George H. Smith

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Would you move to the Kingdom of Ends if you could, George? (Yes, I know it's not an actual place.) Also, you ever get the feeling he was playing on "Kingdom of Heaven" with that name?

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As an example of unreasonable skepticism, he related the anecdote of “the man in the train who, when his friend remarked that the sheep in yonder field had been sheared, replied, ‘Well, on this side anyway.’” Reasonable skepticism entails refusing to embrace a belief without sufficient justification.

I quoted that part of Professor Smith's article because it gave me a big grin.  I enjoyed the article immensely.  Thank you.

 (Now I'm off to read the two essays before this one in the series.)

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5 hours ago, George H. Smith said:

Neo-Thomism and the Virtue of Reasonableness

Smith explains the value of Neo-Thomistic books for libertarians and Randians, and what is meant by the virtue of reasonableness.

My Libertarianism.org Essay #214 has been posted.

Ghs

 

 

Is there a difference between "reasonable" and "rational" here like the distinction Rawls drew?

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This is a podcast, posted on the Libertarianism.org site earlier today, of one of my favorite essays, which was originally published  around two years ago.. The ideas expressed here took years for me to refine. I am very pleased with this presentation, so I tried to pat myself on the back but was unable to do so. The best I could manage was to tap myself on my lower back with the backside of my right hand. Getting old really sucks. I strongly recommend that people under 30 refuse to get old.  Try stamping your feet or holding your breath or pouting and see one of those works. . <_<

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, George H. Smith said:

I am very pleased with this presentation

Rightfully so.... This is my first exposure to the categorization of sciences, at least at this level of competence.  Thanks.

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23 hours ago, SteveWolfer said:

Rightfully so.... This is my first exposure to the categorization of sciences, at least at this level of competence.  Thanks.

Thanks, Steve. I'm glad to hear that my podcast was useful to you.

Ghs

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http://www.libertarianism.org/columns/why-should-i-be-moral

 

Why Should I be Moral?

 

Smith explains how questions like “Why should I be rational?” and “Why should I be moral?” involve a bait and switch tactic.

 

My Libertariansim.org Essay #215 has been posted.

 

Ghs

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On 7/13/2016 at 5:16 PM, SteveWolfer said:

Rightfully so.... This is my first exposure to the categorization of sciences, at least at this level of competence.  Thanks.

To what extent are the (so-called) human sciences  capable of being falsified empirically?   Popper 101. 

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27 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

To what extent are the (so-called) human sciences  capable of being falsified empirically?

You appear to have tightly grasped certain principles, ones that are excellent in their context, but your are running about attempting to apply them everywhere.  Here is an example: The very foundations of logical thought, the primary axioms of logic, are not falsifiable.  An explanation as to why they are not falsifiable is also not falsifiable.  Popper's theory about the need for falsifiability is not falsifiable any more than his claim that falsifiability is the only proper demarcation between scientific and non-scientific.

There is a very valid context within which falsifiability is an extremely valuable  requirement, but not outside of that.

Many major theories that matured to the point where they now consist of falsifiable theories started that way.  Natural selection is a major theory in the biological sciences, and it is questionable as to whether it can be cast in a form that is falsifiable (Popper first thought it could, then changed his mind and said it couldn't be.  Do we say that the theory of natural selection is pseudo-science?  I don't think so.)  Atomic theory had a start in ancient Greece in forms that were clearly not falsifiable, but have matured into theories that are - and I'd suggest that nearly every science has its start like that and retains its own underlying philosophy that is unfalsifiable. Context, context, context.

It is as if I saw you trying to change a flat tire with a frying pan.  When asked why you insisting on that approach you provide me some law about frying pans that is true and useful in the entire world of cooking.  I keep asking why you insist on treating everything as if were cooking and you tell me that is because all things are cooking.

By the way, did you listen to George Smith's recordings where he talks about human sciences?

