Posts

Comments

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T21:00:31.417Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Certainly, I'm at least "pretending" to have "some familiarity" with the field's content, and how that content relates to its raison d'etre, by way of citing hundreds of works in the field, quoting philosophers, hosting a podcast for which I interviewed dozens of philosophers for hours on end, etc.

You'd think if this were the case you'd be able to make a more honest assessment of the field.

I've said specific things about the ways in which many philosophers are ignoring scientific results, but I'm quite aware that they pay attention to other parts of science, and of course that many of them (e.g. the experimental philosophers) pay attention to the kinds of evidence that I'm accusing others of ignoring.

Alright, I'll grant you this. You've still made the point that the field of philosophy has not acknowledged the unreliability of intuitions, as if this were a novel insight and not something that is taken very seriously in the modern-day (at least) debates, and that this is a fundamental flaw in the discipline itself.

Where did I say that?

Right here:

What would happen if we dropped all philosophical methods that were developed when we had a Cartesian view of the mind and of reason, and instead invented philosophy anew given what we now know about the physical processes that produce human reasoning?

The implication being that Cartesian views of mind and reason are in any way relevant to modern philosophy. This isn't even true for Continental philosophy and hasn't been for a long time.

Wait, first you claim that "you said in your article that..." and in the very next paragraph you claim that I've "taken it for granted without outright saying it"? I'm very confused.

I agree, you are, so let's slow down and look at my actual criticism again.

What you wrote was that philosophers accept intutions at face value, uncritically...which isn't true, and I responded accordingly.

What you implied, in that it follows necessarily from your explicitly-made argument, is that since some philosophers accept intutions as valid, therefore the discipline-as-a-whole is broken. But that isn't true; the entire point is to discuss disparate, conflicting, and even dubious ideas; this is no blackmark as you've construed it.

No. I complain when I do all the work of presenting arguments, examples, and evidence, and you simply deny it all without presenting any arguments, examples, and evidence of your own.

A convenient way to hide behind your biases, I suppose, but I'm not sure what it accomplishes otherwise. Even the Stanford Encyclopedia's entries on moral theory and ethics don't back up your "unique" assessment of the field.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T20:49:56.936Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You can say this is just the way things are in philosophy, but then why should we fund philosophy?

Because some of us realize that there are types of inquiry which are valuable and useful despite the confusion they offer to hyper-systemizing brains who can't accept any view of reality outside a broken conception of radically reductive materialism.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T20:39:44.644Z · score: -6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You're asking me to do all the work, here. I've provided examples and evidence, and you've just flatly denied my examples and evidence without providing any counterexamples or counterevidence.

All I've asked you to do is at least pretend you have some familiarity with the field's content, and how that content relates to its raison d'etre. As before, I don't have to provide "counterevidence" that science doesn't take luminiferous ether seriously as a hypothesis; anyone familiar with the field would already know this.

I never said that debates about ethics are problematic, and I never said there's something wrong with philosophy examining ideas.

Of course you didn't say it, because that would be stupid, but it's implicit in the points you've repeatedly made, viz. "philosophers are stupid, if they only paid attention to science...." Well, they do pay attention to science, in fact there is a whole realm of philosophers who pay attention to science and make that a centerpiece of their discussion, and that given philosophy's purpose as "engagement with ideas" it is implicit that, wonder of wonders, some philosophers will take positions that disagree with the claim you've put forth.

That latter statement is the issue, as you said in your article that, since some philosophers accept intuitions as valid (a claim you never bothered to unpack or examine in any detail), therefore we should consider philosophy a primitive and useless artifact of Cartesian thinking.

You've taken it for granted without outright saying it. Maybe if you read more philosophy you wouldn't make these kinds of errors.

Again, I'm the one who bothered to provide examples and evidence for my position. You're the one who keeps declaring things wrong without providing any examples and evidence to support your own view. Declaring something wrong without providing reason or evidence is against the cultural norm around here, and you are the one who is violating it.

I see, so the cultural norm is to take unfavorable samples of a field you don't like, present them as exemplars, used them as grounds to justify a giant-sized strawman against said field, complain when people don't accept that position without criticism, and then hide behind conveniently linked rules meant to fortify your pre-existing groupthink.

Sounds far more rational than every other web forum ever.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T20:21:50.447Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe you can somehow show that the problem isn't rampant.

