Food for thought Logic and First Principles of right reason Philosophy Science, Mathematics, Philosophy and (Natural) Theology Selective Hyperskepticism warrant, knowledge, science and belief

What is knowledge?

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Sometimes, exchanges at UD come down to truly basic (and hard) issues.

This is one such time, where Origenes has challenged prolific objector Critical Rationalist in the Personal Incredulity thread:

>>100 Origenes

 CR

What is your definition of valid knowledge?>>

I have thought this worthy of responding to and of headlining:

KF, 106: >> Origines,

Generally, I would argue that “knowledge” is used in a weak form sense: warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief.

Drawing out, slightly:

Warranted

there is an available account (as opposed to internal to the given knower, who may simply accept a message from reliable sources . . . ) that, properly understood, would justify accepting or treating belief x as true in serious contexts.

Credibly true

the warrant for and circumstances of belief x are such that we can have good confidence that the belief is likely to be true or capture enough truth that we are entitled to trust it.

Reliable

the warrant for x is such that if we act on the belief that-x in a consequential situation, we are unlikely to be let down.

Belief

that which is accepted, perceived, or held to be so; often in this context, for good reason.

Of course in today’s day and age, “faith” and “belief” are often despised and dismissively contrasted with “science,” “reason/rationality” and “knowledge,” etc. as though acknowledged faith/trust/belief is invariably ill-warranted.

Such reflects dominance of radical secularism and evolutionary materialistic scientism, which, ironically are not well warranted, are not trustworthy (being fallaciously rooted, esp. through self-referential incoherence and/or the fostering of ill-advised cognitive biases) and should not be permitted to act as gate-keepers on what we regard as knowledge.>>

So, arguably, knowledge is well-warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief.

Many will find that unpalatable, but I confidently predict that they will have difficulty proposing another succinct account that answers to issues ranging from the classical “justified, true belief” definition of epistemology, to the fact that scientific knowledge is not utterly certain, to the challenge of Gettier counter-examples, to the Grue issue, to the Agrippa trilemma challenge and more. END

237 Replies to “What is knowledge?

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Back to basics: what is knowledge?

  2. 2
    Dionisio says:

    What a question!

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    D, yes, what is knowledge is one of the biggest q’s out there, and it is at the pivot of the issues that surround the design theory debates, as well as what is happening in our civlisation. Therefore, I thought we needed to ponder it. KF

  4. 4
    Dionisio says:

    KF,
    Yes, this is a fundamental concept that must be clearly understood in order to have a serious conversation on any subject.
    Thanks for bringing it up.

  5. 5
    Origenes says:

    KF,
    halve a year ago I asked CR:

    Criticism based on what? I have asked you this one month ago and you fail to answer. … it [criticism] needs a prior foundation. One cannot reason based on nothing. You seem to “overlook” that basic fact.

    KF, as you have pointed out repeatedly, what CR does not do is apply the same criticism to his method of criticism. Somehow this is simply ‘true’ and exempt from criticism.
    For this reason, my question to CR.

    … those who claim that all beliefs, acts of reasoning, etc., are nonveracious are positing a closed circle in which no beliefs are produced by the proper methods by which beliefs can be said to be
    veracious or rational. Yet at the same time, they are arrogating to themselves a position outside of this circle by which they can judge the beliefs of others, a move they deny to their opponents. Since the raison d’être of their thesis is that there is no outside of the circle, they do not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of it, and so their beliefs about the nonveracity of beliefs or reasoning are just as nonveracious as those they criticize. If all of the beliefs inside the circle are suspect, we cannot judge between truth and falsity, since any such judgment would be just as suspect as what it seeks to adjudicate. We would have to seek another argument, another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which we can judge the judgment—and a third set to judge the judgment of the judgment, ad infinitum. At no point can they step out of the circle to a transcendent standpoint that would allow them to reject some beliefs as tainted while remaining untainted themselves.
    [Slagle, ‘The Epistemological Skyhook’]

  6. 6
    bb says:

    Hebrews 11 says the following of Moses:

    27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

    29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

    Verse 29 stands out to me. At this point Moses had ample proof that God existed, and what He could do. The Red Sea was parted before Moses’ eyes. Would he have faith that he could trust God to act in his best interest during such a frightening event? The rest is history.

  7. 7
    Dionisio says:

    “The Knowledge of the Holy”
    by A. W. Tozer

  8. 8
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Generally, I would argue that “knowledge” is used in a weak form sense: warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief.

    This might be true, but if you asked me personally, “what is knowledge?”, I would say it also has to be true. Can a false belief ever be knowledge? I don’t see how.

  9. 9
    Latemarch says:

    Knowledge requires a knower. Atheist/Materialists are at a disadvantage in that they start at a deterministic/no free will position that does not have a knower. And as per Origene one is not allowed to step out of the circle to criticize positions that have a knower.

    Truth: What is false cannot be known.

    Belief: One cannot know what is not believed.

    Justified: Something might be true and believed but that belief is formed inadequately. A flipped coin, not seen, believed to be a heads and truly is a heads is not justified until examined. I believe that KF’s reliability criterion is enfolded in justification.

    Good reading here: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    Latemarch,

    Truth: What is false cannot be known.

    Yes, that’s a very clear way of stating what I was trying to get at.

  11. 11
    J-Mac says:

    All I know is that knowledge doesn’t equal wisdom…

    That’s one of the reasons why educated, knowledgeable people believe that random process created the universe and life…

    They think they have knowledge but they are actually stupid because the wisdom is missing….

  12. 12
    Origenes says:

    Latemarch: Knowledge requires a knower.

    Good to point this out. BTW this basic insight is denied by CR — he claims that knowledge is something independent from consciousness. Nonsense of course, as Vallicella wrote:

    … all we know of things like intellect, will, consciousness, thought, etc. are no more than – and in principle cannot be more than – our own experiences of these phenomena. I have no intelligible conception of “knowledge” unless I inherently presuppose both myself as Subject and some other, outside existing thing as Object. Yet simultaneously (and absurdly?) I cannot actually posit said object as something absolutely outside my own conscious awareness of it. For I can have no description of The Object independent of an already conscious experience. That’s just what a description is. Every description, and therefore every species of knowledge, presupposes consciousness and implicitly denies the fact that an object is existing “in itself” unperceived.

    Thus, all knowledge is somehow the occurrence of a subject containing in itself an object as in-itself and not in-itself. This is, to me, incomprehensible, mystifying, inexplicable. Yet there it is, the most common thing in the world.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, the point is, that science is open ended and provisional but is usually taken as knowledge. Similar for any empirical domain such as history etc. We do not generally speak of scientific beliefs. Of course, there is strong-form knowledge where the criterion of truth is strengthened to utter, unchangeable certainty, this then collapses to a very small circle of that level of certainty. Would you say we cannot know that we had what we had for dinner last night? Or, that we cannot know someone to be guilty in a trial? Or even that much of Mathematics (post Godel) is not knowledge? Notice, I spoke to credible truth and to reliability, rooted in warrant which comes in differing degrees appropriate to what we can access and what we have to weigh in the balances in deciding. There is a trade-off between degree of warrant and reliability and the scope we need to take as known in order to live and to operate prudently. To err, and so to be uncertain to some extent or another, is human. Also, if something hitherto seen as reliable, well warranted and credibly true is exposed to be error, it is struck from the domain of knowledge; so, KNOWN errors (see the issue in that?) cannot be held to be knowledge, and we must be open to correction. Beyond, we must all walk by faith, the issue is in what and how reasonable and responsible we are in that walk. KF

    PS: In the discussion elsewhere I found some stuff, including a shocking statement by former CIA Director William Colby. Then there is a White March case in Belgium that seems to be the tip of a big and very dirty iceberg. WJM has to be heard seriously, and we may well live in a civilisation that is far uglier in many of its elite circles than we fear in our worst nightmares.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    Latemarch, you see there the reason why I speak of “warrant” as opposed to being “justified” in holding a belief — post, the Gettier counter-examples . . . one can be justified in holding a true belief that is demonstrably not knowledge. Typical cases are seeing last year’s championship game rerun on TV — which has the same teams and result as this year’s, without knowing that; so one has performed one’s epistemic duties and has a right to the belief that team A won, which is true, but due to objective circumstances it is not knowledge. Yes, too, reliability is indeed implicit in both warrant and credible truth, but we need the emphasis. This is like how the essence of Newton’s first law of motion is implicit in the second, but it serves a significant purpose to draw it out and actually start with it: F = 0 => a = 0, where F = dP/dt thence if m = const F = m*a; in turn, F = 0 entails a = 0. In the weak form sense, what is perhaps better is that KNOWN error cannot be knowledge save for the knowledge of the error. That in turn gets complicated really fast through that self-reference: how do we know some E is an error, how reliably? KF

    PS: I may as well inject here that key self-evident principles such as the first principles of right reason (esp. LOI, LNC, LEM) are crucial as plumbline frameworking principles that warrant knowledge. The self-evidence of consciousness and its role in the act of belief brings out how knowledge is objective but involves the subjective, it is a bridge from the inner world to reality as a whole. In all this, if we make a crooked yardstick our standard of truth, what is genuinely straight, accurate and upright cannot pass the test of conformity to the crooked. From this, we can see just how important plumbline self evident truths are.

  15. 15
    Dionisio says:

    Knowledge is veridical information that is kept in someone’s mind and can be either revealed by someone to someone else or personally acquired directly through empirical observation or indirectly learned by studying the information available on the subject.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    J-Mac, you are right, wisdom requires genuine knowledge but goes beyond it. Insight, understanding, epistemic and general virtues, prudence, a good heart, ability to read subtleties in a situation and much more are involved in wisdom. And of course Philosophy is literally the love of wisdom, where PhD is literally a teacher of the love of wisdom, and a Master is similarly a teacher of slightly lesser rank. Sadly, many have forgotten or dismissed the first steps of true wisdom: the reverent fear of the One who is supreme, maximally great and supremely good and just. KF

  17. 17
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Would you say we cannot know that we had what we had for dinner last night? Or, that we cannot know someone to be guilty in a trial? Or even that much of Mathematics (post Godel) is not knowledge?

    No, I would say we can know such things, such as what we had for dinner last night. I would count the beliefs I hold which are well-warranted, credibly true (and reliable) and actually true as knowledge. Obviously that leaves me with the difficult problem of sifting out the actually true beliefs from this collection, but what else can we do?

    I simply believe it’s very odd to count false beliefs as knowledge.

  18. 18
    Origenes says:

    As has been pointed out by others, knowledge presupposes consciousness. I would like to add that understanding is also presupposed. “E=MC^2” held by a not-understanding mind is not knowledge. Similarly, “siya ay tahanan” is not information to a person who does not understand Filipino.

    What I am saying is that knowledge is not a thing on its own. Knowledge is ontologically dependent on a understanding mind. “Siya ay tahanan” is not information on its own. It is only information at the moment that it is held and understood by consciousness.

    Next, I would like to point out that understanding is placing something in its proper context. Understanding is ‘seeing’ that something fits in context.

  19. 19
    Latemarch says:

    KF:
    You asked an open ended question and I responded with my usual economy of words. We are in essential agreement.

    As to your reply to J-Mac I would have said that wisdom is the application of knowledge to life “;^)

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, you don’t count known false beliefs as knowledge in the weak sense and only count responsibly warranted, credibly true (and reliable) ones. In short you are here accepting provisionality and open-endedness. There is a strict form, well warranted (to utter certainty) and actually true beliefs, but the set of such is tiny — and for those rejecting self-evident truths or clinging to hyperskepticism, shrinks towards zero. My emphasis is, when we practically deal with knowledge, e.g. for science, we are actually using the soft form. On dinner last night, memory and testimony or even leftovers in the refrigerator etc are all less than utterly certain as warrant. How do you know that it is true — yes, a regress begins — that you had say leftover Thanksgiving Turkey for dinner last night plus veggies and starch, washed down with say a Bud or two? Would you say that “scientific knowledge” is a misnomer? Wouldn’t that be passing strange? KF

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, you don’t count known false beliefs as knowledge in the weak sense and only count responsibly warranted, credibly true (and reliable) ones. In short you are here accepting provisionality and open-endedness. There is a strict form, well warranted (to utter certainty) and actually true beliefs, but the set of such is tiny — and for those rejecting self-evident truths or clinging to hyperskepticism, shrinks towards zero.

    I suppose you can do this; I guess I’m breaking up things differently.

    I have a collection S of warranted, credibly true, and reliable beliefs. Of course I don’t know any of these to be false.

    I would count those elements of S which are actually true to be knowledge, whether they are warranted to absolute certainty or not. The rest? Merely false beliefs. Clearly I can’t know for certain exactly which of my beliefs are knowledge and which are false under this view.

    On dinner last night, memory and testimony or even leftovers in the refrigerator etc are all less than utterly certain as warrant. How do you know that it is true — yes, a regress begins — that you had say leftover Thanksgiving Turkey for dinner last night plus veggies and starch, washed down with say a Bud or two?

    I have beliefs about what I had for dinner, and I judge that it’s very likely that those beliefs are knowledge in the strong sense, but yes, a demon could have implanted false memories in my mind, so I’m not completely certain.

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    It seems to me that knowledge and human life are both, perforce, interconnected, and both connected to the godhead, the divinity, God. I get J-Mac’s point about knowledge and wisdom, and I think it is probably most might helpful to consider the Catholic church’s understanding of the soul, the human soul, as the faculties of memory, will and understanding.

    The deepest truths are so ultimately inscrutable that we all of us end up believing what we choose to believe: we are ewishful thinkers. Christians and athiests alike. But just as atheists look for events that vindicate their unbelief, so we are alive to God’s mercies, and are convinced we have an unparalleled authority for subordinating the potential negative implications of the things that go wrong for us, in favour of embracing, as best we can, the Christian rationale for our sufferings, as trials – and, in fact, educators in wisdom, Jesus having learnt wisdom, spiritual knowledge and understanding, scripture tells us, through suffering.

    Aldous Huxley dilated fascinatingly on the subject of the worldly intelligence and the spiritual intelligence, viewing our brain as a reducing valve, for the purpose of enabling us to survive in time – or we’d simply be ‘spaced out’ all the time, beholding in some manner the Beatific Vision. The wonderful hallucinogenic drugs, such as lysergic acid, mescalin, temporarily opening the valve sufficiently for the subject to have a quite heavenly view of the most mundane objects surroundng us (creases in a fabric, for example).

    I see David as the ultimate figure of the wage-earner, according to the Beatitudes and, indeed, scripture, as a whole, the ‘poor’ or poorer folk having the greater connatural propensity for wisdom and virtue, and the rich, the greater propensity for wordly intelligence and worldly vices, such as greed, decitfulness, guile, violence, oppression, etc; whereas the reason God gave them superior worldy wisdom was primarily to help the poor to survive in this world of time.

    Solomon, we know, identified with his father’s interests, as a true son of David, and as such, a figure of Christ; Absolom, the emblematically false son of David, whose nature, like the serpent on the pole in the desert, was emblematic of sin: Jesus being made sin for our sskes, we are told – though perfectly fulfilling his heavenly father’s will on the cross.

    It seems to me more than a little coincidental that Absalom was found, having been unseated from his donkey and suspended above it, with his head caught between the branches of a tree. Not entering a Jerusalem of good omen, we can surely surmise, although David, whose throne he had usurped and whom David feared would have killed him, shed floods of tears over his death at the hands of Joab. It calls to mind Jesus lament over Jerusalem, the false coinage it had become, to its own increasing spiritual blindness and eventual physical destruction.

    Joab had transfixed Absalom with three darts, evocative of the Holy Trinity; interesting, too, that there should have been a rivulet of blood in the form of a figure ‘3’, on Jesus’ forehead, visible on the Holy Shroud of Turin.

    To revert to the more speciifc point you made, J-Mac, we Theists recognise that the faculty of the will is crucial to life intelligent life. Indeed, in spiritual terms, the Christian faith and the whole of scripture is predicated on voluntarism, that we know what we want to know. Imagine if the criterion for entry to heaven had been a high worldly intelligence, instead of a lot of love in our hearts. We could end up seeing the likes of Pinochet, Videla, Lorscheider, all the South American ‘caudillos’, not to speak of Hitler, Stalin et al.

  23. 23
    Belfast says:

    Whatever “knowledge” is at a time it depends on context.

    When courting my wife I once exclaimed, “but we know so little about each other.”
    She replied, “we know enough.”

    Enough to make a decision to marry with all that it meant.

    So is what we “knew,” knowledge?

  24. 24
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Would you say that “scientific knowledge” is a misnomer? Wouldn’t that be passing strange?

    Yes, unless “scientific knowledge” has a slightly different meaning than what we are discussing here. For example, I would guess that many people take “scientific knowledge” to mean the propositions that follow from some scientific theory.

    In fact, it seems that this weak form of “knowledge” that we are talking about is fairly similar to what I understand “theory” to mean.

  25. 25
    Axel says:

    ‘As to your reply to J-Mac I would have said that wisdom is the application of knowledge to life “;^)

    Latemarch,

    Would you not qualify that along the lines of, for example: ‘in the long term, in particlar, under an ultimately spiritual perspective’?

  26. 26
  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    weak form knowledge in science is embedded in bodies of knowledge and linked praxis — paradigms — that are often framed on theories.

    Surely, you are familiar with the commonplace rhetorical move of saying that Darwinian macro-evo is as certain fact as is the roundness of the earth or gravity? I would point out that this is exactly a case of failure of warrant and confusion of category.

    I would further point to the use of a crooked yardstick, so-called methodological naturalism, and the linked embedding of ideology, evolutionary materialistic scientism, which is self referentially incoherent.

    Surely, you are also aware of what “science” itself means: KNOWLEDGE, in Latin.

    Similarly, you know that “unscientific” is tantamount to irrational, ill-founded superstition and prejudice or the like. hence the issue of demarcation arguments, which actually are another example of crooked yardsticks.

    Likewise, as I pointed out, memory, leftovers in the refrigerator etc are all potentially fallible means of warrant. We have to be honest about uncertainty and limitations in our bodies of knowledge and best praxis, and our usage of the term knowledge has to be humbled in face of that challenge.

    In fact, what happens is, we have faith in the reliability of a given body of knowledge and praxis and apply it. But, faith is a despised term in a radically secularised world, so there is a refusal to acknowledge what is going on even as so many disdain those who admit to living by faith. But in fact the import of the above as discussed is that knowledge is a species of reasonable, responsible faith that we can trust enough to live by in relevant domains.

    For instance, do you know beyond all possible doubt — utter certainty — that the food on your table for dinner is not tainted? No, but you may have moral certainty, and know also that absent eating for long enough, you will die. So, you act on moral certainty of warrant.

    In more desperate situations, you will take much higher risks regarding what you eat or drink — I have heard of men in combat drinking ditch water and swallowing Cl-based Halazone pills as that was the best they could do. (BTW, it is suggested that iodine is a better agent esp in the tropics.)

    KF

    PS: Bodies of theory are objects of knowledge [one knows Newtonian Dynamics or Quantum theory or Molecular Orbital theory etc as info that one has on tap and which is warranted and empirically reliable per some extent of testing] but I would count them as explanatory constructs that differ from engineering models inasmuch as we hold the hope that they may just be true in significant part. Actual observations have generally higher degrees of warrant as credibly being true: g is observed near earth’s surface as about 9.8 N/kg, and are used to correct theories. Among other points, this is why a theory about the unobservable deep past of origins is inherently less well warranted than say the roundness of Earth or the orbiting of the planets on gravitational interactions and empirically founded laws of high empirical reliability . . . which is not quite the same as truth. Theories of the origin of solar systems are examples of origins theories that are less well warranted inherently. And the discussion of them is as a rule put in those terms.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    Belfast, if responsibly warranted, credibly true and reliable, yes. That is a reason for honourable courtship and it is one reason why short-circuiting building of relationship through resort to intense physical intimacies is predictably highly counter-productive. KF

  29. 29
    critical rationalist says:

    So, arguably, knowledge is well-warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief.

    Warranted in what sense?

    there is an available account (as opposed to internal to the given knower, who may simply accept a message from reliable sources . . . ) that, properly understood, would justify accepting or treating belief x as true in serious contexts.

    Does the fact that we have no good criticisms of an idea represent warrant? I don’t think that would be what you consider knowledge.

    Specifically, the contents of “available accounts” (explanatory theories) do not come from observations, or any other source. We guess. So, how can such an explanation be warranted when all we can do is criticize our theories in hope of finding errors in them?

    If not, you must be appealing to induction of some sort… But its unclear how that makes a theory credible.

    Credibly true —

    the warrant for and circumstances of belief x are such that we can have good confidence that the belief is likely to be true or capture enough truth that we are entitled to trust it.

    The theory that remains isn’t better supported by observations than others. it is merely less wrong and remains because we lack good criticism of it. Even then, we often keep problematic theories because we lack alternatives that not only equally explain as well as the current explanation, but explain the very differences that make the theory problematic. Only in that case does knowledge move forward to explain even more do those observations refute it.

    From the article….

    Deutsch: “A test of a theory is an experiment whose result could make the theory problematic. A crucial test – the centrepiece of scientific experimentation – can, on this view, take place only when there are at least two good explanations of the same explicandum (good, that is, apart from the fact of each other’s existence). Ideally it is an experiment such that every possible result will make all but one of those theories problematic, in which case the others will have been (tentatively) refuted. ”

    Now this is an amazingly important and clear articulation of what experiments are. Experiments test theories. But what can the results do? Well interestingly if the result of an experiment conflicts with a theory it does not necessarily rule out the theory. So take for example the more or less frequent media hype that can surround certain high-energy physics observations that are reported as “Einstein proved false!”. Perhaps one of the more famous examples (detailed here) was about an experiment at the Large Hadron Collider where neutrinos apparently exceeded the speed of light in violation of special relativity (it turned out there was a cable incorrectly connected or some such). Now the results were actually false. But even if the results were true and neutrinos exceeded the speed of light this would not “prove” Einstein false or possibly cause us to reject relativity theory. What it would do is make relativity theory “problematic”. Relativity theory would still be the best theory about how fast things can move and what happens to things as they move relative to one another. So a test of a theory: an experiment – even if it disagrees with the best theory going – is not a reason to reject that theory. After all, if you reject that theory, then what theory should you use? The second best theory? There is almost never a second best theory. But even if there were: that second best theory is “second best” for some good set of reasons. And if those reasons include things like “it cannot explain phenomena a, b, c, d, e and f while the first best theory can” then there still won’t be a reason to turn to that theory in place of the first best.

    There is only one way an experimental test of a theory can result in us rejecting our best theory. And that is when we actually have an equally best rival theory that explains everything our other best theory does PLUS it explains the outcome of the new experimental test. This kind of experiment is called a “crucial test”. It is that rare type of test – like Eddington’s observation of the bending of light – that allows us to decide between two theories that make incompatible predictions about the outcome of the test but that otherwise are (until that moment) equally able to account for all other phenomena. As it is now, of course, General Relativity is able to account for far far more than the mere bending of starlight during eclipses over what Newton’s theory can. Newton’s Universal Gravity, as brilliant as it is (it was able to get man to the moon) is left in the distant dust by Einstein’s General Relativity (who could not only get us to the moon if we so wanted but can give us GPS, explain neutron stars and black holes and much more besides – none of which Newton’s theory can come close to accomplishing). Deutsch:

    “the existence of a problem with a theory has little import besides, as I said, informing research programmes – unless both the new and the old explicanda are well explained by a rival theory. In that case the problem becomes grounds for considering the problematic theory tentatively refuted “

    Again: this deemphasises the supposed centrality of the experiment to the whole project of science. Science is a knowledge creation (in the form of bold explanations) machine. The genuinely difficult part is positing grand explanations for what is actually going on in the world. Of course those explanations need to be testable – but if the explanations accounts for the phenomena and survives the tests the explanation is the central concern of civilisation who can then go about actually making practical use of the science (to, for example, create technology, treat disease, solve other problems and so forth). An experiment that disagrees with some great theory just makes the theory problematic. But if we did find some experiment that, for example, could not be explained by quantum theory – or seemed to refute quantum theory – that would be a problem for quantum theory. But not a grounds for rejecting it. The (now problematic) quantum theory would still be used to create technologies and solve problems and, essentially, everyone would carry on more or less as before with respect to the theory and regard it as a genuine description of reality. But there would be an unsolved problem. And, once more as observed below and above – the problem just might be with the apparatus. And if it’s not a problem with the apparatus it could be a problem with us not understanding some subtlety of the theory. Or, it could be the theory is genuinely not the best theory because someone, somewhere, has just created something better but is yet to publish it. And when they do, it will do all that quantum theory ever did and explain the problematic result that quantum theory couldn’t. And in that case, the test that created the problem in the first place now becomes a crucial test. Deutsch:

    “In contrast, the traditional (inductivist) account of what happens when experiments raise a problem is in summary: that from an apparent unexplained regularity, we are supposed to ‘induce’ that the regularity is universal (or, according to ‘Bayesian’ inductivism, to increase our credence for theories predicting that); while from an apparent irregularity, we are supposed to drop the theory that had predicted regularity (or to reduce our credence for it). Such procedures would neither necessitate nor yield any explanation. ”

    This is crucial. Under the prevailing view of how science works – if an experiment critically wounds a theory such that it is once-and-for-all falsified and so liable to be rejected – then what can we jump to? If we reject our best theory and there is no rival – the process of rejection does not provide any new explanation for us. The negation of a theory is not a new theory.

    It’s unclear how this fits your credible view of knowledge.

    Reliable —

    the warrant for x is such that if we act on the belief that-x in a consequential situation, we are unlikely to be let down.

    Assigning probability to theories isn’t actually useful in the vast majority of cases.

    And this is the most crucial point to consider. Bayes theorem cannot possibly assign a probability to the truth of a theory we do not yet have. And theories we do not yet have are actually the very business of scientists to create. That’s the function of science: to explain things (and the business of scientists is to find explanations for things not already known). To solve problems. And this requires creativity. The notion that science is about weighing up existing ideas only and assigning to them probabilities (to what end?) is flat out false. It’s never done and nor does it need to be done. Not ever in reality.

    Even in medicine, where such a thing could conceivably be useful: doctors are not performing calculations using Bayes’ theorem in order to decide on a treatment regime. No. Instead what they actually do (and this mirrors what happens elsewhere in science from oceanography to ornithology) is that experimental tests or observations (evidence!) of some kind rule out theories until a best one is left standing.

    You might have 10 possible diseases. We do a test. We rule out 9. We treat what’s left. Does that mean you as the patient are certainly suffering from “what’s left”? No! Mistakes can be made and you just might (in a highly unlikely case) have a disease we never thought of in the first place or that we’ve never encountered before. That is: something not in the original list. This of course, is not that uncommon.

    A doctor is not there putting probabilities next to the 10 and then deciding that we should treat the highest probability one as the most true one. Instead, as I said, some are actually ruled out decisively by experiment. If they are not then the following rare situation can happen:

    We have 3 diseases a patient might possibly have that we cannot distinguish between given the symptoms. We treat the most dangerous first. If the patient doesn’t respond we try the second worst. Then the third. If no treatment works, we’re in a bind. We need to think creatively. But this is what happens. Probability need not enter into it. It’s not what the patient most likely has, but also what the patient is most threatened by.

    Again, imagine we have 3 possible diseases that are possible diagnoses. And Bayes’ somehow said “It’s a 70% chance you have X, 50% you have Y and 30% you have Z”. Then what? Well surely it depends on exactly what X, Y and Z are. If Z is something that will kill you in 2 days flat if you don’t get the one medicine that will cure it – then it needs to be the priority over X which is relatively harmless. As a way of moving people to action, Bayes’ is also rather useless much of the time. Not all of the time. Sometimes there are important places where it can play a role. But it can never play a role in discovering that the actual answer to our patient who might have been suffering X, Y or Z is that they had condition W the whole time. Bayes’ is actually a distraction from even looking in that direction.

    What Bayes theorem cannot do is actually perform the function that scientists and philosophers who call themselves Bayesian say it can: to be a philosophy of inferring the best explanation. It cannot possibly create new explanations (which is, and should be the focus of science as much as gathering new evidence) and nor can it tell us what we should do. If we have a problem and we have no actual solution to it, Bayes’ theorem cannot possibly help. All it can do is assign probabilities to existing ideas (none of which are regarded as actual solutions). But why would one want to assign probabilities to possible solutions, none of which are known to work? There can be no reason other than if one wanted, to say, wager on which idea is likely to be falsified first, perhaps. But we must know – following Faraday and Popper, and Feynman and Deutsch: we must expect all of them will be falsified eventually. Your theories should be held on the tips of your fingers, so said Faraday, so that the merest breath of fact can blow them away. So no amount of assigning 99% probabilities to the truth of them makes them anymore “certain” or “likely to be true”. We need to have a pragmatic approach: take the best theory seriously as an explanation of reality and use it to solve problems and create solutions and technology – but don’t pretend that the content is “certain” to any degree. Just useful with some truth more than those other theories that have gone before and fallen to the sword of criticism and testing.

    When we have actual solutions in science they go by a generic honorific title. We call them “The scientific theory of…”. So for example we have “The scientific theory of gravity” (it’s given name is General Relativity). We don’t need to assign a probability to it being true. We regard it as provisionally true knowing it is superior to all other rivals (insofar as there are any (and there are not!)) and we use it as if it’s true (this is pragmatic). But actually we expect that one day we will find it false. Just as we did with Newton. But this philosophy that our best theories are likely misconceptions in some way has no practical effect on what we do with them. We take them seriously as conditional truths about the world. As David Deutsch has said: it would have been preferable if long ago we’d all just decided to call scientific theories “scientific misconceptions” instead. It would save much in the way of so many of these debates. We’d all know that our best explanations, though better and closer to true than others that went before, are nonetheless able to be superseded by better ideas eventually.

    Belief —

    that which is accepted, perceived, or held to be so; often in this context, for good reason.

    As I’ve illustrated before, if you order the plans for a car, but are accidentally shipped the plans for a boat instead, does your belief that the plan will result in a car cause the outcome to be anything but a boat? No it will not. How about your intent to build a car? No, you will still end up with a boat.

    Raw materials will only be transformed into a car when the requisite knowledge is actually present there. So, knowledge is independent of anyone’s belief

  30. 30
    critical rationalist says:

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

    This is nothing new, as I have presented this at least a dozen times.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you are repeating things that have already been addressed and corrected point by point. The definition you put up fails in many ways, and you seem to misunderstand why knowledge is required to simultaneously meet several criteria, including that a subject having knowledge actually accepts it as being true — that is, believes it. Belief here is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Warrant (meeting epistemic duties relevant to grounding credible truth to the relevant degree), credible truth and reliability as a facet of both, count too. KF

  32. 32
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    You seem to think there is a paradox here, or three.

    First, I’m a fallibilist about fallibilism.

    From this article….

    The trouble is that error is a subject where issues such as logical paradox, self-reference, and the inherent limits of reason rear their ugly heads in practical situations, and bite.

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

    Second, a tradition of criticism is itself subject to criticism.

    It’s all about error. We used to think that there was a way to organize ourselves that would minimize errors. This is an infallibilist chimera that has been part of every tyranny since time immemorial, from the “divine right of kings” to centralized economic planning. And it is implemented by many patterns of thought that protect misconceptions in individual minds, making someone blind to evidence that he isn’t Napoleon, or making the scientific crank reinterpret peer review as a conspiracy to keep falsehoods in place.