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14 minutes ago, SteveWolfer said:

You appear to have tightly grasped certain principles, ones that are excellent in their context, but your are running about attempting to apply them everywhere.  Here is an example: The very foundations of logical thought, the primary axioms of logic, are not falsifiable.  An explanation as to why they are not falsifiable is also not falsifiable.  Popper's theory about the need for falsifiability is not falsifiable any more than his claim that falsifiability is the only proper demarcation between scientific and non-scientific.

There is a very valid context within which falsifiability is an extremely valuable  requirement, but not outside of that.

Many major theories that matured to the point where they now consist of falsifiable theories started that way.  Natural selection is a major theory in the biological sciences, and it is questionable as to whether it can be cast in a form that is falsifiable (Popper first thought it could, then changed his mind and said it couldn't be.  Do we say that the theory of natural selection is pseudo-science?  I don't think so.)  Atomic theory had a start in ancient Greece in forms that were clearly not falsifiable, but have matured into theories that are - and I'd suggest that nearly every science has its start like that and retains its own underlying philosophy that is unfalsifiable. Context, context, context.

It is as if I saw you trying to change a flat tire with a frying pan.  When asked why you insisting on that approach you provide me some law about frying pans that is true and useful in the entire world of cooking.  I keep asking why you insist on treating everything as if were cooking and you tell me that is because all things are cooking.

By the way, did you listen to George Smith's recordings where he talks about human sciences?

Anything that cannot be falsified (at least in principle)  by empirical means is NOT a science.  Popper 101. 

Yes I heard the recording.  I do not consider  sociology,  economics (except for some specialized econometric analysis), ethics to be sciences.  The are disciplines to be sure, but they are not sciences. Why:  1. they cannot be quantified and constrained by mathematically expressed laws and 2  they cannot be even in principle  falsified by reproducible  empirical  trail or experiment.  There physical sciences and descriptive sciences (such as geology)  but there are no social sciences in the Popperian sense of the word.  If someone says he has a science in hand,  I respond:  show me the math. 

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29 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

There physical sciences and descriptive sciences (such as geology)  but there are no social sciences in the Popperian sense of the word.  If someone says he has a science in hand,  I respond:  show me the math. 

Show me the math behind Popper's philosophy of science.  Show me where falsifiability is falsifiable.

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7 minutes ago, SteveWolfer said:

Show me the math behind Popper's philosophy of science.  Show me where falsifiability is falsifiable.

Popper's stuff is META-scientific.  It is -about- science,  not science.  My remarks are also META-scientific.  

I wish they would not call "social science"  science.  It is  not the least like physics,  chemistry, themodynamics  and such like. 

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1 minute ago, SteveWolfer said:

Does calling it "META-scientific mean that it isn't pseudo-science?  And how could you prove such an assertion?

No. It means is is ABOUT science.  For example the statement: "Physics is a very mathematical science"  is not a scientific statements.  It is not a  hypothesis about  natural events and processes nor is it a statement describing an experiment and its outcome. 

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The point I've been trying to make is that if context isn't maintained for this concept of falsifiability, two things can happen.  When it is applied outside of that context it will result in people trashing valid thoughts, lumping them with pseudo-science, and doing so inappropriately.  The other thing is that falsifiability will be trashed as a concept unless we stay focused on the context - the area - where it is an invaluable intellectual tool.

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1 hour ago, SteveWolfer said:

The point I've been trying to make is that if context isn't maintained for this concept of falsifiability, two things can happen.  When it is applied outside of that context it will result in people trashing valid thoughts, lumping them with pseudo-science, and doing so inappropriately.  The other thing is that falsifiability will be trashed as a concept unless we stay focused on the context - the area - where it is an invaluable intellectual tool.

Empirical falsifiability is always a useful notion.  It marks the difference between something meaningful and hot air.  If a statement cannot be falsified on the basis of observation or measurement within its applicable context then the statement is nonsense.  Think of Leonard P.  and his Arbitrary Statements. 