Sure. Should I go about showing there are no unicorns and leprechauns while I'm at it?

ps when a restricted set of statements is used as the exemplar of a very wide and very deep field of which the entire point is to discuss ideas and their implications the proper response to criticism is not "oh yeah well prove it's not true"

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T20:11:47.790Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

According to Luke, this is not a strawman, but in fact a correct representation of the current state of affairs.

It is correct if you go by a select set of quotes that, from what I can tell, have been chosen specifically to support a presupposed position, i.e., philosophers don't think about obvious problems which have been intimately entwined with moral and ethical philosophy for hundreds of years.

Obviously I don't feel that this is correct, or that the quotes given are representative of what they're being made to represent.

I don't know what you mean by "settle", but Luke does present several pieces of strong evidence against the proposition that our intuitions can be trusted.

Sure. And presenting "strong evidence" in a reasoned back-and-forth is the point of philosophy, since every position has evidence which (it considers to be) strong support. This is why the debate is necessary, unless, as I wrote elsewhere, you presuppose there is only one privileged interpretation of the existing data.

If you believe that then I'd refer you to the debate around underdetermination and IBE in philosophy of science for a healthy re-orientation of your worldview.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T20:01:28.295Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In this "Philosophy by Humans" sub-sequence, it seems like the most common response I get is, "No, philosophers can't actually be that stupid," even though my post went to the trouble of quoting philosophers saying "Yes, this thing here is our standard practice."

So? I can quote scientists saying all manner of stupid, bizarre, unintuitive things...but my selection of course sets up the terms of the discussion. If I choose a sampling that only confirms my existing bias against scientists, then my "quotes" are going to lead to the foregone conclusion. I don't see why "quoting" a few names is considered evidence of anything besides a pre-existing bias against philosophy.

On a second and more important point, you've yet to elaborate on why having a debate about ethics is problematic in the first place. Your appeal to Eliezer and his vague handwaving about "bad habits" and "real work" (which range from "too vague" to "nonsensical" depending on how charitable you want to be) is not persuasive, so I'd ask again: what is wrong with philosophy doing what it is supposed to do, i.e., examine ideas?

I realize that declaring it "wrong" by fiat seems to be the rule around here, if the comments are any indication, but from the philosophical standpoint that's a laughable argument to make, and it's not persuasive to anyone who doesn't already share your presuppositions.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T19:50:57.787Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You can understand the difference between being a rough progenitor of a historical tradition in thought, on the one hand, and the views held by an individual, correct?

Honestly I'd expected a little better than the strategy of circling of the wagons and defending the group on the site of Pure Rationality where we correct biased thinking. Turns out LW is like every other internet forum and the focus on "rationality" makes no difference in the degree biases underpinning the arguments?

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T19:39:56.494Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you aren't denying or opposing anything, then what work is "only" doing in the sense "the natural world is the only world"?

In that there is "no more than", in ontological terms, there are no other fundamental categories of being. I don't have to explicitly deny that unicorns exist in order to rule them out of any taxonomy of equine animals.

If you've presupposed a worldview that allows for "supernatural" or "mystical" or Cartesian mind-substance or what have you, then of course the opposition seems obvious, but modern analytical naturalism as it stands makes no such allowance. This is why we cannot take our presuppositions for granted.

Define 'science,' while you're at it.

You don't have the space on this forum for that debate. However, for pragmatic purposes, let's (roughly) call it the social activity of institutionalized formal empirical inquiry, inclusive of the error-correcting norms and structures meant to filter our systematic errors.

The vagueness of the term 'naturalism' is the primary reason it's a bad habit to define your methods or world-view in terms of it.

Maybe if you didn't take flippant comments and run with them you wouldn't encounter this problem. I brought up naturalism because I found it hilarious that "even modern analytic philosophy" teaches these laughably vague "bad habits" -- which you still seem surprisingly unconcerned with, given the far more serious issues there -- and contemporary naturalism as practiced by many philosophers in the English-speaking world is as pro-science a set of ideas as you'll find.

Spiraling it out into this protracted debate about whether we can accurately define naturalism -- on your terms, no less -- is not the point of the exercise (and I suspect it's only happened to take the focus off the matter at hand: that there is no adequate account of these "bad habits" and we're seeing an interference play to keep eyes off it).

There is virtually no content to 'naturalism' or 'scientism,' beyond the fact that both are associated with science and the former has a positive connotation, while the latter has a negative connotation.

