Daniel Barnes

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Posts posted by Daniel Barnes

  1. OK, so Kelly explains why Ellen still don't seem to have grasped the point he is making.


    I will try as well.

    There are two things: 1) What is true and 2) What I believe (sometimes with a feeling of unassailable certainty) is true.

    Ironically, her arguments for certainty turned out to be wrong in at least one, and quite possibly two, ways that she didn'trealise. The point being that while she was feeling unassailably certain, she was actually wrong without knowing it. This islike a perfect little case study for the benefits of a fallibilist attitude.

    Understanding this is a very important part of Critical Rationalism. This is why it is clear Ellen hasn't quite grokked Kelly's, and Popper's, point. Popper argues the truth exists, that you can know it but...and this is the important bit...you can never quite know that you know it.

    As Ellen has found out.

  2. [in Lee Kelly's essay] He doesn't seem to grasp that what one can't do is to assert intelligibly that there isn't something, one's statement itself being something. The issue isn't what one is allowed to say or believe, like following rules in a game.

    ...Again, he seems to be thinking of logic as normative prescriptions on belief, and not as an essential means of assessing truth. I wonder what method he proposes to use in trying to find out what's true - and if he proposes shooting the horse Popper rode in on (modus tollens).

    Lee Kelly argues here in some detail that Ellen's criticisms are on the wrong track. For example her argument from "intelligibility" doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and what seems intuitively unassailable turns out to be quite questionable under closer analysis.

    Further, I would add that the above comment about Kelly "shooting the horse Popper rode in on" suggests it is Ellen's readings of Popper that have missed the point, not Kelly's. Popper's work from "The Logic of Scientific Discovery" onwards is an attempt to answer the problem of "what is the best way to use logic to discover the truth about the world?" And his answer was logic is better used to eliminate what's false, rather than find out what's true. So this other criticism of Kelly also seems on the wrong track.

    But let's give Ellen's criticisms of Kelly the maximum sympathy, and assume she is right and Kelly is wrong about the statement "S:S doesn't exist".

    The question then is, what follows from this? What wider point does she think this makes? One can anticipate an obvious larger argument from this point, perhaps following from Rand, and likewise anticipate what is also obviously wrong with that wider argument.

    But we will not know until she explains her wider point, if indeed she has one.

  3. Do other people comply when you try that sort of thing, so you think I will?

    Once again, I don't really get this blanket hostility to perfectly reasonable suggestions. One of the things reading Popper taught me is to try to check on the problem under discussion as early as possible. Saves people wasting time talking at cross purposes, especially when they might have key issues in common. Often major disagreements turn out to be merely verbal confusions at bottom, and not real issues.

    While I'm pretty thick skinned, it doesn't seem productive carrying on a discussion with someone who treats everything I say as if it were some dastardly trick, and who doesn't want to clearly state the point they're trying to make anyway.

  4. How noble. Actually, I'd call it using Popper to provide a veneer of respectability any time you want to avoid acknowledging unclarity.


    Well, you can impute what you will into it, but the fact remains this is a principle I believe in, and so act accordingly. If you are one of those folks who loves them a good terminological dispute, well that's your choice. Objectivism is chock-full of such scholasticism, so you're not alone. Following Popper, I don't regard it as productive.

    As far as "unclarity" goes, I admit I'm not clear as to the more important question of what problem you're trying to solve with this discussion. Particularly as you now seem to be pursuing whatever it is with increasing momentum by posting Lee Kelly's essay in full. What point are you trying to make? Can you summarise it ?

    For my part, while I don't know Lee, I'm happy to alert him to the fact you're critiquing his essay, in case he wants to come over here and discuss it directly.

  5. Ellen, I'll take that as a "no".

    PS: If you have read your Popper, you should know that not quibbling over terminology is not a "ploy", but a principle. Of course, there are people that love nothing more than quibbling endlessly over terms. It is an regrettably widespread practice, especially in philosophy. As you know well I am not one of those people. So, following this principle, I avoid getting into lengthy debates over this sort of thing.

  6. Merlin, if you think a mild, qualified criticism like:

    "I would argue that by Rand not specifying 'primacy of physical existence' it makes her formulation less precise (though I agree that in some passages she hints at a dualism). At any rate, quibbling over who's got the most precise terminology is not that important, so we can agree to disagree over this."

