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Is Objectivism Falsifiable or Merely Explanatory?


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#121 Xray

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 01:40 PM



Instinct- supporters usually pose a rational person with an either/or dichotomy ( false, of course) that
he/she doesn't acknowledge his or her instincts, doesn't respect them, and never acts on them.
They do enjoy the mind-body split that much, it seems.


Do you really believe that I want to base a philosophy on instinct?


My instincts tell me that you might...

Your instincts might mislead you here. :)

#122 whYNOT

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:35 PM

"Babies are born blank slates more or less, they have to choose to learn everything - knowledge, morals, everything. Even if this isn't exactly right, what's the big deal??" The problem is the extension of her argument here that places the responsibility of moral development entirely on the individual. Hey, I think we could use a great deal more of individual responsibility and accountability in just about every walk of life. However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum. Personality, intelligence and morality are more inherited than they are self-directed and self-created. We need to understand this reality and deal with it, and not accept Rand's deceptive and erroneous utopia of the 100% self-made man. This is a fantasy, it ain't real. Bob


"She's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum" - well, I suppose that depends where one stands.
If one starts in the middle, one stays there - I believe I've seen/experienced. Just drifting a little, one way, or other
according to "the flow".
Start at the end you think reality lies - and you can always adjust yourself to what life throws at you, but with
firm ground to step back on.

I think there isn't an emphasis on '100% self-made' - no more than Objectivists believe volition is 100%.
Obviously not. It's what one does with all areas that can and do come under one's power - character, thoughts, acts,
values and virtues - and feelings. Once these are made objective (identified) and considered - and given time
and practice, it's incredible how much that 'power' expands further.

Personality and intelligence (also one's culture, you didn't mention) are 'a given', none of which ultimately influence understanding, or one's approach. Unless you want it to so (as perhaps with culture.)

You raised a serious and honest criticism, I think, and this is the best I can do right now and without getting heavily
philosophical, to answer it.
"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge". Nicolaus Copernicus (An original objectivist) 1473-1543 ***No man may be smaller than his philosophy...***

#123 Mikee

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 07:07 PM

"However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum."

Every being, including man, is completely self made. Every cell division and specialization of cells in the womb is the result of the being in question. Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. Once born every movement, every sound you make, every thing you put in your mouth, everything is the result of an individual decision. Everything you become is your decision. You can have a dream, focus all your energy on it and achieve it or you can decide "it's too hard", "I didn't get the right breaks", and fail. The dreams you have are your decision, they can be based on fantasy or realities. In the end, no one makes you except you. All of the accidental conditions in your life and your environment are not decisive. The decision making being at your center is. You are either self made or you are nothing. This is extraordinaryly obvious.

#124 studiodekadent

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:07 AM

This is a late post but it deals with some of the things stated earlier about Karl Popper.

First, one habit I find some Objectivists lapse into is that of casually, caustically, condescendingly criticizing other thinkers without taking the time and effort to understand that other thinker or the context that they worked in.

I don't necessarily agree with Popper, but the man has had plenty of influence and much of it positive. For one, his intellectual relationship with Hayek resulted in Hayek producing one of the most brilliant, stunningly effective critques of the Rationalist/Intrinsicist underpinnings of modern totalitarianism and technocracy. Hayek's work on the Abuse of Reason (by which Hayek meant what we Objectivists would call Intrinsicism and Rationalism) was strongly influenced by Popper.

Second, and this is a more personal point, the Evolutionary Economics of Jason Potts and Kurt Dopfer were originally based on Popperian thought (Potts and Dopfer had not even read Ayn Rand at the time). I did my Masters Thesis on Potts and Dopfer's Evolutionary Economics and found it completely consistent with Objectivism. I even got Jason to read Atlas Shrugged and he loved it. If you want more, read my Masters Thesis in the articles section of the forum (full disclosure: Jason was my thesis advisor).

Basically, Popper is not to be tossed aside with snide, sneering scorn. Whatever his errors, he deserves to be taken seriously.