Yes I'm well aware of the dislike of anything intrinsically opposed to the formal and computable around these parts, and I also find that position to be laughable (and a shining example of why you folks need to engage with philosophy rather than jumping head-first into troubling [and equally laughable] moral-ethical positions).

But, as per the thread, there is a more interesting and proximate criticism: your intuitions on such are unreliable, by your own lights, so you'll pardon me if I am hardly persuaded by your fiat declaration that i) there is "no content" to a whole wide-ranging debate (of which you seem barely familiar with, at that, with your introduction of yet another nonsensical opposition that might as well be fiction for all it reflects the actual process*) and ii) that we should -- again by decree -- paint as "useless" the tools and methods used to engage in the debate.

We are only fortunate that the actual intellectual world doesn't conduct itself like a message board.

  • PS There is no serious debate "between" naturalism and scientism. The latter isn't even a "position" as such, even less so than naturalism could be.
Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T19:24:48.018Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Luke says that even naturalistic philosophers exhibit these bad habits. He does not say that naturalism is a bad habit, or that it's a bad habit because it uses science to understand the world.

Not quite:

reading too much mainstream philosophy ... is somewhat likely to "teach very bad habits of thought that will lead people to be unable to do real work."

"Teach" implies that engaging one's self with "too much" mainstream philosophy will cause bad habits to arise (and make one unable to do 'real work', whatever that might be).

Unexamined presuppositions make a wonderful basis for discourse.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T09:01:41.232Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Because in a general sense, ignoring a large and useful body of knowledge out of hand and on the grounds that it triggers intuitive dislikes (esp. when said intuitions are based on a weak strawman interpretation of said discipline) is usually not a good move.

More specific to the argument at hand, why should a debate about reliability of intuitions disqualify philosophy? Do you believe this is a settled debate? And if so, on what grounds is it settled?

The center of the issue is that you can't answer these questions empirically. What observation(s) could you ever make that would settle the matter? We've got to invoke some form of philosophical justification even if it is vague and implicit. I'd prefer a more rigorous framework, as I imagine would most here, and that is what philosophy does and why it is still taken seriously, Eliezer's exasperation and misunderstanding notwithstanding.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T08:50:24.902Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To be frank, although I speak for myself and not lukeprog, framing the scientific method or world-view in terms of 'naturalism,' or in terms of a nature/'supernature' dichotomy, is a bad habit. I can't say much more than that until you explain what you personally mean by 'naturalism.'

I'm thinking of naturalism as broadly accepted by modern analytic philosophy, in Quine's terms and in more modern constructions which emphasize i) that the natural world is the "only" world (this is not to be confused with a dualistic opposition to anything "supernatural"; the supernatural is simply ruled out as an option) and ii) that science is a preferred means of obtaining knowledge about said world.

I realize that's less clear than you may want, but the vagueness of the term is part of why I found it objectionable to treat is as instilling "bad habits".

Are you alluding to the fact that we all rely on intuitions in our everyday reason?

Well, indirectly, but the specific point was that the argument presented here is an intuition about what goes on in philosophy, what constitutes the current trends and debates within the discipline, and so on, and it appears to me that it is more strawman than a rigorous reply to those activities.

Given that it's an intuition underpinning an article about the unreliability of intuitions, well...you can appreciate the meta-humor I found there.

It's 'Scrutinize intuitions to determine which ones we have reason to expect to match the contours of the territory.'

Of course, and as I've relayed in other comments, this is no insight to philosophers -- philosophers already do this. We could of course point out instances where the philosopher's argument is predicated on validating intutions, but even there you are guaranteed to see a more nuanced position than the uncritical acceptance of common-sense intuitions, and as such even those positions mandate more than a sweeping dismissal.

The successes of philosophy -- successes like 'science' and 'mathematics' and 'logic' -- are formalized and heavily scrutinized networks of intuitions, intuitions that we have good empirical reason to think happen to be of a rare sort that correspond to the large-scale structure of reality.

And ethics/meta-ethics, moral theory, social theory, aesthetics...all of these are, at least in part, beyond the realm of the empirical, and it is a philosophical stance you have taken which puts them in the realm of the physical and empirical or else excludes their reality (if you go the eliminativist route).

These domains are arguably as successful at what they do as math and logic have been in their respective domains, and frankly they don't operate anything like what you've described (re: empirically-discovered relations to the large scale of reality). This is part of why we need naturalistic philosophy, because without it you wind up with unabashed scientism like this, which sits right on the precipice of "ethical" choices which can be monstrous.

