Scientific Realism or Antirealism
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21-04-2017, 10:48 AM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 10:39 AM)morondog Wrote:  It seems to me that you started the thread with the purpose of throwing around big words and having "deep" discussions. Bro, do that shit with your philosopher buddies. The rest of us couldn't give a shit what you call our position on X random concept like "realism" or "anti-realism" in science. We're not philosophers, we don't play by your rules. We're mostly professionals, a lot of us have a science background. You guys dick around and try to make up non-contradictory schemes for how we should do science, the rest of us grab a spade and actually shovel shit - IOW do the actual science. It has to be admitted that once or twice some of you guys came up with some nifty shit, but mainly all this worry about what exactly truth and beauty is strikes most of us as a waste of time. We know enough to trust the scientific method, it produces results, that's all we care about.

We do know enough to trust the scientific method. But the philosophy of science provides an analysis of what science actually does. And I came to the philosophy section to discuss philosophy. I didn't think I would get so much anti-philosophy sentiment from people browsing the philosophy section. Let me make a suggestion: if you don't find philosophy interesting or useful, don't browse the philosophy section. It makes no sense to constantly interject into attempts at philosophical discourse just to diss philosophy. I'm not saying you do this, but it seems some others here do.

"I think part of the appeal of mathematical logic is that the formulas look mysterious - you write backward Es!" - Hilary Putnam
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21-04-2017, 10:50 AM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 09:02 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 08:30 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  Sure. It's called the fallacy of the stolen concept. It occurs when one makes use of a concept while denying, ignoring or doubting a concept which is logically antecedent to it. An example: Who created the universe? This question essentially is asking what caused existence. But a cause presupposes existence. Therefore the questioner is making use of the concept "cause" in the absence of existence. Another example: God, a conscious being, created everything by speaking it into existence. This statement uses the concept consciousness while denying existence, since this consciousness would exist before it had created anything distinct from itself.

So how does asking one to prove that his senses are reliable commit this fallacy? That's essentially what the question of the reliability of the senses is asking one to do. The validity of the senses is logically antecedent to any proof.

Sye Ten Bruggencate, Matt Slick, Dustin Seegers and other apologists are constantly asking people this question of unbelievers. How do you know your senses and reason are valid? This question commits the fallacy of the stolen concept because the validity of the senses is logically antecedent to the concept of knowledge. Since the senses are our only means of awareness, their validity is axiomatic. Consciousness is an axiomatic concept. It identifies a fact which is implicit in all knowledge. You can't logically make use of the concept consciousness while at the same time denying or doubting the validity of it's only means. Doubting and questioning are a type of conscious activity and could not occur if the senses were not reliable. The very question assumes their reliability since the one asking is counting on the one questioned to be able to perceive and understand the question.

Unfortunately most people are not aware of this very pernicious error in reasoning and the result is a lot of confusion over problems that are not problems at all if one recognizes the logical structure of knowledge. And the validity of the senses is not a trivial side issue, it is foundational to all knowledge. You must accept the validity of the senses before you can even enter the field of epistemology.

Yet we all know that our senses can, and often do, deceive us (especially if we're under the influence of drugs and/or not fully awake). So, while they may be reliable in a general sense, they are not 100% reliable, and it's not a bad thing to be a bit skeptical of what they tell us. I find no fallacy at all in admitting this.

True. I wouldn't agree that our senses deceive us but they do have limitations. But how do we know this? Does it involve our senses?

In the classic example of a stick appearing bent in a glass of water, the senses are not deceiving us. They in fact are giving us a much fuller context. They are not filtering reality. They are showing us what is in front of us, including the fact that light rays travel at a different rate through water and glass and air. That we think on first seeing this scenario, that the stick is actually bent is not an error of the senses but of our identification of the facts being brought to us by the senses. It's an error of the conceptual faculty. The question needs to be asked of those who hold up these type of examples as demonstrating the fallibility of the senses: how did you discover that there was a stick, that it was in a glass of water and that the stick is not actually bent if not by means of those very senses. Blank out?