Now, on to my point about reading Popper in context. First, Popper was principally a philosopher of science and he was dealing with scientific hypotheses first and foremost. Now, also remember that Popper was a traditionally trained philosopher and as such his definition of "certainty" was an intrinsicist definition. The Objectivist notion of "contextual certainty" would simply have made no sense to him. Contextual certainty is a far easier standard than the intrinsicist version.

It is a distortion of Popper to say he argued "empirical evidence tells you nothing about reality." That is completely inaccurate. What Popper was saying was that it is easier to find empirical disproof of an (absolute) hypothesis than it is to find empirical proof of it.

Simple example: "All Swans Are White" (note that this is an absolute hypothesis with no contextualization)

To empirically prove this, you need to go and discover every single swan and check the color of said swan. To empirically disprove this, all you need is a single example of a non-white swan.

Now, to an Objectivist, the discovery of non-white swans is simply an instance where an abstract concept (remember that concepts are open-ended and always subject to revision and recontextualization) needs to be revised; in the context of our previous experiences we were not wrong, but the context has changed and thus the concept needs to adapt to the new evidence.

But by an intrinsicist standard of certainty, we were (absolutely, completely, irreperably, completely) wrong. Popper is simply arguing that, by the intrinsicist standard of certainty, we can never be certain (a point with which Ayn Rand would have agreed).

I haven't read Popper that extensively, but from what I know, his discussion of the Problem of Universals came very close to a conceptualist approach, like Rand's.

Popper is indeed an advocate of what we might call epistemic modesty. But given how the kind of acontextual/intrinsic/eternal truth that the Rationalists hold as the ideal is impossible, perhaps we might benefit from remembering that our knowledge is knowledge of something in particular and thus by definition limited. Perhaps a bit more epistemic modesty (properly conceived) would be a good thing.

Certainly, some Objectivists should be a bit more epistemically modest before launching into critiques of other philosophers.
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#125 Bob_Mac

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:22 AM

"However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum."

Every being, including man, is completely self made. Every cell division and specialization of cells in the womb is the result of the being in question. Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. Once born every movement, every sound you make, every thing you put in your mouth, everything is the result of an individual decision. Everything you become is your decision. You can have a dream, focus all your energy on it and achieve it or you can decide "it's too hard", "I didn't get the right breaks", and fail. The dreams you have are your decision, they can be based on fantasy or realities. In the end, no one makes you except you. All of the accidental conditions in your life and your environment are not decisive. The decision making being at your center is. You are either self made or you are nothing. This is extraordinaryly obvious.


Except you're wrong...

"Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. "

You have a very "interesting" definition of decision....

I do not deny the influence of self on one's character development, intelligence etc., nor do I deny the influence of the environment either. It is an objective and empirically answerable question how much influence each exerts. Best answer right now looks like about 3/4 genetics with variations depending on which trait you examine. Just facts...

Bob

#126 Bob_Mac

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:39 AM


"Babies are born blank slates more or less, they have to choose to learn everything - knowledge, morals, everything. Even if this isn't exactly right, what's the big deal??" The problem is the extension of her argument here that places the responsibility of moral development entirely on the individual. Hey, I think we could use a great deal more of individual responsibility and accountability in just about every walk of life. However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum. Personality, intelligence and morality are more inherited than they are self-directed and self-created. We need to understand this reality and deal with it, and not accept Rand's deceptive and erroneous utopia of the 100% self-made man. This is a fantasy, it ain't real. Bob


"She's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum" - well, I suppose that depends where one stands.
If one starts in the middle, one stays there - I believe I've seen/experienced. Just drifting a little, one way, or other
according to "the flow".
Start at the end you think reality lies - and you can always adjust yourself to what life throws at you, but with
firm ground to step back on.


I don't know what this means. What I mean is that Rand is scientifically wrong to argue that man is tabula rasa and bears all responsibility in developing his own character. One can always improve in these areas within limits, but no matter how hard we try we all cannot be 6'6'' and 350 lbs of muscle just like we all cannot be her moral/character ideal either. We are powerfully genetically pre-programmed.

From Galt's speech:

"As man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul."

No he's not. Only partially so, but 'partially' doesn't sound as good though does it? Truth nonetheless.

