Posts

Against Street Epistemology 2019-04-25T05:01:00.307Z · score: 17 (21 votes)

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Comment by eponym on Against Street Epistemology · 2019-04-25T23:07:16.128Z · score: -1 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If a practice is flawed and fruitless, isn't that a reason to avoid it? That was the idea, anyway. What I said about it has to do with its structure and content, not with what I "dislike" about it.

Comment by eponym on Against Street Epistemology · 2019-04-25T20:28:04.765Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I gave a bunch of concrete criticisms. For those reasons I think it's flawed as a practice and approach to discourse. What's there to be confused about?

Comment by eponym on Against Street Epistemology · 2019-04-25T20:04:51.283Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Are you saying that global scepticism is wrong or indefensible? Or just that it is presupposition of the street Epistemologist's, and so that the problem is done kind of bias.

The second is closer to what I'm saying. SE makes a whole bunch of loaded assumptions about knowledge and method which are baked into the structure of the conversation but which the conversation is designed to avoid discussing. Hence what I say in the last two paragraphs.

In my experience, when laypeople use special pleading

What does this have to do with special pleading?

Comment by eponym on Against Street Epistemology · 2019-04-25T14:42:10.828Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for bringing his work to my attention, looks very interesting.

Comment by eponym on Criticizing Critics of Structural-Functionalism · 2019-04-18T20:14:42.781Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As best as I can tell, you're trying to get at the coordination problem between theory and reality. That problem is usually phrased this way: how do formal terms and parameters in a scientific theory refer to features of reality? By themselves, the terms and parameters are just abstract structures with no empirical content. So, how are they given empirical content?

You kind of stumble through a bunch of semi-related topics, though. What have you been reading, if you don't mind me asking? Here's what I (Master's in HPS) would consider the most important works on the topic to read and digest:

  • The Theory of Relativity and A Priori Knowledge by Hans Reichenbach
  • Scientific Representation by Bas van Fraassen
  • Inventing Temperature by Hasok Chang

There are lots of other relevant works besides these three, but they in particular are seminal and will point you to all the other stuff in their notes and bibliography anyway.

That said, I'll respond to a few of the specific points in what you wrote.

Formal theories seek to be redundant—they seek to be superfluous in so far as genuine redundancy can be achieved. Such a scheme would allow for one to superimpose their personal experience onto the logical structure of theory and yield an affirmative result (if the theory proves workable for that specific case).

Not all the terms of a theory will be directly connected to perception, even indirectly by measurement or by calculation from measurement. So whatever else it might mean to coordinate a theory with reality, it isn't some sort of one-to-one correspondence with observation. Even if it were, it's not clear what it means to "superimpose personal experience onto the logical structure." You also later refer to "concrete observable structures" being "isomorphic" to to "abstract theoretical structures." What are the actual operations involved in doing this?

This reciprocal correspondence between theory and measurement is really one between two higher level systems derived from, but not identical to, base reality. Both are subordinate to base reality. The empirical is not to be confused with the “real” as empirical data and its accompanying methodologies can be, and routinely are, faulty. Moreover, appearance is not to be confused with reality, nor are observations of those appearances.

You're sort of getting at something van Fraassen spends a lot of time on, namely that mathematical theories are usually tested by comparing them to data models, rather than reality "directly," and so there's a further question about how data models (which are also mathematical objects) are coordinated with reality. It's by investigating this question, which Reichenbach wasn't quite attuned to, that van Fraassen is able to pick apart and resolve issues in Reichenbach's proposed solution to the coordination problem.

More generally, the argument can be defined thusly: The description of all the statements which constitute a social systems theory as tautological is inevitable as they are all true in virtue of their form but not in virtue of fact. They need not bear any resemblance to the world, but only need satisfy the structure of the system and the logical minds who created it. The structure is coherent, but coherence doesn't necessarily imply a correspondence to reality, and hence the target of formalization. This can be called the general problem of formalization—as it applies to any science.

Last point I'll make is that I'm not sure where the argument you're criticising is coming from. Who says this? It seems like a weak version of something else, but I'm not sure what because the terms you're using to express it in this post are idiosyncratic.

Comment by eponym on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-01T19:55:32.116Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In what ways do they diverge, and why?

Comment by eponym on HPS Reading Group, Session I · 2018-09-13T00:19:04.040Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hi folks, I'm the organiser. Very eager to get this reading group started. Any lurking Vancouverites who haven't become involved in the core community should feel very free to show up.