    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. Here is another apparent paradox, for a tradition is a set of ideas that stay the same, while criticism is an attempt to change ideas. But there is no contradiction. 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). 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.

    Third, criticisms of ideas that we might know infallibly….

    I must now apologize for trying to trick you earlier: All the ideas that I suggested we might know infallibly are in fact falsehoods. “Two plus two” of course isn’t “four” as you’d discover if you wrote “2+2” in an arithmetic test when asked to add two and two. If we were infallible about matters of pure logic, no one would ever fail a logic test either. Stubbing your toe does not always hurt if you are focused on some overriding priority like rescuing a comrade in battle. And as for knowing that “I” exist because I think—note that your knowledge that you think is only a memory of what you did think, a second or so ago, and that can easily be a false memory. (For discussions of some fascinating experiments demonstrating this, see Daniel Dennett’s book Brainstorms.) Moreover, if you think you are Napoleon, the person you think must exist because you think, doesn’t exist.

  33. 33
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Is the OP a real question directed at myself? Or is it rhetorical because you already know the answer?

    Arguing that what I presented isn’t knowledge because knowledge is defined as X, Y and Z is argument by definition.

    What Popper did was to present a unification. Just like Newton’s unified the motion of orbiting planets and falling apples.

    This is why epistemology is such a key issue in regards to evolution. It’s not that the features of organisms do not represent knowledge. Thats not my position at all. My position is that knowledge isn’t only in the realm of knowing subjects. Nor does it only come from intelligent sources.

    It’s not that I’m ignoring what we know about designers. We disagree about how designers create knowledge and the universal explanation of it includes variation and criticisms that are independent of people. Neo-Darwinism is an example of variation and criticism.

    While only people can create explanatory knowledge, both people and Darwinism can create non-explanatory knowledge. Useful rules of thumb have limited reach, but it still useful.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, again, no. Knowledge is subject to investigation. Summary of the results of such is not a mere question-begging definition. Knowledge is readily observed to be known, i.e. require knowers. It is easily seen that knowers accept as at least credibly true and reliable, what they claim to know. Similarly, there is a difference between opinion and knowledge, readily seen to be due to warrant that grounds the truth claim to some substantial degree. Further, you are speaking above of information in some sort of processing system. Such systems per observation are created by knowers in the sense described in brief just now. Further to this, to get complex info systems to function requires troubleshooting as a rule, and much further knowledge. Thus the focus on stored information begs the question of knowledge by distractive focus on the fine tuning implicit in complex specified organisation that achieves function, and is info-rich. Moreover, we know that computational substrates blindly process signals under the garbage in garbage out [GIGO] principle, they do not reason as such, they have no common sense they will process rubbish and output gibberish until the system crashes, whether a digital computer or an electromechanical analogue or a neural network array. That is, the unified concept and understanding driving inference and constrained by duty to truth and right etc — the reasoning — is not found in the grinding of gears one against the other [as Leibniz put it in Monadology 300+ years ago]. In short, you have been looking at an artifact of knowledge, not knowledge and have tried to put together a failed operational definition that is simply off on a tangent. And this has been pointed out any number of times to you. KF

    PS: Likewise, to suggest that the blind mechanism of Darwinist chance non-foresighted variation of whatever sort filtered by equally blind and non-foresighted differential reproductive success is to be equated to CRITICISM, is utter violence to language and meaning to the point where it has to be seen to be believed. Let me clip, as afterthought: “Neo-Darwinism is an example of variation and criticism.” Astonishing. Similarly, you have tried to use modifiers to inject an idiosyncratic redefinition of knowledge — explanatory vs non explanatory. This sort of word game seems to be a general problem with your thought, you keep on putting up idiosyncratic usages that you insist be treated as if they were on par with anything else out there. You need to pause and think again on the consequences of doing violence to language by trying to invent a newspeak and trashing consequential meanings. Freedom is slavery comes to mind, as does 2 + 2 = whatever the Party finds useful. In short, you seem to have overlooked how will to power takes over once you sever the concept that in order to convey truth, language . . . vehicle of reasoning . . . must respond to and accurately represent reality, requiring voluntary social collaboration under mutually accepted moral government in service to truth. FYI, to lie is to speak with disregard to truth in hope of profiting by what is said or suggested being taken as true.

  35. 35
    EugeneS says:

    CR

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

    Except it does not.

    Information presupposes an observer in exactly the same way as knowledge presupposes a knower. This is the epistemic cut which you ignore and which must exist in reality for ‘information’ to be ‘information’.

    The causal role in information being retained is played by the organization of the system of information translation, not by information itself. Organization in this case consists in symbolic boundary conditions on the motion of particles of matter within the system.

    In order to interpret any material configuration as data, a system must be properly organized. Failing to see that leads to category errors your reasoning exhibits. This organization makes sure that the role of interpreter exists in the system in addition to the material medium itself.

    The issue you repeatedly fail to acknowledge is that without an interpreter (knower, observer) information is nothing.

    The real difficulty for one who subscribes to views similar to yours is in explaining the semantic closure that biological information translation must possess to enable self-reproducibility. The biological data must contain a specification of the part of the next-generation system that will interpret the data.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: As this is in the background, let us highlight a response to the problem of inductive generalisation as posed by Hume and championed by Popper et al. Where, of course, in the modern sense inductive reasoning is reasoning by support, not by entailment. Where, as we will shortly see the stability of the world turns on the presence of distinct identity as integral to any given being, and what flows from it, the triple first principles of right reason.

    Here, let us follow Nicholas Dykes in a foundational critique of Popper via Hume, that will be helpful as a key point of reference. Pardon necessary length as deeply entrenched fallacies need substantial refutations:

    Debunking Popper: A Critique of Karl Popper’s Critical Rationalism
    Nicholas Dykes
    An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
    Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London W1J 6HL.
    Philosophical Notes No. 65 [2003]

    http://www.libertarian.co.uk/l.....iln065.htm

    [. . . ]

    Popper built his philosophy on foundations borrowed from Hume and Kant. His first premise was wholehearted acceptance of Hume’s attack on induction. The second, to be addressed in the next section [ –> later . . . ], was agreement with Kant’s view that it is our ideas which give form to reality, not reality which gives form to our ideas.

    Hume, whom Popper called “one of the most rational minds of all ages” [PKP2 1019], is renowned for elaborating the ‘problem of induction’ – a supposedly logical proof that generalisations from observation are invalid. Most later philosophers have accepted Hume’s arguments, and libraries have been filled with attempts to solve his ‘problem.’

    Popper thought he had the answer. “I believed I had solved the problem of induction by the simple discovery that induction by repetition did not exist” [UNQ 52; c.f. OKN 1ff & PKP2 1115]. What really took place, according to Popper, was CR, knowledge advancing by means of conjecture and refutation: “… in my view here is no such thing as induction” [LSCD 40]; “what characterises the empirical method is its manner of exposing to falsification, in every conceivable way, the system to be tested” [LSCD 42].

    Hume, said Popper, had shown that: “there is no argument of reason which permits an inference from one case to another… and I completely agree” [OKN 96]. Elsewhere he referred to induction as “a myth” which had been “exploded” by Hume [UNQ 80]. He further asserted that “There is no rule of inductive inference – inference leading to theories or universal laws – ever proposed which can be taken seriously even for a minute” [UNQ 146-7; see also RASC 31].

    The Problem with ‘The Problem’

    Popper’s solution was certainly correct in one respect. The problem of induction would indeed vanish if there were no such thing as induction. However, the issue would be resolved much more positively were it to turn out that Hume had been wrong, and that there never had been any problem with induction in the first place. And, in point of fact, this is the case. Despite his great skill as a thinker and writer, Hume missed the point. Induction does not depend for its validity on observation, but on the Law of Identity.

    Hume stated, in essence, that since all ideas are derived from experience we cannot have any valid ideas about future events – which have yet to be experienced. He therefore denied that the past can give us any information about the future. He further denied that there is any necessary connection between cause and effect. We experience only repeated instances, we cannot experience any “power” that actually causes events to take place. Events are entirely “loose and separate…. conjoined but never connected.”8

    According to Hume, then, one has no guarantee that the hawthorn in an English hedge will not bear grapes next autumn, nor that the thistles in a nearby field won’t produce figs. The expectation that the thorn will produce red berries, and the thistles purple flowers, is merely the result of “regular conjunction” which induces an “inference of the understanding.”9 In Hume’s view, there is no such thing as objective identity, there is only subjective “custom” or “habit.”

    However, Hume also wrote: “When any opinion leads to absurdities, it is certainly false”10 and the idea that one might gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles is surely absurd enough to qualify. And false is what Hume’s opinions most certainly are. Left standing, they lead to what he himself called “the flattest of all contradictions, viz. that it is possible for the same thing both to be and not to be.”11

    The crux of the case against Hume was stated in 1916 by H.W.B. Joseph in An Introduction to Logic: “A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connexion between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert that it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be.”12 Hume’s whole argument – persuasive though it may be – is, to borrow Joseph’s words, “in flat conflict with the Law of Identity.”13

    Existence implies identity. It is not possible to exist without being something, and a thing can only be what it is: A is A. Any actions of that thing form part of its identity: “the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is.”14 [–> So, we gather grapes from grape trees and find wicked, needle-like thorns on what we call here “Kusha.”] Thus to deny any connection between a thing, its actions, and their consequences, is to assert that the thing is not what it is; it is to defy the Law of Identity.

    It is not necessary to prolong this discussion. Entities exist. They possess identity. By careful observation – free from preconception – we are able to discover the identities of the entities we observe. Thereafter, we are fully entitled to assume that like entities will cause like events, the form of inference we call induction. And, because it rests on the axiom of the Law of Identity, correct induction – free from contradiction – is a valid route to knowledge. [–> where of course if a thing or its circumstances changes then there may be a different outcome than we expect] The first premise of CR is therefore false . . .

    In short, we find lurking again the issue of the logic of being. We live in a world which has a distinct identity with identifiable core characteristics that may come out in observations as reliable consistent patterns and/or statistical distributions. Empirical investigation explores such, to seek to accurately describe it. And while we may and do err in the process, that is because of our fallibility not the want of the world having a distinct identity involving such core characteristics across space and time.

    Broadening the focus of induction, other means of investigating how given premises may support a given conclusion are also of inductive character. That is, we see how we may find responsible warrant on observation of patterns in the world or the like.

    Among these approaches, obviously, is inference to the best current explanation, which is where I find that theories get their power from. They unify apparently disparate observations and allow us to draw forth patterns that may then be used in predictions and may then be tested and seen as more or less reliable up to relevant statistical distributions.

    As for debates on probability, I suggest that plausibility and reliability are good enough to in many cases achieve moral certainty on which we would be irresponsible to act as though something X supported to that degree were false. If numbers can be assigned, fine, but if we can only say more or less highly likely to be reliable, that is good enough for government work.

    KF

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    ES, yes, you are quite correct as UB also notes. KF

  39. 39
    daveS says:

    KF,

    weak form knowledge in science is embedded in bodies of knowledge and linked praxis — paradigms — that are often framed on theories.

    ***

    Surely, you are also aware of what “science” itself means: KNOWLEDGE, in Latin.

    Well, as long as we’re clear that the topic is weak form knowledge, then I have no criticisms. However, in your OP you bring up “true justified belief”, Gettier, &c., which suggests this discussion covers territory similar to what one would find in a book on epistemology or this article at the SEoP. And over there, “knowledge” is apparently used in its strong form: “Most epistemologists have found it overwhelmingly plausible that what is false cannot be known”. BTW, I take this to mean that none of my false beliefs are knowledge, even if I’m unaware that they are false.

    For instance, do you know beyond all possible doubt — utter certainty — that the food on your table for dinner is not tainted? No, but you may have moral certainty, and know also that absent eating for long enough, you will die. So, you act on moral certainty of warrant.

    All this is accurate of course.

    From your point of view, I “know” in a weak sense that the food is not tainted. If I obtain sufficient evidence to the contrary, I revise my store of weak form knowledge.

    From my point of view, where I don’t normally use this weak form of “knowledge”, I may have a warranted, credibly true, and reliable belief that the food is not tainted. If the food truly is not tainted, then I know such. If the food actually is tainted, then my belief is not knowledge, it’s just a false belief.

    In your scheme, you are typically not certain that your “knowledge” (weak form) is true, In my scheme, I will typically not be certain which of my beliefs are in fact “knowledge” (strong form).

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: Let’s take up Dyke on Popper’s Kantian error:

    Popper described himself as an “unorthodox Kantian” [UNQ 82]; i.e., he accepted part of Kant’s epistemology, but not all of it: “Kant was right that it is our intellect which imposes its laws – its ideas, its rules – upon the inarticulate mass of our ‘sensations’ and thereby brings order to them. Where he was wrong is that he did not see that we rarely succeed with our imposition” [OKN 68n31; c.f. OKN 328, C&R 48-9].

    Popper’s Kantianism reveals itself most clearly in his view of our senses, which he saw as creative modifiers of incoming data, not as neutral ‘windows on the world’: “Classical epistemology which takes our sense perceptions as ‘given’, as the ‘data’ from which our theories have to be constructed by some process of induction, can only be described as pre-Darwinian. It fails to take account of the fact that the alleged data are … adaptive reactions, and therefore interpretations which incorporate theories and prejudices and which, like theories, are impregnated with conjectural expectations… there can be no pure perception, no pure datum…” [OKN 145].15

    A Fundamental Difficulty

    Popper’s Kantian premise raises enough issues for a book. In this short paper, there is room only for a single objection. Namely, if it is true that our senses are pre-programmed; if it is true that “there is no sense organ in which anticipatory theories are not genetically incorporated” [OKN 72]; then what flows into our minds is determined and what flows out of them is subjective. If our senses are not neutral, if they organise incoming data using pre-set theories built into them by evolution, then they do not provide us with unalloyed information, but only with prescriptions, the content of which is determined by our genetic make up. Whatever is thereafter produced inside our heads – cut off as it is from any objective contact with reality – must be subjective.

    Popper’s Kantian premise thus deprives CR of universality. Since it is ultimately the product of the pre-programmed interpretation of the data which entered Popper’s mind, CR is a theory which can only be applied to Popper. According to his own view of his contact with reality, he would not be able to verify the relevance of CR to anybody else.

    Solipsism looms, yes, but that is a natural consequence of all theories of determinism. For if thought, or the basis of thought, is determined; whether by social class, or the subconscious, or whatever determinant is preferred; then the deterministic theory itself must be determined, according to the theory, and can only be relevant to the person who expounds it. Everybody else is determined by their class, subconscious, genes, material substrate, environment, or whatever it is that is supposed to do the determining. All theories of determinism are, to use Brand Blanshard’s term, ‘self-stultifying.’16

    The objection is analogous to the one raised by Anthony Flew against those philosophers – e.g. Hume and Kant – who claim that we can only have knowledge of our own sense impressions. If sense data are all we can know, solipsism is the inevitable result: “mental images …. are (necessarily) private … and (logically) cannot be accessible to public observation.”17

    Objectivity

    In Unended Quest Popper observed bluntly that “there is no such thing as an unprejudiced observation” [UNQ 51]. Although this appears to rule out the possibility of objectivity, that was not Popper’s intention. Rather, again following Kant perhaps, he thought the basis for objectivity lay elsewhere: “the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested” [LSCD 44]. He later restated this slightly differently: “it is the public character of science… which preserves the objectivity of science” [POH 155-6].

    Unfortunately, these assertions do not bear the weight placed upon them. For if Popper’s Kantian premise were true (i.e., if anticipatory theories are genetically incorporated into our sense organs and, therefore, there is no such thing as an unprejudiced observation) then senses would not cease to be prejudiced merely by being multiplied. The defective logic could hardly be more clear. One cannot offer as an universal affirmative proposition ‘all human senses are prejudiced, i.e. subjective’ then ask one’s readers to accept that pooling the senses of many persons yields objectivity. If senses are subjective individually they are subjective collectively.18

    To conclude under this head, it is plain – even after only a very brief treatment – that Popper’s Kantian premise, far from providing CR with a secure footing, leads instead to insuperable problems . . .

    Again, a fail.

    And when Kantianism is in the stakes, I will point to F H Bradley:

    We may agree, perhaps, to understand by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole [–> i.e. the focus of Metaphysics is critical studies of worldviews] . . . .

    The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is wholly impossible . . . himself has, perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena . . . To say the reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is a claim to know reality ; to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence. For, if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly not know how to talk about failure or success. And the test, by which we distinguish them, must obviously be some acquaintance with the nature of the goal. Nay, the would-be sceptic, who presses on us the contradictions of our thoughts, himself asserts dogmatically. For these contradictions might be ultimate and absolute truth, if the nature of the reality were not known to be otherwise . . . [such] objections . . . are themselves, however unwillingly, metaphysical views, and . . . a little acquaintance with the subject commonly serves to dispel [them]. [Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn, 1897 (1916 printing), pp. 1 – 2; INTRODUCTION. At Web Archive.]

    KF

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I spoke in the OP of ANSWERING TO the classic view that knowledge is justified, true belief, raising the topic Gettier counter examples as why I do not subscribe to this formulation. Okay, I am updating, so please pardon. Bach to the comment: Notice how I carefully worded my remarks on warrant to specifically exclude mere internal justification: “Warranted — there is an available account (as opposed to internal to the given knower, who may simply accept a message from reliable sources . . . ) that, properly understood, would justify accepting or treating belief x as true in serious contexts.” for food, there are reliable sources that we are entitled to trust and we see that ordinary language runs: I know so and so is a good cook and their food does not run the belly, or the like. I seek to capture what we ORDINARILY mean by knowledge, which clearly does embrace less than utterly and irrevocably certain warrant. That is the sense that is in common sense, in management decisions, in court and in education and science. To suggest that ordinary people hardly know things and are mass deluded in using the claim to know seems highly dubious to me. There are a great many points of knowledge for children or for ordinary people that they could not justify beyond pointing to an authority or else to evident reliability and custom or the like. My Mom was fond of saying that once she heard me say something a bit beyond my years and asked, how do you know that: I read it, i.e. I implied that the sort of substantial books found in our home carried legitimate expertise . . . assertion was backed by facts, responsible reasoning and plausible assumptions. But of course at that age I could never have rebutted a clever and glib hyperskeptic. Many a hyperskeptic, of course, makes a sport out of attacking such people, preening on presumed intellectual superiority and deriding the claimed knowledge of those they mock; while failing to see that there may be a warrant provided for such views by relevant experts that grounds the relevant authorities used such as dictionaries or handbooks or in my family’s case in those days Collier’s Encyclopedia. Or, for that matter, Sunday or day school teachers and their course materials. Grounds, on much more than blind adherence. KF

  42. 42
    Origenes says:

    CR: First, I’m a fallibilist about fallibilism.

    No house can house itself, so, this is not a solution. In fact, it leads to the infinite regress pointed out by Slagle:

    Since the raison d’être of their thesis is that there is no outside of the circle, they do not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of it, and so their beliefs about the nonveracity of beliefs or reasoning are just as nonveracious as those they criticize. If all of the beliefs inside the circle are suspect, we cannot judge between truth and falsity, since any such judgment would be just as suspect as what it seeks to adjudicate. We would have to seek another argument, another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which we can judge the judgment—and a third set to judge the judgment of the judgment, ad infinitum. At no point can they step out of the circle to a transcendent standpoint that would allow them to reject some beliefs as tainted while remaining untainted themselves.

    IOWs you are standing on quick sand. You cannot ground fallibilism with fallibilism, which in turn is grounded on fallibilism, which in turn is grounded on … and so forth.

    CR: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself.
    And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true.

    In order to criticize fallibilism the fallibilist needs another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which he can judge fallibilism. What he cannot do is judge between truth and falsity based on the system (fallibilism) which is under doubt.

    CR: Second, a tradition of criticism is itself subject to criticism.
    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.

    What are those “traditions of criticism” based on, Popper? IOWs what gives us the epistemic right to assume a position ‘outside the circle’ and judge between truth and falsity? Why should we trust that “traditions of criticism” provide us with tools which improve knowledge?

    Popper: 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). 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.

    That’s it? Criticism comes from some democratic process? And this is the end of the line, where all criticism stops? This democratic process is determined to lead to truth?
    What if democracy reinstalls slavery? Is that also “improvement”? Are we to hold that reinstalling slavery is an “objectively better idea”? BTW what does Popper mean by “improvement” and “objectively better”? Why is idea A better than idea B? Given that Popper is right, what else can it be than democratic tradition? Which leads to further self-referential incoherence.

  43. 43
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, I spoke in the OP of ANSWERING TO the classic view that knowledge is justified, true belief, raising the topic Gettier counter examples as why I do not subscribe to this formulation. Okay, I am updating, so please pardon.

    Point taken.

    Bach to the comment: Notice how I carefully worded my remarks on warrant to specifically exclude mere internal justification: “Warranted — there is an available account (as opposed to internal to the given knower, who may simply accept a message from reliable sources . . . ) that, properly understood, would justify accepting or treating belief x as true in serious contexts.” for food, there are reliable sources that we are entitled to trust and we see that ordinary language runs: I know so and so is a good cook and their food does not run the belly, or the like. I seek to capture what we ORDINARILY mean by knowledge, which clearly does embrace less than utterly and irrevocably certain warrant.

    Ok, but I’m also not citing utterly certain warrant. In other words, one can know that the food is not tainted if one holds that belief and it happens to be true.

    And as I said above, there’s nothing wrong that I can see with your usage of “weak form knowledge”, as long as we are clear.

    It’s probably not a choice I would make, though, e.g., “I knew the food was not tainted (weak form)!”, between bouts of projectile vomiting.

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    DS,

    Perhaps we all need to listen to Greenleaf:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction.

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd.

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them.

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved.

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

    KF

    PS: The case you cite would be a case where one would be busily revising one’s body of knowledge i/l/o fresh evidence. On this, Newton in Opticks Query 31 has some’at to say.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Newton, Opticks Query 31:

    As in Mathematicks, so in Natural Philosophy, the Investigation of difficult Things by the Method of Analysis, ought ever to precede the Method of Composition. This Analysis consists in making Experiments and Observations, and in drawing general Conclusions from them by Induction, and admitting of no Objections against the Conclusions, but such as are taken from Experiments, or other certain Truths. For Hypotheses are not to be regarded in experimental Philosophy. And although the arguing from Experiments and Observations by Induction be no Demonstration of general Conclusions; yet it is the best way of arguing which the Nature of Things admits of, and may be looked upon as so much the stronger, by how much the Induction is more general. And if no Exception occur from Phaenomena, the Conclusion may be pronounced generally. But if at any time afterwards any Exception shall occur from Experiments, it may then begin to be pronounced with such Exceptions as occur. By this way of Analysis we may proceed from Compounds to Ingredients, and from Motions to the Forces producing them; and in general, from Effects to their Causes, and from particular Causes to more general ones, till the Argument end in the most general. This is the Method of Analysis: And the Synthesis consists in assuming the Causes discover’d, and establish’d as Principles, and by them explaining the Phaenomena proceeding from them, and proving the Explanations. [[Emphases added.]

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS: Locke also has some wisdom in the Intro, Sec 5 of his Essay on Human Understanding (complete with several Biblical allusions and references):

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

  47. 47
    Origenes says:

    //follow-up @42//

    Popper posits the democratic process as the foundational ‘self-criticizing-system’. This system is foundational to all criticism and this is where the regress (see Slagle #5, #42) stops.
    However, as I have argued, no house can house itself, so, this too is self-referentially incoherent and therefor not an escape from the epistemological skyhook.

    A Skyhook argument, as I am conceiving it, would apply to any position that posits a closed system, but which can be defined, defended, believed, or known only from a standpoint transcending that system. The transcendent viewpoint is thus the “sky” relative to the system, and the point of contact it must have with the system in order for the system to be defined or defended is the “hook.”
    . . . . .

    Naturalism and determinism are universal crane explanations; that is, they take cranes to be the only valid form of explanation, such that everything must be explained without recourse to anything else. If we allow an undetermined or non-naturalistic explanation into court, then we are no longer upholding determinism or naturalism. But whereas the affirmations of determinism and naturalism are universal, their denials are not. Critics do not deny that some things are determined or naturalistic; they merely deny that everything is. So the determinist and naturalist must claim that all things are determined or naturalistic, whereas the critic need claim only that there may be one thing that is not.
    The argument under consideration is that to take crane explanations universally is ultimately self-defeating: we have to posit a skyhook, by necessity, to avoid this self-defeat. To extend Dennett’s analogy, a crane built from the ground up will eventually collapse under its own weight*.13 Thus our argument is essentially a skyhook. Indeed, the appeal of the argument, its bite (or, perhaps, its hook), is the self-defeating nature of its targets. Therefore, I hereby christen this argument, in all its manifestations, the Epistemological Skyhook, or more succinctly, the Skyhook.
    [Slagle]

  48. 48
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    To use one of your phrases, you are presenting a cardboard-cutout and character of criticism, as it is much more rich than the examples given here. Even Barry gave an example of how our ideas slam into reality, without us even intentionally trying to criticize them.

    So, unintential tests of knowledge via the environment is a kind of criticism.

    Definitions are important in the sense that we all refer to the same ideas. If it makes you feel better we can divide criticism into intentional and non-intentional criticism. Just as I divide knowledge into to explanatory and non-explanatory knowledge.

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, nope.

    Let us look at a reputable dictionary:

    criticism (?kr?t??s?z?m)
    n
    1. the act or an instance of making an unfavourable or severe judgment, comment, etc
    2. (Art Terms) the analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc
    3. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature, etc
    4. (Art Terms) the occupation of a critic
    5. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the occupation of a critic
    6. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) a work that sets out to evaluate or analyse
    7. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) Also called: textual criticism the investigation of a particular text, with related material, in order to establish an authentic text
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    You are wrenching language into newspeak.

    A fatal collision of an ideology with reality is NOT a criticism, it is a case of empirical failure. Marxism on values of goods and services was soundly critiqued by von Mises in the 1920’s, that was simply brushed aside. Communism and its central planning paradigm did not survive a fatal collision with reality in the 1980’s and 90’s.

    Likewise, critical failure of a program or hardware is a crash.

    The associated work to find and fix the problem is not criticism. Debugging and troubleshooting are perfectly good and apt words, there is no good reason to kidnap criticism and stretch it on a rack to make it fit your fancies.

    KF

  50. 50
    daveS says:

    KF,

    PS: The case you cite would be a case where one would be busily revising one’s body of knowledge i/l/o fresh evidence. On this, Newton in Opticks Query 31 has some’at to say.

    Maybe it’s just an aesthetic thing. I have a problem with a system under which you can truthfully say “I knew X before, but now I know that X is false”.

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that is exactly what would not be said after such a fatal collision with reality, at least by a well informed careful thinker. He might say, I THOUGHT I knew but it turns out I didn’t. That is, there is a possibility of error that we implicitly recognise but usually do not surface. When it hits us, we admit it and move on. In Physics, c 1870, the Newtonian frame looked solid and no one would call it mere provisional belief. It was a body of centuries deep established scientific knowledge. Then relativity and quantum came along and it is now a limiting but important case. And we acknowledge that. KF

  52. 52
    daveS says:

    Eh?

    Doesn’t that mean that my warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief that the food was untainted was not actually knowledge?

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, so known after the fact — and even that knowledge-claim is going to be irreducibly uncertain. That is the problem, do you really wish to take the abstract possibility of error and use it to assign all but a tiny few self-evident things to a limbo of doubtful or even suspect opinions? Is this a reasonable way to treat with knowledge, given that this is an ordinary word that has a meaning much as described established by overwhelming use? This comes close to the problem of idiosyncrasy we see with CR. The philosophical understanding of knowledge must come to reflect its general usage, import and importance, including that there is an irreducible uncertainty in many cases but there is typically sufficient warrant that failure to act on that warrant is ill advised. For example, would you use the abstract possibility of error on whether food is sound, to do as Locke warned against: ” . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly”? KF

  54. 54
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, so known after the fact — and even that knowledge-claim is going to be irreducibly uncertain.

    That means that knowledge can degrade over time to false belief under your definition, which I find undesirable.

    That is the problem, do you really wish to take the abstract possibility of error and use it to assign all but a tiny few self-evident things to a limbo of doubtful or even suspect opinions?

    Well, when there is some tiny chance of error, then there is some tiny chance that my belief is not knowledge. For example, I’m almost certain that my beliefs about what I had for dinner are knowledge (in the strong sense), but there is a tiny chance of error, hence there is a tiny chance that my recollections do not constitute knowledge.

    For example, would you use the abstract possibility of error on whether food is sound, to do as Locke warned against: ” . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much what as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly”

    No. Well, maybe yes if my wife asked me to go to Chipotle.

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, We live forward and know forward on the past that provides the warrant. In all but a few practical cases such knowledge as a body is subject to correction on learning further as Newton knew and advised. That’s reality, that is how knowledge is commonly used, in a weak sense. Complaining is not going to change it, or are you willing to cede that almost all of science is only candidate knowledge with the resolution of that candidacy being indefinite. Where, as that resolution is in a similar plight, it too is subject to the same candidacy. Thence, infinite regress and knowledge evaporates save for the few things that are self evident. In short, collapse of the domain of knowledge. The far simpler alternative is to acknowledge that we create bodies of knowledge, where we use a weak sense that embraces what is well warranted, credibly true and reliable, thus believed and freely acted on. If and when a point fails, we adjust. Yes, there is a stricter sense, a subset of this, where some few things are self evident and are utterly and irrevocably certain. Those, we use as ultimate tests in evaluating claims of knowledge. Chief among these are the things that flow from distinct identity, the triple first principles of right reason, LOI, LNC, LEM, and also the natural numbers and what flows from them. At no point can you refute that knowledge is so commonly used, nor that there are cases of revision, e.g. Phlogiston, earth as the sump of the cosmos, the unexpected limitations of Newtonian Dynamics etc. If you have problems here, have a talk with Newton, Locke and even Greenleaf as cited above; which you are also unable to respond to. If we do not accept such weak form knowledge and act on it [never mind quibbles about rejecting the general usage of the term], civilisation will collapse. That alone is sufficient to see that something is wrong with the skeptical challenge to what is common usage. For me, I simply recall my daydream in Chem class at age thirteen, that perhaps one day the class would be interrupted and in would walk a messenger with the update due to some revolution or other. It was disappointing to learn that the reality is a lot more prosaic, and that a new paradigm typically advances one funeral at a time. KF

  56. 56
    daveS says:

    KF,

    If we do not accept such weak form knowledge and act on it [never mind quibbles about rejecting the general usage of the term], civilisation will collapse.

    Whoa. We both agree there is uncertainty, I think we just are locating it in different places.

    You are uncertain about exactly which beliefs in your store of knowledge (weak form) are true; I am uncertain about which of my beliefs are actually knowledge (strong form).

    I prefer to reserve the term “knowledge” for beliefs which are true, while you extend it a bit further. We are just using language differently.

    I am not reluctant in the slightest to act on warranted, credibly true, and reliable beliefs.

