knowledge is information that plays a causal role when embedded in a storage medium, I mean it survives criticism. As Barry said, our ideas slam into reality, which is yet another example of criticism.

  49. 49
    Origenes says:

    CR @47
    // comment on issue 1

    CR (to KF): What do we do when faced with a concrete problem? How can some source infallibly tell us what the right choice is to make when we actually need it, in practice? To say something is trivially true is to say that it is trivial in respect to solving problems.

    [sentence by sentence:]

    CR: What do we do when faced with a concrete problem?

    In order to have a scenario in which one is faced with a concrete problem, one must make a distinction between “I” & “the external world” and also a distinction between “a concrete problem” and a “non-concrete problem”. These fundamental distinctions are in line with LOI. Think about it.

    CR: How can some source infallibly tell us what the right choice is to make when we actually need it, in practice?

    A remarkable naive question. How in the world can you expect KF to name one single source for all occasions? For instance, the laws of logic can often guide us to make the right decisions, but only a fool would hold that they always suffice.

    CR: To say something is trivially true is to say that it is trivial in respect to solving problems.

    Your behavior on this forum does not indicate it, nevertheless, I do hope that you do not hold the laws of logic to be “trivially true.”

    KF: 1] To one who is conscious, the bare fact of consciousness is self-evident and such a one cannot be deluded on that bare fact, though there may be errors about contents of consciousness.

    CR: One example has already been given. if you mistakenly think you are a deceased historical figure, the person you think exists because you think doesn’t actually exist. You’re mistaken. I’m referring to what we could supposedly know infallibly in practice. You are experiencing something could easily just as well be that it wasn’t you who experienced it. How does that help me solve a problem?

    [point by point:]

    CR: CR: if you mistakenly think you are a deceased historical figure, the person you think exists because you think doesn’t actually exist. You’re mistaken.

    CR succeeds (again) in misunderstanding an argument. Again, KF: “To one who is conscious, the bare fact of consciousness is self-evident …”. Contrary to what CR seems to think, the ‘bare fact of consciousness’ has little if anything to do with social identity. One may think that one is Napoleon, and/or a good looking well-liked person and be completely mistaken about all of that, but one cannot be mistaken about the fact that one is conscious. It is a different matter entirely.

    CR: I’m referring to what we could supposedly know infallibly in practice.

    No, you are not. You refer to the possibility of being mistaken about (social) identity. No one has ever claimed that we cannot err on social identity. You are not referring to the fact that one is conscious.

    CR: You are experiencing something could easily just as well be that it wasn’t you who experienced it.

    This is very confused. These are the kind of texts that are pretty scary; to say the least. For clarity, under no circumstance, can it be the case that I experience that I am conscious, but that it is, in fact, the experience of someone else.

  50. 50
    JSmith says:

    jdk at 18

    But I have also come to believe that the big philosophical debates are actually disguising, in a non-productive way, the issues we should be discussing: more down-to-earth issues about how to come to some common understandings with people who do take different ideological positions.

    I agree. Whether or not their are objective truths, it is obviously that we are not terribly good at discerning what they are. As such, it is important to put aside the origin of what is and concentrate on developing agreement on the best way to live together.

    The kind of arguments that take place here at UD are far too dichotomous, polarizing, and ungenerous to actually be productive in a way that is good for the participants.

    I couldn’t agree more. But, I must admit that I do get a perverse joy out of watching people get all worked up about such a silly difference of opinion. We should all just stop taking ourselves so seriously. No discussion here is going to make one iota of difference in how the world and its societies function.

  51. 51
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR

    Criticism is instinctual.

    You are missing the point. It is irrelevant whether criticism is instinctual. To criticize one must employ reason. One cannot employ reason to get to reason. That is WJM’s point. It is obviously correct. One wonders why you push back at it so hard.

    Your objection is as if WJM had said “One needs words to get to language” and you had responded “Words are instinctual.” Even if the response is true, it does not refute WJM’s assertion.

    BTW, have you managed to find that real world example to support your claim that descriptions of semiotic systems do not scale to quantum storage mediums?