Personally I think even other forms of philosophy are not only useful, but what have been called "bad habits" by Eliezer et al. are actually central components of a lived human life. I wouldn't be so hasty to get rid of them, and certainly not with such a sweeping set of dismissals about the primacy of science.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T07:54:30.487Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Thinking 'naturalism' is a unitary concept that the members of some relevant linguistic community or intellectual elite share is itself a startlingly good example of the 'intuitions aren't shared' corrective lukeprog was making.

But calling it a "bad habit" with no justification or qualification is exempt from being an equally good (better, in fact, given that I'd not at all expanded on naturalism and certainly not with a dismissive one-liner) example of the "corrective"?

PS -- the Stanford Encyclopedia is as good a "proof" as posting a link from Wikipedia. There is (of course) debate in philosophy, but to claim that "naturalism" encourages "bad habits" is just plain sloppy thinking and a strawman built against equally sloppy philosophy undergrads.

If intuitions aren't reliable, then this entire line of thought is unreliable :-)

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T07:44:25.325Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

But secondly... debate about the reliability of intuitions, really ? Isn't this basically a very strong sign that modern philosophy can safely be ignored, just like modern astrology ?

No.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T07:32:31.000Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

arguing endlessly about definitions, or using one's own intuitions as strong evidence about how the external world works.

So this comes down to what you said previously about not liking people who came out of Philosophy 101, e.g., it's an argument against a philosophical tradition that does not actually exist.

These are bad habits relative to, you know, not arguing endlessly about definitions, and using science to figure out how the world works.

You mention naturalism as a "bad habit" for using science to understand the world?

Do you actually understand what naturalism is and what relationship it has with science?

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T07:14:33.220Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think Eliezer is generally right that reading too much mainstream philosophy — even "naturalistic" analytic philosophy — is somewhat likely to "teach very bad habits of thought that will lead people to be unable to do real work."

Also could you expand on this as I didn't catch it before the edit?

It's not obvious what the "bad habits" might be, and what they are bad relative to. This reads as a claim that would be very hard to defend at face value, and without clarification it reads like a throwaway attack not to be taken seriously.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T07:04:01.982Z · score: -1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The field as a whole (or rather, some within it, to be more accurate) takes these issues seriously as a matter of debate, yes, but arguing over controversial claims is the entire point of philosophy so that's no mark against it. It's also a radically different position from the strong claim you've advanced here that the field itself is broken, which is nonsense to anyone familiar with modern moral philosophy and ethics/meta-ethics and is dangerously close to a strawman argument.

To say the problem is "rampant" is to admit to a limited knowledge of the field and the debates within it.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T06:53:09.430Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Oh I doubt I'd be surprised, but that's more a problem of the people coming out of Philosophy 101 than the discipline itself. Frege and Bertrand Russell put most of the metaphysical extravagances to bed (in the Anglo-American tradition at least) with the turn towards formal logic and language, and the modern-day analytic tradition hasn't ever looked back.

As it stands the field has about as much to do with mind-body dualism or idealism (or their respective toolkits) as theoretical physics. This goes for ethics and meta-ethics, and no serious writer in that topic would entertain Cartesian dualism or Kantian deontology or any other such in a trivial form. The idea of contingent, historical, contextually-sensitive ethics is widely recognized and is indeed a topic of lively discussion.

Comment by myron_tho on Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way · 2012-11-29T06:37:37.043Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

For one thing, we would never assume that people of all kinds would share our intuitions.

You write this like it's an original insight and not a problem that has been taken seriously by every philosopher who ever wrote seriously about ethics or meta-ethics.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-29T01:27:05.804Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

fix myron's thoughts

And they still see no problem with reducing everything to rationality. As if "fixing" based on some unjustified utopian ideals hasn't led to just about every atrocity in history.

But no really THIS TIME we've got it right. No, really.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-29T00:12:31.180Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's almost like they aren't mutually exclusive claims.

You're a bit of an idiot

Show your calculations for this argument.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-29T00:02:27.937Z · score: -6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What do you think we could use to make arguments, if not logic?

Why should consciousness or aesthetics reduce to arguments of any kind? Why should they be amenable to formalization in agreement with a rather bizarre epistemic position?

It doesn't justify itself in terms of an undeniable logical proof but in terms of a process that cannot be escaped and which is intrinsic to every aspect of human behavior.