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, do you know the history? It is precisely the willingness to accept weak form knowledge as valid as knowledge that opened the gates to the scientific revolution. Remember, empirical observation is not certain nor can it grant certain warrant. This is the fire you are playing with. KF

  58. 58
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Don’t have time to reply in detail, at the moment, but …

    https://conjecturesandrefutations.com/2013/07/27/a-refutation-of-nicholas-dykes-on-karl-popper/

    Many years ago, Nicholas Dykes wrote a criticism of the philosophy of Karl Popper. His essay not only fails to refute Popper, it also seems to reflect an inability on Dykes’ part even to state Popper’s positions accurately. I will go through the arguments section by section, labelling what section each argument comes from. I have left out references and footnotes in my quotes, the reader can get them from the original article. Where I have put in references I refer to Section numbers rather than page numbers since different versions of Popper’s books have different page numbering.

  59. 59
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, do you know the history? It is precisely the willingness to accept weak form knowledge as valid as knowledge that opened the gates to the scientific revolution. Remember, empirical observation is not certain nor can it grant certain warrant. This is the fire you are playing with.

    I will go this far: weak form knowledge is obviously useful. Presumably in many cases it’s true, and therefore is also knowledge in the strong sense.

  60. 60
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, you have not engaged the core matter, the dismissal of induction, which is manifestly at the centre of your own arguments. The critique cited is quite right that a world with a distinct identity will have distinct properties which will manifest themselves, indeed characteristic features. The above discussions of distinct identity and its immediate consequences such as the natural numbers and the triple first principles of right reason LOI, LNC and LEM are only a beginning. So, by reasonable observations we may discern to some degree that order as it manifests itself. Inferences from such observations as providing support for attempted summaries of that order will be highly relevant. Second, the Kantian influence is clearly there also . . . it lies in some form behind ever so much of thought over the past 200 or so years — and the Kantian ugly gulch is indeed a problem, as F H Bradley highlighted over 100 years ago. The self-referentiality is there also and it leads to the exact problems seen. Those are serious problems. KF

  61. 61
    ppolish says:

    Knowledge separates animate subjects from inanimate objects?

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    PP: I suspect, it is self-aware, self-moved consciousness that separates us as en-souled. Such entities are capable of belief, rational judgement, being morally governed by considerations such as the compelling force of moral evidence and moral certainty, etc. so that they become full-orbed knowers in the relevant sense. (I suggest that many animals are capable of limited learning and knowledge, e.g. the dog that knows the master’s voice and commands, the donkey here that would carry its sleeping owner home from market in Plymouth, across many miles, the other one that when angered would make its rider brush against “kusha” [Hmm: Balaam’s Ass that more than brayed?] and so forth . . . they too have souls and are in a limited sense self-moved but seem mostly guided by built-in instincts — cf. how birds build nests and navigate across oceans and continents.) And yes, that consciousness is self evident and incorrigibly true . . . a rock has no dreams and a hypothetical deceived brain in a vat or Boltzmann Brain perceiving itself as in a world of delusion will still be conscious though deluded. A rock cannot be deluded that it is conscious as it cannot contemplate. Those who hope to refine and so arrange rocks that they get not just blind GIGO-limited processing and programmed zombie-like robots but self-aware, self-moved entities need to resolve how they get to unified consciousness — and to moral government. AI programmed by the wicked to soul-lessly and efficiently carry out great evils will be a major and possibly fatal challenge to our civilisation. For instance in top level war gaming, they discovered that humans, recognising the horror and evil, will hardly ever pull the trigger for nuclear exchanges. So, to simulate such wars they resorted to computers. The implied warning should give us grave pause. KF

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    Weird loss of a comment claiming not logged in

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Okay, let’s try again.

    We face a choice.

    First, that we live in a world with a distinct identity of being with at least partly rationally intelligible, discernible core ordering characteristics tied to its distinct identity as a cosmos. Things that we can infer based on observed reliable patterns and/or inference to the best explanation. A world in which we may err but may also know in part and even through a glass darkly by inductive reasoning and other rational inference and judgement.

    Or else . . .

    Second, we are by and large utterly deluded about the above as we actually inhabit an utterly irrational chaos that by chance seems orderly and/or that apparent order is imposed by the happenstance programming of our brains/minds that imposes apparent order on the world we perceive as external to ourselves. Whereby, inter-subjective consensus and claimed bodies of knowledge are little more than collective delusion. That is, we are part of a grand, Plato’s cave delusion in which thanks to the grue paradox, nothing can be held as a stable characteristic. Whether the delusion is in the outer apparent world or imposed through our inner programming makes but little difference: grand delusion. But, BTW, how do we know we actually inhabit such a chaos? That is, the infinite regress of self-referential delusions has been triggered, landing in absurdity.

    We have a choice and the reason to reject grand delusion is clear.

    KF

  65. 65
    daveS says:

    KF,

    We have a choice and the reason to reject grand delusion is clear.

    Most of us find the notion that were are completely deluded unattractive, to be sure. Do you think it’s possible to know (in the weak sense) that we are not completely deluded?

  66. 66
    critical rationalist says:

    Did you guys actually read the entire article?

    I’m asking because you keep asking questions that represent the same mistakes that Dyke makes.

    For example, what if democracy chooses slavery? Democracy is a tradition of criticism, not a source. Governments are sources. There are no sources that are guaranteed not to lead us into error, including government. If we stop criticizing ideas, then we will fail.

    So, you’re still making the same mistake.

    The question is not to ask what sources should rule, such as labor or some other group. The question is how can we discover errors in our ideas.

  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, given the self referential incoherence that undermines responsible discourse, we can safely hold that any scheme of thought that entails grand delusion has arrived at absurd self-referential incoherence. Thus, it falsifies itself. KF

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, democracy and choosing slavery is a distraction. The core issue is, knowledge and how it is attained, and in particular inductive reasoning. We know from many threads that you dismiss inductive reasoning. We have challenged that dismissal, and above you will find a discussion of one reason why. Likewise, how do you know that there are NO sources that are not going to lead us into error? Isn’t that a massive inductive generalisation and a rather hasty one as there are several things that are guaranteed error free as they are self evidently true. KF

  69. 69
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF #48

    So, [unintentional] tests of knowledge via the environment is a kind of criticism.

    CR, nope.
    Let us look at a reputable dictionary:

    From the article….

    A word is shorthand for an idea not for some imaginary perfect definition. As such, we should be willing to change terminology to talk in ways that other people understand. That is, we should be willing to use their definitions. Furthermore, we should never try to be more precise than is necessary to address the problem we are dealing with since this will lead to loss of clarity. The best summary of [Popper’s] position on this issue is (Unended Quest, p. 24):

    You seem to share Dyke’s conception of trying to understand the world by defining words correctly.

    This is a false description of Popper’s position on definitions, see Section 7 of Unended Quest. His actual position is that words can’t be defined with perfect accuracy since all definitions have to employ undefined words. Suppose I say that a tiger is “a big cat”. If all the terms are defined then there is a definition of “a” and “big” and “cat” and these definitions refer to other words and if those definitions are defined then they lead to still more definitions with still more words… So either we use undefined words or we have an infinite regress. As a result of this problem the habit of trying to understand the world by coming up with the right definitions, which Popper calls “methodological essentialism”, is untenable. growth of knowledge.

    Criticism of an idea need not be intentional. The crew of the Titanic did not intentionally decided to run into an iceberg. Yet that collision repented criticism of the idea that the Titanic was unsinkable. Most importantly, would the outcome had any more impact on that idea had the crew intentionally decided to hit the iceberg? Fault was found, even if that fault finding was not intentional.

    Likewise, critical failure of a program or hardware is a crash.

    The associated work to find and fix the problem is not criticism. Debugging and troubleshooting are perfectly good and apt words, there is no good reason to kidnap criticism and stretch it on a rack to make it fit your fancies.

    Most users do not intentionally set out to find errors in the software. Nor do most end users need to have a clue as to how to debug software. They just want to solve their problem. “It doesn’t upload my photos” is a criticism of that software.

    A critical failure results in the problem it that it purports to solve not actually getting solved. Unless the bug is fixed, why would I use it? Why would I keep it installed on my iPhone, as opposed to some other software that actually does solve that same problem?

    The program that does solve that problem plays a causal role in being retained when installed on my iPhone. It is knowledge. It will get backed up. It will be restored when I upgrade to a new device. It will attract users that will help offset of the cost of maintaining it, by purchasing it or though the presentation of in-app advertising. Or it will connect to a service that people subscribed to increase its value, etc.

  70. 70
    critical rationalist says:

    In regards to identity….

    Section 2
    Dykes tries to refute Popper’s arguments against inductivism. Inductivism is the belief that there is a method called induction by which people can get new ideas from sense information and then confirm those ideas.

    Popper built his philosophy on foundations borrowed from Hume and Kant.

    No he didn’t. Popper argued that knowledge doesn’t have foundations (see in particular “Realism and the Aim of Science” Chapter I), and Dykes hasn’t refuted that argument, nor does he do so anywhere in the essay.

    Hume, said Popper, had shown that: “there is no argument of reason which permits an inference from one case to another… and I completely agree” [OKN 96]. Elsewhere he referred to induction as “a myth” which had been “exploded” by Hume [UNQ 80]. He further asserted that “There is no rule of inductive inference – inference leading to theories or universal laws – ever proposed which can be taken seriously even for a minute” [UNQ 146-7; see also RASC 31].”

    There then follows a lot of stuff on Hume’s position on induction, not Popper’s. Popper had many arguments against induction that Hume didn’t give him and took those arguments more seriously than Hume. Dykes does not address most of the arguments Popper provided.
    What argument does Dykes attempt to address?

    Hume stated, in essence, that since all ideas are derived from experience we cannot have any valid ideas about future events – which have yet to be experienced. He therefore denied that the past can give us any information about the future. He further denied that there is any necessary connection between cause and effect. We experience only repeated instances, we cannot experience any “power” that actually causes events to take place. Events are entirely “loose and separate…. conjoined but never connected.”
    According to Hume, then, one has no guarantee that the hawthorn in an English hedge will not bear grapes next autumn, nor that the thistles in a nearby field won’t produce figs. The expectation that the thorn will produce red berries, and the thistles purple flowers, is merely the result of “regular conjunction” which induces an “inference of the understanding.” In Hume’s view, there is no such thing as objective identity, there is only subjective “custom” or “habit.

    Dykes then goes on to argue as follows:

    The crux of the case against Hume was stated in 1916 by H.W.B. Joseph in An Introduction to Logic: “A thing, to be at all, must be something, and can only be what it is. To assert a causal connexion between a and x implies that a acts as it does because it is what it is; because, in fact, it is a. So long therefore as it is a, it must act thus; and to assert that it may act otherwise on a subsequent occasion is to assert that what is a is something else than the a which it is declared to be.” Hume’s whole argument – persuasive though it may be – is, to borrow Joseph’s words, “in flat conflict with the Law of Identity.”
    Existence implies identity. It is not possible to exist without being something, and a thing can only be what it is: A is A. Any actions of that thing form part of its identity: “the way in which it acts must be regarded as a partial expression of what it is.” Thus to deny any connection between a thing, its actions, and their consequences, is to assert that the thing is not what it is; it is to defy the Law of Identity.
    It is not necessary to prolong this discussion. Entities exist. They possess identity. By careful observation – free from preconception – we are able to discover the identities of the entities we observe. Thereafter, we are fully entitled to assume that like entities will cause like events, the form of inference we call induction. And, because it rests on the axiom of the Law of Identity, correct induction – free from contradiction – is a valid route to knowledge. The first premise of CR is therefore false.

    This argument doesn’t solve the problem at all. The problem of induction as stated by Hume is that our expectations of the future don’t follow from what we have observed in the past. To see why let’s take Dykes’ example of the hawthorn, which he claims will not produce grapes. How does he know it won’t produce grapes? Perhaps some scientist will genetically engineer hawthorns to produce grapes. And even if he doesn’t the fact that it won’t produce grapes doesn’t follow merely from the fact that it hasn’t in the past.
    To put this in Dykes’ language, if we were to accept that existence implies identity that would not tell us the identity of any specific entity. And indeed characterising the issue as being about the identity of the object in question is a bad way to think about it. Whatever the thing in question is we need an explanation of how it works to say what it will do next and why. And we won’t be able to tell what we can predict about the entity in question without such an account. Why do hawthorn bushes not produce grapes? That has to do with a complicated set of circumstances in its evolutionary past that selected against hawthorns producing relatively large fleshy fruit and refers to lots of things that are not hawthorn bushes, like human beings who did not selectively breed hawthorn bushes to get them to grow grapes. Stating this theory in terms of definitions would make it less clear because the explanation involves tying together many different entities and so the whole explanation would have to be repeated many times in slightly different ways.
    Note also that Dykes’ approach to creating knowledge amounts to defining terms in the right way: that is, to the idea of methodological essentialism that I criticised in my comments on Section 1.

  71. 71
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me add, that in part key self evident truths serve as plumblines that allow us to correct our errors, e.g. the triple first principles of right reason, LOI, LNC, LEM that are direct outflows of distinct identity. As an example, are you SURE that “There are no sources that are guaranteed not to lead us into error” is in fact true and reliable? How so, if you hold it true? As in, do you see the self referential incoherence and linked regress beginning to emerge and undermining the edifice you are trying to build?

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I only have a moment to speak to the issue of correctly and fairly understanding what words mean and what they refer to when people use them. Arrogating the power to redefine arbitrarily is grossly disrespectful and undermining of serious discussion. Not least, it creates undue confusion as words are the tools of thought and communication so their precision and proper use must needs be respected if we are to progress. I also detect an underlining kantian ugly gap between the inner world and the outer one of things in themselves peeking out from under your remarks. That approach rests on a self-referentially incoherent claim as F H Bradley long since exposed. Next, the issue in the end is not Dyke or whoever, regarding induction. The key point is, do we have a distinct, identifiable, intelligible world that manifests consistent core characteristics in the course of events? I put it to you that for cause the vast majority of humanity and scholarship alike would say yes. Once that holds, the scientific and general project of recognising and studying reliable patterns and using them to understand the world is valid. the alternative is a chaos, and it is quite evident that we do not live in a chaos. KF

    PS: I think you have hung up on a word Dykes used, foundations, speaking of idea sources accepted in key part by Popper. Where it is blatant from your own statements that you deride inductive reasoning; so an answer that addresses inductive reasoning and points out its roots and legitimacy is highly relevant. You have wrenched that into an attempt to dismiss foundationalism. I suggest to you that warrant — good answers to why should I accept some X, even provisionally? — comes in chains and that such chains cannot regress to infinity for many reasons. So, we have finitely remote start points that need to be compared on factual adequacy, coherence (including not being question beggingly circular) and explanatory power and balance. that some choose to use a foundations metaphor for the phenomenon in answer to Agrippa’s Trilemma, is a label that stands for a real issue. Let us see your solution that is neither incoherent nor question-begging nor factually inadequate. KF

  73. 73
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, given the self referential incoherence that undermines responsible discourse, we can safely hold that any scheme of thought that entails grand delusion has arrived at absurd self-referential incoherence. Thus, it falsifies itself. KF

    I agree that you cannot support with reason (or evidence) the proposition that we are completely deluded.

    That doesn’t imply that we can support with reason (or evidence) the proposition that we are not completely deluded.

  74. 74
    Origenes says:

    DaveS: That doesn’t imply that we can support with reason (or evidence) the proposition that we are not completely deluded.

    You cannot doubt your own existence. You cannot be wrong about the fact that you exist. Nothing and no one is capable of deluding you on that issue. Hence, you cannot be completely deluded.

  75. 75
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Interesting point. But couldn’t one be so irrational and deluded that one believes that one doesn’t exist?

  76. 76
    Origenes says:

    DaveS: … couldn’t one be so irrational and deluded that one believes that one doesn’t exist?

    Not if one realizes that each act — including the act of believing that one does not exist — presupposes one’s existence.
    “I (attempt to) doubt my existence. But in order to doubt my existence I have to exist.”

    —-
    edit: a person who holds that she/he does not exist is a prime example of being self-referentially incoherent.

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I am speaking of reductio ad absurdum, which is of course broader than self-evidence. In order to arrive at the notion of grand delusion, we rely on the validity of argument and we rely on the validity of communication of ideas and that people are moved to the true and reasonable. If yo then set up a frame that ends up implying that the whole frame is a delusion, that becomes an absurdity. I Take it as a first principle of argument tied to distinct identity, that the worldview equivalent of a square circle cannot exist. KF

    PS: By believing that one’s nature is grossly disparate from what it is one in effect believes that one is not.

  78. 78
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, yes, indeed conscious self-awareness is self-evident and undeniable. As in, who is denying this? Oops. KF

  79. 79
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Not if one realizes that each act — including the act of believing that one does not exist — presupposes one’s existence.
    “I (attempt to) doubt my existence. But in order to doubt my existence I have to exist.”

    Yes, if this person possesses a semblance of sanity, anyway. I don’t know that there are limitations on what crazy ideas people can believe.

  80. 80
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus: … indeed conscious self-awareness is self-evident and undeniable. As in, who is denying this? Oops.

    The Critical “Rationalist” may very well the one who (attempts to) deny this. Or else, if he cannot criticize it, it is not valid or whatever.

  81. 81
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Yes, one cannot correctly reason that one is completely deluded. That much is clear.

    My question is whether one can correctly reason that one is not completely* deluded.

    Or, related, can own know (weak sense) that one is not completely* deluded?

    *Well, completely except for the fact that one exists, as in Origenes’ example.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, yes, as I am conscious is self evident, undeniable and incorrigible, so one can be certain that subjects capable of reason are not 100% deluded. KF

  83. 83
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @79

    Yes, if this person possesses a semblance of sanity, anyway.

    You are correct of course. Insanity makes all things possible:
    – believing that one does not exist.
    – believing that the universe came from nothing.
    – believing that atoms spontaneously rearrange themselves into high-speed computers, libraries full of science texts and novels, cars and trucks and airplanes.

  84. 84
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    I suppose it makes sense to assume this person is sane or rational to some degree, even if they are radically “deluded” in other ways. For example, a person in a Matrix-type scenario, where all their senses are being manipulated, could still be behaving rationally in the world they are experiencing.

  85. 85
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @84

    DaveS: I suppose it makes sense to assume this person is sane or rational to some degree, even if they are radically “deluded” in other ways.

    Of course we may all be deluded in many ways, yet, given that we strive for truth, we have no choice but to assume that we are free rational agents. Slagle explains why:

    The naturalist or determinist cannot accept her own irrationality and remain rational. In fact, she cannot accept her own irrationality at all: even in positing one’s own irrationality, even in merely considering it as a bare possibility, she must presuppose that she is rational. The claim here is not that she must consider herself perfectly or even generally rational; rather, it is that any attempt to deny that she is ever rational could get off the ground only if that attempt were rational, which entails that she is, at least sometimes, rational. There is no alternative: our own rationality is our starting point. It is the presupposition with which we must begin any inquiry, including an inquiry into whether we are rational.
    ……

    The critic who denies free will is appealing to the advocate of free will to change her mind. He is challenging the advocate to take control of her character by using reason to accept determinism. Yet in order for this to work, the critic must presuppose that the advocate is responsible for her character, and thus is capable of controlling her character, and this capability presupposes that she has free will. As such, in appealing to reason—which is what makes it an argument—the critic is presupposing that determinism is false in order to argue that determinism is true. This is self-defeating.

  86. 86
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Of course we may all be deluded in many ways, yet, given that we strive for truth, we have no choice but to assume that we are free rational agents.

    Yes, clearly we have to make such an assumption when we strive for truth.

    Edit: deleted last sentence; got my wires crossed.

  87. 87
    critical rationalist says:

    You cannot doubt your own existence. You cannot be wrong about the fact that you exist. Nothing and no one is capable of deluding you on that issue. Hence, you cannot be completely deluded.

    Yet, this has already been addressed.

    I must now apologize for trying to trick you earlier: All the ideas that I suggested we might know infallibly are in fact falsehoods. “Two plus two” of course isn’t “four” as you’d discover if you wrote “2+2” in an arithmetic test when asked to add two and two. If we were infallible about matters of pure logic, no one would ever fail a logic test either. Stubbing your toe does not always hurt if you are focused on some overriding priority like rescuing a comrade in battle. And as for knowing that “I” exist because I think—note that your knowledge that you think is only a memory of what you did think, a second or so ago, and that can easily be a false memory. (For discussions of some fascinating experiments demonstrating this, see Daniel Dennett’s book Brainstorms.) Moreover, if you think you are Napoleon, the person you think must exist because you think, doesn’t exist.

  88. 88
    Origenes says:

    CR

    Origenes: You cannot doubt your own existence. You cannot be wrong about the fact that you exist. Nothing and no one is capable of deluding you on that issue. Hence, you cannot be completely deluded.

    CR: Yet, this has already been addressed.

    Can you criticize it? If not, what does that tell you?

    Also, given that we want to understand and seek truth, we have to assume that we are free and rational. Do you agree with that?

    And BTW what is not addressed is my refutation of your fallibilism — see #42 and #47

    CR: And as for knowing that “I” exist because I think—note that your knowledge that you think is only a memory of what you did think, a second or so ago, and that can easily be a false memory.

    “In order to have a false memory … I must exist.”

  89. 89
    Origenes says:

    CR

    According to Deutsch there are no infallible sources of knowledge. All information is suspect; information stemming from direct experience included. IOWs he posits a closed circle in which no belief can be said to be infallible. Yet at the same time, he arrogates to himself a position outside of this circle by which he can (infallibly) judge beliefs and knowledge, a move he denies to his opponents. Since the raison d’être of his thesis is that there is no outside of the circle, he does not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of it, and so his beliefs about the fallibility of beliefs or reasoning are just as fallible as those he criticizes.

    “If all of the beliefs inside the circle are suspect, we cannot judge between truth and falsity, since any such judgment would be just as suspect as what it seeks to adjudicate. We would have to seek another argument, another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which we can judge the judgment—and a third set to judge the judgment of the judgment, ad infinitum. At no point can they step out of the circle to a transcendent standpoint that would allow them to reject some beliefs as tainted while remaining untainted themselves.” [Slagle]

    When Deutsch writes “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible”, he does not seem to understand that he is being self-referentially incoherent:

    D: No one can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: Sure.
    So … you just told me what is certain?
    D: Yes, I sure did.
    But you said that no one can do this?
    D: Oops.

  90. 90
    daveS says:

    Does Deutsch claim certainty here? I’m not familiar with the quotation, so I don’t know if he’s referring to a merely “credibly true” proposition.

  91. 91
    kairosfocus says:

    DS (Attn Origines & CR),

    a self-refuting, necessarily false claim cannot be credibly true.

    However, if one takes a crooked yardstick and makes it one’s standard for things like straightness, accuracy and uprightness a peculiar effect results. For, then, there is a closing of the mind to soundness: what is in actuality straight, accurate and upright cannot ever pass the test of conformity to a crooked yardstick, so by being committed to crookedness one is led to lock out soundness.

    This is why a few self-evident, plumb-line naturally sound truths are so pivotal. As the plumb-line is naturally straight and upright, it reveals what is crooked beyond reasonable, responsible doubt.

    Our onward response then reveals whether we have fallen into the utter folly of clinging to absurdity in the face of undeniable correction.

    One of these plumb-line truths is that bare consciousness is undeniably real — one who doubts must be conscious to doubt.

    Similarly, distinct identity starts with, “I . . .” and with our having a world. And as this involves W = {A|~A} then we immediately see how LOI, LNC, LEM are immediately present in such distinct identity. Similarly, two-ness and with that the endless chain of naturals.

    We can quickly associate logic of being issues: possible vs impossible, non-being vs being, of possible, contingent vs necessary. Where, unfortunately in our day we typically simply have not been exposed to that. But one criterion of being is that all true circumstances must be true together, i.e. must be mutually consistent or compatible. Thus, a candidate being whose core characteristics stand in irreconcilable contradiction cannot exist in any possible world, the classic test case being a Euclidean space square circle.

    The test then becomes, are we humble and docile — teachable — in the face of the import of plumb-line sound truths?

    If not, we are in stubborn folly.

    Sadly, we seem to increasingly have a civilisation of such folly.

    Which, cannot end well.

    The question is, will we turn back before it is too late and the cliff’s edge crumbles underfoot.

    I have serious doubts.

    (Those were not helped by the 50 minute ICBM test flight over Japan yesterday . . . Physics and Chemistry have given great power to the world, but they cannot give the wisdom to guide and restrain that power through rational responsibility under sound moral government. All we can do is to warn on the gap between is and ought.)

    Origines and I (as well as others) have long since pointed out the incoherence and unsoundness of key views adopted by CR. In this and other recent threads, we have pointed out serious errors in the work of Deutsch et al. It remains to be seen if CR is willing to heed such.

    Let’s clip briefly:

    D: No one can tell you what is certain.
    [O:] Is that certain?
    D: Sure.
    [O:] So … you just told me what is certain?
    D: Yes, I sure did.
    [O:] But you said that no one can do this?
    D: Oops.

    As to whether Deutsch claims certainty, the answer is that he has patently asserted a universal, negative claim. As we just saw.

    A single sound counter-example suffices to overturn such, and the claim is self-referential. It denies that it can exist. It refutes itself per logic of being and per import of distinct identity. It is self-contradictory and cannot describe a true state of affairs in our world.

    And this, being directly rooted in self-evident first principles of right reason, is rooted in strong-form knowledge. One may put up the abstract possibility of error to dismiss such a claim, but in fact such hyperskepticism with a swivel the better to dismiss what one does not like, is irresponsible. One needs to show where the error lies, and in fact the showing has been done, the opposite way.

    Logic of being, likewise, grounds that we may responsibly warrant as reliable and even credibly true, things which reveal themselves as consistent and apparently fundamentally rooted patterns of the world through empirical investigation and inductive inference. A mango tree, consistently, will produce mangoes and a kusha bush will produce needle-like thorns. A Manchineel tree produces fruit that are deceptively like small green apples or similar fruit, but it is a dangerous tree. (The article reveals that they seem to taste sweet, I have utterly no desire to test that one empirically! Never mind, that I have sometimes had lunch by a nearby beach, under a thicket with the fruit scattered across the ground — and a clue is, NOTHING tries to eat that little, apple-like fruit. BTW, that sweetness backed by terrible causticity would make them an exception to the rule I have long heard, that natural fruit that taste sweet are not poisonous. However, they are a key part of the ecosystem. The tree-line is a guide to the sea-turtles coming to a beach to nest and lay eggs, for instance. And should you try chopping down or burning, you will pay a natural price . . . people have been hospitalised. Chemical warfare is a part of nature.])

    I fear, as a civilisation we are being invited to feast on deceptively sweet but ultimately caustic “beach apples.”

    Ill-advised.

    KF

  92. 92

    It remains to be seen if CR is willing to heed such.

    Unfortunately, he is not.

    CR claims that “knowledge” is information that causes itself to be retained in a material medium. Such claims have a physical manifestation that is both unavoidable and exclusively identifiable. I showed him months ago that his claims completely fail to account for those physical conditions. In other words, his position doesn’t survive even the first criticism.

    During our conversations, (with unassailable material facts on the table), I basically refused to become sidetracked by his constant dissembling about reasoning. I see here that you and Origenes have gutted even that dissembling. So it would seem to me that basically every claim CR has made on this forum, going back to the very start of this year, has been thoroughly and fatally trounced and criticized and gutted. Yet, I can tell you exactly what will result from it.

    In a day or two, some new topic will emerge on these pages and CR will reappear and repeat the same words all over again. That has been his pattern for months now. His entire worldview is wrapped up into it, so he has no other choice.

  93. 93
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS (Attn Origines & CR),

    a self-refuting, necessarily false claim cannot be credibly true.

    Yes, but in the context of my question, no one is making any claims, necessarily false or otherwise. No one is asserting that we are (nearly) completely deluded.

    You and I both believe that we understand the world to some extent, at least enough to know when we are driving through an intersection and fortunately, to know when the light is green.

    I thought this might be interesting to look at in order to possibly contrast the strong and weak forms of knowledge, but on second thought, maybe it doesn’t reveal any new information.

    As to whether Deutsch claims certainty, the answer is that he has patently asserted a universal, negative claim. As we just saw.

    A single sound counter-example suffices to overturn such, and the claim is self-referential. It denies that it can exist. It refutes itself per logic of being and per import of distinct identity. It is self-contradictory and cannot describe a true state of affairs in our world.

    Yes on the first paragraph, no on the second (after the first sentence).

    We make universal negative claims all the time with the understanding that we might be in error. “There are no unicorns” or “there are no black swans”, for example.

    One can assert that there are no infallible sources of knowledge as well, and one might turn out to be wrong, but you wouldn’t know this until you actually find an infallible source of knowledge.

  94. 94
    Origenes says:

    KF @91

    KF: As to whether Deutsch claims certainty, the answer is that he has patently asserted a universal, negative claim.

    Exactly. A universal claim presupposes certainty. In this article, where CR often cites from, Deutsch passes universal claims around like candy. He seems to be utterly unaware of the problem of self-referentiality.
    The subtitle(!) of Deutch’s article reads:

    “Nothing obstructs access to the truth like a belief in absolute truthfulness.”

    Do you believe that universal claim to be absolutely true?
    D: Yes, I believe in the absolute truthfulness of that universal claim.
    So, you believe in absolute truthfulness?
    D: Yes, I believe in absolute truthfulness.
    So — per your own claim — you do not have access to the truth?
    D: Indeed, because of my belief in absolute truthfulness my access to the truth is obstructed.
    Well, that’s good to know.

  95. 95
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    A universal claim presupposes certainty.

    What??

    Can you provide some support for this?

  96. 96
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @95

    Can you offer a universal claim that does not presuppose certainty?
    Deutsch does not say:

    *Perhaps* nothing obstructs access to the truth like a belief in absolute truthfulness.”

    Saying that would render his claim meaningless.

  97. 97
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    DaveS @95

    Can you offer a universal claim that does not presuppose certainty?

    That’s not my job*. You have made the universal claim that all universal claims presuppose certainty and I’m asking for support.

    ____

    *I’ve already offered a couple in #93.

  98. 98
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    Let me summarize things as I see them.

    UB presents an argument that seems flawed, in that it appears inductive in nature. So, I try to better understand it in case I’m missing something.

    When I visit his website, a quick scan though referenced papers that supposed support his argument, none share his conclusion of ID. In fact, one paper explicitly says that ID is not a conclusion.

    However, I do see something about a triangle or pyramid in which each side plays a specific role. Apparently, this has some significance which I’m unclear on and ask for a theory of information as the only one present on his site is Shannon’s. Much evasion occurs.

    Regardless I point out (1) this specific number / roles does not hold with quantum information. (2) In the translation system, doesn’t always have that exact number of objects. (3) The objects in question are themselves information, in that they can in be in other states / places which controls translation. This would cause an infinite regress. (4) Theories of information are much more comprehensive, in that they include tasks such as copying, which would have implications regarding any theory of how external information would have been put in a cell. We find ourselves with the very same problem in that you have information in physical form, which needs to be explained, etc. (5) We can define information in a more fundamental, physical way that unifies classical physics and quantum information via the constructor theory of information, which defines information as possible tasks. IOW, UB’s “theory” of information is an approximation which does not scale. (6) All of the parts in the translation system can be expressed as a network of possible tasks, as defined in the Constructor theory of life.