The senses don't tell us what something is, only that we are perceiving it. Identification and integration is the job of the reasoning part of our brain.that part is definitely fallible and it is also volitional whereas the senses are not. They act automatically. We can not choose not to perceive. Try it next time you go to the dentist. But we can choose not to identify what we perceive. We can evade and rationalize and misidentify and make mistakes. That's precisely why we need an objective method to guide our thinking, to catch errors and to correct them. It's the act of integrating new knowledge with old that we will inevitable find these errors. Unfortunately most people do not integrate their knowledge which is why stolen concepts are so prevalent. They hold a mass of disintegrated concepts which float unconnected to one another. This is why Christians do not have a problem alternating between affirming the primacy of existence And the primacy of consciousness, reason on the one hand and faith on the other. These two things are incompatible.

The tool we use for identifying and integrating what the senses bring in is logic. But logic only gives us the structure, not the content. For the content we are solely dependent on our limited senses. Without them there'd be nothing to identify and integrate. No knowledge.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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21-04-2017, 11:00 AM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 10:39 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 06:37 AM)Naielis Wrote:  That's exactly what I thought. Enter with a fallacious argument for theism no one cares what you do from then on. At least I have some confirmation that there's nothing wrong with this thread. I was so surprised by the responses. It was just utterly mind-boggling. As of right now, I've been ignored by someone here because of this thread, a thread where I simply ask for input on an issue... astounding.

It seems to me that you started the thread with the purpose of throwing around big words and having "deep" discussions. Bro, do that shit with your philosopher buddies. The rest of us couldn't give a shit what you call our position on X random concept like "realism" or "anti-realism" in science. We're not philosophers, we don't play by your rules. We're mostly professionals, a lot of us have a science background. You guys dick around and try to make up non-contradictory schemes for how we should do science, the rest of us grab a spade and actually shovel shit - IOW do the actual science. It has to be admitted that once or twice some of you guys came up with some nifty shit, but mainly all this worry about what exactly truth and beauty is strikes most of us as a waste of time. We know enough to trust the scientific method, it produces results, that's all we care about.

While I agree with your general sentiments, the snarky side of me wants to say "Heaven forbid that anyone should talk philosophy in the 'Philosophy' forum!" Your criticism would be right on the mark if we were in the "Science" forum. There is a reason why these are separate forums.

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21-04-2017, 11:12 AM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 09:23 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 09:07 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Everything we have to work with is the result of our senses. There is nothing else. You either accept that we're studying these results, or there is no discussion to be had at all. We cannot magically bypass them and "see" reality directly. Everything has always gone through at least one filter by the time it's available to us.

By comparing the results of our senses with each other, we can try and piece together what kind of common overlap we have, and call that "reality" (or whatever). This approach has been wildly successful, and no other approaches have even got out of the starting blocks as far as I'm aware.

Standing back and throwing toilet paper at our senses and at science, calling them worthless because they don't grant certainty, doesn't achieve anything. Even if someone managed to somehow tear science down to the ground, they'd then have to make the case for why their system is better (if they even have one). Good luck doing that without referring to the results of our senses.

I'm not sure whether this is aimed at me or Naielis, but I can explain my position at least.

I would never say that our senses are "worthless". They are indeed, as you say, our only source of information about the external world. I merely point out that they are fallible, and thus we can never have "knowledge" (in the strict sense) about the external world.

However, as I said in a post yesterday, I'm perfectly OK with that. I can live my life as if I have knowledge, and I can use the results of science as if they are "truth", and this is exactly what I do, and it works. And this is good enough for me. But I can also admit that, in the strict philosophical sense, "knowledge" and "truth" are both unobtainable. I can and do scoff at anyone who claims certainty about anything beyond analytic statements and logical tautologies.

It was just a general post, it wasn't aimed at anyone in particular Smile

Well, the toilet paper part is Nails. That's what he is doing.

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21-04-2017, 11:35 AM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 08:30 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  So how does asking one to prove that his senses are reliable commit this fallacy? That's essentially what the question of the reliability of the senses is asking one to do. The validity of the senses is logically antecedent to any proof.