    ...constitutes a "slam" then clearly you need to spend a little more time in the ring...;-)

  7. [...] the primacy of physical reality, or what Rand called somewhat less precisely the "primacy of existence".

    Um. I think I don't agree that "primacy of physical reality" is a more precise way of stating what Rand meant by "primacy of existence."

    For one thing, she and Branden rejected the description "materialist" - and there are hints of at least property dualism in things she said about mind and volition. For another, there's the supposed adopting of Aristotle's views on causality. Also, there's the issue of "Peikoff's puffs," which was a late development (early '70s).

    Ok, you disagree over the precision of terminology. I would argue that by Rand not specifying "primacy of physical existence" it makes her formulation less precise (though I agree that in some passages she hints at a dualism). At any rate, quibbling over who's got the most precise terminology is not that important, so we can agree to disagree over this.

    That aside, is there a larger problem that you're trying to solve with this discussion?

  8. If you can't make out my views that's fine. Personally I don't think Popper's views are a "shell game".

    He shows how Barnes duelism works. Ellen refers to Barnes' "shell game." He responds as if she said Popper's "shell game."

    Merlin, that's unfair, not to mention being untrue. In my #67 I offered two options: 1) Popper is playing a shell game or 2) I am doing likewise by misrepresenting him.

    As my own views follow Popper's views closely, it was entirely possible Ellen really meant 1). Alternatively it is quite possible I've got it wrong and she's right about Popper, or 2), in which case Ellen can test her views against the other Popper experts I suggested.

  9. At any rate, there' no need to make a Federal case out of it. I believe in the primacy of physical reality; that's all you need to know should you feel the need to cite me on the subject in future...:-)

    Yes, Sir! No further "need to know," says the commander. Problem even there: I don't know what the commander means by "the primacy of physical reality." The wording sounds like a causal theory and not what I understand Popper to mean by "realist metaphysics." (A belief that there is a reality which is what it is doesn't commit to a particular causal theory.)


    Woah, this seems to be unnecessarily touchy. I'm not "commanding" you to do anything. You said my views were so incoherent you couldn't make sense of them. So I just gave you the top line: I believe in the primacy of physical reality, or what Rand called somewhat less precisely the "primacy of existence". This is something I agree with Rand about, and where Popper and Rand agree too. I can't put it any more plainly than that.

    If you don't understand what Popper meant by this, well go read some Popper (I command you!...;-)). I would explain myself, but you say my writing is completely incomprehensible. So avoid me and go to the source. I have already provided a link to the Wiki page on the subject.

    All I can say is that in Popper's 3-world theory there is a reason he called the physical world "World 1"!

  10. If you can't make out my views that's fine. Personally I don't think Popper's views are a "shell game". I think he's a serious thinker. Alternatively if you don't think I'm portraying Critical Rationalism properly you're welcome to take your views - for example The Great Tree Frog Question - to some expert CR commenters and see how you get on. I've offered a few places in the past. Have you ever taken them up? I also offered Lee Kelly's essay just now, who has a similar view to mine. But perhaps you think he's playing a "shell game" too.

    Re:cosmology, there's no need to be pedantic. Broadly, it just means a view of how the universe is structured. You can have a religious or even mythical cosmology. It's not a strictly scientific term.

    At any rate, there' no need to make a Federal case out of it. I believe in the primacy of physical reality; that's all you need to know should you feel the need to cite me on the subject in future...:-)

  11. At any rate, I can happily testify that contrary to Ellen's impressions, Popper's cosmology - which holds the physical world as primary - is my preferred one.

    I didn't say anything about cosmology, and I don't know what Popper's cosmology, if he had one, was.


    Oh, ok. It looks like this. It's Popper's theory of the metaphysical structure of the universe if you like.

    I am rather fond of this theory. You will note it is primarily a realist one.

    I'm not sure what else I need to add. For whatever reason, either through poor explanation on my part or misunderstanding on yours, you've ended up with the wrong opinion as to my views. It's of no great importance, but just so you know I am as committed to a realist view of the world as Popper or any other epistemological fallibilist is. (And yes, I agree that fallibilism too might be a mistake.)