    UB suggests I’m avoiding “evidence on the table”. However, I point out this is similar to trying argue for Newton’s laws of motion by pointing out we can use it to launch rockets into space. His only response was to say the analogy I presented was an analogy because I “quoted” what he didn’t write. No other response was given, such as the analogy doesn’t fit.

    When we left off, I had asked the following question: During the critical test between Newton’s Laws and Einstein’s’ general relativity, what it necessary to avoid the evidence that we can use Newton’s Laws to launch rockets into space?

    I have yet to hear an answer.

  99. 99
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @97

    On its own any universal claim implies certainty. This also goes for your examples — “There are no unicorns” and “there are no black swans”.

    Q: Are you certain there are no black swans?
    A: Well, of course, otherwise I would not have said “there are no black swans”.

    Indeed, is there any other answer? “No I am not certain, but I say it anyway”, doesn’t seem like a reasonable answer to me.

    You say that we could make a universal claim “with the understanding that we might be in error.” And, indeed, maybe Deutsch is doubting his universal claims, but I don’t care about all that. I look at the statement on its own (an sich). And when I take a universal claim serious, then I must assume certainty.

  100. 100
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    On its own any universal claim implies certainty. This also goes for your examples — “There are no unicorns” and “there are no black swans”.

    Q: Are you certain there are no black swans?
    A: Well, of course, otherwise I would not have said “there are no black swans”.

    Indeed, is there any other answer? “No I am not certain, but I say it anyway”, doesn’t seem like a reasonable answer to me.

    Well, apparently at one time (some) people believed that there were no black swans, a conclusion they presumably arrived at through induction. And one does not arrive at certainty through inductive reasoning. I have to assume these people knew about the pitfalls of induction, so they would have been aware that it’s practically (and perhaps literally) impossible to be certain about the claim “there are no black swans”.

    The same goes for unicorns. I believe it’s true that no human can be certain that no unicorns exist, but if I say “no unicorns exist”, that’s not going to start a fight. Everyone would understand that I mean it’s a credibly true statement, not that I’m certain it’s true.

    You say that we could make a universal claim “with the understanding that we might be in error.” And, indeed, maybe Deutsch is doubting his universal claims, but I don’t care about all that.

    I guess you can do that, but doesn’t that mean you also don’t care about whether Deutsch is “utterly unaware of the problem of self-referentiality”? In my view, if we really want to understand what the author means, we need to acknowledge that we often include tacit assumptions in our statements.

  101. 101
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @100

    Well, apparently at one time (some) people believed that there were no black swans … I have to assume these people knew about the pitfalls of induction, so they would have been aware that it’s practically (and perhaps literally) impossible to be certain about the claim “there are no black swans”.

    If so, those people should not make the claim “there are no black swans”, but instead something along the lines of “as far as I know, there are no black swans.”

    The same goes for unicorns. I believe it’s true that no human can be certain that no unicorns exist, but if I say “no unicorns exist”, that’s not going to start a fight. Everyone would understand that I mean it’s a credibly true statement, not that I’m certain it’s true.

    We are not discussing common usage of language in daily life. Or are we? Because I have little interest in that.
    David Deutsch writes:

    nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable.

    Deutsch himself italicizes “nothing”. He wants his readers to really notice the term “nothing” and emphasizes “nothing”. How does that tell you that he is uncertain about “nothing”, or that it is just a casual inaccurate everyday way of expressing oneself?

    I guess you can do that, but doesn’t that mean you also don’t care about whether Deutsch is “utterly unaware of the problem of self-referentiality”?

    In his writings he shows no awareness of the problem. That’s all I care about.

    In my view, if we really want to understand what the author means, we need to acknowledge that we often include tacit assumptions in our statements.

    That is appropriate on many occasions, but not in philosophy. In philosophy, when someone makes the claim “there are no true statements”, we are not supposed to “understand what the author means.”

  102. 102
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    If so, those people should not make the claim “there are no black swans”, but instead something along the lines of “as far as I know, there are no black swans.”

    People sometimes elide these things when it’s obvious.

    We are not discussing common usage of language in daily life. Or are we? Because I have little interest in that.
    David Deutsch writes:

    nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable.

    Deutsch himself italicizes “nothing”. He wants his readers to really notice the term “nothing” and emphasizes “nothing”. How does that tell you that he is uncertain about “nothing”, or that it is just a casual inaccurate everyday way of expressing oneself?

    It’s a subtitle to an article on a website. People often use rhetorical devices (e.g., hyperbole) in such situations. In my experience, the use of such devices, even when they result in a slightly inaccurate statement, can be helpful to the reader.

    That is appropriate on many occasions, but not in philosophy. In philosophy, when someone makes the claim “there are no true statements”, we are not supposed to “understand what the author means.”

    It’s a philosophically oriented article posted on a website. Here are a few other snippets from that website:

    Consciousness Began When the Gods Stopped Speaking

    We Need Conscious Robots

    Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense

  103. 103
    Mung says:

    CR:

    UB presents an argument that seems flawed, in that it appears inductive in nature. So, I try to better understand it in case I’m missing something.

    Imagine CR as a defense lawyer arguing in front of a judge and jury.

    Your honor, the case against my client is deeply and irrevocably flawed in that it is inductive in nature.

    If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

  104. 104
    Origenes says:

    The fact that Deutsch is a physcicist, brings to mind the article ‘Why are (some) physicists so bad at philosophy?’, by Edward Feser. Excerpt:

    .. when I read this foray into philosophy by physics professor Ethan Siegel, which a reader sent me, asking for my reaction. Do give it a read, though I’ll summarize it for you:

    Arguments for God as cause of the universe rest on the assumption that something can’t come from nothing. But given the laws of physics, it turns out that something can come from nothing.

    Here was my reaction:

    Is this guy serious? The laws of physics aren’t “nothing.” Ergo, this isn’t even a prima facie counterexample to the principle that ex nihilo, nihil fit. That’s just blindingly obvious. Is this guy serious?

    (Actually, that was not my reaction. My actual reaction cannot be printed on a family-friendly blog. This is the cleaned up version.)

  105. 105
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Again, your responses indicate you are making the same mistakes are Dyke. Have you actually read the referenced article?

    For example….

    Section 10

    Dykes attacks Popper’s theory of the three worlds. World 1 is the world of physical objects, world 2 is the world of psychological states and world 3 is the world of the objective content of our knowledge. How does Dykes argue against this?

    First, there seems little conjectural about the theory of worlds 1, 2, & 3. In none of Popper’s several presentations is the theory offered as an hypothesis. Rather, it is laid out as a discovery, as what Popper thought the facts to be.

    Popper doesn’t precede every sentence with “this is a conjecture”. So what?

  106. 106
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, in a previous generation all students in a university were steeped in a philosophy-enriched climate so their arguments were subtly shaped by that context and would not make gross errors such as not understanding enough of being to realise that nothing properly means non-being, not even abstracta. Sadly, that was generations ago. Physicists of today would be well advised to avoid traipsing over the border into domains that are not only not the prime academic qualification, but domains where there is little or no familiarity with the basics. A good start-point would be to realise that evolutionary materialistic scientism and its fellow travellers are utterly ill-founded; never mind the confident manner of many adherents and institutional dominance. KF

  107. 107
    kairosfocus says:

    DS & CR, perhaps, you should ponder the square of opposition, to understand what ALL A is B and NO A is B mean. When it came to black swans, the issue is, is whiteness (or at least non-blackness) an essential property of being a swan? Where, generally colour is not an essential core characteristic of things, e.g. blue diamonds and pink pearls (natural ones from the Queen Conch — v. rare). Obviously when a certain bird was seen in Australia, it was recognised as clearly and decisively swannish despite its colour, or it would have been termed something like a near-swan. And had there been no such birds it is likely that the claim all swans are white would be held a summary of empirical findings that were not necessary facets of being a swan, not a binding law of nature, as we have any number of species with variable colouration — including our own. Just today and yesterday, I have seen near midnight black, various shades of brown, Hispanic-Caribbean with significant Amerindian in the mix, Indian — light and relatively dark, Chinese, Caucasian and Amerindian [Carib]. In absolutely none of these cases did colour affect fundamental human-ness. All of this, fits in with Newton’s advice as already was cited. KF

  108. 108
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS & CR, perhaps, you should ponder the square of opposition, to understand what ALL A is B and NO A is B mean. When it came to black swans, the issue is, is whiteness (or at least non-blackness) an essential property of being a swan? Where, generally colour is not an essential core characteristic of things, e.g. blue diamonds. Obviously when a certain bird was seen in Australia, it was recognised as clearly and decisively swannish despite its colour, or it would have been termed something like a near-swan. And had there been no such birds it is likely that the claim all swans are white would be held a summary of empirical findings that were not necessary facets of being a swan, not a binding law of nature, as we have any number of species with variable colouration — including our own.

    So, based on empirical evidence, at the time it was credibly true that “all swans are white”. Given that large parts of the world remained unexplored (from a European perspective) I doubt anyone would claim that with certainty.

    Aren’t we therefore agreeing?

  109. 109
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @102

    To be clear, are you saying that Deutsch actually meant to say: “*perhaps* … nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable.” and “*perhaps* … nothing obstructs access to the truth like a belief in absolute truthfulness.”?
    If not, what is he saying according to you?

    DaveS: It’s a subtitle to an article on a website.

    No, it’s not, it is from the main text alinea 16 (below second picture).

  110. 110
    Origenes says:

    KF @106

    .. in a previous generation all students in a university were steeped in a philosophy-enriched climate so their arguments were subtly shaped by that context and would not make gross errors such as not understanding enough of being to realise that nothing properly means non-being, not even abstracta. Sadly, that was generations ago.

    Perhaps there is a method behind all this madness: getting rid of philosophy clears the way for atheism.

  111. 111

    Let me summarize things as I see them.

    UB presents an argument that seems flawed, in that it appears inductive in nature. So, I try to better understand it in case I’m missing something.

    More dissembling. More preening. More positioning.

    You argued that Darwinian evolution is the source of the genetic translation apparatus. I corrected you that Darwinian evolution requires the genetic translation apparatus in order to exist. If A requires B for A to exist, then A cannot be the source of B.

    This is fatal to your theory. No amount of diversion is going to change it.

  112. 112
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    To be clear, are you saying that Deutsch actually meant to say: “*perhaps* … nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable.” and “*perhaps* … nothing obstructs access to the truth like a belief in absolute truthfulness.”?
    If not, what is he saying according to you?

    “Perhaps” is too weak. His belief is strong enough that he wrote up an article to advocate for these positions.

    I think he strongly believes “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable”.

    Regarding the second statement, I don’t think he means it literally (there are likely things which obstruct access to the truth even more), but rather means something like “belief in absolute truthfulness can, paradoxically, obstruct access to the truth”. His statement is more memorable, as it echoes the famous proverb “nothing succeeds like success”.

    And yes, I mixed up the subtitle with another sentence in the article.

  113. 113
    Origenes says:

    CR: Again, your responses indicate you are making the same mistakes are Dyke. Have you actually read the referenced article?

    I did read that horrible article and nowhere are my arguments addressed. So, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  114. 114
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @112

    DaveS: “Perhaps” is too weak. His belief is strong enough that he wrote up an article to advocate for these positions. I think he strongly believes “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable”.

    You don’t seem to grasp the problem ….

    Okay then, let’s look at the possibility that his strongly held belief is indeed true. Suppose it is true that “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable”. What do we get? Let’s do the test:

    * The “it is true that nothing can tell you what is certain” test *

    D: Nothing can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: Sure.
    So … you just told me what is certain?
    D: Yes, I sure did.
    But you said that no one can do this?
    D: Oops.

    IOWs if Deutsch, as you say, strongly believes that “nothing can tell you what is certain”, then he does not seem to understand that he is being self-referentially incoherent.

  115. 115
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Okay then, let’s look at the possibility that his strongly held belief is indeed true. Suppose it is true that “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, nor what is probable”. What do we get? Let’s do the test:

    * The “It is true that nothing can tell you what is certain” test *

    D: Nothing can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: Sure.
    So … you just told me what is certain?
    D: Yes, I sure did.
    But you said that no one can do this?
    D: Oops.

    Under the assumption that there are indeed no infallible sources of truth, D could not be certain of this, so he would not answer “Sure”.

    Why do you think he would say “Sure”?

  116. 116
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @115

    DaveS: Under the assumption that there are indeed no infallible sources of truth, D could not be certain of this, so he would not answer “Sure”.

    Yes he would.

    DaveS: Why do you think he would say “Sure”?

    Because, as part of the test, he labors under the assumption that his belief is true (or certain). The question “Is that certain?” simply asks to confirm the assumption of truthfulness of his strongly held belief.

  117. 117
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Because, as part of the test, he labors under the assumption that his belief is true (or certain). The question “Is that certain?” simply asks to confirm the assumption of truthfulness of his strongly held belief.

    All I see is that you’re putting words in Deutsch’s mouth. He’s not here to respond, but if it were me in the conversation, I would answer “no” at that point.

  118. 118
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @117

    I would answer “no” at that point.

    Okay, so then we get:

    D: Nothing can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: No.
    So there may be something which can tell me what is certain?
    D: Nothing can tell you what is certain.
    Or not?
    D: oops

  119. 119
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    No, it wouldn’t go like that. If I were in a discussion with you, I would be very careful to explicitly point out my lack of certainty from the start:

    D: I strongly believe that nothing can tell you what is certain.

    Is that certain?

    D: No.

    So there may be something which can tell me what is certain?

    D: Yes.

  120. 120
    Origenes says:

    DaveS

    How about this:

    D: I strongly believe that nothing can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: No.
    But is it very very likely?
    D: Yes it is.
    So it is also very very likely that what you just said is not certain?
    D: oops

  121. 121
    daveS says:

    Could you clarify exactly what “what you just said” is?

  122. 122
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @121

    nothing can tell you what is certain.

    edit: For your convenience:

    D: I strongly believe that “nothing can tell you what is certain.”
    Is “nothing can tell you what is certain” certain?
    D: No.
    But is “nothing can tell you what is certain” very very likely?
    D: Yes “nothing can tell you what is certain” is very very likely.
    So it is also very very likely that “nothing can tell you what is certain” is not certain [because you just told me and what is told to me is, per your own strongly held belief, very likely not certain]?
    D: oops

  123. 123
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    I’m only addressing my own belief, and cannot quantify the likelihood of it being true.

    So it is also very very likely that “nothing can tell you what is certain” is not certain [because you just said it and, per your own strongly held belief, cannot be done]?

    Leaving aside the issue of likelihood, yes, I stated such explicitly above.

    Is “nothing can tell you what is certain” certain?

    D: No.

  124. 124
    Origenes says:

    Dave @123

    – I strongly believe that no one can tell you the truth.
    Are you sure about that?
    – No
    Do you think that your belief is likely to be true?
    – Let’s leave aside the issue of likelihood.
    Does “no one” mean that you are also incapable of telling me the truth?
    – Of course. “No one” means no one.
    So, you cannot tell me the truth.
    – Yes. That’s what I am saying. Right? Right?
    – – – – –

  125. 125
    Mung says:

    Upright BiPed:

    If A requires B for A to exist, then A cannot be the source of B.

    This argument is deeply and irrevocably flawed in that it appears inductive in nature. Don’t you get it?

    sheesh

  126. 126
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Some of these phrases have mutated quite a bit. Deutsch says nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible, not that no one can tell you the truth.

    And no, I cannot infallibly tell you what is infallible. Presumably that holds for all humans.

  127. 127
    Origenes says:

    DaveS: I cannot infallibly tell you what is infallible.

    One day you will get it. Stay with me on this. Here we go:

    Is your claim infallible?
    If yes, then you just infallibly told me what is infallible.
    If not, do you think that it is likely that you cannot infallibly tell me what is infallible?

  128. 128

    Mung at 125,

    Ha! Now I get it.

    Thanks for clearing that up!

  129. 129
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    One day you will get it. Stay with me on this. Here we go:

    Is your claim infallible?
    If yes, then you just infallibly told me what is infallible.
    If not, do you think that it is likely that you cannot infallibly tell me what is infallible?

    My claim is not infallible—that is, my belief is that my claim is not infallible; I should have stressed that above.

    My belief is that I cannot infallibly tell you what is infallible. Sooner or later I will make a mistake, judging by past history.

    Is this going somewhere? Maybe you can cut to the chase and identify the exact problem.

  130. 130
    Origenes says:

    DaveS

    Do you think that it is likely that you cannot infallibly tell me what is infallible?
    If yes, if you hold that this is likely the case, then it is very likely that you just infallibly told me what is infallible.

    Is this going somewhere?

    The question is: when will you get it?

  131. 131
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Do you think that it is likely that you cannot infallibly tell me what is infallible? If yes, if you hold that this is likely the case, then it is very likely that you just infallibly told me what is infallible.

    You mean in such a case I might have answered a single question correctly?

    I don’t think that implies infallibility. Edit: Or rather, I don’t think that implies I infallibly told you the infallible. Suppose I tell someone “2 + 2 = 4” and another person that “2 + 2 ≠ 4”. Have I infallibly told one of the people what is infallible? If so, we’re setting the bar pretty low.

  132. 132
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    You argued that Darwinian evolution is the source of the genetic translation apparatus. I corrected you that Darwinian evolution requires the genetic translation apparatus in order to exist. If A requires B for A to exist, then A cannot be the source of B.

    And then I corrected you in pointing out a translation system is only required for high-fidelity replication. From this paper……

    3.3 Natural selection is permitted under no-design laws
    These conclusions imply that an accurate self-reproducer – together with an accurate replicator – is permitted under no-design laws that allow for information media. So, under such laws, it can be constructed from generic resources only, given enough knowledge: it could continue to exist, say, had a chemical lab created it.

    However, one must also address the question: can accurate self-reproducers arise from generic resources only, under such laws? Note that what the prevailing conception would aim to prove is that the emergence of accurate self-reproducers follows (with some probability) given certain initial conditions and laws of motion. This approach, informing the search for viable models for the origin of life, [25], is suitable to solve scien- tific problems such as predicting the existence of life elsewhere in the uni- verse – e.g., by providing bounds to how probable the emergence of those self-reproducers is on an earth-like planet. Here I am addressing a differ- ent problem: whether accurate self-reproducers are possible under no-design laws. This is a theoretical (indeed, constructor-theoretic) question and can be addressed without resorting to predictions. Indeed, the theory of evolu- tion provides a positive answer to that question, provided that two further points are established. I shall argue for them in what follows.

    The first point is that the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws because – in short – selection and variation are non-specific to its end products. This can be seen by modeling the logic of natural selection as an approximate construction, whose substrates are populations of replicators and whose (highly approximate) constructor is the environment. This occurs over a much longer time-scale than that of self- reproduction, whereby replicators – constructors on the shorter scale – become now substrates.
    Evolution relies upon populations being changed by variation and selection over the time-scale spanning many generations. Crucially, the mutations in the replicators, caused by the environment, are non-specific, (as in section 3.1), to the “end product” of evolution (as Dawkins put it, not “systematically directed to improvement” [27]). This constructor-theoretic characterization of mutations replaces the less precise locution “random mutations” (as opposed to non-random selection, [5]). These mutations are all transmitted to the successfully created individuals of the next generation, by heredity – irrespective of their being harmful, neutral or beneficial in that particular environment.
    Selection emerges from the interaction between the replicators and the en- vironment with finite resources. It may lead to equilibrium, given enough time and energy. If so, the surviving replicators are near a local maximum of effectiveness at being replicated in that environment.
    Thus, the environment is passive and blind in this selection process. Since it retains its ability to cause non-specific variation and passive selection again, it qualifies as a naturally-occuring approximation to a constructor. Crucially, it is a crude approximation to a constructor: crude enough that it could have arisen by chance and requires no explanation. Its actions – variations and selection – require no design in laws of physics, as they proceed by non-specific, elementary steps. So the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws of physics.
    The second point is that natural selection, to get started, does not require accurate self-reproducers with high-fidelity replicators. Indeed, the minimal requirement for natural selection is that each kind of replicator produce at least one viable offspring, on average, per lifetime – so that the different kinds of replicators last long enough to be “selected” by the environment. In challenging environments, a vehicle with many functionalities is needed to meet this requirement. But in unchallenging ones (i.e. sufficiently unchang- ing and resource-rich), the requirement is easily met by highly inaccurate self-reproducers that not only have no appearance of design, but are so inaccurate that they can have arisen spontaneously from generic resources under no-design laws – as proposed, for instance, by the current theories of the origin of life [11, 31]. For example, template replicators, such as short RNA strands [32], or similar “naked” replicators (replicating with poor copying fidelity without a vehicle) would suffice to get natural selection started. Since they bear no design, they require no further explanation – any more than simple inorganic catalysts do.(11)
    I conclude that the theory of evolution is compatible with no-design laws of physics, that allow, in addition to enough time and energy, information me- dia. These requirements do not contain the design of biological adaptations. Hence, under such laws, the theory of evolution fully explains the appearance of design in living organisms, without their being intentionally designed.

    Your response? You argued that the very distant past would resemble the distant past. But, that’s just a variation on the future resembling the past, which is inductivism. So we’re back where we started with a flawed argument.

  133. 133
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    I did read that horrible article and nowhere are my arguments addressed. So, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Did you read #105? Specifically..

    Popper doesn’t precede every sentence with “this is a conjecture”. So what?

    Now, exchange Popper with Deutsch.

    Deutsch doesn’t precede every sentence with “this is a conjecture”. So what?

    Now, exchange Deutsch with myself.

    I haven’t preceded every sentence with “this is a conjecture”. So what?

    Again, you’re making the same mistakes as Dyke. Or can’t you see that either?

    Furthermore, “horrible” is incredibly vague criticism. I could just as well respond my saying “I read your horrible comment and nowhere are my arguments addressed. So, I have no idea what you are talking about. ”

    Productive isn’t it?

  134. 134
    critical rationalist says:

    @ Origenes

    The paradox you’re referring to is explicitly addressed in @32. Examples are provided. So, again, how is your argument not addressed?

    Did you not read that “horrible” article either?

  135. 135
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, rubbish. What is to be explained is the origin and onward transformation of cell based life that effectively uses alpbabetic, coded genetic information in a coupled metabolic entity. The code system and underlying existence of language need to be causally explained (whatever imaginary replication scheme that is imperfect that can be put up, and that too needs empirically backed causal explanation . . . ), the effecting apparatus — which is based on key-lock fit, fine tuned components, the coupling to the metabolic system, and more. Where, a hypothetical high error rate system is first unlikely to work, must work in a very different way [so that is a strawman distraction], and given the relative abundance in the field of possibilities it will predictably race away into noise and failure. It has to be this locked in an evolutionary materialistic scientism, so-called methodological naturalism circle of question begging will not work, nor will oh maybe it was that. And, kindly show empirically observed cases in point that demonstrate that such lo fi mechanisms work in real world natural environments, not computer simulations or highly fine tuned lab set ups. Which must include a solution to the problem of the racemic vs homochiral forms. KF

  136. 136
    Dionisio says:

    KF,

    The neodarwinian and third way evo-devo folks are having quite a huge problem trying to figure out how to resolve their own basic formulation:
    Dev(d) = Dev(a) + Delta(a,d)
    Every new discovery in biology research is making things more difficult for them.
    And the “weather” forecast doesn’t look encouraging for them at all.
    They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
    Their situation shall worsen by day.
    The most fascinating discoveries are still ahead.
    Just watch and see.

  137. 137
    Origenes says:

    DaveS: I don’t think that implies I infallibly told you the infallible. Suppose I tell someone “2 + 2 = 4” and another person that “2 + 2 ? 4”. Have I infallibly told one of the people what is infallible? If so, we’re setting the bar pretty low.

    The bar is set at telling the truth. The truth is “what is infallible”. Given that “2 + 2 = 4” is infallible (is true), you have indeed “infallibly told one of the people what is infallible”.
    Look, Deutsch’s mangled sentence “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible” can be translated by “nothing can tell you what is certain” or, even better for our purposes, “no one can tell you the truth.” Deutsch holds that direct experience is also incapable of ‘telling’ us the truth, which explains his use of “nothing” instead of “no one”, but that is irrelevant to our discussion.

    It should be clear by now, that anyone who tells you “No one can tell you the truth” does not show awareness of the problem of self-reference.

    In #126 you wrote, a la Deutsch: “I cannot infallibly tell you what is infallible”, which can be translated with: “I cannot tell you the truth.” Obviously, this runs into the exact same problem.

    I hope that helps.

  138. 138
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    An abstract designer who “just was”, complete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins that would result in just the right features, already present, doesn’t serve an explanatory purpose. This is because one could more efficiently state that organisms “just appeared”, complete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins that would result in just the right features, already present.

    IOW, if this designer “Just was” it is not explanatory. And if it’s not explanatory, then It’s an authoritative source.

    So, what did I get wrong?

    Is science not about creating explanations? An authoritative source that “just was” is not an explanation.

    As indicated in #29, do we not keep theories until a replacement can explain the same phenomena in addition to the results of a critical test? In what way does “Just was” better explain the order of least to most complex appear of organisms?

    Or is “just was” is a misrepresentation of your position? If so, what explanation are you referring to that is the origin of those features?

  139. 139
    critical rationalist says:

    @Dionisio

    The neodarwinian and third way evo-devo folks are having quite a huge problem trying to figure out how to resolve their own basic formulation:

    In the current conception of physics? Yes. But in constructor theory? No, they are not. The basic formulation is described in the constructor theory of life.

  140. 140
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    I hope that helps.

    I’m afraid it doesn’t. You’re translating Deutsch’s statement, which is clear enough on its own, into one that is trivially false.

    Do you really think he is so stupid?

  141. 141
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    It should be clear by now, that anyone who tells you “No one can tell you the truth” does not show awareness of the problem of self-reference.

    Again, see #133.

    Now, exchange Popper with Deutsch.

    Deutsch doesn’t precede every sentence with “this is a conjecture”. So what?

    It’s as if you cannot conceive of anyone actually holding that view, so you stick your fingers in your ears as say “nana, nana, nana, nana, I can’t hear you!” when you are corrected.

    Let’s try it?

    In #126 you wrote, a la Deutsch: “I cannot infallibly tell you what is infallible”, which can be translated with: “I cannot tell you the truth.” Obviously, this runs into the exact same problem.

    “This is a conjecture: I cannot infallibly tell you what is infallible”

    And then there is this, in which he describes what the alternative might be if he was mistaken…

    The trouble is that error is a subject where issues such as logical paradox, self-reference, and the inherent limits of reason rear their ugly heads in practical situations, and bite.

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

  142. 142
    critical rationalist says:

    @daveS

    Do you really think he is so stupid?

    There is a sort of symbiosis between infallibilism and nihilism, in that they justify each other. I suspect that Origenes, as well as others, find themselves in this same conundrum and cannot imagine a way out.

    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.

    Then again, a popular strategy for attacking a theory one find objectionable is to present a false version of it and then point out how it is false. Perhaps I’ve giving him too much credit?

  143. 143
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    Pardon but why do you insist on doing a switcheroo from inference to design as causal process per tested reliable sign and debates over designers?

    That’s a strawman caricature of the substantial argument.

    The issue is simple, take an entity with functionally specific complex coherent organisation and associated information. On trillions of observed cases, it is a sign of design as cause. Such FSCO/I is also not found to come from blind chance and/or mechanical necessity — unsurprising, on analysis of search challenge of configuration spaces beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. To overturn this inference, show credibly observed cases of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity producing such FSCO/I: _____

    Predictably, you cannot, and of course you reject such an inductive inference as on your view induction is invalid . . . you reject that empirical evidence can support a conclusion through its pattern.

    In reply, I suggest to you that if FSCO/I is a key feature of an entity, there is good reason to hold that per a trillion member observation base all around us, it in part comes from intelligently directed configuration.

    Your objecting posts are actually further cases in point.

    And further ones will be more of the same.

    Designers exist and are known to be intelligent and purposeful, leading to artifacts manifesting FSCO/I. We have no good reason to hold that humans exhaust the set of possible designers . . . even as a black swan was abstractly possible.

    So, if we see FSCO/I or another reliable sign of design, we are epistemologically entitled to infer the best current explanation: intelligently directed configuration.

    That’s not so hard, is it?

    KF

    PS: Your strawman caricatures on knowledge and unjustified fear-mongering about nihilism (we are entitled to read: Nazism) do not speak well of your argumentation. I suggest you take time out and actually read what the OP says, then ponder why I have for years pointed out that error exists is a self-evident, undeniable and indeed infallible truth that says of what is that it is and of what is not that it is not. Notice, E = Error exists, put up denial ~E, i.e. it is an error to assert E. Oopsie. Instantly, E is undeniable, demonstrably true and infallible as to try to deny only manages to confirm.

  144. 144
    daveS says:

    CR,

    Thanks for those interesting observations regarding nihilism and infallibilsm. Regarding:

    Then again, a popular strategy for attacking a theory one find objectionable is to present a false version of it and then point out how it is false. Perhaps I’ve giving him too much credit?

    I don’t think so. Origenes regularly posts useful and challenging questions/comments, IMO.

  145. 145
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Perhaps, it is useful to address the challenges of what we may descriptively term the conjecturalist thesis, which is much in evidence above and elsewhere. Again, Dykes — and kindly, note that an ad hominem bsed dismissal will again fail to address the substantial point:

    http://www.libertarian.co.uk/l.....iln065.htm

    Popper called conjecture and refutation a “new way of knowing” [OSE2 383]. However, from a common sense point of view, it can immediately be objected that we do not normally claim to ‘know’ something which is unjustifiable, tentative or hypothetical. Knowledge, for most people – and for most scientists – is something which it is possible to be sure of, to justify, to validate, to prove; in other words, to know.

    [ –> I add here, that the weak form in the OP subsumes the relatively few cases of self-evident certainty, and cases where warrant per experience of the world is utterly decisive. What I highlighted is that we commonly use “knowledge” in a weaker sense too. A sense in which the warrant is not utterly certain and not subject to correction, i.e. a sense in which claimed or accepted knowledge is reliable but potentially falsifiable. And should a point fail, then the knowledge of that failure and its warrant may also be fallible. We may be confident enough to act, but our knowledge claim may be in error, requiring us to balance trust and doubt on the cusp of action.]

    Conjecture, on the other hand, is by definition not knowledge. According to Chambers English Dictionary, a conjecture is “an opinion formed on slight or defective evidence or none: an opinion without proof: a guess”. Since one cannot define an idea by means of other ideas which are contrary to it, it is clearly illegitimate to place knowledge in the same category as conjecture. More pointedly, the proposition “all knowledge remains conjectural” is a contradiction in terms.

    The objection gathers strength when one notices that Popper’s proposition is itself not conjectural. Universal and affirmative, it states that “All knowledge remains conjectural” – which is a claim to knowledge. The proposition thus asserts what it denies and is self-contradictory on a second count.19

    Another immediate problem is that the notion of ‘conjecture’ depends for its intelligibility upon the prior concept of ‘knowledge.’ The idea of a ‘conjecture’ arose precisely to designate a form of mental activity which was unlike knowledge, and to distinguish clearly from knowledge an idea put forward as opinion without proof. In the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand this error is known as ‘the fallacy of the stolen concept.’ A classic example was Proudhon’s claim that ‘property is theft.’ But the concept of ‘theft’ depends on the prior concept of ‘property’ and would be unintelligible without it.20 In exactly the same way, and to repeat, the concept of ‘conjecture’ cannot be understood apart from the prior concept of knowledge – from which it is to be distinguished. For example, ‘Northern Dancer might win the Kentucky Derby’ was once a conjecture. When the horse did come first, its win became an item of knowledge.

