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scientific realism
Posted: 03 December 2008 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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The utility of scientific theory, its ability to preserve the phenomena and be predictively adequate, is best explained by its hooking onto something real in the world. Competing theories would include aristotelian momentum, astrology, witchcraft, the efficacy of prayer, laying on of hands, voodoo, homeopathic medicine, therapeutic touch, etc. Each of these practices comes with a theoretic underpinning which purports to describe the way the world is and hence explain the effects that they are trying to achieve. Each of them fails, and hence the theories that are associated with these practices are demonstrated to be mythological or in other words false.

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Posted: 03 December 2008 08:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Bryan - 03 December 2008 01:50 PM
danlhinz - 02 December 2008 03:48 PM
zntneo - 01 December 2008 07:58 PM

I am in a philosophy of science class at the moment.  I am a skeptic and generally agree with most of scientific views of the skeptics movement. One problem that I am having been in this class is I don’t see a good enough argument for scientific realism Which if there isn’t a good enough argument for scientific realism I don’t see the point of even studying science.

Because science gets results.

Apparently not results in terms of establishing what is real and what is not ... are you prepared to argue for scientific realism?  Or do we divert to the utility of science since it doesn’t really matter what is real and what is not if we can obtain technologies that enable us to suit our fancies?  Is the latter the appropriate end of science?

I remember reading about the latter idea as a postmodern view of science.

I made my argument for scientific realism above, my point that science has a lot of utility aside from scientific realism was an after thought.

All philosophies hinge on axioms so you can believe all kinds of things and be logically consistent provided the axioms are non-falsifiable. Science is the only ideology which provides good results of describing the external world I choose to believe it instead of creating non-falsifiable axioms like solipsism.

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Posted: 03 December 2008 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Bryan,

In its current simple form it’s rather like an assertion for what’s real. 

I have no idea what this means. Science establishes theoretical models, it predicts systems based on these models, it revises the models to improve their accuracy based on the results, and a high percentage of the tiem when you take the antibiotics your bladder infection goes away. A high percentage of the time when you pray for your bladder infection to go away, it doesn’t. How is this assertion rather than evidence? Perhaps not definitive evidence, but then what would constitute definitive evidence for you?

Have religion’s unfalsifiable propositions been falsified or something?  Could you be specific?

I don’t know about religion’s unfalsifiable propositions, which I never made reference to, however their falsifiable propositions have often been falsified. Doug gave several examples. Many cosmological models founded in mythologies have been demonstrated false beyond hope of revision. No turtles to be seen anywhere. All I’m saying, and I don’t see how this is controversial or unclear, is that the practical superiority of scientific models of the universe in many domains (technology, medicine, etc) over other models (such as specific religious mythologies) is again a point of evidence that science is representing the real more successfully than these other models.

the fact is that logic and reason don’t support that scientific realism is true.

Speaking of undemonstrated assertions… What facts and logic are you referring to?

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Posted: 04 December 2008 12:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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George - 03 December 2008 03:01 PM

How am I contradicting myself?

I did not say that you were contradicting yourself.  I merely suggested that it was a possible alternative depending on what meaning you intended.

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Posted: 04 December 2008 06:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Bryan,
Why don’t you stake out your position and stop being coy.

PC

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Posted: 04 December 2008 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Nothing can actually be deduced from experience. Experiences are not subjects of logic. The subjects of logic are propositional-variables: placeholders for a particular kind of statement. Experiences are neither variables nor statements, and therefore, nothing can be deduced from them. Propositions may be constructed about experiences, but the logical relation of entailment holds only among propositions. Even a proposition about an experience is insufficient to deduce much that is interesting. Such a proposition about an experience might take the form, ‘there exists an experience of a black swan,’ or ‘there exists an experience of a contradiction.’ But from such propositions it cannot be deduced that there actually exists, independent of experience, a black swan or contradiction. It may be instictive to infer from an experience of a black swan to the proposition ‘there exists a black swan’ but it is not logical. That proposition can neither be deduced nor induced from an experience. Therefore, if experience is to serve as a basis or foundation of knowledge (scientific or otherwise) then it does so non-logically.

It is usually understood that an experience of a black swan does not entail the existence of a black swan, but often retorted, ‘although I do not know that there exists a black swan, at the least I know that there exists an experience of a black swan. That is self-evident.’ This is often how solipsists arrive at their philosophy (by following classical empiricism to its many quandries and denying the existence of anything but their own experiences). Solipsists, however, do not go far enough, for the same problem applies to self-evidence. That is, if the existence of an experience of a black swan can be described by the proposition ‘there exists an experience of a black swan,’ then the existence of self-evidence, or the experience of an experience, of this same proposition can be described as ‘there exists an experience of an experience of a black swan.’ As before, such a proposition does not entail that an experience of a black swan exists. If solipsists pushed their line of reasoning further, they would arrive back at Descartes’s “revelation” that something, at the least, exists.