The best way to predict a man's wealth is to look his parents, even if he was separated from them at birth.

Bob

#127 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 07:32 AM

Andrew,

I think you gave a pretty good description of part of the problem and approaches with Popper.

I, myself, have noticed some similarities between Popper and Rand based on his article on definitions, and I would agree that he is very clever, but I have a problem when a philosopher denies that induction exists, even calling it a myth.

Here's the product of that kind of thinking--and I have encoutered this frequently.

Or to put it another way Man is born tabula rasa because Man is born tabula rasa,

What is true is true because it is true. That is true, but it tells us nada.

Bob is just doing the buzz whrrrr automatic mouth movements that people who have learned the standard jargon and arguments of this kind of thinking do, so it's not offensive. But some of Popper's followers get real nasty and condescending--even worse than fundy Objectivists over this very point. (I have argued with a fiew.)

When you try to replace induction with deduction and try to turn basic identification into a syllogism (or, on a deeper level, try to replace concept formation with a proposition), you get this "tautology argument."

To be more colorful, you are in the woods. A bear is charging at you. You look at your friend, point to the bear and say, "That is a bear."

He asks, "So?"

You yell, "Run!"

He asks, "Why?"

You start to run. "Because it's a bear, dammit!"

He replies, "A bear is a bear because it's a bear. Ha!. That is a tautology. Circular reasoning. You have told me nothing about it."

You escape and later have some sporadic nightmares about ostensive definitions. Your friend is not heard from again.

:smile:

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#128 BaalChatzaf

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 09:00 AM

Andrew,

I think you gave a pretty good description of part of the problem and approaches with Popper.

I, myself, have noticed some similarities between Popper and Rand based on his article on definitions, and I would agree that he is very clever, but I have a problem when a philosopher denies that induction exists, even calling it a myth.

Here's the product of that kind of thinking--and I have encoutered this frequently.

Or to put it another way Man is born tabula rasa because Man is born tabula rasa,

What is true is true because it is true. That is true, but it tells us nada.

Bob is just doing the buzz whrrrr automatic mouth movements that people who have learned the standard jargon and arguments of this kind of thinking do, so it's not offensive. But some of Popper's followers get real nasty and condescending--even worse than fundy Objectivists over this very point. (I have argued with a fiew.)

When you try to replace induction with deduction and try to turn basic identification into a syllogism (or, on a deeper level, try to replace concept formation with a proposition), you get this "tautology argument."

To be more colorful, you are in the woods. A bear is charging at you. You look at your friend, point to the bear and say, "That is a bear."

He asks, "So?"

You yell, "Run!"

He asks, "Why?"

You start to run. "Because it's a bear, dammit!"

He replies, "A bear is a bear because it's a bear. Ha!. That is a tautology. Circular reasoning. You have told me nothing about it."

You escape and later have some sporadic nightmares about ostensive definitions. Your friend is not heard from again.

:smile:

Michael


You left out the -synthetic- proposition: Bears can be dangerous to humans.

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#129 studiodekadent

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 10:20 AM

But some of Popper's followers get real nasty and condescending--even worse than fundy Objectivists over this very point. (I have argued with a fiew.)


I absolutely agree. Then again, you can find nasty and condescending followers of any philosophy. Not that the nasty Popperians are justified in being nasty; but the fact that nasty Popperians exist does not mean Popper should be tossed out entirely.

I think you gave a pretty good description of part of the problem and approaches with Popper.

I, myself, have noticed some similarities between Popper and Rand based on his article on definitions, and I would agree that he is very clever, but I have a problem when a philosopher denies that induction exists, even calling it a myth.


Is Popper saying that induction as a process is a myth? Perhaps he was using hyperbole (and no Objectivist should be unfamiliar with hyperbolic philosophical statements). I'd at least be tempted to suggest a more charitable reading here, and propose that Popper meant "it is a myth that empirical certainty can come from induction."

Alternatively, he might have been saying that one cannot formulate hypotheses from inductive material alone.