Our senses are all unreliable while we are dreaming. None of the stuff we dream about is happening to us in the real world, and in fact similar problems can occur in waking as well. Our confusions are not just a problem of misconceptualizations but of faulty sensory perceptions, especially when we are tired or distracted, or are faced with ambiguous information. Luckily these problems happen rarely enough to normal people that we can correct for them ourselves, but that doesn't eliminate the question of the validity of our senses in all situations. Careful observations actually tell us this is a real problem.
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21-04-2017, 11:53 AM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
Grasshopper: Indeeed, I totally agree with your position.

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21-04-2017, 12:02 PM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 11:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 08:30 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  So how does asking one to prove that his senses are reliable commit this fallacy? That's essentially what the question of the reliability of the senses is asking one to do. The validity of the senses is logically antecedent to any proof.

Our senses are all unreliable while we are dreaming. None of the stuff we dream about is happening to us in the real world, and in fact similar problems can occur in waking as well. Our confusions are not just a problem of misconceptualizations but of faulty sensory perceptions, especially when we are tired or distracted, or are faced with ambiguous information. Luckily these problems happen rarely enough to normal people that we can correct for them ourselves, but that doesn't eliminate the question of the validity of our senses in all situations. Careful observations actually tell us this is a real problem.

Observation by what means?

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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21-04-2017, 12:07 PM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 12:02 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 11:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  Our senses are all unreliable while we are dreaming. None of the stuff we dream about is happening to us in the real world, and in fact similar problems can occur in waking as well. Our confusions are not just a problem of misconceptualizations but of faulty sensory perceptions, especially when we are tired or distracted, or are faced with ambiguous information. Luckily these problems happen rarely enough to normal people that we can correct for them ourselves, but that doesn't eliminate the question of the validity of our senses in all situations. Careful observations actually tell us this is a real problem.

Observation by what means?

I was thinking in terms of our checking our own senses. Most faulty observations, in waking at least, are easily corrected by double-takes because the underlying reality is still there in most cases. This is why faulty sensory information reports are typically one-offs of various kinds, like sightings of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. This is a reason why science requires repetitions.
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21-04-2017, 12:10 PM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 11:35 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 08:30 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  So how does asking one to prove that his senses are reliable commit this fallacy? That's essentially what the question of the reliability of the senses is asking one to do. The validity of the senses is logically antecedent to any proof.

Our senses are all unreliable while we are dreaming. None of the stuff we dream about is happening to us in the real world, and in fact similar problems can occur in waking as well. Our confusions are not just a problem of misconceptualizations but of faulty sensory perceptions, especially when we are tired or distracted, or are faced with ambiguous information. Luckily these problems happen rarely enough to normal people that we can correct for them ourselves, but that doesn't eliminate the question of the validity of our senses in all situations. Careful observations actually tell us this is a real problem.

Dreaming is not perception though. When we dream our subconscious mind rearranges what we have perceived into new combinations that exist only fleetingly in the mind just as our imagination does I when we are awake. Ever noticed that those "perceptions" fade very quickly on waking. This morning I had one of the strangest and most vivid dreams I've ever had. Yet I struggled hard to describe it to my wife only a few minutes later. It wasn't real. It was a product of my imagination. And the primacy of existence assures us of this fact.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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21-04-2017, 12:19 PM
RE: Scientific Realism or Antirealism
(21-04-2017 12:07 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(21-04-2017 12:02 PM)true scotsman Wrote:  Observation by what means?

I was thinking in terms of our checking our own senses. Most faulty observations, in waking at least, are easily corrected by double-takes because the underlying reality is still there in most cases. This is why faulty sensory information reports are typically one-offs of various kinds, like sightings of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. This is a reason why science requires repetitions.

Well we have five main senses and these senses are capable of validating each other in a non-circular way. If I percieve something sitting on a table I can verify that it is there by also touching it, smelling it or tasting it. I can pick it up and drop it and hear the sound it makes.

I once had a very vivid hallucination because of some medication that I was taking. The doctor did not warn me of this because afterwards he told me it was a unique reaction that he'd never seen or heard of. Even in my mind-altered state I was able instantly to identify it as a hallucination, because I could not integrate this experience with the rest of my knowledge such as the fact that lamps and camera lenses do not have the ability to speak and that the grim reaper does not exist.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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