    As luck would have it, over at criticalrationalism.net Lee Kelly has just written a short essay on this very question. By coincidence Lee was one of the participants in your Great Tree Frog Question over at the ARCHNblog. Hopefully that will give you an idea of the CR view.

  12. Hi Daniel, happy trails.

    I have not followed your exchanges with the Greatest Living Philosopher as it is all above my head, but is it Mr or \ms Temple's contention that as well as not understanding Rand, you do not understand Popper either? And that goes for Greg N, your mother, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all?


    From what I have read, The Best Living Philosopher seems to contend that few if any understand Rand and Popper as well as he does. This is hardly surprising, given that he is The Best Living Philosopher.

  13. Well, Daniel...

    I don't call support of "it might all be a dream" and of "who knows, we might be figments of a virtual reality" and of the opinion of a poster who bizarrely internally contradictorily claimed that he'd convinced himself that he might be a brain in vat and of Greg's saying that a person holding to an imaginal reality could just change the meaning of "proof" to avoid self-exclusion problems...signs of commitment to realist metaphysics. Looked to me like you were fine with dismissing realist metaphysics as long as the dismisser was someone negative toward Rand.


    Hi Ellen,

    I suggest you have either misunderstood or misremembered the conversation, which I seem to recall is this one. Or perhaps I did not make my own position clear enough, though reading it back it seems clear enough to me.

    Interestingly, I suspect you have misunderstood it, and it's possible it's a root misunderstanding as your comment #48 makes what I think is a similar mistake.

    I am travelling today, so can only reply briefly now. But it's always interesting to try to reconstruct your opponent's argument rather than simply disagree with it. So if you were me reading your comment #48, what do you think I would take to be the root error in it?

    At any rate, I can happily testify that contrary to Ellen's impressions, Popper's cosmology - which holds the physical world as primary - is my preferred one.

  14. One thing I later concluded as a result of some subsequent discussion - on ARCHN - is that Daniel doesn't share Popper's own strong commitment to realist metaphysics.

    I heard that my name was being mentioned in vain around here, so I'll just drop in to correct this error.

    I do share Popper's commitment to realist metaphysics. Ellen is simply mistaken.

  15. Hi TMJ

    Just a dropping in briefly here as I'm concerned you seem to think your comments are being deleted at our site.

    We have a very liberal comments policy. We don't even delete or block commenters that are obviously abusive, calling us evil, assholes, bastards etc etc, and we get a quite a few of those. Our policy is that this sort of thing actually says more about pro-Objectivist commenters than it does us. We don't even have moderation switched on. I've maybe turned it on two or three times in the eight years the blog has been running, and that was because we had a notorious troll sock-puppeting us for a while. The only chance you'll have "a shelf life of 30s" is if you're that troll, or if your comment includes references to World of Warcraft Gold and/or penis enlargement. We've had the odd blogger crash and recent comments plug in glitch that's killed a thread or two. Perhaps you were unlucky enough to be caught in one of those.

    Anyway, just to be clear, unlike many Objectivist sites, we do not block our critics. Please feel free to test this policy at your leisure.



  16. My prior interactions with him didn't go well, but reading this latest post I detect a different style at work. I'm starting to think that post must have been ghost-written by Bill Sherk, I mean who else writes like that? It's genuinely amusing. Another thing, I don't recall where I read this but someone, a fundy I think, made the claim that Barnes is simply a sock-puppet for Nyquist, that they're the same person. Now if it turns out that WSS is the same as Barnes and the same as Nyquist, I mean what would you call that? Sounds too off the wall? Look up what happened to Johann Hari.

    Message: I exist!

    Here's me:



    And I do stuff like this:


    And this:


    As well as being married with three kids, surfing or skiing most weekends and that sort of thing, in what little remains of my spare time I occasionally criticise the egregious philosophical theories of Ayn Rand and her more absurd followers. They say a man should have a hobby after all. However to suggest as MSK does that somehow "defines" me only confirms that, as I have long argued, Randians really don't have a clue about definitions...;-) I also have no "public intellectual image." I co-write an obscure blog. If that is enough to take over the planet, then we are all in very big trouble.