    The invalidity of the proposition ‘All knowledge remains conjectural’ becomes even more apparent when one considers that Popper employed a large vocabulary of English and German words all of which he had to learn, and to know, in order to express any or all of his ideas. There is little conjectural about the words of a language: either the German word Forschung means ‘scientific discovery’ or it does not. Similarly, in all his philosophical and scientific work Popper depended on a broad range of core concepts – evolution, energy, light, atom, mass, force, etc – all of which are normally recognised as unalterable brute facts, not as conjectures. ‘All knowledge is conjectural’ may sound intriguing, but throughout his career Popper actually worked within a framework of knowledge, not of conjecture.

    A further problem arises when one considers the concept of ‘growth’ in Popper’s claim that knowledge grows through conjectures and refutations. (The subtitle of his book by that name is The Growth of Scientific Knowledge.) A legitimate response to this assertion is: ‘What exactly is it that grows?’ The concept of growth implies the existence of a thing, a body, an entity of some sort, that which grows. It may well be true that conjectures and refutations play a role in the growth of knowledge, but they could hardly do this without some knowledge to work on. The growth of knowledge via conjecture and refutation presupposes pre-existing knowledge, not pre-existing conjectures.21

    That the growth of knowledge implies knowledge is another illustration of Popper’s dependence on something he attempted to deny, effectively ‘stealing’ a concept. CR is supposed to replace our commonsense idea of inductively-acquired knowledge with a more accurate one of a continuous process of conjecture and refutation. But that process would be meaningless without something for the process to process, and that something is knowledge, not conjecture.

    Lastly, the proposition ‘all knowledge is conjectural’ is simply not true. The writer’s observation that ‘the sun is shining’ is not conjectural, it is a fact known to him and countless other observers. At 11am on 5 May 2003 in western England the sun is shining. The observation is no more conjectural than ‘George Bush is President of the USA (at time of writing),’ or ‘Einstein’s grandparents are dead,’ or ‘the French for ‘yes’ is ‘oui,” or ‘2 plus 2 = 4.’ These statements are true. They are demonstrable to any sane person; either ostensibly, or through the presentation of evidence beyond reasonable doubt, via simple common sense, or by means of logic. They constitute knowledge, not conjecture . . .

    Food for further thought.

    KF

  146. 146
    Origenes says:

    DaveS @140

    I’m afraid it doesn’t. You’re translating Deutsch’s statement, which is clear enough on its own, into one that is trivially false.

    Show me what my translation leaves out.

    Do you really think he is so stupid?

    Yes I do. Moreover his entire “philosophy” is founded on this fundamental mistake.

    Deuutsch’s philosophy in short:
    1. All knowledge is suspect and there is nothing that can point you towards the truth. Everything you believe is false. No basis for anything.
    2. But we have traditions of criticism which makes it all okay.

    He does not understand that (1) negates the possibility of (2), which is a tight fit with self-reference.

    Moreover he does not understand that (1) cannot be claimed without arrogating to himself a position outside “the circle” (see my previous posts on this issue: #5, #42, #47, #89 ).

  147. 147
    Mung says:

    Critical Rationalist:

    An abstract designer who “just was”, complete with the knowledge of which genes would result in just the right proteins that would result in just the right features, already present, doesn’t serve an explanatory purpose.

    So?

    The same can be said of abstract “no-design laws.”

  148. 148
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, I think everything you believe is false may be a step too far, but certainly the all is suspect is there, something I responded to some time ago when in effect a point by point rebuttal was demanded. And was given. KF

    PS: Sadly, many Physicists traipse into philosophy in a dismissive way and make quite basic errors. See: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.....ad-at.html

  149. 149
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    From the article..

    Dykes tries to refute Popper’s arguments against inductivism. Inductivism is the belief that there is a method called induction by which people can get new ideas from sense information and then confirm those ideas.

    The thing is, we cannot get new ideas from sense information. This is because it is possible to conjecture an infinite number of “patterns” from sense information. So, the idea that there is a pattern comes *before* the sense information itself. Nor is it out there for us to obtain via sense information.

    Now, you might be saying that this is one of many inductive conclusions, but that is a misnomer, because that conclusion didn’t come from induction. Why? No one has formulated a “Principe of induction” that we can choose between new ideas, in practice. You made an educated guess.

    So, if your not saying it confirms something is true or confirms that it is probably true, then all you’re doing is muddying the water.

    For example, of all the trillions of designers we’ve observed, every one of them has had a complex material nervous system. So, would it be an inductive conclusion to say that all designers have complex material nervous systems? Furthermore, organisms have appeared in the order of least complex to most complex. So would it be an inductive conclusion to assume that new organisms more complex than humans will appear?

    Again, this is just what I came up with off the top of my head.

    Yet, I’m guessing you would disagree with each of these things. So, do you disagree because they are not inductive conclusions? If not, then why?

    So, if what you mean by an “inductive conclusion” is one of an infinite number of interpretations of sense information, which did not actually come from a “principle of induction” that could be used in practice, then what does “induction” have to do with anything? Why muddy the water?

    Conjectures without criticism is faith. Specifically formatting ides so they cannot be criticized or assuming they don’t need criticism is, well, an attempt to derail or deny the means to correct errors.

    Which leads us to ID. If ID isn’t an inductive conclusion, then what is it? An explanation? But in what sense?

    Human beings are good explanations because of their human limitations. ID’s designer is abstract and has no limitations. So, the very thing that makes designers good explanations for designed things is literally lost attempting to define ID in such a way that it doesn’t exclude God. It’s all left at the door. ID’s designer is an authoritative source of knowledge.

  150. 150
    critical rationalist says:

    If free choices can somehow get arguments from sense information, without a principle of induction we can use in practice, what’s left? Apparently, choice is some kind of authority? And were did that come from? Some ultimate authority. And what is the explanation for that authority? It just was.

  151. 151
    daveS says:

    Origenes,

    Show me what my translation leaves out.

    Any reasonable concept of infallibility.

    Under your scheme, a stopped clock, a buggy computer program, and a magic 8-ball all can “infallibly tell you what is infallible”.

  152. 152
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @148

    Origines, I think everything you believe is false may be a step too far, but certainly the all is suspect is there …

    Point taken. I was paraphrasing of course. Deutsch comes pretty close though:

    The inherent limitation on human reason, that it can never find solid foundations for ideas, does not constitute any sort of limit … The absence of foundation, whether infallible or probable, is no loss to anyone …

    A strict interpretation of these lines comes pretty close to “everything you believe is false” which BTW Deutsch asks us to seriously consider in the following tortured sentence:

    Deutsch: For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?
    [emphasis in the original]

  153. 153
    critical rationalist says:

    So?

    The same can be said of abstract “no-design laws.”

    You might want to go back and read the paper again.

    Specifically, the paper was addressing the idea that for replicators to form and replicate in a high-fidelity way, the laws of physics must have had the design of replicators already present in them. “No-design laws” is the alternative that the design of high fidelity replicators are not already present there. Only genetic laws are present.

    So, “no-design laws” cannot be the explanation because it doesn’t contain the design of replicators already present.

  154. 154
    Origenes says:

    CR: Deutsch doesn’t precede every sentence with “this is a conjecture”. So what?

    Do you naively believe that adding “this is a conjecture” somehow turns a self-referentially incoherent sentence into a coherent one? Get real!

    It obviously does not help to say:

    This is a conjecture: no one can tell you the truth.

    Your idiotic conjecture, Mr. Deutsch, is self-defeating.

    And BTW nowhere did you address my argument that Deutsch cannot make claims, like “all knowledge is suspect”, without arrogating to himself a position outside of ‘the circle’.

    See posts #5, #42, #47, #89.

    In short:

    … those who claim that all beliefs, acts of reasoning, etc., are nonveracious are positing a closed circle in which no beliefs are produced by the proper methods by which beliefs can be said to be
    veracious or rational. Yet at the same time, they are arrogating to themselves a position outside of this circle by which they can judge the beliefs of others, a move they deny to their opponents. Since the raison d’être of their thesis is that there is no outside of the circle, they do not have the epistemic right to assume a position independent of it, and so their beliefs about the nonveracity of beliefs or reasoning are just as nonveracious as those they criticize. If all of the beliefs inside the circle are suspect, we cannot judge between truth and falsity, since any such judgment would be just as suspect as what it seeks to adjudicate. We would have to seek another argument, another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which we can judge the judgment—and a third set to judge the judgment of the judgment, ad infinitum. At no point can they step out of the circle to a transcendent standpoint that would allow them to reject some beliefs as tainted while remaining untainted themselves.
    [Slagle, ‘The Epistemological Skyhook’]

  155. 155
    critical rationalist says:

    @origins

    Deutsch actually presents an alteranative in which he is infallible and then tries to criticize it. That’s exactly what he’s referring to.

    Again, I’m suggesting you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not what sources we should turn to, such as who should rule. Rather, the question should be, how can we find errors in our ideas.

    You’re still stuck in the former.

    Furthermore, I’m make the same argument I presented to KF.

    Out of all ideas, which are basic beliefs? Give me examples.

  156. 156
    Origenes says:

    CR @155

    You are being unresponsive.

    CR: Again, I’m suggesting you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not what sources we should turn to, such as who should rule.

    Even if I did ask this question in some other thread, what does this have to do with the logical errors that underlie Deutsch’s reasonings?

    CR: … the question should be, how can we find errors in our ideas.

    Well, if Deutsch is correct and criticism, like all ideas/beliefs/knowledge, has no foundation, then, obviously criticism is not the way out.

  157. 157

    I was wrong in my previous assessment. CR won’t wait for a new thread to repeat his schtick, he’ll do it right here.

    His #132 is a perfect example. He claims that Darwinian evolution is the source of the translation apparatus, I correct him that Darwinian evolution requires the translation apparatus in order to even exist (and have long since gone through the physical details to support my claim), and he responds by merely repeating the claim — as if repeating the claim was his evidence, and as if his repetition actually answered the details of the counter argument.

    That is perhaps his underlying strategy: simply repeat the claim without addressing the details of any counter arguments, and then wait for the person to mercifully drop dead. Its an argument by attrition.

    CR, all your arguments have already been fatally criticized.

    All of them.

  158. 158
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    He claims that Darwinian evolution is the source of the translation apparatus, I correct him that Darwinian evolution requires the translation apparatus in order to even exist (and have long since gone through the physical details to support my claim), and he responds by merely repeating the claim — as if repeating the claim was his evidence, and as if his repetition actually answered the details of the counter argument.

    And I corrected you in that it is only high-fidelity replication requires the transition system. You still haven’t responded beyond the assumption that the very distant past will resemble the distant past, which is a variation of inductivism.

    When did you get around to responding to this? If you can’t point to it, then why don’t you summarize it?

    Again you speak of avoiding evidence, yet….

    CR: When we left off, I had asked the following question: During the critical test between Newton’s Laws and Einstein’s’ general relativity, what it necessary to avoid the evidence that we can use Newton’s Laws to launch rockets into space?

    I have yet to hear an answer.

    It incase it’s to clear to you, your “theory of knowledge”, and all of the physical details that supposedly support it, are like the physical details that support Newton’s laws of motion. I don’t need to avoid it any more than the critical test of general relativity didn’t need to avoid the ability to launch rockets into space. Newton’s laws are an approximation. So, is your theory of knowledge.

    I keep repeating this because you still haven’t addressed it.

    Still waiting….

  159. 159
    critical rationalist says:

    @origines & KF

    From this blog post

    So “critical examination” seems to involve two criteria: non-incoherence and non-falsity. We can never prove a theory to be true, but if it’s not incoherent and is not proven to be false, then it would count as scientific knowledge—the best we have to describe reality. But then how do you know it’s not incoherent? How do we know it’s false? I mean, why can we trust the validity of confusion as an indication of falsity more than clear and distinct ideas as an indication of truth, for example?

    With italics applied to “if we are lucky” and “may”, Popper himself seems to be implying that there is no way we can know for sure that something is false, either. But it does seem as if he believes that we have more hope in knowing something to be false than in knowing something to be true. My question is: why?

    Perhaps due to this doubt, and the fact that I believe in God, I am having difficulty integrating Popper’s theory into my own existing mental structure of things. In Popper’s framework, I seem to be exactly the classic empiricist/rationalist with whom he disagrees. I believe that the ultimate source of knowledge is God in the form of nature and God’s Revelation, and in order to transform the information we gather from these sources (namely nature and revelation) into knowledge i.e. justified belief that corresponds to the reality, we need to apply, on these data, our God-given ability to reason. My current (tentative and evolving) epistemic view can be captured as follows:

    Input (Sources): the universe (Bacon’s book of Nature), God’s Revelation
    The Machine (me): observation + reason
    Output (Knowledge): truths/facts, i.e. beliefs that correspond to reality

    Although I see most of the reasoning behind Popper’s argument (except for the question I raised above), I am not sure how to fit it into my view. I suppose in his view, I will not necessarily get knowledge this way because my sources have no authority and my ability to observe or to reason is not fallible either. The best I can do to get knowledge is to see if the information I obtain from these sources are not internally incoherent and to verify that they are not false.

    But maybe due to the fact that I have faith in God, I find that these sources and my ability to sense and reason do have authority. I may not be 100% certain that the universe exists or that Qur’an is the Word of God, and I may be even less certain about my observation and reasoning abilities, but because I have faith in God, I deem these sources sufficiently certain and my ability sufficiently reliable that they could act as an authority to justify my beliefs. So it seems that “faith in God” is what causes my view to diverge from Popper’s…

    I don’t know. There’s a lot to think about.

    Recognize anything here?

  160. 160
    critical rationalist says:

    @ origines

    An incoherent statement would be “I am certain that this statement is false.” That’s not the start of statement that Deutsch is making.

    Furthermore, I’m make the same argument I presented to KF.

    Out of all ideas, which are basic beliefs? Give me examples.

    Still waiting. And I’m non responsive?

  161. 161
    Origenes says:

    CR @160

    CR: An incoherent statement would be “I am certain that this statement is false.”

    Correct, that is indeed another self-defeating statement. As you may have noticed, there are many to choose from.

    CR: That’s not the start of statement that Deutsch is making.

    Again correct, as has been pointed out to you Deutsch makes several self-defeating statements, but they are not identical to the one in your quote.

    CR: And I’m non responsive?

    What do you reckon?

  162. 162
    Barry Arrington says:

    UB @ 157:

    That is perhaps [Critical Rationalist’s] underlying strategy: simply repeat the claim without addressing the details of any counter arguments, and then wait for the person to mercifully drop dead. Its an argument by attrition.

    CR @ 158 responds by, wait for it, wait for it . . .
    Repeating the claim yet again.

    UB has discovered (actually he already knew) that CR believes that “ability to type” and “ability to argue” mean the same thing.

    But, to paraphrase Capote’s famous take down of Kerouac, “that’s not arguing; that’s typing.”

  163. 163
    Origenes says:

    CR @159

    CR: Recognize anything here?

    Not at all. Frankly I have no idea why you wanted me to read that.
    I suggest that you simply address my arguments directly.

  164. 164
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, 149:

    Inductivism is the belief that there is a method called induction by which people can get new ideas from sense information and then confirm those ideas.

    Strawman.

    Modern induction is argument by support (especially of empirical form).

    If you are unable to gain new information from things you sense and then seek to make sense of by internal processing that credibly and even reliably correlates to the realities behind the senses, then I have a busy road or two to respond to. No, that fast moving car approaching is not something you sensed and can gain support for from hearing and seeing. Not even that blaring horn.

    CRUNCH.

    As in, a notion of low survival value.

    What is hapening here is we find exactly the echo of the Kantian ugly gulch between the world of things in themselves and our inner world. this was already highlighted and corrected as failing to be coherent, above. Studiously dismissed or ignored.

    Let me again clip from 40, 100 comments back:

    40 kairosfocus November 27, 2017 at 7:31 am

    F/N2: Let’s take up Dyke on Popper’s Kantian error:

    Popper described himself as an “unorthodox Kantian” [UNQ 82]; i.e., he accepted part of Kant’s epistemology, but not all of it: “Kant was right that it is our intellect which imposes its laws – its ideas, its rules – upon the inarticulate mass of our ‘sensations’ and thereby brings order to them. Where he was wrong is that he did not see that we rarely succeed with our imposition” [OKN 68n31; c.f. OKN 328, C&R 48-9].

    Popper’s Kantianism reveals itself most clearly in his view of our senses, which he saw as creative modifiers of incoming data, not as neutral ‘windows on the world’: “Classical epistemology which takes our sense perceptions as ‘given’, as the ‘data’ from which our theories have to be constructed by some process of induction, can only be described as pre-Darwinian. It fails to take account of the fact that the alleged data are … adaptive reactions, and therefore interpretations which incorporate theories and prejudices and which, like theories, are impregnated with conjectural expectations… there can be no pure perception, no pure datum…” [OKN 145].15

    A Fundamental Difficulty

    Popper’s Kantian premise raises enough issues for a book. In this short paper, there is room only for a single objection. Namely, if it is true that our senses are pre-programmed; if it is true that “there is no sense organ in which anticipatory theories are not genetically incorporated” [OKN 72]; then what flows into our minds is determined and what flows out of them is subjective. If our senses are not neutral, if they organise incoming data using pre-set theories built into them by evolution, then they do not provide us with unalloyed information, but only with prescriptions, the content of which is determined by our genetic make up. Whatever is thereafter produced inside our heads – cut off as it is from any objective contact with reality – must be subjective.

    Popper’s Kantian premise thus deprives CR of universality. Since it is ultimately the product of the pre-programmed interpretation of the data which entered Popper’s mind, CR is a theory which can only be applied to Popper. According to his own view of his contact with reality, he would not be able to verify the relevance of CR to anybody else.

    Solipsism looms, yes, but that is a natural consequence of all theories of determinism. For if thought, or the basis of thought, is determined; whether by social class, or the subconscious, or whatever determinant is preferred; then the deterministic theory itself must be determined, according to the theory, and can only be relevant to the person who expounds it. Everybody else is determined by their class, subconscious, genes, material substrate, environment, or whatever it is that is supposed to do the determining. All theories of determinism are, to use Brand Blanshard’s term, ‘self-stultifying.’16

    The objection is analogous to the one raised by Anthony Flew against those philosophers – e.g. Hume and Kant – who claim that we can only have knowledge of our own sense impressions. If sense data are all we can know, solipsism is the inevitable result: “mental images …. are (necessarily) private … and (logically) cannot be accessible to public observation.”17

    Objectivity

    In Unended Quest Popper observed bluntly that “there is no such thing as an unprejudiced observation” [UNQ 51]. Although this appears to rule out the possibility of objectivity, that was not Popper’s intention. Rather, again following Kant perhaps, he thought the basis for objectivity lay elsewhere: “the objectivity of scientific statements lies in the fact that they can be inter-subjectively tested” [LSCD 44]. He later restated this slightly differently: “it is the public character of science… which preserves the objectivity of science” [POH 155-6].

    Unfortunately, these assertions do not bear the weight placed upon them. For if Popper’s Kantian premise were true (i.e., if anticipatory theories are genetically incorporated into our sense organs and, therefore, there is no such thing as an unprejudiced observation) then senses would not cease to be prejudiced merely by being multiplied. The defective logic could hardly be more clear. One cannot offer as an universal affirmative proposition ‘all human senses are prejudiced, i.e. subjective’ then ask one’s readers to accept that pooling the senses of many persons yields objectivity. If senses are subjective individually they are subjective collectively.18

    To conclude under this head, it is plain – even after only a very brief treatment – that Popper’s Kantian premise, far from providing CR with a secure footing, leads instead to insuperable problems . . .

    Again, a fail.

    And when Kantianism is in the stakes, I will point to F H Bradley:

    We may agree, perhaps, to understand by metaphysics an attempt to know reality as against mere appearance, or the study of first principles or ultimate truths, or again the effort to comprehend the universe, not simply piecemeal or by fragments, but somehow as a whole [–> i.e. the focus of Metaphysics is critical studies of worldviews] . . . .

    The man who is ready to prove that metaphysical knowledge is wholly impossible . . . himself has, perhaps unknowingly, entered the arena . . . To say the reality is such that our knowledge cannot reach it, is a claim to know reality ; to urge that our knowledge is of a kind which must fail to transcend appearance, itself implies that transcendence. For, if we had no idea of a beyond, we should assuredly not know how to talk about failure or success. And the test, by which we distinguish them, must obviously be some acquaintance with the nature of the goal. Nay, the would-be sceptic, who presses on us the contradictions of our thoughts, himself asserts dogmatically. For these contradictions might be ultimate and absolute truth, if the nature of the reality were not known to be otherwise . . . [such] objections . . . are themselves, however unwillingly, metaphysical views, and . . . a little acquaintance with the subject commonly serves to dispel [them]. [Appearance and Reality, 2nd Edn, 1897 (1916 printing), pp. 1 – 2; INTRODUCTION. At Web Archive.]

    KF

    When this was put up 100 comments back, you were sneeringly dismissive, and yet, you are clearly showing just how relevant these concerns and critiques are.

    When you go on to build on your favoured authority, this is what you say:

    The thing is, we cannot get new ideas from sense information. This is because it is possible to conjecture an infinite number of “patterns” from sense information. So, the idea that there is a pattern comes *before* the sense information itself. Nor is it out there for us to obtain via sense information.

    This is utterly, blatantly false.

    yes, itis possible to conjure up an endless variety of possible wild fancies on sense data, but we have filtering rules that allow us to make good and responsible sense, such as I see a speeding, out of control car coming down the street.

    there is no good reason that from the infinity of possile errors, we should not be able to infer a reasonable picture of the world. And, we routinely do so, indeed you assumed by writing as you did and posting, that we could observe the text, read it and gain new ideas from one certain CR.

    In short, your scheme is a case of selective hyperskepticism.

    Yes, error is possible, but so is truth, and the mere possibility of error does not entail its actuality.

    Especially, when you seemingly hope to slide in your own views as the implicit exception. Which was an error I pointed out with Deutsch also.

    The name for this manifestation of selective hyperskepticism joined to somehow excepting oneself from the problem is self-reerential incoherence.

    I suggest, you would be well advised to pause and think again.

    KF

  165. 165
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, start with our self-awareness, reflecting our self-evident consciousness which is undeniable. One who attempts to deny — the attempt being an act of conscious thought or speech — is then facing the point: WHO is denying this? Self-referential incoherence. We can go on from there, to being aware of an external world that may have in it cars racing down streets we try to cross. KF

  166. 166
    Origenes says:

    CR @160 wants to discuss self-defeating statements in a more general way. That may be a good idea.

    Popper: “all knowledge is hypothetical” [OKN 30]

    Does that go for your claim as well Popper?
    P: Sure.
    So, what does your claim mean?

    Popper: “All knowledge remains… conjectural” [RASC xxxv]

    [see above]

    Popper: “In so far as scientific statements refer to the world of experience, they must be refutable …” [OSE2 13].

    Assuming that your claim is a scientific statement that refers to the world, I take that it must also be refutable. If so, what does it mean?

    Popper: “The quest for certainty… is mistaken…. though we may seek for truth… we can never be quite certain that we have found it” [OSE2 375]

    But, per your claim, you are not certain about that, so, what, in the blue blazes, is it that you are saying?

    Popper: “No particular theory may ever be regarded as absolutely certain” [OKN 360]

    Are you sure about that? Oh sorry, of course you are not sure. But … if you are not sure, what the !@#$ are you saying?

    Popper: “Precision and certainty are false ideals. They are impossible to attain and therefore dangerously misleading…” [UNQ 24]

    Absolutely “impossible” ….? Certain about that? Ah! Not certain! I see. Of course not! … As you say no theory “can be established neither as certainly true nor even as ‘probable'”. So, not only are you not sure about your claims, you cannot even confirm that they are probable.
    Then what is it that you are saying??

    Popper: “We never know what we are talking about” [UNQ 27].

    Are you completely bereft of all … Oh my god are there no limits?

  167. 167
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    No, that fast moving car approaching is not something you sensed and can gain support for from hearing and seeing. Not even that blaring horn.

    For the umteenth time. That very same process can be far better explained as the idea that you will die when hit by a car has survived significant criticism. Every inductive argument can be reformulated as a deductive argument. Even the example you just made.

    Apparently, you think induction will work in the future because you mistakenly think it worked in the past.

    Furthermore, you still haven’t answered my question.

    For example, of all the trillions of designers we’ve observed, every one of them has had a complex material nervous system. So, would it be an inductive conclusion to say that all designers have complex material nervous systems? Furthermore, organisms have appeared in the order of least complex to most complex. So would it be an inductive conclusion to assume that new organisms more complex than humans will appear?

    Again, this is just what I came up with off the top of my head.

    Yet, I’m guessing you would disagree with each of these things. So, do you disagree because they are not inductive conclusions? If not, then why?

    So, if what you mean by an “inductive conclusion” is one of an infinite number of interpretations of sense information, which did not actually come from a “principle of induction” that could be used in practice, then what does “induction” have to do with anything? Why muddy the water?

  168. 168
    Mung says:

    critical rationalist:

    So, “no-design laws” cannot be the explanation…

    Isn’t that what I said? They serve no explanatory purpose.

    So we are in agreement then.

    You might want to go back and read the paper again.

    Why would I want to read a paper about “no-design laws” that serve no explanatory purpose?

  169. 169
    critical rationalist says:

    Regardless of how weak or limited they are, it’s our explanatory theories, not sense experience. Because it’s simply not possible to interpret observations without first putting them in some kind of explanatory context. Nor are they out there for us to input from sense experience. But by all means, feel free to explain how the would work, in practice.

    For example, from another thread….

    …our current explanation for how stars work indicates a star of the class and size of our sun would have burnt though roughly half of its hydrogen and has roughly 5 billion years remaining. As such, we expect it to rise tomorrow. However, if our explanation for how stars work indicates a star of the class and size of our sun would have burned all of it’s hydrogen in 4 billion years, and would completely wink out when exhausted, we wouldn’t expect it to rise tomorrow, despite the fact that it has risen every day for as long as human beings have been around to observe it.

  170. 170
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, repeating failure does not convert it into success. The Kantian ugly gulch is clearly at work and leads straight to self-referential incoherence. Indeed, it lies behind the several cases Origines laid out above. Similarly, for your dismissal of inductive learning about our situation, where you tried to lock us away from knowledge of that world through experiencing it. Even, as you count on the experience of seeing your arguments to create a new set of ideas you hope will dominate. Lastly, if you have to resort to a process of “criticism” when a car is bearing down on you instead of trusting your senses and the programming that says, get out of the way, you have less sense than some chickens and iguanas I have seen on the local roads — they run away from vehicles on the road. Sorry, to be that direct but it seems nothing else will hit home. KF

  171. 171
    Origenes says:

    KF, CR

    Popper: Classical epistemology which takes our sense perceptions as ‘given’, as the ‘data’ from which our theories have to be constructed by some process of induction, can only be described as pre-Darwinian. It fails to take account of the fact that the alleged data are … adaptive reactions … and therefore … there can be no pure perception, no pure datum…”

    “Alleged data are adaptive reactions ….” says Popper, and this time he does not add self-defeating stuff like “no theory can be established neither as certainly true nor even as ‘probable’”. No, this time he wants us to uncritically accept Darwinism. Because of Darwinism “there can be no pure perception, no pure datum…” This is the basis of Darwinian epistemology guys. This is our rock solid starting point, at least if it is up to Popper.

    So, here is my question: how, in the blue blazes, is it possible that Darwinisme is granted to decide what epistemology should look like? How did evolutionary theory, of all theories, slip through the hypercritical mazes of Popper’s mind? Why should we, on the one hand, uncritically accept a ‘Darwinian epistemology’ and, on the other hand, be expected to doubt everything else?
    What basis is there for Popper’s uncritical surrender to Darwinism? Why is he so convinced? The galapagos finches, perhaps? Haeckel’s embryo drawings?
    Does anyone know?

  172. 172
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, repeating failure does not convert it into success.

    So you disagree with the above comment? You would expect the sun to rise tomorrow even if our best theory of how works indicated it was about to run out of fuel and blink out, because it has risen for the entirely of human experience?

    The Kantian ugly gulch is clearly at work and leads straight to self-referential incoherence.

    So, apparently, you’re in Origines’ camp, in that you’re denying there is a difference between “I’m certain nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible” and “this is a conjecture: nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible”

    The former is indeed a self-referential contraction. However, the latter is not.

    Origines even explicitly puts words in Deutsch’s mouth, when he argued…

    When Deutsch writes “nothing can infallibly tell you what is infallible”, he does not seem to understand that he is being self-referentially incoherent:

    D: No one can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: Sure.
    So … you just told me what is certain?
    D: Yes, I sure did.
    But you said that no one can do this?
    D: Oops.

    Except, “Oops”, Deutsch never said he was “certain”. When you have to resort to putting words in someone’s mouth, the doesn’t bode well for the strength of your argument.

    Furthermore, you are a concrete example of the very thing you deny.

    When presented the idea that no ideas are infallible, what did you do? You presented three examples of supposedly basic beliefs. And how did you select those examples as opposed to other ideas? You criticized them, in relation to all other ideas. The ones that were left were ideas that you lacked good criticism of.

    Of course, feel free to present a different explanation as to why having presented those specific ideas wasn’t an arbitrary choice on your part. I won’t be holding by breath.

    Note: I’ve asked you this question at least half a dozen times, and you have yet to respond. What gives?

    Origines: In order to criticize fallibilism the fallibilist needs another chain of reasoning, another set of beliefs, by which he can judge fallibilism. What he cannot do is judge between truth and falsity based on the system (fallibilism) which is under doubt.

    If the fallibilist were to judge between them infallibility, then yes. But I don’t recall Deutsch saying that either. So, it seems this is yet another example of putting words in his mouth.

    In fact, Popper has said the opposite.

    “There is no criterion of truth at our disposal, and this fact supports pessimism. But we do possess criteria which, if we are lucky, may allow us to recognize error and falsity. Clarity and distinctness are not criteria of truth, but such things as obscurity or confusion may indicate error. Similarly coherence cannot establish truth, but incoherence and inconsistency do establish falsehood. And, when they are recognized, our own errors provide the dim red lights which help us in groping our way out of the darkness of our cave.”

    So, no, we’re not guaranteed to find errors in our theories either.

    Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

    Again, a common and highly flawed strategy to attack a theory one finds objectionable is to present a false version of it then point out how it is false.

    Lastly, if you have to resort to a process of “criticism” when a car is bearing down on you instead of trusting your senses and the programming that says, get out of the way, you have less sense than some chickens and iguanas I have seen on the local roads — they run away from vehicles on the road. Sorry, to be that direct but it seems nothing else will hit home.

    You mean instinct? Well, that knowledge came from variation and criticism as well in the form of natural selection. Again, you’re presenting a cartoon character of criticism by limiting it to just intentional or even conscious criticism, as opposed to, say, unconscious criticism.

    Example? Regardless of how careful we are, it’s always possible for others to misinterpret what we write. Specifically, it’s possible to end up with several different interpretations from what someone wrote. However, more often than not, we end up with just one interpretation by the time we end up reading each sentence.

    How is that even possible?