That is an unfortunately narrow encapsulation of human nature.

Fuck off.

You mad bro?

Maybe you should re-calculate your emotions for a more reasonable outcome.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-28T23:37:49.775Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think you might accept it but have hidden flaws within your reasoning process that lead you to misunderstand your own beliefs.

Prove it.

I think that if you truly rejected this position then you would be unable to make decisions or understand arguments in aesthetic or ethical or consciousness related domains.

This speaks more to the limitations of your ability to think outside your box than it does to problems with my, or anyone else's, thinking. You're so married to the Computer Metaphor that the possibility of thought and experience outside of it is simply inconceivable; of course this leaves you wide-open to charges of pseudo-science.

It has no ultimate foundation, but the foundation that it does have is intrinsic to the very mode of our existence and our values, and that makes it the best.

If it is intrinsic to our mode of existence then it does have a foundation, so which is it?

I still find it hilarious (and not in a good way) that you're so insistent on treating your particular notion of values as justification for what is "best"; as if there is no such thing as a historical contingency or accident that might just call that into question on a deep level.

Even Kant figured this out in the 1700s. Score one more for philosophy.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-28T23:33:21.283Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

calculate beauty

This is why these arguments are not taken seriously.

Why should I (or anyone outside this circle) accept that this is a claim to be taken seriously? It sounds like you've found a fine metaphor that you believe can encompass any and all forms of mental activity and thus can "explain" anything put to it.

Freudian psychoanalysis can make the same claim to truth about the mind, of course, so you've offered up on rational case for why anyone should accept this as true.

See what happens when you ignore philosophy?

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-28T23:15:24.834Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think that rationality encompasses all of those things entirely and don't understand why you believe differently.

I don't believe it because I am persuaded by arguments against treating consciousness and some features of consciousness as rational (that "useless" Continental philosophy as well as related arguments by John Searle, if you'd like a look).

This epistemic condition is inevitable, because you ARE a thinking subject. If you prioritize a different epistemic condition above this one I don't understand how you can go about living your life.

It clearly isn't inevitable if I am a thinking subject and do not accept that everything in reality boils down to formal rationality, which I do not.

There's no logical reason to give rationality privileged grounds. But I think that people should choose epistemic systems which connect to their own understanding of the way reality works. I think this on a value-level basis, not a logical metaphysical one.

I have no issue with this reasoning (although I obviously disagree with it). The issue arises from bold claims to capital-T Truth status, which are built on flimsy grounds.

I don't believe that aesthetics is meaningless. I don't know why you think rationality believes that.

Because aesthetic enjoyment is non-rational.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-28T22:58:59.175Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is no logical way that I can prove to you that reality exists. If you want one, I am sorry. Nonetheless, my senses tell me that reality exists and that logic works and that my values are good. I accept those senses because the alternative is to embrace groundlessness and the total destruction of meaning.

I have no exceptional quarrel with scientific realism nor the existence of an objective and mind-independent reality. I am however skeptical, firstly, of the idea that restricting inquiry into that domain to "rationality" is needlessly constraining, and secondly that privileging "objective" modes of inquiry leaves out very important matters -- like consciousness, ethics, and aesthetics, to name a few.

You do not show how other philosophies can solve the problems I outline. You have no offense against rationalism. Rationalism has offense against other philosophies because rationalism works. Even if rationalism doesn't work, it appears to, and is the inescapable condition of my life. I can't help but think in terms of logic and induction and empiricism, and I refuse to embrace any abstract form of truth without a tangible connection to my own internal understanding of the universe.

Indeed, I do not show how other philosophies may solve the problems because I question their status as problems at all. To treat everything as a "problem" that can and must be solved by Mighty Intellect is to implicitly endorse a particular epistemic, if not metaphysical, position -- a position that takes for granted a particular status of thinking subjects as they relate to mind-independent reality and other beings -- and I simply choose not to endorse that position, or more to the point, not to endorse it as uncritically as the locals here are wont to do.

To repeat my earlier point: why should rationalism be given privileged grounds? The no-miracles argument is about the only thing you've got to hang a hat on, and it is trivial to point out that there are many instances just in science alone where we don't have knowledge and may never be able to acquire it. This is without even getting into arguments about why "progress" and "doing things" should be the ultimate measuring stick of usefulness, let alone truth.