  17. Apropos, Daniel Barnes and Greg Nyquist, the owners of the Ayn Rand Contra Human Nature blog, are avowed admirers of Karl Popper, who is an intellectual hero to Progressives. George Soros even runs a think-tank that gives out grants based on Popper's ideas. It is called Open Society Foundations (but until recently, it was called the Open Society Institute). I believe they bash Rand so hard because they know her ideas are poison to a Progressive one-world-government takeover of the planet (called euphemistically in Soros-speak, "open society").

    A thousand curses! My army of spies inform me that the brilliant plot conceived by Greg Nyquist, myself, and the shape-changing lizard George Soros to create a One World Government based on the Shariah Protocols of the Elders of the Knights Templar has been uncovered by that indefatigable Inspector Clouseau of philosophic detection, the one and only MSK. Armed with his half-read copy of the ITOE, the towering intellectual insights of Glenn Beck, and the vast, manifold introspections of his own ego he has, like his heroine, once again fearlessly blown the covers off the bottomless evil at the base of every thinker that he's never read. After all, places like Objectivist Living are temples of reason where the New Intellectuals can safely discuss burning questions like "What dictionary did Ayn Rand use?" But BWAHAHAHHA! Our hatred of such greatness for being great remains undiminished! We will return to spread our sweet poison and advocate our Popperian dictatorships anew across the internets! Fly my pretties! To the black helicopters, go!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

  18. That was an offhand polemical tag, not an argument. So did I miss something? Did I mention another infinite regress argument? I can't recall any.

    Try the very first post on this thread.

  19. Daniel invokes the words "logic" and "logical" like theists invoke the word "God." And, from I've seen so far, Daniel doesn't know any more about logic than theists know about God.

    LOL! That's more like the way you invoke "causality" and "identity".

  20. Any kind of reasoning can be rationally warranted qua reason. You may or may not get somewhere, just like this conversation. If you are being stymied by induction throw in some deduction and vice versa. Are you guys trying to get somewhere? Keep arguing form over real substance and you won't. The scientists aren't sitting around waiting for the end of your debate so they can get to work using the correct methodology.


    This conversation is getting somewhere Brant, albeit somewhat tediously. At least it is in my view. If you disagree, don't play.

    For a start, you now know that a very commonly held assumption is actually false. But you can continue to hold it by all means - that's a personal decision, not a logical one.

  21. The issue here is whether inductive reasoning is ever rationally warranted. Hume said never, absolutely never, not even in regard to the empirical generalizations that we make in everyday life. So let's clear this up: Do you agree with Hume?

    Yes, obviously.

    More specifically, do you agree with Hume that we have no rational basis whatsoever for assuming that future events will even resemble past events?

    Yes, obviously.

    Ignore the rest of this post, if you like, but please address this issue. And don't hide behind Popper's skirts. Explain your own position.

    This is getting boring. I agree with Popper on this, and he agrees with Hume. Why don't you stop hiding behind JS Mill's skirts, who in turn is hiding behind the skirts of a false assumption? Do you think if you keep intoning how famous and influential Mill's piece is that will somehow make his conclusions true? The passage you cite is useful, however, as an excellent example of precisely where he goes wrong:

    JS Mill: We must first observe that there is a principle implied in the very statement of what induction is; an assumption with regard to the course of nature and the order of the universe; namely, that there are such things in nature as parallel cases; that what happens once will, under a sufficient degree of similarity of circumstances, recur. This, I say, is an assumption involved in every case of induction.

    ...This universal fact, which is our warrant for all inferences from experience, has been described by different philosophers in different forms of language; that the course of nature is uniform; that the universe is governed by general laws; and the like. (Book III, Chapter III.)

    In this passage Mill is actually conflating two separate assumptions:

    A1.The universe is governed by general laws.

    A2. Inferences from experience (ie inductive inferences) are warranted.

    Now, what is the difference between these two assumptions? Well, the second one is, via logical analysis, demonstrably false.

    The first one, however, is not.

    So this is where Mill at least is going wrong. I fear your case may be more complicated...;-)

    Oh, and are you going to acknowledge that your "infinite regress" argument was incorrect?