[ Edited: 04 December 2008 03:46 PM by nocturne ]
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Posted: 04 December 2008 06:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Quote Nocturne:

Nothing can actually be deduced from experience. Experiences are not subjects of logic.

  Try telling that to Socrates and his young slave who deduced the height of a tree (I seem to recall) from the length of a short measuring staff.  smile

Occam

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Posted: 04 December 2008 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Occam - 04 December 2008 06:55 PM

Try telling that to Socrates and his young slave who deduced the height of a tree (I seem to recall) from the length of a short measuring staff.  smile

... or to Eratosthenes who deduced the size of the earth from two shadows cast at noon ...

wink

... one of the many great examples in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.

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Posted: 04 December 2008 08:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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dougsmith - 04 December 2008 07:59 PM

... or to Eratosthenes who deduced the size of the earth from two shadows cast at noon ...

... Or you dog or cat who’s depth perception is a result of it doing trigonometry, thats right your dog knows trig.

[ Edited: 04 December 2008 08:56 PM by Some Guy ]
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Posted: 04 December 2008 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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dougsmith - 04 December 2008 07:59 PM

... or to Eratosthenes who deduced the size of the earth from two shadows cast at noon ...

Quite an achievement, especially since shadows cast at noon are not premises. How can a shadow be true or false? Statements or, more precisely, propositions are the correct subjects for the predicate ‘is true,’ not shadows. We often talk as though we derive ideas from experience, and that is fine in a casual or informal context; upon scrutiny, however, it’s a notion which doesn’t make any sense. Experiences, like shadows, aren’t premises, if only because it would be nonsense to call them true.

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Posted: 05 December 2008 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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nocturne - 04 December 2008 10:09 PM

Quite an achievement, especially since shadows cast at noon are not premises. How can a shadow be true or false? Statements or, more precisely, propositions are the correct subjects for the predicate ‘is true,’ not shadows. We often talk as though we derive ideas from experience, and that is fine in a casual or informal context; upon scrutiny, however, it’s a notion which doesn’t make any sense. Experiences, like shadows, aren’t premises, if only because it would be nonsense to call them true.

Er, I’d have thought it was obvious that the premise here is something of the form, “The shadow cast by a stick of length X at time T at place P was length Z.”

Then you have further premises, e.g.:

(2) P is V distance away from place Q where there was no shadow cast by a stick of length X at T

[ Edited: 05 December 2008 08:51 AM by dougsmith ]
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Posted: 05 December 2008 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Thank you, nocturne, for providing such a fine example of the sort of obscurantist nonsense I was referring to that serves to cloud the relatively simple issue of whether anything exists. I invite you to live the truth of your convictions by challenging the reality of the next truck that comes hurtling towards you, which is after all only the experience of a truck hurtling towards you. Such an experiment would doubtless not serve as proof of anything to you, but those of us left might find it instructive.

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Posted: 05 December 2008 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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mckenzievmd - 05 December 2008 08:48 AM

Thank you, nocturne, for providing such a fine example of the sort of obscurantist nonsense I was referring to that serves to cloud the relatively simple issue of whether anything exists. I invite you to live the truth of your convictions by challenging the reality of the next truck that comes hurtling towards you, which is after all only the experience of a truck hurtling towards you. Such an experiment would doubtless not serve as proof of anything to you, but those of us left might find it instructive.

I stated no convictions. I merely commented that experiences cannot fulfil the function of premises. It is simply a confusion of logic and psychology (sometimes referred to as psychologism). Most people, however, hardly recognise that they are psychologists (in the sense previously referred to), usually because they have scarcely considered that there even could be an alternative.

You are right, by the way, the sight of a truck hurtling towards me would not prove anything. It may convince me to dash out of its way, but my being convinced is not a proof.

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Posted: 05 December 2008 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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You are right, by the way, the sight of a truck hurtling towards me would not prove anything. It may convince me to dash out of its way, but my being convinced is not a proof.

The problem is that nothing is. If the obvious correlation between standnig in front of a moving truck and getting crushed isn’t proof of anything, that nothing meets the standard. All well and good withing the rarefied atmosphere of pure inquiry, but I’m not so sure a useful approach to lviing. I happen to believe philosophy should inform living, and improve it, not define it out of existence. But, as always, just MHO.

[ Edited: 05 December 2008 04:32 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 05 December 2008 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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If you present someone with a reductio ad absurdum and he takes it, there’s nothing more to be said, really.

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