    UB and I have been waiting these many weeks.

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    Again, there are so many things that have been twisted into pretzels it is hard to see where to begin and to go point by point would be a waste of time.

    First, there are specific self-evident truths, nothing has been claimed that most or all truths are self-evident or necessary.

    Second, if one is delusional to the extent of being a brain electro-stimulated in a vat (if that were possible) such would still be incorrigibly aware of the bare fact of consciousness. This is a necessary truth that is synthetic a posteriori, but that is better seen as self-evident. This is not an analytic truth. The diagram in the previous OP shows the situation: a rock has no dreams and cannot be deluded it is conscious. Once self aware then self aware, period.

    Next, You have managed to confuse the utterly simple. Take E, error exists. That is a claim about reality. Take the denial, ~E, which is that it is an error to claim or hold that error exists — not just falsity it is assertion that implies claim to truth. This immediately entails an error exists. Oops. The original claim is undeniable.

    You can wrench away all you want but all you will do is convince us that for some reason you are utterly committed to there being no self-evident truths and will clutch at straws to deny that.

    I notice, you skip over 2 + 3 = 5, as that is utterly resistant to twisting as it is hard to twist:

    || + ||| –> |||||

    Going on, any distinct thing has its own identity that marks it off from the rest of reality in some way. Once that partition occurs, the triple principles of right reason instantly apply.

    Your clever attempt to duck the challenge of the IS-OUGHT gap and the logic of being, simply shows that you have determined that you will not touch the matter. And, you intend to do so by imposing your will, i.e. ou have appealed to the soft nihilism of might and manipulation make right. Yet another form of clinging to absurdity.

    And so forth.

    I suggest, you need to do a serious rethink.

    KF

  53. 53
    jdk says:

    Thanks, JSmith @ 50. It’s good to see that a couple of us agree about a few things.

  54. 54
    JSmith says:

    jdk

    It’s good to see that a couple of us agree about a few things.

    Christmas is the season of miracles. 🙂

  55. 55

    CR said:

    Criticism is instinctual. Just as walking is instinctual for horse and nursing in human beings.

    Unless there is a differentiation in our instincts, we won’t survive long. Which means the LoI precedes instincts. The LoI must precede all differentiated experience, CR. Wrap your head around that, if you can.

  56. 56
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    You are missing the point. It is irrelevant whether criticism is instinctual. To criticize one must employ reason. One cannot employ reason to get to reason. That is WJM’s point. It is obviously correct. One wonders why you push back at it so hard.

    To intentionally criticize, one must employ reason. This is yet another assuming that the knowledge was always there from the start in the form of some infallible source. This is UB’s argument that the knowledge of how to build a replicator was there, at the outset, yet not present in the laws of physics.

    Criticism in Popper’s theory of knowledge unifies ideas from natural selection, to instincts, to useful rules of thumb to subconsciously criticism to conscious and intentional debate in informal and formal settings.

    Slamming into reality, as you pointed out, doesn’t require reason. Organisms don’t need to comprehend problems, in the sense that we do, to have problems to solve. It’s a form of criticism none the less. Knowledge can fail to solve a problem or fail to solve it as well as some other knowledge, and be replaced.

    IOW, what I’m referring to is a unification of knowledge and criticism across multiple fields, without the need for knowing subjects and conscious evaluation.

  57. 57
    critical rationalist says:

    Unless there is a differentiation in our instincts, we won’t survive long.

    That’s a criticism of the idea that the LoI is false. it takes the form that if X wasn’t true, we couldn’t do Y.

    Or are you suggesting it’s not? If so, what did you just do?

    I could probably come up with a really bad explanation about how the LoI could be false, just as Deutsch came up with a bad explanation for why 2+2=4 might be false.

    The LoI is hard to vary without significantly reducing it’s ability to explain what it purports to explain. So is 2+2=4.

    Both are just ideas that we currently lack good criticism of.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, kindly ponder the saying that to the man whose only tool is a hammer, everything looks like the head of a nail. KF

Leave a Reply