I am no expert on Popper, I concede. Just suggesting the possibilty that a charitable reading, in full context, may result in Popper's arguments sounding far less extreme than "induction does not exist."
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#130 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 10:36 AM

You left out the -synthetic- proposition: Bears can be dangerous to humans.

Bob,

I agree.

But that's because I don't need no stinkin' proposition to know a big hairy animal running at me with sharp pointy teath is all the understanding I need to get the hell out of there.

Oh...

Did I just tell you something about the bear that needed no proposition?

Hmmmmm...

I'll let you guys sit around and talk tautology with the bear.

:)

Michael

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#131 Brant Gaede

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:05 AM

Always hike in the woods with someone who can't run faster than you.*

--Brant
I've been saved three times by this simple rule
*if you want to hike with me send me a pm (Alaska is next)

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#132 Merlin Jetton

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:53 AM

You left out the -synthetic- proposition: Bears can be dangerous to humans.

It need not be synthetic. If one's definition of bear includes it being dangerous, then it is an analytic proposition. This is one reason why the analytic-synthetic distinction is such a feeble, subjective principle.

#133 Mikee

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:45 PM


"However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum."

Every being, including man, is completely self made. Every cell division and specialization of cells in the womb is the result of the being in question. Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. Once born every movement, every sound you make, every thing you put in your mouth, everything is the result of an individual decision. Everything you become is your decision. You can have a dream, focus all your energy on it and achieve it or you can decide "it's too hard", "I didn't get the right breaks", and fail. The dreams you have are your decision, they can be based on fantasy or realities. In the end, no one makes you except you. All of the accidental conditions in your life and your environment are not decisive. The decision making being at your center is. You are either self made or you are nothing. This is extraordinaryly obvious.


Except you're wrong...

"Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. "

You have a very "interesting" definition of decision....

I do not deny the influence of self on one's character development, intelligence etc., nor do I deny the influence of the environment either. It is an objective and empirically answerable question how much influence each exerts. Best answer right now looks like about 3/4 genetics with variations depending on which trait you examine. Just facts...

Bob

Everything that happens to a living being is a result of the decisions the being makes in response to the environment it finds itself in whether the response of the a clump of cells in the womb or a man deciding whether to plant his ass on a couch eating doritos or get up and make a decent meal or go out and exercise. There are no forces aside from internal ones driving these decisions. To nature, the universe, you are no different than a pile of dust. To other living beings you are either a symbiote (trader) or a potential consumable source of energy. If not self made, then what? There is nothing else. If you can't see this you are a fool.

#134 Bob_Mac

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:11 PM



"However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum."

Every being, including man, is completely self made. Every cell division and specialization of cells in the womb is the result of the being in question. Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. Once born every movement, every sound you make, every thing you put in your mouth, everything is the result of an individual decision. Everything you become is your decision. You can have a dream, focus all your energy on it and achieve it or you can decide "it's too hard", "I didn't get the right breaks", and fail. The dreams you have are your decision, they can be based on fantasy or realities. In the end, no one makes you except you. All of the accidental conditions in your life and your environment are not decisive. The decision making being at your center is. You are either self made or you are nothing. This is extraordinaryly obvious.


Except you're wrong...

"Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. "

You have a very "interesting" definition of decision....

I do not deny the influence of self on one's character development, intelligence etc., nor do I deny the influence of the environment either. It is an objective and empirically answerable question how much influence each exerts. Best answer right now looks like about 3/4 genetics with variations depending on which trait you examine. Just facts...

Bob

Everything that happens to a living being is a result of the decisions the being makes in response to the environment it finds itself in whether the response of the a clump of cells in the womb or a man deciding whether to plant his ass on a couch eating doritos or get up and make a decent meal or go out and exercise. There are no forces aside from internal ones driving these decisions. To nature, the universe, you are no different than a pile of dust. To other living beings you are either a symbiote (trader) or a potential consumable source of energy. If not self made, then what? There is nothing else. If you can't see this you are a fool.


A clump of cells makes a meaningful decision. I'm the fool? Fuck off.

#135 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:29 PM

Fuck off.