    Because people subconsciously conjecture a number of possible interpretations and subconsciously criticize them until one is left, based on previous comments, the context of the topic of the post, earlier paragraphs, etc. And that process happens on the fly without us being consciously being aware of it.

    Otherwise, how else do we, more often than not, end up with a single interpretation without performing the time consuming process of explicit criticizing every sentence we read?

    So, again, it would seem that you yourself are an example of the very thing you deny.

  173. 173
    Barry Arrington says:

    KF,

    Your patience as you continue to correct CR in the face of his dogged determination to cling to his incoherence is a wonder to behold. Such as he do not deserve such as you. But we are glad to have you.

  174. 174
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    UB has discovered (actually he already knew) that CR believes that “ability to type” and “ability to argue” mean the same thing.

    But, to paraphrase Capote’s famous take down of Kerouac, “that’s not arguing; that’s typing.”

    If you have a specific criticism, then present it. Otherwise, this is yet even more vague criticism because it’s equally applicable to absolutely anything anyone might write.

    Do you think this strategy would fly at your day job? If not, then why do you think it would fly here? Apparently, you really have a very low of an option of your audience.

    UD Editors: “If you have a specific criticism, then present it.” CR, you are missing (ignoring actually) the point. The point is that when you encounter criticism you invariably simply repeat the claim that was criticized, as if that were a rebuttal to the criticism. Thus, your invitation to criticize your argument is both superfluous (because you have all but ignored previous criticism) and useless (because there is no reason to believe you will respond to further criticism). As KF says, think again and do better.

  175. 175
    critical rationalist says:

    From this article

    Until there is a rival theory, the evidence goes unexplained and is called a problem or maybe a mystery or something like that. But if there is a rival theory then the evidence can be used to decide between the two theories – to decide which is better and which can be said to be false.

    Now here is the key: if we never created a new theory but simply made more and more precise measurements of the position of Mercury – then this would be a problem. We might think: our measurements are wrong. There are lots and lots of results like this all the time in science. This is what makes science great: the countless problems. At the moment we have questions in astronomy alone like: what is dark matter? What is dark energy? Are the laws of physics the same here as they are on the other side of the universe? In each of those cases it could always be the case that the measurements we have made contain errors.

    Did you follow that? Even if our sense experiences matched our theory time and time again, to greater precision, that wouldn’t necessarily mean our observations supported that theory. In fact, it would raise suspicion that our observations were wrong. We expect them to be wrong because our theories start out as conjectures.

    But it also might be the case that our theories are wrong. So back to Newton: imagine yet another piece of evidence came along. Let’s say Newton’s Theory of Gravity does something like make a prediction that when light from a distant star passes by the Sun during a solar eclipse that it should only be bent by “x” amount. Now say we do the measurement. And say it’s not bent by x amount but by 2x amount. Double what is predicted. What then?

    Well the evidence would be mounting against Newton. Still we might think that our measurements are wrong. That we are missing something. But two, quite different, experiments that Newton’s theory cannot account for makes it harder for us to keep thinking that Newton’s theory is the final word on gravity.

    Initially, by the way – if you look at the actual history of this – there were no rivals. The evidence gathered about Mercury and the bending of starlight by the Sun constituted a problem. A mystery. So what was the role of the evidence? Well the role of evidence there is to cry out for an explanation. A creative explanation. In other words a new scientific theory.

    Eventually one did come. It was Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The General Theory of Relativity explained that Newton’s Law of Gravity was an approximation to something else far more – well “General”. The General Theory united ideas about light, and magnetism and electricity (from the special theory) with ideas about space and time (and so gravity). And, here’s the key: it fully accounted for the motion of Mercury and it predicted exactly where light should be when it passed by the Moon during a solar eclipse. It got all those things right.

    And what became the role of the evidence from Mercury and starlight then? The evidence that Mercury was here in position A (as predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity) and not there in position B (as predicted by Newton’s Theory of Gravity) – well the role of evidence there is simple. It’s to decide between those two theories. So at the moment of time in the past – in 1915 when Einstein first published his theory we had, briefly, two theories that purported to explain the nature of gravity. How to decide? Let the evidence decide.

    Now it’s not that the evidence “supported” Einstein. No. It simply rejected Newton. If the “support” idea was true – then what happened to all that support that Newton’s theory of gravity gained over the hundreds of years prior? How can we make sense of that? If it was being “supported” each and every day by observations of the planets in the sky, the tides going in and out, apples falling to the ground – then did all that support count for nothing? That all makes no sense because the entire philosophy of “evidence as support for a theory” is false. Newton’s theory explained all of that stuff about planets, tides and apples in a particular way. And one way of checking how good the explanation was, was to check the predictions. And for a long while they checked out. Until they didn’t. And once they didn’t we had a problem. And once we had another theory, we were able to decide which theory was better and show, definitively, which theory was false – and how.

    It is possible (indeed it is required) that General Relativity is not the final word on gravity. Indeed we know it cannot be the final word because General Relativity makes some predictions about the nature of reality that conflict with what quantum physics says. In other words, these two great theories disagree. So we know neither are the final word. So no evidence “supports” them. It is just that those two theories are the very best scientific theories we have. There is none better, and so no others we can rely on. If you want to build a GPS system, or explain what’s going on in a galaxy far far away – General Relativity is absolutely indispensable. Whatever the “ultimate truth” happens to be – General Relativity is closer to it than anything else we currently know about.

    Does anyone have any specific, detailed criticism of this that isn’t anything more than an inductive argument that induction works because it supposedly worked in the past, or that it’s necessary for us to know things (which basically is restating the definition that knowledge is true, justified belief)?

  176. 176
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    typing is not arguing.

    This thread has been enough to identify the core failure you and your ilk have made with reasoning by induction, failure to recognise that things up to and including our world have a distinct identity that often has core, stable characteristics. Start with distinct identity and its instant corollaries, LOI, LNC, LEM, thus also numbers and properties of relationships among quantities and things that are quantifiable, which already imposes a huge degree of stable consistency on any possible world. No one would be well advised to imagine that the beach apples dropped by a Manchineel tree are sweet and safe to eat (and the tree is not a wise place to seek rain shelter under), per the experience of others.

    This is not even something that a wise person will be willing to further personally explore.

    Something with a distinct identity will often manifest its characteristics, even as a Manchineel tree tends to bear beach apples, aka death apples. (BTW, the latter is reportedly what a certain Cristobal Colon termed them 500 years ago.)

    Similarly, Kantian reasoning with its ugly gulch between the inner world and the outer one, with our inner world projecting an imagined order to the outer one fails the test of self-referential incoherence, leading to self-flsification on this point and what stems from it.

    In that context, your attempt just now to say:

    Does anyone have any specific, detailed criticism of this that isn’t anything more than an inductive argument that induction works because it supposedly worked in the past, or that it’s necessary for us to know things (which basically is restating the definition that knowledge is true, justified belief)?

    . . . is little more than a manifestation of stubborn repetition in hopes that drumbeat repetition helps to make a case seem plausible.

    You seem to have never paid the slightest attention to the point that there is a distinct identity, which strongly tends to have stable characteristics; which then grounds inferring the characteristics from patterns of experience or observation, even provisionally as we may and do err. Otherwise, across time and space, that identity would become meaningless. In that light, we are entitled to expect that our world is like that, having a distinct identity with a core of stable characteristics, which will in relevant parts manifest itself per our experience.

    The alternative is that we live in a chaos in which, say, beach apples will suddenly be great to eat. Maybe, after the year 2100.

    The hyperskpetic then triumphantly announces, oh you cannot tell the difference between beach apples are caustic and beach apples are sauce-tic, caustic up to midnight just before Jan 1 2100. So there! (And yes, this is a version of the so-called Grue paradox.)

    Oh yes we can, and by making reference to the point that induction is argument by support not by demonstration. So, we use the abductive form, contrasting the two hyps. Which is more reasonable per factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power?

    It is instantly apparent that the latter is an ad hoc hyperskpetical hypothesis — artificially constructed to be not subject to reasonable empirical test and dubious relative to the issue of coherence — pivoting on the notion that beach apples and their parent trees do not have a stable, distinct identity that grounds how they will behave across time. Where also, as Manchineel trees and their fruit are contingent beings, it is possible for changes to be effected by causal interventions. Through mutations, a less toxic variety may emerge, even as we have sweet cassava not just the cyanide-laced bitter one. Or, we may deliberately engineer or breed such a variety.

    The notion of chaotic world instability, then is highly suspect.

    Then, we look at the attempt to re-insert a strawman caricature of the OP, suggesting that it is little more than a rehashing of the old Justified, True belief model of knowledge.

    All this reflects is argument in bad faith, refusing to address the explicitly given reason why “justification” has been distinguished from warrant and the reason why there is recognition that we often use the term knowledge in a fallible sense in important contexts, such as science. Warrant — including inductive warrant — provides good cause in the world-community of the life of the mind, that there is credible truth in a claim. That warrant comes in degrees of certainty, in some few cases by self evidence, utterly and unalterably certain. In more, moral certainty that is such that one would be ill advised or irresponsible to treat some X warranted to this degree as if it were false. In many other cases, warrant is on the balance of the evidence leading to prudence, which includes many points of science. Thus, we are to one extent or another able to responsibly accept or view a relevant claim X as true and/or sufficiently reliable to act on it where it counts.

    Thus, the view that knowledge is (in the broader and weaker sense) warranted, credibly true (and reliable) belief. In the stronger sense, the degree of warrant for and confidence in truth and reliability is — due to self evidence and the like — utterly and irreducibly certain. Such points, starting with distinct identity and first principles of right reason, provide a plumbline test for other claims. But we know that we cannot construct a full-orbed worldview on such a small cluster of claims.

    In this light, you would be well advised to change your ways.

    As at now, it is evident that you have manifested a characteristic of argument in poor faith, seemingly here to push an agenda regardless of substantial challenges rather than seriously interact with questions and challenges. This view, I suggest to you, will find strong support from many who have tried to interact with you here at UD for a very long time.

    You come across as one who has taken up a crooked yardstick and made it the standard of accuracy, straightness and being upright. the only solution to such is to test against plumbline standards, and if your view then implies that there are no such, that is a big red warning sign of intellectual captivity to an utterly irrational ideology that locks its victims in and locks reasonable correction out. Where, error exists is one of the key self-evident, utterly certain, plumbline truths. Which then is a counter example to anything that implies that knowledge as understood even to utter certainty in some cases, is real. Including, knowledge of the inner and outer worlds — consciousness is utterly certain knowledge too. And by knowing error exists, we have bridged the ugly gulch already, though in a humbling way.

    It is ill-advised to go over the cliff into ruin.

    I suggest, you should think again.

    KF

    PS: Appeal to instinct is not helpful in a Kantian ugly gulch world, especially when instinctual urges often clash and we must decide on a morally governed basis.

  177. 177
    kairosfocus says:

    Origines, institutional dominance and being the shaping force of the spirit of the age. Imposing, a crooked yardstick as standard of straightness [being true as carpenters and builders put it], accuracy and being upright. KF

  178. 178
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Notice, again, AmHD and the redefinition game on the concept, criticism:

    crit·i·cize (kr?t??-s?z?)
    v. crit·i·cized, crit·i·ciz·ing, crit·i·ciz·es
    v.tr.
    1. To find fault with: criticized the decision as unrealistic. See Usage Note at critique.
    2. To judge the merits and faults of; analyze and evaluate: criticizes art for a living.
    v.intr.
    To act as a critic.
    crit?i·ciz?a·ble adj.
    crit?i·ciz?er n.
    Synonyms: criticize, censure, condemn, denounce, decry
    These verbs mean to express an unfavorable judgment. Criticize can mean merely to evaluate without necessarily finding fault; however, usually the word implies the expression of disapproval: formed a panel to criticize the students’ works; was angry when his parents criticized the way he dressed.
    Censure refers to the often formal pronouncement of strong criticism: “[He] censured from the pulpit what many others have welcomed as a much-needed religious awakening” (John Edgar Wideman).
    Condemn usually applies to harsh moral judgment: “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant and so devastating that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated” (Robert H. Jackson).
    Denounce and decry imply public proclamation of condemnation or repudiation: “Fictionalizing in the writing of biography … has been largely denounced by critics … and teachers” (Margaret Bush).”The worship of the senses has often, and with much justice, been decried” (Oscar Wilde).
    American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

    No criticism without a critic capable of critical judgement.

    KF

  179. 179
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, we have here a test case that lets us understand some of the ways our critics think. I doubt that this performance we are seeing from CR commends itself to the hypothetical reasonable onlooker. And it surfaces what lurks beneath the veneer of rationality and sophistication of all too many of our critics. See, we are not making up straw-critics, this is what they are like in some key cases, live. KF

  180. 180
    Dionisio says:

    KF,

    A very heated discussion has catapulted this thread up to a position among the most visited recently.

    The title of your timely OP is “What is knowledge?”

    There’s a comment about knowledge @15.

    Science is based on limited but constantly expanding knowledge about this universe and world.

    EugeneS posted this quote @33 in another thread:
    “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” -Max Planck
    [https://uncommondescent.com/mind/can-ai-become-just-like-us/#comment-641489]

    Biology research is moving ahead at accelerated pace, increasingly revealing more complex functionally specified informational complexity that can only be the product of an absolutely powerful mind.

    No one has arguments strong enough to debate this.

    Our increasing knowledge of the biological systems confirms everyday that the gross macroevolutionary extrapolation made from microevolutionary processes is doomed to an embarrassing failure.

    Just wait and see.

    We ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    The most fascinating discoveries are still ahead.

    The most important knowledge we can have is referenced @7.

  181. 181
    Dionisio says:

    Our knowledge increases. What’s the limit?

    As outstanding questions get answered, new interrogations are raised.

    Unending Revelation of the Ultimate Reality. (c)

    At the end of the day the whole discussion boils down to the radical difference between two irreconcilable opposite worldview positions:

    On one extreme the ones who believe that all is based on matter and energy.

    Some of us believe that the ultimate reality is defined in the first few verses of the first chapter of the fourth book in the NT.

    That’s why the most important knowledge one can posses is referenced @7.

  182. 182
    Dionisio says:

    Here’s an example of what’s going on in relation to knowledge accumulation in biology:

    This 5-year old insightful paper -coauthored by the distinguished professor Yukiko Yamashita:

    “Asymmetric stem cell division: precision for robustness”

    is cited by 35 Pubmed Central articles, but according to researchgate it is cited by 63 papers.

    Many of the citing papers are cited somewhere else too.

    Where’s the end of this chain?

  183. 183
    Origenes says:

    CR @172

    CR:

    Origenes:
    D: No one can tell you what is certain.
    Is that certain?
    D: Sure.
    So … you just told me what is certain?
    D: Yes, I sure did.
    But you said that no one can do this?
    D: Oops.

    Except, “Oops”, Deutsch never said he was “certain”. When you have to resort to putting words in someone’s mouth, the doesn’t bode well for the strength of your argument.

    Okay, Deutsch never said he was “certain”, so, we get the following exchange:
    – – – –
    D: This is my claim: “No one can tell you what is certain.”
    Is your claim certain?
    D: No, my claim is not certain.
    Is your claim probable?
    D: You should know better than to ask me this. Did you not read my article where it is clearly stated, that no one can tell you “what is probable”? So, no, I cannot tell you that it is probable either.
    So you cannot tell me that your claim is certain and you can also not tell me that your claim is probable.
    D: That’s right.
    Are you sure?
    D: Well, of course not! Are you not listening?
    So what does your claim mean? What are you saying?
    D: Oops

  184. 184
    critical rationalist says:

    @ Origenes

    Okay, Deutsch never said he was “certain”, so, we get the following exchange:
    […]

    – So what does your claim mean? What are you saying?
    D: Oops

    And you’ve done it again. Deutsch explained what it would mean to be fallible about fallibilism in #32. That you have to pretend that he didn’t doesn’t bode well for your argument.

    For your convenience…

    The trouble is that error is a subject where issues such as logical paradox, self-reference, and the inherent limits of reason rear their ugly heads in practical situations, and bite.

    Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things. For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

    “Oops” comes from your belief that, unless we can be certain something is true or probably true, then it’s not knowledge. Yet that is exactly not what Deutsch is saying.

    Again, Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

  185. 185
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    This thread has been enough to identify the core failure you and your ilk have made with reasoning by induction, failure to recognise that things up to and including our world have a distinct identity that often has core, stable characteristics.

    Merely repeating this claim isn’t helpful, as there is a problem you keep ignoring. I mentioned it in regards to Dyke in #69

    Even if we grant that was true, how would you know of those core characteristics were, under what conditions do you expect them to be stable? What good is saying if something were an A it would be an A, if your don’t have access to that knowledge? And if they were stable, caterpillars would never turn into butterflies, etc.

    I keep bringing this up, yet you keep ignoring it, then claim I’ve failed.

    Popper calls what you’re describing essentialism.

    Anti-essentialism is a Popperian idea that many people are either unaware of or do not understand. Many people are essentialists, particularly people who think they understand philosophy, but essentialism is a bad mistake. There are two separate ideas that Popper criticises. (1) Essentialism is the idea that reality consists of ultimate essences and we ought to try to explain what we see in terms of ultimate essences. (2) There is another closely connected idea: we ought to define our terms before we start a discussion otherwise we might get lost.

    Let’s take point (1) first. Suppose that reality does consist of ultimate essences. Whatever they are we don’t have direct access to them and so the idea that we should use them seems to require knowledge we don’t have. What would an explanation in terms of essences look like? We start with terms like “cat” and then define the essence of a cat by listing all the features that all cats have in common: whiskers, weird looking eyes, make meowing noises and so on. We would then take all of the cat features and use them to explain what cats do. The problem is that each time we define an essence we use many undefined terms and so we would have to define the new undefined terms and we would get into an infinite regress without ever explaining anything. Nor can definitions reduce ambiguity, as mentioned in point (2): every definition we introduce uses undefined ambiguous terms.

    Popper suggests that a better way of thinking about definitions is that a defined terms should be used as shorthand for a longer description: methodological nominalism. So instead of saying “negatively charged particle with spin-1/2 and about 1/1000 the mass of a proton” we say “electron” as a shorthand.

    Furthermore, if we try to explain things in terms of ultimate essences we might be tempted to think the ideas we have tell us what the essences are and that would be bad because we might be wrong. An example of this: I have seen some philosophical discussions in which the participants start the discussion by defining knowledge as justified true belief and discussing that definition. The discussion didn’t go anywhere because there was nowhere for it to go: the problem had been set up in such a way that it was completely unsolvable.

    Sound familiar?

    Second, you’ve personally referred to Goodman’s new riddle of induction, when you mentioned grue, which illustrates the problem with this idea. That an emerald is either green or grue is equally supported by the very same sense input.

    How can we proceed? By referring to explanations, such as optics, geometry, not induction and dictionary definitions.

  186. 186
    Origenes says:

    CR @184

    This feels like stealing candy from a baby.

    Deutsch: Paradoxes seem to appear when one considers the implications of one’s own fallibility: A fallibilist cannot claim to be infallible even about fallibilism itself. And so, one is forced to doubt that fallibilism is universally true. Which is the same as wondering whether one might be somehow infallible—at least about some things.

    Not quite right Deutsch. Fallibilism, as the belief that “all knowledge is suspect”, is simply self-defeating or meaningless at best:

    1. All knowledge is suspect.
    2. “All knowledge is suspect” is knowledge.
    Therefore, from (1) and (2)
    3. It is suspect that “all knowledge is suspect”.
    Therefore
    4. “All knowledge is suspect” is either self-defeating or meaningless.

    But don’t let that stop you Deutsch. Carry on.

    Deutsch: For instance, can it be true that absolutely anything that you think is true, no matter how certain you are, might be false?

    Ah! a simple question. No Deutsch. No, that cannot be true, because, that would be yet another self-defeating statement:

    1. Everything I think is true is false.
    2. “Everything I think is true is false” is something that I think.
    Therefore, from (1) and (2)
    (3) “Everything I think is true is false” is false.
    Therefore
    (4) Not everything I think is false.

    Deutsch: What? How might we be mistaken that two plus two is four? Or about other matters of pure logic? That stubbing one’s toe hurts? That there is a force of gravity pulling us to earth? Or that, as the philosopher René Descartes argued, “I think, therefore I am”?

    Well go on Deutsch. Why don’t you answer your own questions? What are you waiting for? Tell us about the fallibility of “2 + 2 = 4” and “I think, therefore I am.” Tell us that you may not exist.

  187. 187
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    No criticism without a critic capable of critical judgement.

    From this video

    Fallibilism is the philosophical position that all human endeavors , attempts to create knowledge or achieve anything, are subject error that there’s no such thing as a guarantee that a project to create something new will succeed. And in the case of knowledge, having got something that you consider knowledge there’s no such thing as a foundation which if it’s put on that foundation is guaranteed to be true – no such thing as a foundation such that if it’s put on that foundation it is guaranteed to be probable or anything like that….

    On the other hand, fallibilism also says the very idea that we are subject to error implies that there is such a thing as being right – there such a thing as the truth and that we can sometimes find some of this truth.

    So fallibilism, as I understand it, is a fundamentally optimistic positive world view… Although it’s it says we are subject to error, the closer we look at that for example if you look at it’s negation which is that there are some things that are infallible some people that are infallible that’s that’s all very pessimistic and and frightening kind of take to have on the world.

    Taking that seriously, that means the project of finding errors in an idea may not only take years, decades, centuries, millennia, etc. It might fail completely. Since the contents of new theories do not come from observations, we might completely fail to conceive of alternate explanatory theories. Or we might decide that some ideas are not subject to criticism, etc.

    Again, Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

  188. 188
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, that is now looking a lot like an attempt to make a cheap turnabout projection to dismiss what you have not cogently answered. Which is why BA pointed to the difference between arguing and typing. FYI, for anyone but the willfully blind (observe, the issue of the crooked yardstick), we live in a world with an orderly reality connected to its distinct identifying characteristics, not a chaos that is utterly unpredictable; something we rely upon day by day to simply live. That very predictability is why we so confidently know apples are safe to eat but beach apples are destructively caustic (though apparently sweet at first bite). Likewise, we can safely rely on gravity, on air and many other things. That has to be accounted for reasonably and responsibly. Per inference to the best explanation, such a pattern of order traces to ordering principles connected to the core characteristics of our world. Notions that consistently end in self referential incoherence (thanks Origines) and/or open the door to the presumption of grand delusion regarding reality, can be safely dismissed. That’s why the Grue paradox, so called, is not a serious option, it would turn the world into an unstable unintelligible chaos. And, beneath too much of your argument against what you seem to regard as a dirty word, induction, is what sounds more and more like unwillingness to accept the world as it is, including that we may know in part and will likely err in part, so we must be open to learn better . . . which only makes sense if we can indeed learn and know. Please, think again. KF

  189. 189
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    Furthermore, you are a concrete example of the very thing you deny.

    When presented the idea that no ideas are infallible, what did you do? You presented three examples of supposedly basic beliefs. And how did you select those examples as opposed to other ideas? You criticized them, in relation to all other ideas. The ones that were left were ideas that you lacked good criticism of.

    Of course, feel free to present a different explanation as to why having presented those specific ideas wasn’t an arbitrary choice on your part. I won’t be holding by breath.

    Note: I’ve asked you this question at least half a dozen times, and you have yet to respond. What gives?

    Still waiting….

  190. 190
    kairosfocus says:

    CR,

    Do you not see that fallibilism is little more than self referentially incoherent skepticism? Let me clip:

    Fallibilism is the philosophical position that all human endeavors , attempts to create knowledge or achieve anything, are subject error that there’s no such thing as a guarantee that a project to create something new will succeed.

    Including itself?

    And including that judgement, and so on to infinite regress?

    Do you not see how this becomes self-refuting?

    We can instead simply start with Errors exist, E. Try the denial, ~E, which is in effect it is an error to suggest that errors exist. This last is self-defeating, leading immediately to the conclusion that we have here a self-evident truth, E, which is undeniable.

    This is a point of utterly certain knowledge, one that bridges to the world as errors include that descriptions of the world, and it shows that we can know truth to utter certainty in some cases. So any species of fallibilism that does not leave room for certain truths known beyond possibility of error, specifically self-evident truths, is futile.

    Deutsch et al are grossly mistaken, but seem to be clinging to a crooked yardstick and will not yield to the voice of the plumbline in correction.

    KF

  191. 191
    Origenes says:

    KF @190

    KF: Do you not see that fallibilism is little more than self referentially incoherent skepticism? Let me clip:

    Fallibilism is the philosophical position that all human endeavors , attempts to create knowledge or achieve anything, are subject error that there’s no such thing as a guarantee that a project to create something new will succeed.

    Including itself?

    And including that judgement, and so on to infinite regress?

    Do you not see how this becomes self-refuting?

    This nails it. Swirling into the abyss of emptiness without end. As Roger Scruton puts it, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.”

  192. 192
    critical rationalist says:

    FYI, for anyone but the willfully blind (observe, the issue of the crooked yardstick), we live in a world with an orderly reality connected to its distinct identifying characteristics, not a chaos that is utterly unpredictable; something we rely upon day by day to simply live.

    And there we have it. It’s obvious! Anyone who isn’t blind knows this. We can see it’s happening now and has happened in the past, so it must work, despite being irrational.

    For the umpteenth time, saying someone is confused about what knowledge is and how it grows is not saying there is absolutely no knowledge or that it does not grow! This is a false dilemma that you keep presenting.

    Again, is there no one willing to actually address the argument being made?

    Example?

    KF: That’s why the Grue paradox, so called, is not a serious option, it would turn the world into an unstable unintelligible chaos. And, beneath too much of your argument against what you seem to regard as a dirty word, induction, is what sounds more and more like unwillingness to accept the world as it is, including that we may know in part and will likely err in part, so we must be open to learn better . . . which only makes sense if we can indeed learn and know.

    What did I actually say?

    How can we proceed? By referring to explanations, such as optics, geometry, not induction and dictionary definitions.

    IOW, the idea that we cannot make progress without induction is your idea, not mine. You keep projecting that idea on me.

  193. 193
    critical rationalist says:

    Do you not see how this becomes self-refuting?

    No I don’t. Apparently, you’re still confused.

    Example?

    This nails it. Swirling into the abyss of emptiness without end. As Roger Scruton puts it, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.”

    See above. Saying someone is confused about what knowledge is and how it grows is not saying there is absolutely no knowledge or that it does not grow!

    Again,

    Furthermore, if we try to explain things in terms of ultimate essences we might be tempted to think the ideas we have tell us what the essences are and that would be bad because we might be wrong. An example of this: I have seen some philosophical discussions in which the participants start the discussion by defining knowledge as justified true belief and discussing that definition. The discussion didn’t go anywhere because there was nowhere for it to go: the problem had been set up in such a way that it was completely unsolvable.

    Seem familiar?

  194. 194
    critical rationalist says:

    Not quite right Deutsch. Fallibilism, as the belief that “all knowledge is suspect”, is simply self-defeating or meaningless at best:

    The idea that it would be self-defeating or meaningless assumes that knowledge is true, justified belief, which is not Deutsch’s position. That’s your position, and the very thing that is in question. You’re projecting that on Deutsch.

    Again, Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

    Or perhaps the title of the OP isn’t a real question directed at me, which is what I asked earlier. If not, how have you justified the idea that knowledge is true, justified belief?

  195. 195

    CR,

    And I corrected you in that it is only high-fidelity replication requires the translation system.

    When did you get around to responding to this?

    I think it might have been around April or May.

    If you can’t point to it, then why don’t you summarize it?

    Sure, why not? We can pretend that the last 9 months didn’t happen, and then when I am through, you can go back to dissembling about quantum memory, induction, explanations having reach, and the rest of your war on science and reason.

    We can start by summarizing the core physical requirements of the system we are trying to explain: an autonomous self-replicator with open-ended potential (i.e. it can describe itself or any variation of itself).

    The system requires:

    1) a sequence of representations in a medium of information.

    2) a set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented.

    3) a system of discontinuous association between representations and referents, based on spatial orientation (i.e. a reading-frame code)

    4) functional coordination (semantic closure) between two sets of sequences; the first set establishes the constraints that are necessary to interpret the representations, and the second set establishes a system whereby the representations and their constraints are brought together in the specify way required to produce a functioning end product – an autonomous self-replicator. Coordination is required because changes to the first set affect the second set.

    Did you follow all that? You have to have a medium of information, representations, constraints, discontinuous association, a reading-frame code, and semantic closure in order to create a material system capable of Darwinian evolution. Each interdependent piece has a physical manifestation, and each brings a critical capacity to the system.

    So … when you remove the translation machinery in order to simplify the system (to meet your ideological requirements), you remove the capacity of the system to specify objects among alternatives. You remove the physical capacities that are enabled only by having a medium of information organized within a system (i.e. RNA, for instance, is only a medium of information when it is organized as such, otherwise it’s just another molecule with its particular characteristics, determined by energy). In other words, you remove the very system that enables Darwinian evolution to exist, not to mention removing the very thing that enables biological organization in the first place.

    Thus, what are you then left with? You are left with a system that can only organize itself based upon the energy of the individual and collective components in the system (i.e. your “no-design laws”). But, magnetism does not establish a medium of information. Thermodynamics does not create a reading-frame code. Dissipative processes do not coordinate semantic closure among unrelated sequences of symbols. In other words, you have nothing but your prior assumptions.

    So now that we have a lay of the land, we can take a look at your claims:

    Claim #1: Darwinian evolution is the source of the translation apparatus.

    This claim is dead on arrival. The only way to resuscitate this claim is through a) massive equivocation of terms, and b) abject denial of molecular science. In other words, it’s right up your alley.

    Claim #2: Only high fidelity replication requires translation.

    You need to get your head straight. The simpler system you are talking about is not a semiotic system that merely operates with poor fidelity, it is a non-semiotic system that operates by pure dynamics. It doesn’t establish a medium of information; it cannot specify objects among alternatives, and it obviously cannot achieve semantic closure. In an effort to save your theory, you can certainly start to equivocate on terms like “specify” and “medium of information”, but at the end of the day, the only thing that such an entity can lead to (be the source of) will be determined solely by dynamics. Thus, I asked you the clarifying question: Does the non-semiotic system you assume preceded and created the semiotic system have to specify the semiotic system that follows it? If so, then how does it do that?

    You have no response to that question that doesn’t also include repeating your claim and assuming its true.

    The bottom line is that there is no conceivable environment at the origin of life on Earth that inanimate matter operating under physical law (your “no-design laws” for crying out loud) where purely dynamic properties such as electromagnetism, hydrophobicity, etc., will push and pull and cajole molecules and constituents into simultaneously creating a sequence of symbolic representations, interpretive constraints, a system of discontinuous association, a reading frame code, and semantic closure. In short, the issues surrounding the origin of a semiosis in the cell are not about “fidelity”, they are about organization instead.

    Just like I told you months ago.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Now I am happy to step away, and you can return to your spineless war on reality.