The choice isn't between one philosophy and many, which are equally justified, but between one philosophy which is my own and the one that I can't help but believe, and others which are so abstract and deconnected from my own experiences and understanding that they fail to provide any sort of value in my life.

I can't speak for everyone of course but I find immense value in aesthetics and in other non-rational modes of human experience, and equally, I find myself wary of philosophies that exclude such values and treat them as meaningless.

In reality all this article has done is show that philosophy is far from dead; LessWrong has simply chosen to adopt a particularly limiting form of it and decry everything outside that sphere.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-28T22:14:33.837Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The brute fact of our existence is that some things work and others don't, that some things seem right and others seem wrong. If someone is insistent upon denying reality, then that's their affair, but they should know that there are consequences to this rejection. I consider the rejection of reality to be viceful, because those who do so reject their own current values and intutions in favor of an embrace of an abstract form of nihilism. Nihilism is much easier than acknowledging reality, but it's also much worse, in my opinion.

This paragraph moves from (rightly) noting that we cannot establish certainty to, in the very next sentence, a confident assertion of truth without so much as an attempt at justification. Repeating unjustified claims ad nauseam is, despite the LessWrong belief that simply repeating a claim is enough to make it so, only illustrates why this project fails: the lack of justification (minus the invocation of Putnam's "no miracles" argument, which is not as ironclad as you believe) is a very real problem for the brash and sweeping generalization that "philosophy is diseased and useless".

As an aside, I find it interesting that you speak to me of "nihilism" given the argument for reductionism of the worst sort. Talk about "values devaluing themselves"; your own position is incompatible with value and meaning!

The lack of respect for philosophy here is telling; the consensus arguments here aren't even consistent, let alone capable of making informed claims to truth. You cannot simply put forth a metaphysical position -- and you are most certainly doing so despite the unwillingness to acknowledge your beliefs -- and then handwave it away as "well we think it works so we're right".

The fact that it does work, or that it seems to work, is enough for me.

Works for what? In trivial cases of "common sense" where induction is more or less "right"? For some instances of medicine, electronics, other assorted applications of technology? I'll grant you that too.

As a totalizing and unassailable account of humanity, the natural world, all possible knowledge? Absolutely not. Given that the consensus around here is that life and mind are reducible to rationality and technology metaphors, I hardly find this position surprising, although it is all but indefensible by your own stated positions.

Comment by myron_tho on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2012-10-28T20:57:57.105Z · score: -6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I can see why philosophy is so bothersome to people who believe that rationality can and should be the only path to knowledge, and the equally troubled belief that reductionism applies to any science outside of physics.

So I have to ask: on what grounds do you rationally justify any of your own claims to Truth and Right? It certainly isn't through empiricism, despite the vile form of scientistic reductionism that is evangelized around these parts. There is a form of reasoning at work behind these claims, of course, but without a clear philosophical grounding you're left with a series of implicit, half-formed assumptions that you simply hold up as self-evident (they are not, which is why we have philosophy in the first place).

You will earn +5 points if you can justify any of your presuppositions regarding the superiority of "objectivity" and "rationality" as modes of inquiry without an appeal to metaphysics and the "magical categories" that your rationality-seeking brains reject a priori.

Comment by myron_tho on An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction · 2012-10-14T07:17:41.709Z · score: 0 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested to know how this methodology is supposed to diverge from existing methods of science in any useful way. We've had a hypothesis-driven science since (at least) Popper and this particular approach seems to offer no practical alternative; at best we're substituting one preferred type of non-empirical criteria for selection (in this case, a presumed ability to calculate he metaprobabilities that we'd have to assume for establishing likelihoods of given hypotheses, a matter which is itself controversial) for the currently-existing criteria, along the lines of elegance, simplicity, and related aesthetic criteria which currently encompass inference to the best explanation.

With regards to the above metaprobabilities, how are we to justify these assumptions with regards to epistemic uncertainty? Popper and Hume have already shown us that, for all intents and purposes, we can't justify induction and Solomonoff is no realizable way around that. I don't see how substituting one mode of inference, based on a set of assumptions that are given no justification whatsoever, provides a superior or even a reasonably-supportable alternative to current methods of science.

This is undoubtedly a useful heuristic for establishing confirmation of what has been observed, but then again so is the research structure we already possess; to claim that such an unsupported and unjustified methodology as outlined in this article is in any way establishing "truth" above and beyond current methods of confirming hypotheses is to overstate the case to such a degree that it cannot be taken seriously.