Bob,

If this were anybody but you, I would let it slide. But in the past, you have shown to be a bully at heart. so I believe you will take silence to mean that you can get away with it, thus you can get away with getting worse. And it will keep growing.

Knock it off.

That is not a request.

Michael

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#136 Brant Gaede

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:31 PM



"However, she's wrong to be at the total far end of the spectrum."

Every being, including man, is completely self made. Every cell division and specialization of cells in the womb is the result of the being in question. Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. Once born every movement, every sound you make, every thing you put in your mouth, everything is the result of an individual decision. Everything you become is your decision. You can have a dream, focus all your energy on it and achieve it or you can decide "it's too hard", "I didn't get the right breaks", and fail. The dreams you have are your decision, they can be based on fantasy or realities. In the end, no one makes you except you. All of the accidental conditions in your life and your environment are not decisive. The decision making being at your center is. You are either self made or you are nothing. This is extraordinaryly obvious.


Except you're wrong...

"Right decisions result in birth, wrong ones miscarriage. "

You have a very "interesting" definition of decision....

I do not deny the influence of self on one's character development, intelligence etc., nor do I deny the influence of the environment either. It is an objective and empirically answerable question how much influence each exerts. Best answer right now looks like about 3/4 genetics with variations depending on which trait you examine. Just facts...

Bob

Everything that happens to a living being is a result of the decisions the being makes in response to the environment it finds itself in whether the response of the a clump of cells in the womb or a man deciding whether to plant his ass on a couch eating doritos or get up and make a decent meal or go out and exercise. There are no forces aside from internal ones driving these decisions. To nature, the universe, you are no different than a pile of dust. To other living beings you are either a symbiote (trader) or a potential consumable source of energy. If not self made, then what? There is nothing else. If you can't see this you are a fool.

You both deny and affirm determinism and free will in every living thing under the useless rubric of "decision."

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism


#137 Bob_Mac

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 02:49 PM



You both deny and affirm determinism and free will in every living thing under the useless rubric of "decision."

--Brant


Not at all. I simply object to the extension of the word "decision" into the realm of involuntary biology. A decision implies responsibility, so it's only a matter of time before the typical randian bait-and-switch happens. In fact I indeed reject the treatment of "decision" as useless.

Bob

#138 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 03:02 PM

I just deleted a disrespectful post by Bob Mac and put him under moderation.

I would not do this with a newbie or even (or especially) a regular who contributes value, but this guy has done this bullying crap too many times in the past here on OL for me to waste much mental energy trying to get through to him.

All he wants to do is say Rand is full of shit and the posters here are, too. That's where every discussion goes with him.

To be fair, I already know he was provoked in this last exchange. I'm aware of that and I even disagree with Mike's argument. But after all the crap this dude has done here on OL, I don't respect him enough to care. The best way to get the bad vibes and childishness to stop is to literally stop him.

Michael

Know thyself...


#139 Brant Gaede

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 03:05 PM




You both deny and affirm determinism and free will in every living thing under the useless rubric of "decision."

--Brant


Not at all. I simply object to the extension of the word "decision" into the realm of involuntary biology. A decision implies responsibility, so it's only a matter of time before the typical randian bait-and-switch happens. In fact I indeed reject the treatment of "decision" as useless.

Bob

I was addressing Mikee. I should have edited out your comments. Sorry.

--Brant

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#140 Brant Gaede

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 03:54 PM

I just deleted a disrespectful post by Bob Mac and put him under moderation.

I would not do this with a newbie or even (or especially) a regular who contributes value, but this guy has done this bullying crap too many times in the past here on OL for me to waste much mental energy trying to get through to him.

All he wants to do is say Rand is full of shit and the posters here are, too. That's where every discussion goes with him.

To be fair, I already know he was provoked in this last exchange. I'm aware of that and I even disagree with Mike's argument. But after all the crap this dude has done here on OL, I don't respect him enough to care. The best way to get the bad vibes and childishness to stop is to literally stop him.

Michael

Your fuse has gotten shorter. This is an observation, not a critique.

--Brant

Rational Individualist, Rational self-interest, Individual Rights--limited government libertarian heavily influenced by Objectivism





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