  196. 196
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, regrettably, you love to project “assumption” as a dismissive epithet. No, on ordinary meanings of words and remarks using words, Deutsch’s remarks are self-referential, they necessarily include the utterer in the set they refer to. Such remarks, philosophers warn us against as they are apt to question begging and/or self-contradiction. As Origenes has repeatedly shown, and as I have too and likely others, Deutsch’s remarks are repeatedly self-referentially incoherent and/or meaningless through that reference. Which provides warrant for rejecting them as ever making a meaningful, much less an accurate description of features of reality. Thus, per the direct logic of being definitively not true per reductio ad absurdum, they are necessarily false. this has nothing to do with “assuming” that knowledge is justified true belief, which no one in-thread has defended. Per Gettier counter-examples, one may be justified in a belief which is not knowledge, as was also discussed above. beliefs are perceptions and opinions, and without belief there is not knowledge, but belief does not suffice. We need further, warrant as credibly true and reliable, to get to weak form knowledge. For strong form knowledge, we need warrant that delivers utter certainty of truth and reliability. That is an explanation in brief, it is not an assumption. Later, I think I will pause and dissect the definition you have proffered as a substitute, showing why it is dependent on the just mentioned and why it is inferior. KF

    PS: The examples of key self-evident beliefs I used were chosen for obvious reasons, which have long been given just ignored. The triple first principles of right reason . . . LOI, LNC, LEM . . . tied to the nature of distinct identity are recognised as the start-point of logic from the days of Aristotle. If you are ignorant of this, you are ill-equipped to take on this matter. Distinct identity, requires A vs ~A, thus implies twoness, and by contrast one-ness and zero emerge. Mix in the von Neumann construction and you necessarily lay out the endlessness of the naturals. That is basic set theory. As for the principle error exists, this was identified in C19 by Josiah Royce, a significant philosopher; and, was popularised in C20 by Elton Trueblood. But that is not where it gets its force from, ~ who-sed-it. But instead, error exists, E is such that ~E, its attempted denial, is necessarily false and therefore E is necessarily and undeniably, self-evidently true. I notice that you seem to have great difficulty even typing those words. I am not saying basic or properly basic beliefs but self-evident truths. truth says of what is, that it is and of what is not that it is not, comes from Aristotle in metaphysics 1011b, but gains its force from its utter aptness. That consciousness is undeniably true is of like character as that E is self-evident — to deny it is an act of conscious thought or speech and so its denial is futile, and probably was made prominent through the likes of Descartes. beyond, I think it was Aristotle who defined a true nothing, non-being as what rocks dream of. It is the Angelic Doctor, Aquinas, who emphasised that little errors at the beginning produce grave consequences in schemes of thought as they flow on down from those springs of error.

  197. 197
    kairosfocus says:

    UB, dead on target (not merely a loose straddle), heavy gunfire at maximum rate please. KF

  198. 198
    Dionisio says:

    KF, Origenes, UB,
    You guys impress me with your patience to deal with your politely dissenting interlocutors

  199. 199
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, 30:

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

    This needs to be addressed on points:

    >>Knowledge is information>>

    1 –> Only when knowledge is specifically coded will it be information in the sense of a string of characters in a readable frame.

    2 –> Often knowledge is intuitive, an implicit pattern that is recognised and used without being articulated in a coded form, e.g. knowing someone’s peculiar voice.

    3 –> Similarly, many perceptions or beliefs are knowledge, e.g. of the threat posed by a car hurtling down a road towards you as you try to cross.

    >> that, when embedding in a storage medium,>>

    4 –> Code/representation centric again, and codes are themselves sophisticated expressions of knowledge, i.e. perilously close to question-begging.

    >> plays a causal role>>

    5 –> Stored information is passive, there is need to have active machinery for reading and using it, driving effectors.

    6 –> this begs the questions UB has put on the table again and again regarding the architecture of cybernetic systems.

    >>in being retained.>>

    7 –> this again ducks the points that are pivotal.

    8 –> Information as coded or modulated and stored etc is passive, and it is a wider system of processing that gives it effect.

    9 –> When information in a system contributes to the system’s success, it is likely to be retained, but that is utterly different from that information being true or well warranted as credibly true. This is a key to modelling theory, models are successful simplifications of or metaphors for reality that may foster easier decisions and actions that can be successful without being true or even approximately true. think of electronic circuit models or economic models or the use of gear trains in a planetarium.

    10 –> If stored information is somehow functional as processed and applied and so contributes to system success, this points to reliability, not to truth or to warrant or to knowledge.

    11 –> System effectiveness is not truth or warrant as credibly true.

    12 –> But CR will dismiss such a reference, so why do I make it?

    13 –> Because of what he is diverting attention from. Knowledge is a term of language, and refers to a particular phenomenon that is commonly experienced and observed. Thus, there is a question of basic accuracy of concept.

    14 –> Namely, knowledge is associated with knowers, who claim to know things they believe . . . perceive, strongly accept, firmly opine . . . are true or are at least credibly true and reliable enough to bank on when something of high value is at risk, up to and including life.

    15 –> But belief is not knowledge, it is a component of it.

    16 –> For belief to move into knowledge territory, it has to be adequately warranted as being credibly true and reliable, or even in the strong form as utterly certainly true and reliable.

    17 –> Such warrant needs not be fully held by the knower, nor must s/he — it is conscious agents who know — hold the full argument or demonstration that warrants, it is enough that s/he holds on good authority that in turn is well founded in its claims.

    18 –> We do this when we routinely look up words in dictionaries etc.

    19 –> Founded is another trigger word, I simply point out that warrant comes in chains that for us finite knowers must be finite, and must not be circular, i.e. we start from finitely remote good first principles, observations, facts etc.

    20 –> These must be able to hold their own on factual adequacy, coherence, reliability, ability to predict, coherence, explanatory power etc. Try mathematics out for size.

    21 –> Such knowledge may well be reduced to coded form and embedded into systems that then can effect actions using that information and will perhaps be reliably successful by some measure. Thus there will be little reason to make changes in that information as such.

    22 –> But this is all engineering, obviously downstream of what makes it knowledge.

    23 –> In attempting to create what looks like an operational definition, we have a failure due to question-begging and distraction from the actual core meaning of the matter. Sad but unsurprising.

    KF

  200. 200
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, do we or do we not live in a generally orderly and reasonably predictable world in which we have days and nights, seasons, hot and cold cycles, a frame of natural law studied in Physics, Chemistry and so forth, the reliability that food will be food and water will be water etc? If you are reduced to attempted mockery and projecting accusations or insinuations of question-begging in response to such an observation, then you are simply out of touch with reality. Your problems begin long before you get to debates such as the above, in short. Please, think again. KF

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Can we regard scientific theories as factual knowledge?

    This is a deep challenge, especially on the so-called pessimistic induction that historically theories in effect have hidden sell-by dates. That is, theories show more of a track record of replacement (sometimes presented as refinement) than we are comfortable with.

    A first answer is that a theory, from the abductive angle, is a “best current explanatory framework,” often involving dynamics which may be deterministic or stochastic (or tempered by stochastic factors), and may be empirically reliable in a known or unknown range of circumstances. The turn of C20 surprises faced by Newtonian dynamics have been a major lesson.

    The import is, that often theories are more like models that are “useful fictions”(with perhaps a few grains of deep truth in them) than descriptions of factors at work in reality that are all credibly true. This becomes especially so where theories address remote reaches of space or time where we cannot directly observe the actual circumstances. In these cases, we are limited to observations of traces of the circumstances, and we make models of the place and time, we have not got direct checks.

    Scientific simulations or scenarios and visualisations tied to such, then become even more remote from the right to claim credible truth.

    Of course, actual credible observations are much better as candidates for credible and reliable truth claims.

    Such suggests that we need to be far more circumspect in our evaluation of scientific theories than we are sometimes wont to be, e.g. the tendency to say of climate dynamics models and projected developments of climate under human impact, that the science is “settled,” or that those who hold appropriate background — or even laymen expressing concerns — and raise questions on key issues are “deniers.”

    The future is beyond current observations, so while we may be well advised to act with prudence, we should not exaggerate our knowledge claims on the future.

    Similarly, we should be cautious about exoplanet studies and especially artistic renderings of suggested planets. These are — with a few exceptions — not direct observations, they are inferred from gravitational effects. We may be confident that planetary objects are there and may infer they are terrestrial or gas giant etc, but we should be cautious.

    Reconstructions of the past of the cosmos, our solar system and planet, as well as the history of life are also beyond direct observation and should be presented with due cautions. Evidence such as the detection of clear cases of dinosaur soft tissues from a claimed 65+ MYA, should give us pause. And if there are cases where the smell of death/decay is still there, that should give us pause. I know there is a recent headline on a Triceratops horn being dated to 30+ kYA, but that should be taken with a grain of salt for the moment too.

    When it comes to wider senses of science such as Economics, we should be even more cautious. Even something like GDP or an unemployment rate is a calculation not an observation. Often useful, but use with due caution.

    I begin to suggest that we view theories more like models of high reliability that we hope capture something significant regarding the true dynamics of our world, but we are less than certain of that. The theories may be part of the body of knowledge of a field of study, but that is a matter of observing the field of study as itself a phenomenon subject to observation and evaluation. The credible truthfulness of the contents of a given theory and its key objects or processes and laws etc are something that we should likely take a very eclectic case by case view on. No-one has actually directly observed an electron, but we are highly confident that these entities exist, never mind weird quantum properties of such a “wavicle.” We can make a much better case for more or less observing an atom, given scanning techniques.

    The remote future, or remote reaches of space or the remote past of origins, we do not directly observe. We would be well advised to be cautious, and to bear in mind the limitations of inductive methods of investigation.

    Ironically, on the design inference debates, the reality of something like FSCO/I and its empirically observed origin are far better observed than the suggested deep-time powers of chance variation and differential reproductive success. But institutional power makes a big difference on how things are perceived. Which, is yet another caution: scientific “consensus” or the ex cathedra statements of august panels and their publicists should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Science at its best is openly provisional and open-ended.

    KF

  202. 202
  203. 203
    critical rationalist says:

    UB: We can start by summarizing the core physical requirements of the system we are trying to explain: an autonomous self-replicator with open-ended potential (i.e. it can describe itself or any variation of itself).

    The system we are trying to explain is the relatively recent, cell, which is capable of high-fidelity replication. Namely, when a cell replicates it first makes a copy of the recipe of which transformations of raw materials (matter) are required to make copy of itself. Then it performs those transformations to make a copy of the vehicle from that same recipe. This is contrast to replication in the form of making an atom by atom copy of an entire, previously existing cell, already constructed. This is a key point as if the cell performed a copy of itself in its entity, any damage it incurred during its lifetime would be coped as well. Nor is there is no way to perform error correction by on a vehicle only cell as that requires a recipe for which to compare and correct the entire end result, which would be exponentially more difficult at that stage anyway. To allow for error correction, the recipe must also contain which transformations to perform to correct errors that occur. And the recipe must be stored in such a way that the information it contains is in digital form. This is in contrast to analog information storage (or analog computers), which is not self correcting and fidelity is subject to even slight amounts of drift. All of these things are required for high-fidelity replication.

    Now, on to the question of “what are the core physical requirements” for this system we are trying to explain. If only there was some problem or criticism that motivated people to actually work on this very question in detail?

    What about Von Neumann? While he pioneered the key concept of replicator-vehicle logic described above, his attempt to provide the design of an actual self-reproducer, in the terms of atoms and microscopic interaction was unsuccessful.

    However, fortunately for us there is indeed such a problem. Just as it had brought challenges to our most fundamental theories of information, some members of the scientific community suggested specific aspects of quantum mechanics brought a challenge to our theory of life in that it was incompatible with self-replication. Specifically, they posited some “biotonic” laws, containing the design of organisms or some key aspect of self-replicators, must supplement quantum mechanics. Why?

    From section 1 of this paper

    But even more striking is that living cells can self-reproduce to high accuracy in a variety of environments, reconstructing the vehicle afresh, under the control of the genes, in all the intricate details necessary for gene replication. This is prima facie problematic under no-design laws: how can those processes be so accurate, without their design being encoded in the laws of physics? This is why some physicists – notably, Wigner and Bohm, [12], [13] – have even claimed that accurate self-reproduction of an organism with the appearance of design requires the laws of motion to be “tailored” for the purpose – i.e., they must contain its design [12].

    These claims, stemming from the tradition of incredulity that living entities can be scientifically explained, [14], highlight a problem. The theory of evolution must be supplemented by a theory that those physical processes upon which it relies are provably compatible with no-design laws of physics. No such theory has been proposed; and those claims have not been properly refuted.

    Note that the term “no-design laws” refers a set of “core physical requirements” (our current laws of physics, including quantum mechanics). It’s not a new set of laws. Rather, it’s referring to existing, general purpose laws and resources, that are not design-specific. In fact it’s the absence of a new set of yet to be proposed laws that somehow contain the design of self replicating cells, already present.

    While this was not specifically directed at ID or UB’s claims (there are no alternative theories to Neo-darwinism, including ID, because there has yet to be proposed a critical test for which ID can explain the same phenomena at least as well, let alone any critical difference indicated in any yet to be proposed critical test. Nor does merely pointing out a problem in Neo-darwinism result in creating a new theory. [see #175]), it is still relevant to the question at hand. This because this criticism results in asking the question: which physical laws (“core physical requirements”) are compatible with high-fidelity replication.

    (This more fundamental question is key because, even if we could go back in time and watch life appear and evolve into the biosphere we see today, one could always retreat to the claim that the design of critical aspects of self replicating cells, or even all organisms, was already preset in the laws of physics, at the outset. This would be like the claim of “front loading” but at the laws of physics, rather than the genome.)

    So, why had no theory yet to have been presented to supplement neo-Darwinism, properly refuting those claims?

    Indeed, the central problem here – i.e., whether and under what circumstances accurate self-reproduction and replication are compatible with no-design laws – is awkward to formulate in the prevailing conception of fundamental physics, which expresses everything in terms of predictions given some initial conditions and laws of motion.
    This mode of explanation can only approximately express emergent notions such as the appearance of design, no-design laws, etc.

    This is why Von Neumann was unsuccessful and is yet another reason why the paper doesn’t merely attempt to predict anything specific, such as the appearance of a goat, is true or probably true, given some initial conditions and the laws of motion.
    ?What we need is a way to express the “core physical requirements” of the system, along with concepts such as the appearance of design, information, no-design laws, etc, in exact terms, as apposed to approximations.

    The prevailing conception also forces a misleading formulation of the problem, as: what initial conditions and laws of motion must (or must probably) produce accurate replicators and self-reproducers (with some probability)? But what is disputed is whether such entities are possible under no-design laws.
    More generally, it cannot express the very explanation provided by evolutionary theory – that living organisms can have come about without intentionally being designed. It would have aimed at proving that they must occur, given certain initial conditions and dynamical laws.
    To overcome these problems I resort to a newly proposed theory of physics, constructor theory. [16, 17, 18]. It provides a new mode of explanation, expressing all laws as statements about which transformations are possible, which are impossible and why.
    This brings counterfactual statements into fundamental physics, which is key to the solution. The explanation provided by the theory of evolution is already constructor-theoretic: it is possible that the appearance of design has been brought about without intentionally being designed; so is our problem: are the physical processes essential to the theory of evolution – i.e., self- reproduction, replication and natural selection – possible under no-design laws?

    Our motivation to answer the very question UB asked, which “core physical requirements are necessary”, is where constructor theory comes into play.

    Constructor Theory’s mode of explanation also delivers an exact physical expression of the notions of the appearance of design, no-design laws, and of the logic of self-reproduction and natural selection.(5)?

    However, it seems that UB isn’t really serious about finding out what those “core physical requirements” are as he appears to be willing to settle for incomplete approximations. This would be like settling for Newton’s laws of motion with is much more of an approximation than Einstein’s more fundamental general relativity.

    Example? UB wrote….

    1) a sequence of representations in a medium of information.
    2) a set of physical constraints to establish what is being represented.
    3) a system of discontinuous association between representations and referents, based on spatial orientation (i.e. a reading-frame code)
    4) functional coordination (semantic closure) between two sets of sequences; the first set establishes the constraints that are necessary to interpret the representations, and the second set establishes a system whereby the representations and their constraints are brought together in the specify way required to produce a functioning end product – an autonomous self-replicator. Coordination is required because changes to the first set affect the second set.

    The first problem is that UB’s theory of information, if we can call it that, is an approximation. We cannot use it at the level of quantum physics any more than you can use Newton’s laws to build a GPS satellite. It simply doesn’t scale. Furthermore, he appeals to these approximations as if they somehow support “his theory”, as someone might might try to appeal to the ability to launch rockets into space somehow presets a problem to Einstein’s general relativity. It doesn’t. Again, this was addressed in #175.

    Second, UB’s theory does not address key aspects of the system, such as copying information, error correction, distinguishability, digital information, as opposed to analog, etc. These key aspects are what make high-fidelity replication possible. Furthermore, if some designer put the information of which genes will result in the right proteins which will result in the right features, into the cell as ID claims that too would reflect the same process that occurs when the same information is copied during replication. Right? Or does ID suggest that information spontaneously appeared there because the designer wanted it to?

    None of UB’s “information theory” addresses “the core physical requirements” for these key aspects of the system. So, it’s not that I “do not follow” what UB presented. It’s very much the opposite. I follow them well enough to recognize what he presented is expressible as more fundamental, exact statements in constructor theoretic terms. Specifically, a network of tasks with subtasks of subtasks, etc. which eventually reaches a subtask that is not specific to replication. IOW, we can exactly model cells as constructors in constructor theory. This is outlined in detail in section 3.1 of the referenced paper.

    IOW, the paper answers the question of what these “the core physical requirements” are. Yet, apparently, he has some yet to be disclosed objection. This is like UB objecting to pointing out launching rockets into space can be explained more accurately and at a more fundamental level by using Einstein’s GR, than by using Newton’s laws.

    The very aspects of the physical objects that play the roles UB describes in the translation system themselves represents information. Example? Some one in a lab could apply transformations to move stop codons from their naturally occurring locations to test a theory of protein expression. Those transformations represent information need to setup up a repeatable experiment. If all information needs to be interpreted, then you either have a circular definition of distinguishability or an infinite regress. Again, this is outlined in the constructor theory of information which defines information based on a set of physically possible tasks. This includes what tasks must be possible to copy information, which is a key aspect of replication. Again, UB’s theory says nothing about this.

    So … when you remove the translation machinery in order to simplify the system (to meet your ideological requirements), you remove the capacity of the system to specify objects among alternatives.

    First, no one suggests any point in cellular development consisted of cells with the current level of high-fidelity replication (and necessary aspects described above to enable them) but with the translation machinery removed. That’s simply false. Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

    Second, you have confused the universal theory that knowledge grows via some form of variation and criticism with an “ideological requirement”. Theories are tested by observations, not derived from them. As such, so would any theory that suggests cells were always capable of high-fidelity replication. That idea isn’t out there for anyone to observe any more than any other.

    Third, as the paper points out, we can model replication via constructor theory as constructors with a spectrum of various degrees of accuracy – with replication being performed initially by the environment and then transitioning to both the environment and self replication. Again, this represents the very question UB asked: “what are the core physical requirements” for this system.

    However, one must also address the question: can accurate self-reproducers arise from generic resources only, under such laws??Note that what the prevailing conception would aim to prove is that the emergence of accurate self-reproducers follows (with some probability) given certain initial conditions and laws of motion. This approach, informing the search for viable models for the origin of life, [25], is suitable to solve scientific problems such as predicting the existence of life elsewhere in the uni- verse – e.g., by providing bounds to how probable the emergence of those self-reproducers is on an earth-like planet. Here I am addressing a differ- ent problem: whether accurate self-reproducers are possible under no-design laws. This is a theoretical (indeed, constructor-theoretic) question and can be addressed without resorting to predictions. Indeed, the theory of evolution provides a positive answer to that question, provided that two further points are established. I shall argue for them in what follows.?The first point is that the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws because – in short – selection and variation are non-specific to its end products. This can be seen by modeling the logic of natural selection as an approximate construction, whose substrates are populations of replicators and whose (highly approximate) constructor is the environment. This occurs over a much longer time-scale than that of self- reproduction, whereby replicators – constructors on the shorter scale – become now substrates.?Evolution relies upon populations being changed by variation and selection over the time-scale spanning many generations. Crucially, the mutations in the replicators, caused by the environment, are non-specific, (as in section 3.1), to the “end product” of evolution (as Dawkins put it, not “systematically directed to improvement” [27]). This constructor-theoretic characterisation of mutations replaces the less precise locution “random mutations” (as opposed to non-random selection, [5]). These mutations are all transmitted to the successfully created individuals of the next generation, by heredity – irrespective of their being harmful, neutral or beneficial in that particular environment.?Selection emerges from the interaction between the replicators and the environment with finite resources. It may lead to equilibrium, given enough time and energy. If so, the surviving replicators are near a local maximum of effectiveness at being replicated in that environment.?Thus, the environment is passive and blind in this selection process. Since it retains its ability to cause non-specific variation and passive selection again, it qualifies as a naturally-occuring approximation to a constructor. Crucially, it is a crude approximation to a constructor: crude enough that it could have arisen by chance and requires no explanation. Its actions – variations and selection – require no design in laws of physics, as they proceed by non- specific, elementary steps. So the logic of evolution by natural selection is compatible with no-design laws of physics.

    This is a natural transition because such a transition already exists when self-replication specific recipe subtasks eventually rely on generic, elementary tasks that are not specific to replication and are found in the environment.

    Note, however, that the recipe is in one sense incomplete: as remarked in section 3.1, the recipe is not required to include instructions for the elementary tasks, which occur spontaneously in nature. These are indeed relied upon during actual cell development – they constitute epigenetics and environ- mental context. As remarked by George C. Williams, “Organisms, wherever possible, delegate jobs to useful spontaneous processes, much as a builder may temporarily let gravity hold things in place and let the wind disperse paint fumes”, [29].

    Note that constructor theory allows us to exactly define what is mean by the appearance of design, which is crucial to indicating what kinds of constructions exhibit it and therefore require different levels of accuracy, resources, storage types, etc.

    3.1.1 Appearance of design
    Something with the appearance of design is often described as “improbable” [27, 28]. This is misleading because probability measures are multiplicative; so that would mean that two independent objects with the appearance of design would have much more of that appearance than they do separately. But that is not the case when the two objects have unrelated functionalities (such as, say, internal organs of different organisms). In contrast, two organs in the context of the same organism, coordinating to the effect of gene propagation, do have a greater appearance of design than either separately. This can be expressed naturally in constructor-theoretic terms for programmable constructors.
    Consider a recipe R for a possible task T. A sub-recipe R? for the task T? is fine-tuned to perform T if almost any slight change in T? would cause T to be performed to a much lower accuracy. (For instance, changing the mechanism of insulin production in the pancreas even slightly, would impair the overall task the organism performs.) A programmable constructor V whose repertoire includes T has the appearance of design if it can execute a recipe for T with a hierarchical structure including several, different sub- recipes, fine-tuned to perform T. Each fine-tuned sub-recipe is performed by a sub-constructor contained in V : the number of fine-tuned sub-recipes performable by V is a measure of V ’s appearance of design. This constructor- theoretic definition is non-multiplicative, as desired.

    So, to summarize. Neo-Darwinism cannot explain the appearance of life under the current conception of physics. This is because the current conception doesn’t allow defining key aspects of the problem in exact terms. However this is possible though using a new mode of explanation: constructor theory, which does allow defining those key aspects in more fundamental and exact ways.

  204. 204
    critical rationalist says:

    From this paper….

    However, the constructor theory that I shall propose in this paper is not primarily the theory of constructions or constructors, as the prevailing conception would require it to be. It is the theory of which transformations
    input state of substrates ? output state of substrates (2)
    can be caused and which cannot, and why. As I shall explain, the idea is that the fundamental questions of physics can all be expressed in terms of those issues, and that the answers do not depend on what the constructor is, so it can be abstracted away, leaving transformations (2) as the basic subject matter of the theory. I shall argue that we should expect such a theory to constitute a fundamental branch of physics with new, universal laws, and to provide a powerful new language for expressing other theories. I shall guess what some of those laws may be, and explore the theory’s potential for solving various problems and achieving various unifications between disparate branches of physics and beyond, and propose a notation that may be useful in developing it.

    The constructor theory of life is just one example of “expressing other theories” in this new language.

  205. 205
    critical rationalist says:

    To again clarify, “no design laws” is an example of making exact statements in constructor theory. Specifically, it’s an exact statement that allows us to distinguish between laws that contain the design of high-fidelity replicators and those that do not. “no-design laws” are equal to quantum mechanics, which is the most fundamental physical theory in our current conception of physics, described in constructor theoretic terms.

    The ability to make exact statements about what was considered our most fundamental physical theory, in terms of what is physical transformations are possible, which transformations are impossible, and why, is what makes constructor theory more fundamental physical theory than quantum mechanics.

    As UB might say , do you follow this?

  206. 206
    Origenes says:

    CR @203

    “Appearance” of design …

    CR: Something with the appearance of design is often described as “improbable” [27, 28].

    A computer is “improbable” in the sense that it is improbable that blind particles in motion on their own can cause its existence. That is correct.

    CR: This is misleading because probability measures are multiplicative; so that would mean that two independent objects with the appearance of design would have much more of that appearance than they do separately.

    Is it misleading? Is it not more improbable that blind particles in motion spontaneously self-organize into a battleship AND a nuclear power plant? I would say yes, but I must admit, that blind particles in motion self-organizing into one or the other is “improbable” enough for me.

    CR: But that is not the case when the two objects have unrelated functionalities (such as, say, internal organs of different organisms). In contrast, two organs in the context of the same organism, coordinating to the effect of gene propagation, do have a greater appearance of design than either separately. This can be expressed naturally in constructor-theoretic terms for programmable constructors.

    So, a computer AND a keyboard together have a greater appearance of design than either separately? And you can say that in constructor-speech? That’s all very interesting.

  207. 207
    critical rationalist says:

    A computer is “improbable” in the sense that it is improbable that blind particles in motion on their own can cause its existence. That is correct.

    The goal was to define what it means for something to have the appearance of design in an exact way so it can be applied to various kinds of replicators to see if they actually exhibit the that property and to what degree. That is, if they can arise from generic resources and laws.

    That probably of the appearance of design has anything to do with the vague idea of “blind particles in motion” is a non-exact statement about the appearance of design.

    So, a computer AND a keyboard together have a greater appearance of design than either separately? And you can say that in constructor-speech? That’s all very interesting.

    I’m not sure that you’re even being serious here, as It’s unclear how you reached that conclusion from the the excerpt.

    For example, you haven’t elaborated on in what sense is a computer AND a keyboard together. Again, the motivation for constructor theory is to make exact statements. This isn’t one of them.

  208. 208
    kairosfocus says:

    CR:

    The system we are trying to explain is the relatively recent, cell, which is capable of high-fidelity replication.

    There is no existing empirical evidence of the hypothesised low fidelity replication prior cell, relevant to any reasonable real world conditions.

    What is to be explained, in any case is exactly that cell. Which is what is chock full of FSCO/I, involving alphabetic code and code processing systems that effect accurate, error correcting processes.

    KF

  209. 209
    critical rationalist says:

    There is no existing empirical evidence of the hypothesised low fidelity replication prior cell, relevant to any reasonable real world conditions.

    And there is no empirical evidence of a hypothesized designer without a complex material brain. Should we throw that out as new explanation as well?

    You selectively make objections like this when they suit your purpose. When I point this out, you ignore it, only to bring it up again on some other thread.

    This is like a game of wack-a-mole.

  210. 210
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, the insistent strawman caricature attempt to twist inference to design as process per tested reliable sign into inference to a designer is what leads you to miss the simple point, evidence of sign –> signified causal process, intelligently directed configuration –> such design is evidence that a capable designer was present at the right time and place. In short, you have failed to follow the logic. Try: accelerant –> arson –> arsonist KF

  211. 211
    Origenes says:

    CR @209

    CR: And there is no empirical evidence of a hypothesized designer….

    There is also no empirical evidence of Homer, who allegedly wrote two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Does that imply that we should assume that these two epic poems only have the “appearance of design”? If not, why not?

  212. 212

    #211

    You silly IDist!

    Ya’ll think that just because you found a poem, there must be a poet.

    Ya’ll always argue in the negative — “Chance and Necessity could never create this poem”

    Never any evidence!

    /snark

  213. 213
    Origenes says:

    #212

    I bet those IDiots have never ever heard of Dawkins’ “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL“! Chance and Necessity have them poems for breakfast!

    /snark

  214. 214
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, BTW, Newtonian dynamics is the cornerstone of much of the engineering used to design, build, launch and move to orbit, GPS satellites. Yes, relativistic effects come out in the timing due to the precision of the required clocks, but that use of the two in tandem is a reflection of the status of the balance between the two dynamics. Similarly, solid state electronics is based on quantum phenomena. Newtonian dynamics is widely used and taught because it has a zone of proved validity, greatly reducing the intensity of calculations. Within that zone, it is still a highly valid theory; it has not been abandoned as say Phlogiston theory was, or Brahe’s theory of planetary orbits, or the Ptolemaic theory (which BTW is actually built in to the works of many planetariums as it is a sufficiently good approximation to the effects of elliptical orbits). KF

    PS: This is a failed turnabout:

    no one suggests any point in cellular development consisted of cells with the current level of high-fidelity replication (and necessary aspects described above to enable them) but with the translation machinery removed. That’s simply false. Is there no one willing to actually address the arguments actually being presented, as opposed to a straw man?

    No-one has presented such a hybrid cell, instead we have challenged on the subject that the concept of low fidelity replication will predictably fail (due to high noise leading to cumulative loss of information), and that there is a need for solid empirical warrant to get the currently imagined initial state and to then account for the relevant claimed transition. FYI, RNA world and the like, are without empirical warrant adequate to rely on them. That’s why there are no Nobel prizes for having solved the OoL on blind chance and mechanical necessity via the thermodynamics of Darwin’s warm little pond or the like scenarios. It is you who have erected straw models and treated them as well warranted. The ONLY actually empirically anchored architecture for biological life is the living cell as observed. Until you can provide an empirically warranted, real world credible account for its origin and how we got to the present system of a von Neumann kinematic self replicator coupled to a metabolic automaton, you are putting up just so stories.

  215. 215
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origines

    There is also no empirical evidence of Homer, who allegedly wrote two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Does that imply that we should assume that these two epic poems only have the “appearance of design”? If not, why not?

    What does one have to do with the other? That’s a non-sequitur.

    I pointed out that there is no empirical evidence for intelligence without complex material nervous systems. Furthermore, we have trillions of observations of intelligent agents with material nervous systems designing things. Homer would have been yet another example of them.

    @KF

    Why can’t we just swap out your “designer” with “complex material nervous system”? Would that be any less obvious? Let try it?

    the insistent strawman caricature attempt to twist inference to complex material nervous systems as process per tested reliable sign into inference to a complex material nervous system is what leads you to miss the simple point, evidence of sign –> signified causal process, intelligently directed configuration –> such intelligence is evidence that a complex material nervous system was present at the right time and place. In short, you have failed to follow the logic.

    I mean, obviously, the intelligence needed to bring about all that complexity clearly points to a complex material nervous system? Right? Any other conclusion would represent a failure to follow the logic!

    Apparently, any tested reliable sign is reliable, except when it’s not. The logic is sound, except when it isn’t.

    Again, the problem I’ve pointed out at least a dozen times is that freedom, choice, purpose and intelligence is insufficient. Example? The medical community consists of free, intelligent, purposeful agents with the intent to cure cancer, right?

    IOW, if we take that ideas seriously, as if it is true in reality, and all observations should confirm to it, the we should have a cure for cancer by now. Right? They should be to use their freedom, choice intelligence, etc. and specify a series of bits on a flash drive that contains the cure for cancer.

    So, why don’t we?

    Can they not experience cancer cells? Are they unable to perform repeated experiments on cancer cells? Are they just there for a paycheck and not really trying? Is there some big conspiracy, in that a cure has already exists, and only the wealthy getting it?

    IOW, it seems that you must add something to “freedom, choice, purpose and intelligence” which isn’t explicit in current crop of ID, because we have those things, in abundance, yet there are things we cannot currently design, like a drug to cure cancer.

    So, my question is, what is the delta? What will make the crucial difference to actually causing cancer cells to die?

    We will be able to kill cancer cells without killing the patient (a transformation of matter) when the requisite knowledge is present there. That’s the key difference.

    So you have to add something to ID, like the designer is all knowing. Or can somehow spontaneously cause the requisite knowledge to appear, etc.

    Furthermore all, the original manuscripts Homer would have wrote were not self-replicating. So, in constructor theoretic terms , they must be constructed by their environment. So must cars, planes, and every other macro sized human designed thing we’ve observed. Nor do they contain the instructions of which transformations of matter that would have been required to reproduce themselves.

    So, those things must have been constructed by something in it’s environment, as opposed to being created over time though a feedback system. It exhibits the appearance of design and is not a self-replicator.

    For example, Homer, having written two epic poems, would have been one of those designers with a complex material nervous system. That’s the explanation for well, you know, communicating their contents by writing things on a page. People have have motivation to write things down. need quills and paper and

  216. 216
    critical rationalist says:

    And we can look at the content in question. Poems contain concepts like love, hate, fear bravery, loss, pain, feeling helplessness, etc. And they refer to other intelligent agents directly, who experience those things. They refer to struggle of limited beings. That represents significant reach.

    Only people can create explanatory ideas, even if they are not scientific or even if they are wrong.

    And it represents an example of commutation. One which is written in a language that is common in that period and designed to be easily consumed.

    So, even if Homer didn’t write it, some other human being the same region at the same time is best explains those poems.

    The genome, on the other hand, consist of non-explanatory knowledge, which is basically useful rules of thumb with limited reach. And cells are self replicating.

  217. 217
    critical rationalist says:

    And it represents an example of commutation. One which is written in a language that is common in that period and designed to be easily consumed by and is directly targeted at other intelligent agents

  218. 218
    Origenes says:

    CR @215

    CR: I pointed out that there is no empirical evidence for intelligence without complex material nervous systems. Furthermore, we have trillions of observations of intelligent agents with material nervous systems designing things.

    Correlation is not causation CR. However, I can grant you this and there would still be no problem for ID. You should know by now that ID is neutral on the identity of the designer(s) of earthly life. This means that the designer(s) can also be “intelligent agents with material nervous systems”.
    Yes, ID is okay with that. ID can easily accommodate the hypothesis that aliens designed life on earth.

    IOWs there exists no compelling rational reason to ignore the findings of ID and to assume that life on earth must somehow be the result of “no-design-laws” and “replicators–constructors” or whatever blind process.

    Cr: Homer would have been yet another example of them.

    BTW how do you know this; without any empirical proof? Where is Homer’s ‘complex material nervous system’?

  219. 219
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, we already know that a computational substrate — which includes neural networks — is a signal processor on cause-effect chains and the particular organisation of the substrate. It is a mechanical process, categorically distinct from actual ground and consequent reasoning. That is, understand the meaning of a ground and what it entails, then inferring the consequent as sufficiently warranted by that ground, e.g. Socrates is a man, men are mortal, Socrates is mortal. Similarly, to have colour something must be extended in space, so as X is coloured it is extended in space.Or, error exists is undeniably true. Or, one cannot be deceived concerning his own consciousness, though he may well err on specific aspects of his conscious existence. Or, if you want to reduce rationality to such mechanisms, reasoned discussion collapses, i.e. self referential incoherence yet again. We know intelligence, reasoning and moral government exist as we experience these as key to our conscious mindedness. We know the limitations of computational substrates. The latter cannot credibly account for the former, and magic poofery “emergence” is a non-starter. So, we have no good reason to lock down possible intelligences to such computational substrates. However, that is all tangential in any case: the design inference is to signs of intelligently directed configuration as causal process. It is not an inference to designers or to the ontology and metaphysics of designers. The strawman caricature of inductive reasoning you tried to use fails on factual adequacy, fails on coherence and is a simplistic procrustean bed game — stretch or cut to fit regardless of consequences. Your proposal fails to fit with requisites of a good inference to best explanation. And that is after it is already a strawman caricature of the focus of the design inference on sign. KF

    PS: You obviously cannot show a credible counter-example to the trillions of observed cases that show that FSCO/I is a reliable sign of design as cause, nor can you show a good answer to the blind search of a config space challenge that anchors it on essentially the same reasoning as say the 2nd law of thermodynamics. That context is more than enough to indicate moral certainty. Trying to blow up dismissive rhetoric to make reliable signs seem dubious simply shows desperation to resist an overwhelming weight of evidence all around us on a key but obviously utterly unwelcome point. Duly noted.

  220. 220
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, we already know that a computational substrate — which includes neural networks — is a signal processor on cause-effect chains and the particular organisation of the substrate. It is a mechanical process, categorically distinct from actual ground and consequent reasoning. That is, understand the meaning of a ground and what it entails, then inferring the consequent as sufficiently warranted by that ground, e.g.

    How do we know?

    The universality of computation is an emergent property of Turing machines. The explanation for this universality is not present in the individual atoms. Nor is it present in silicon, cogs, vacuum tubes, etc. Yet, there are no non-phyiscal computers. That’s what an emergent explanation is.

    So, the absence of a reductionist explanation at level you’re referring to isn’t unusual or even unexpected.

    Before we had a theory of computation, one could just as made the same kind of argument against that same university being possible. And it would have been false for the fact that future expectations are not based on repetition or the past, but hard to vary explanations.

    You do not have a device for posting to UD, and another device to check your email. And another device for word processing, etc. Right?

    The explanation of how one device can do all of those things, and even future things that have yet to be devised, is nowhere in a “a signal processor on cause-effect chains and the particular organisation of the substrate”.

    The very argument you made equally argues “computers” do not exhibit sufficient warrant for that university. Yet, your ability to post the previous comment depends on it.

  221. 221
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Correlation is not causation CR.

    Nor does correlation imply there isn’t other critical factors at play beyond “freedom, choice, purpose and intelligence” as argued in #215.

    However, I can grant you this and there would still be no problem for ID. You should know by now that ID is neutral on the identity of the designer(s) of earthly life. This means that the designer(s) can also be “intelligent agents with material nervous systems”. Yes, ID is okay with that. ID can easily accommodate the hypothesis that aliens designed life on earth.

    But then you’ve just pushed the problem up a level as we still have to explain the knowledge needed to transform raw materials into complex material nervous systems of those aliens. What is the origin of that knowledge, etc. ?

    And if it’s Ok with that, will the definition of ID’s designer become more specific to include a complex material nervous system? I won’t be holding my breath.

    BTW how do you know this; without any empirical proof? Where is Homer’s ‘complex material nervous system’?

    So, how did Homer, or anyone else for that matter, put characters on the manuscript?

    From this TED talk….

    Think about it. Movement is the only way you have of affecting the world around you. Now that’s not quite true. There’s one other way, and that’s through sweating. But apart from that, everything else goes through contractions of muscles.

    The best explanation is a complex, material nervous system.

    Or it would be one of those supposed “the trillions of observed cases” that show that written words on paper is a “reliable sign” of complex material nervous systems “as cause”, as we’ve never seen anyone move something with their mind.

    Again, apparently, reliable signs are reliable, except when they are not. Good explanations are good, except when they are not.

  222. 222

    And if it’s Ok with that, will the definition of ID’s designer become more specific to include a complex material nervous system? I won’t be holding my breath.

    You won’t have to, you’ve already been told multiple times that concluding a material designer is a valid conclusion from biological ID. So what is your problem?

    But then you’ve just pushed the problem up a level as we still have to explain the knowledge needed to transform raw materials into complex material nervous systems of those aliens. What is the origin of that knowledge, etc. ?

    Totally incorrect — the origin of intelligence does not have to be explained in order to detect an act of intelligence.

    If that were the case, then SETI would be out of business. Instead, it’s methodology (using an operational definition of intelligence, validated by universal experience) is explicitly endorsed by NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the British Royal Society, and university science departments around the world.

    Is SETI out of business? No? Does SETI methodology for detecting an act of intelligent include verifying the origin of the actor? No?

    This is just another example of you stubbornly holding on to objections with a deliberate indifference to the logic. Repeatedly using the rhetorical value of an illogical objection makes you look like a fraud. You should consider not doing it.

  223. 223
    kairosfocus says:

    CR @ 220: We know what material computing substrates are like on a base of 170+ years of experience with digital, analogue and neural network architectures. We further know from technological systems theory how components interact per cause-effect chains, using their energy and information/control inflows to process energy, signal and/or material inputs, using intermediate storage, feedback and more, generating outputs. By was it 1640, Leibniz spotted the key point on inspecting a mill in action: gears grinding one against the other blindly neither know nor care where they are nor what a system architecture and organisation as a whole are doing. GIGO — garbage in, garbage out, hence the world of system development, troubleshooting, debugging and more. Blindly mechanical cause-effect and/or stochastic processes are ontologically, categorically distinct from insight-led understanding of grounds and inferring their entailed consequents. We have not begun to touch on, understanding of moral worth, honour, duty, integrity and more, leading to moral inference and responsible action. That you ignore or refuse to reckon with such massively, readily accessible knowledge on systems of generally cybernetic character but wish to play the dismissive hyperskeptic speaks telling volumes. Volumes, sad volumes on where you do not wish to go so want to wave away inconvenient evidence on. What is indicated here is metanoia and linked healing of the soul. And DV, going forward, that is what I will increasingly focus. I am thinking, for a start, that we need to look to the cries of eternity set in your heart, yearning for what a purblind materialistic world-picture tries to insist cannot be there: a whole, rich, satisfying world that is the soul’s true homeland . . . a fulfillment that transcends and transforms but does not despise the material, one in which cybernetic systems including embodied responsibly rational biologically grounded creatures are a bridge to eternity. KF

  224. 224
    Mung says:

    Do we have a sufficient number of examples yet to decide what knowledge is not?

  225. 225
    kairosfocus says:

    Mung,

    we have both criteria anchored in experience and insight to define knowledge in a weaker and by extension a stronger sense. Given how science is a major cultural enterprise, we see the importance of the weaker sense: knowledge is warranted, credibly true (and — for emphasis — reliable) belief.

    Knowing is a key function of knowers, who must believe . . . accept sufficiently to rely on . . . what they know. But beliefs may be false or irrational. We need a particular subset. That subset has to be such that an individual may know per accepting credible authority (e.g. a dictionary, a qualified teacher, an expert) on perhaps simplified explanation or demonstration but authorities are no better than their facts, reasoning and assumptions.

    Thus, collectively at cultural level there must be adequate warrant of credible truth (and so also, reliability). This is fallibilist, and progressive: if warrant fails sufficiently for some X, it should be corrected and surrendered as claimed knowledge even as knowledge on the subject advances to include that X is not known. Some replacement, Y may or may not succeed X.

    In a strong sense, some few things may be incorrigibly, undeniably or more broadly self-evidently known, e.g. if one is conscious and so self-aware, that generic direct fact is infallibly known. Similarly, that error exists is undeniable. Something like 2 + 3 = 5 is self evident, known on understanding the claim i/l/o adequate experience of reality, known to be so necessarily, and that necessity is so on pain of patent, instant absurdity on the attempted denial. First principles of right reason pivoting on distinct identity [A vs ~A] are self-evident and foundational to reason, starting with LOI, LNC, LEM. Other more abstruse claims may be shown to be necessarily true on adequate experience, observation and logical, insightful reasoning per grounds and entailed consequents, e.g. much of mathematics short of imposing comprehensive axiomatic systems which are of complexity sufficient for Godel’s findings to apply: inherently incomplete and prone to possible incoherence.

    Where, on even the fallibilist model, facts of empirical observation in science hold superior warrant to integrative theoretical constructs in general, which are prone to correction on fresh observation, so should generally be seen as aiming at being empirically reliable and possibly true models of some aspects of reality.

    In some cases, theoretical entities not subject to direct observation (e.g. the electron) may be sufficiently warranted from multiple converging but essentially independent lines of evidence that they are taken as real. Thus, degree of warrant, reliability and fallibility must be reckoned with in pondering degree of certainty regarding truth of knowledge claims.

    Reliability mainly comes from a sufficiently strong track record of successful prediction and/or fresh explanatory integration that moral certainty is achieved that one can and should trust the claim enough to confidently act on it in momentous circumstances.

    Mere claimed consensus of community or of experts is not sufficient to warrant something as credible truth.

    Nor are computer simulations to be regarded as though they were or are empirical observations of fact.

    Likewise, there is no one THE scientific method that uniquely qualifies Science as a superior knowledge claim, as good methods vary across and beyond the sciences as conventionally so labelled.

    Inductive reasoning per adequate support of a conclusion, often on experience, observation, record and testimony, can in many cases deliver knowledge up to moral certainty, but in general it is necessarily fallibilist and provisional. Hence the rise of sciences and other disciplines as collective cultural enterprises targetting credible, reliable, growing bodies of knowledge and best praxis; thus providing expertise. However, all such enterprises fall under the aegis of philosophical analysis, especially logic, epistemology, ontology, metaphysics and ethics. Indeed, reason inextricably involves responsibilities towards truth and right and therefore so also — it involves rational, responsible warrant — epistemology.

    Truth, we can take per Ari: saying of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not.

    Things that fail of adequate warrant to give responsible, reasonable confidence of credible truth (and so, reliability) will fail of being knowledge.

    Yes, a mouthful. But there are too many subtleties to be dealt with and there has been too much controversy to go for what is more simplistic, e.g. Gettier counter examples and the grue/bleen challenge, etc.

    KF

  226. 226
  227. 227
    critical rationalist says:

    @UB

    You won’t have to, you’ve already been told multiple times that concluding a material designer is a valid conclusion from biological ID. So what is your problem?

    A material designer would be well adapted for the purpose of designing things.

    Being well adapted for a purpose (designing things) cannot be the explanation for being well adapted to serve a purpose.

    Also, why SETI isn’t like intelligent design…

    http://www.space.com/searchfor.....51201.html

    Well, it’s because the credibility of the evidence is not predicated on its complexity. If SETI were to announce that we’re not alone because it had detected a signal, it would be on the basis of artificiality. An endless, sinusoidal signal – a dead simple tone – is not complex; it’s artificial. Such a tone just doesn’t seem to be generated by natural astrophysical processes. In addition, and unlike other radio emissions produced by the cosmos, such a signal is devoid of the appendages and inefficiencies nature always seems to add – for example, DNA’s junk and redundancy.

    There’s another hallmark of artificiality we consider in SETI, and it’s context. Where is the signal found? Our searches often concentrate on nearby Sun-like star systems – the very type of astronomical locale we believe most likely to harbor Earth-size planets awash in liquid water. That’s where we hope to find a signal. The physics of solar systems is that of hot plasmas (stars), cool hydrocarbon gasses (big planets), and cold rock (small planets). These do not produce, so far as we can either theorize or observe, monochromatic radio signals belched into space with powers of ten billion watts or more–the type of signal we look for in SETI experiments. It’s hard to imagine how they would do this, and observations confirm that it just doesn’t seem to be their thing.

    Context is important, crucially important. Imagine that we should espy a giant, green square in one of these neighboring solar systems. That would surely meet our criteria for artificiality. But a square is not overly complex. Only in the context of finding it in someone’s solar system does its minimum complexity become indicative of intelligence.

  228. 228
    critical rationalist says:

    https://smbc-comics.com/index.php?id=4127

    Why Bayesianism is false.

    [Speaker]
    According to Bayesianism, every theory, no matter how ridiculous, has some probability of being true.

    But the sum of all theories multiplied by their probability must still be one.

    Therefore, I’ve created a new device: the Bayesian overloader.

    Start with some very probable. theory that nobody likes. for example, “i will die someday”

    Now, we set the overloader to generate opposing theories, like “everyone living will not die” or “only pumpkins die” or “nobody has as ever died – theyre all just sleeping”

    Because all of these theories get some slice of the probability pie, so long as we generate theories fast enough, the undesirable theory becomes less and less true.

    The overloader creates hundreds of-trillions of theories every second.

    We wait about thirty seconds, then BAM! The initial theory is now vanishingly unlikely!

    And thus I am immortal!

    [Speaker stabs himself]

    [Dies]

    [Audience member]
    See, that’s why I’m a frequentist.

  229. 229
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, While I am not a gung-ho all-Bayesian myself [I think Fisher’s work has some validity and that the issue of rejection zones is relevant to the design inference], I do not think you have fairly presented Bayesian inference and analysis as developed. It first speaks to relevant alternatives held by subjects who are presumed reasonably informed enough to make sensible inferences regarding scaling probabilities towards a decision to be made. Every relevant hyp will have some finite, non-zero probability of being correct, because of that context. Thus, we speak of expert elicitation and the like, and I actually had to study techniques to make things come out from intuitive perceptions by making comparisons to dice, coins, decks of cards etc. Formal expert elicitation such as is now done routinely here in evaluating likely onward behaviour of our big bad boy friend down South, involves calibrating the knowledge base of the panel and weighting estimates i/l/o calibration. The revision of estimates is then evaluated on the premise of bounded error-prone rationality (necessarily involving a degree of ignorance) and the issue of cost to learn more is a factor in decisions. BTW, estimating probability from observed, perhaps somewhat idealised — as in, noise or fluctuations etc — frequency of occurrence is a classic example of inductive study. The idea is there is a stable identity which will manifest in a stable pattern, affected by noise and fluctuations etc. KF

  230. 230
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, on

    A material designer would be well adapted for the purpose of designing things.

    Being well adapted for a purpose (designing things) cannot be the explanation for being well adapted to serve a purpose.

    This confuses inference to design on a given sign with inference to designer, then compounds this by involving oh designing the designer.

    I do not know how many times it has been pointed out to you that the evidence of FSCO/I etc points to design as process, not to a designer or a specific case of a designer.

    next, you cite something that tries to dismiss complexity, from SETI:

    the credibility of the evidence is not predicated on its complexity. If SETI were to announce that we’re not alone because it had detected a signal, it would be on the basis of artificiality. An endless, sinusoidal signal – a dead simple tone – is not complex; it’s artificial.

    I can only presume that the author of this has never had to design and build a clean sinusoidal oscillator. Such involves a gated power source, with feedback from output to input to the gate actuation process — which must be an amplifier — that has to be highly specifically frequency-selective, and also a means of stopping growth that prevents saturation and clipping or the like.

    The signal is of simple, highly specific mathematical form, the generation of such is anything but simple. And it is highly specific.

    BTW, this would also hold for finding a geometrical figure such as a sphere or cuboid that are clearly not the result of crystallisation.

    Or a ditch that follows such a figure.

    And so forth.

    KF

  231. 231
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, in 220 above, you seem to overlook that digital computational devices are programmed machines, which mechanically and blindly carry out instructions assembled in accord with algorithms using linguistic codes. Though they are more active than obviously mechanical devices like the old fashioned movie film projector or phonograph player, they have no insight or common-sense. Gate logic and cross-coupled gates with feedback are wholly mechanical devices based on more or less amplifiers using transistors of various types run between cut-off and saturation — and I say more or less because of esp. good old emitter coupled logic. Analogue devices are similarly mechanical, whether electrical (e.g. op amps) or mechanical . . . ball and disk, etc. Neural networks are also mechanical. Computational substrates are mechanical entities. None of the “intelligent” behaviour emerges from insights of such machines, the issue is the functional hardware organisation, the programming and underlying signal processing strategy. These entities and their functionality come from the work of knowledgeable designers. Long ago I pointed you here on, for a 102 level look at these and a great many other points that you keep raising. Did you go down to the point where computing substrates are discussed? (Have you designed a computer system or at least had to study such, digital or analogue?) KF

  232. 232
    critical rationalist says:

    Gate logic and cross-coupled gates with feedback are wholly mechanical devices based on more or less amplifiers using transistors of various types run between cut-off and saturation — and I say more or less because of esp. good old emitter coupled logic.

    Again, the aspect of computers you are referring to could equally be applied to a dedicated old school calculator, and ignores what is unique to universal Turing machines: the the ability to run any algorithm that any other Turing machines can run, including those that have not been developed yet.

    Based on your argument, we should never have universality, because the explanation for it is not found in “Gate logic and cross-coupled gates with feedback”, either. Yet, that ability emerges from transistors, vacuum tubes and even cogs and refers to deep laws of computation.

    See #220

    (Have you designed a computer system or at least had to study such, digital or analogue?)

    I was a computer repair technician for several years and currently develop commercial applicators for iPhones, iPads and the Mac platform. Apple exploited this universality to run software for IBM PPC processors on Intel processor Macs during the transition.

  233. 233
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, FYI, the first microprocessors were created to implement calculators and today that is what is often done. Besides, I am speaking to first the hardware technology to make the point that a computational substrate is more or less refined rock, arranged so that cause effect chains carry out computations. I exemplify architectures: digital, analogue, neural networks, to point out a key in-common fact. Namely, that such entities invariably work by blind mechanical cause-effect linkages, not by insightful understanding expressed in ground-consequent reasoned inferences. I did not attempt to define computing in general and the three architectures taken together — as you should know just from analogue computers based on integrators — are not covered by Turing Machine abstractions. Algorithms come about by of course, intelligent and knowledgeable design, just as do designs for analogue computers and the patching required to solve a given differential equation by actual integration (as opposed to simulation), for example. Your discussion is off on a tangent. As for oh those technologies don’t get us to Turing machines, trivially, hardware is exactly what means a real computer is not a Turing machine. No infinite tape or memory, for one instance. Of course finite stores that are big enough are good enough for practical purposes and the model gives a useful analytical context. So, a sufficiently powerful machine can allow one device to emulate another [as was done by Apple back in the 90’s], which was never in dispute; this is tangential. But, a Turing machine is an abstraction — a thought-world entity arrived at by rational insightful, creative inference per the logic of structure and quantity not blindly mechanical calculations. The material, focal point, you have not answered: computational substrates work by blind mechanical cause-effect chains and/or equally blind stochastic processes. They are not the ground of reasoned, insightful inference from premises accepted on a warrant to conclusions that are entailed or supported. KF

  234. 234
    critical rationalist says:

    CR, FYI, the first microprocessors were created to implement calculators and today that is what is often done.

    They are used today because they are universal. It is cheaper to use a mass produced, off the shelf microprocessors, that cost pennies, and program it to be a calculator, than to design and manufacture a dedicated logic to implement a dedicated calculator. Before we stumbled upon the university of computation, that was not an option. It’s not that we thought this universality was unlikely or improbable. We simply did not conceive of it at all.

    Besides, I am speaking to first the hardware technology to make the point that a computational substrate is more or less refined rock, arranged so that cause effect chains carry out computations.

    So am I. I’m trying to take your argument seriously, for the purpose of criticism, by assuming it is true in reality, and that all observations should conform to it.

    The universality of computation (any Turing machine can run any algorithm that an other Turing machine can run, including one that does not exist yet) is not found in “more or less refined rock”. It’s not there, either. So, according to your argument, we shouldn’t expect that universality to emerge either because “more or less refined rock” would not qualify as a source for it.

    As for oh those technologies don’t get us to Turing machines, trivially, hardware is exactly what means a real computer is not a Turing machine.

    What I said is that the explanation for universality of computation is not present there. It is an emergent phenomena. This is not the vague statement that “those technologies don’t get us to Turing machines.”

    Lets not forget this gem from Barry….

    CR: “You forgot the universality of computation . . .”

    BA: Nonsense. No one has suggested that computation is an emergent property of physical components.

    You might want to read that again. Apparently, you can’t even quote mine well?

    You forgot the universality of computation, which emerges from a specific repertoire of computations

    That’s not the same as mere “computation”.

    Furthermore, apparently Stanford University is “no one”. From this presentation…

    Emergent Properties

    – An emergent property of a system is a property that arises out of smaller pieces that doesn’t seem to exist in any of the individual pieces.

    – Examples:

    — Individual neurons work by firing in response to particular combinations of inputs. Somehow, this leads to thought and consciousness.

    — Individual atoms obey the laws of quantum mechanics and just interact with other atoms. Somehow, it’s possible to combine them together to make iPhones.

    And…

    Emergent Properties of Computation

    – All computing systems equal to Turing machines exhibit several surprising emergent properties.

    – If we believe the Church-Turing thesis, these emergent properties are, in a sense, “inherent” to computation. You can’t have computation without these properties.

    – These emergent properties are what ultimately make computation so interesting and so powerful.

    As we’ll see, though, they’re also computation’s Achilles heel – they’re how we find concrete examples of impossible problems.

    And…

    Two Emergent Properties

    – There are two key emergent properties of computation that we will discuss:

    — Universality: There is a single computing device capable of performing any computation.

    — Self-Reference: Computing devices can ask questions about their own behavior.

    As you’ll see, the combination of these properties leads to simple examples of impossible problems and elegant proofs of impossibility.

    So, a sufficiently powerful machine can allow one device to emulate another [as was done by Apple back in the 90’s], which was never in dispute; this is tangential.

    Again, I’m trying to take your claim seriously, as if it was true in reality, and that all observations, including your own objections, should conform to it. You want to be taken seriously, right?

    What is in dispute is whether our unseen explanations for the seen must resemble the seen. In the case of the universality of computation, this is not the case. So, it’s unclear why you think conciseness is an exception.

    You keep saying I’m making a straw man argument, yet the idea that our unseen explanations that explain the seen must resemble the seen This is inductivism. The future will resemble the past is just one variation of it.

    The material, focal point, you have not answered: computational substrates work by blind mechanical cause-effect chains and/or equally blind stochastic processes. They are not the ground of reasoned, insightful inference from premises accepted on a warrant to conclusions that are entailed or supported. KF

    I have answered, KF. You just do not like the answer. They, nor anything else, is the “ground” of conciseness. You’ve invented a problem to solve. Apparently, we’re talking past each other.

    I’m saying that knowledge isn’t justified, true belief. There is no ground to our knowledge. It doesn’t grow the way you think it does. I’m suggesting you are mistaken about that. I’ve presented criticism of that idea that has yet to be refuted.

    On the other hand, you seem to be saying: since (based on a dictionary definition?) knowledge is justified true belief, there must be something to justify it. And that any unseen explanation that explains the seen (must resemble that which we are explaining.) “blind mechanical cause-effect chains and/or equally blind stochastic processes.” do not resemble the seen, so that rejection is based on inductivism.

    I would again point out that our explanation of universality of computation (the unseen) does not resemble the seen (universal computers), either. UTMs can be constructed from vacuum tubes or even cogs. This is a concrete example to the contrary.

  235. 235
    critical rationalist says:

    Empiricism was the idea that anything that wasn’t scientific was meaningless. Yet, that very claim itself had no empirical or scientific basis. It deemed itself meaningless.

    In the same sense….The idea that consciousness must be “grounded” in by something – How have you grounded that idea? How have you justified it?

  236. 236
    kairosfocus says:

    CR, I spoke to the range of known architectures and substrates. There are no actual Turing Machines due to involvement of infinities. Just as, there never could have been Newtonian point particles . . . infinite density. Microprocessors are flexible and useful but they are not universal computing substrates in the Turing sense. All of this is tangential to the point that such are blindly mechanical, GIGO limited, cause-effect chaining devices, not reasoning entities that actually use insight to infer from ground to consequent. Material computing substrates do not account for actual reasoning, though they can effect useful algorithms or analogues of systems or make pattern based responses etc. Likewise they are not a shown ground of either consciousness nor understanding as a rational conscious experience nor for conscience and the awareness of being under moral government. And, to suggest that consciusness, reasoning, conscience, understanding etc are effectively delusions is self referentially incoherent and self-falsifying — actually, it is implying grand delusion, an ultimate absurdity. KF

    PS: Consciousness on our part is patently contingent, thus not self-explanatory. Nor can you try to suggest it needs not be taken as requiring more than acceptance of a brute mysteriously emergent fact. We can translate that: you have no sound basis for conscious minded enconscienced agency and wish this taken off the table. Conscious agency FYI is our first fact, the fact through which we address all others and through which we reason and communicate. We have every right to ponder it and its significance, including how we could come to be embodied creatures with such an awareness. Arguably, this base fact raises the question that we are far more than material, bio-cybernetic automata.

  237. 237
    critical rationalist says:

    @KF

    KF: There are no actual Turing Machines due to involvement of infinities.

    This was already addressed in the paper…

    In order to evaluate a computable function of a particular input, a computer needs enough working memory to store the intermediate results. Since, in reversible computations, those results are erased by the time the output is delivered, that memory is not depleted by the computation and can be re-used, so it is both a substrate and a constructor. We may call non-programmable constructors that are used as substrates of other constructors ancillas, generalising the existing use of the term in the theory of computation.
    For many programmable computers, including every universal one, the memory requirement of computations in the computer’s repertoire has no upper bound. Therefore such a computer cannot be defined as including all its ancillas, and the repertoire of a programmable computer must be defined as the set of computations it can be programmed to perform if it is given an unlimited supply of additional memory .
    Another reason for not counting ancillas among the resource requirements of computations is that if one does count them, there are no universal computers. Let C be a computer capable of performing a computational task
    {} i??
    A=? i? f(i) , (11)
    using b(i) memory-ancillas of a given capacity and in t(i) steps when the input is i. Then a universal computer programmed to simulate C may require up to p(t(i)) steps and up to q(b(i)) ancillas, where p and q are polynomial functions, every time it performs A with input i. Since no computer architecture optimises the memory and time requirements of every computational task, there would be no universal computer if limits on time and memory, and hence on ancillas, were included in the definitions of computational tasks.
    In constructor theory a stricter conception of universality is possible, because when a programmable constructor is programmed to mimic another constructor C, it may begin by constructing an instance of C, to which it directs subsequent inputs, so that from then on it performs C’s task using much the same resources that C would.

    Hence the repertoire of a programmable constructor P can be defined as the set of tasks that P can be programmed to be capable of performing, up to a constant amount of naturally-occurring resources. More precisely, the overhead of programming P to be capable of performing A is a constant c(P,A), independent of how often P will then be called upon to perform A , and which inputs for A it is given.

    Furthermore, you do not use a dedicated device to read Facebook, check your email and post on UB, right? This emergent property isn’t present in “more or less refined rock” either.

    Material computing substrates do not account for actual reasoning, though they can effect useful algorithms or analogues of systems or make pattern based responses etc.

    Again, here you are assuming the unseen explanation we use to explain the seen will resemble the scene. That is inductivism.

    Of course, human beings are conscious, rational, free agents. So, if the unseen resembles the seen, then why can’t we create conscious and reasoning beings as well?

    And if it’s not, then you’re referring to some philosophical position that reasoning, etc must be grounded in something. I.E. you are referring to a job description that is parochial in nature, in that it’s dependent a specific philosophical view. I don’t know how else to explain this.

    It’s unclear why I should feel constrained by your specific philosophical view as the only possible option.

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