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3 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

If a statement cannot be falsified on the basis of observation or measurement within its applicable context then the statement is nonsense.  

Then please tell me how to falsify that statement that I just quoted.  And explain how one derives the applicable context.  I still think you aren't getting it.

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1 hour ago, SteveWolfer said:

Then please tell me how to falsify that statement that I just quoted.  And explain how one derives the applicable context.  I still think you aren't getting it.

Empirical falsification can apply only to statements that have empirical content or referent.  If a statement does not refer to anything in the world the only way to knock it down is to show it implies a contradiction.  Physical science talks about the natural order.  The human sciences (so-called)  talk about human-made artifacts, relations and rules that apply in society.  On a desert island occupied by one human there would be no human (i.e.  social) sciences.  The only empirical grounds for rejecting ethical/legal rules is that they are either physically impossible to carry out or that if carried out they will lead to the destruction of our species. 

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1 minute ago, BaalChatzaf said:

On a desert island occupied by one human there would be no human (i.e.  social) sciences.

Not so.  On a desert island occupied by one human that person would be greatly benefited by an understanding of psychology and he would still need to pay attention to morality - the values he chooses to pursue.  In addition to morality, he would benefit from a grasp of philosophy - much of which would be a good base for attempting to make a good life on this island.  Not all human sciences are about society.

9 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

If a statement does not refer to anything in the world the only way to knock it down is to show it implies a contradiction.

That sentence, in the context of your post, seems to imply that things like thoughts or relationships, for example, aren't in this world.

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14 minutes ago, SteveWolfer said:

Not so.  On a desert island occupied by one human that person would be greatly benefited by an understanding of psychology and he would still need to pay attention to morality - the values he chooses to pursue.  In addition to morality, he would benefit from a grasp of philosophy - much of which would be a good base for attempting to make a good life on this island.  Not all human sciences are about society.

That sentence, in the context of your post, seems to imply that things like thoughts or relationships, for example, aren't in this world.

Is said -refer- to something in the world.  In any case our thought are in our heads and our heads are in the world.  But not all thought are -about- what is in the world....

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6 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

In any case our thought are in our heads and our heads are in the world.  But not all thought are -about- what is in the world....

Psychology - a human science of great benefit to the lone occupant of an island.  Alone there with thoughts in his head, thoughts about his thoughts - psychology.

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5 hours ago, SteveWolfer said:

Psychology - a human science of great benefit to the lone occupant of an island.  Alone there with thoughts in his head, thoughts about his thoughts - psychology.

Think of Tom Hanks  in the movie "Cast Away"    The way his character  kept himself from suicide was to pretend a soccer ball was a person.  It isn't science but it might just be crazy enough to work.

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43 minutes ago, BaalChatzaf said:

Think of Tom Hanks  in the movie "Cast Away"    The way his character  kept himself from suicide was to pretend a soccer ball was a person.  

Dr. Viktor Frankl was a young man in Vienna who was studying neurology and psychiatry and spent time with Freud and Adler.  He was writing a book on psychology - on a new theory that for humans, life was about meaning, that the nature of man was to strive to find meaning, and that meaninglessness was a state where one hadn't found a meaning, and that attaching one's self to meaning is a way to survive painful experiences.  He specialized in depression and suicide.  He started a program where over a course of years he supervised a research project and treatment program involving about 30,000 women who had shown suicidal tendencies.  His application of his theory was a striking success. 

But it was pre-WWII and the Jews were being rounded up.  He sewed the pages of his manuscript into the lining of his coat to keep it safe.  But he was loaded onto the cattle cars, shipped to the concentration camps, and his coat was taken from him.

He lost his mother, his brother and his wife all of whom died in the camps.  He survived Auschwitz and two other concentration camps and the horrors of slave labor.

I heard him speak in Anaheim at a conference, just a few years before he died.  He had become one of the leading lights of Existential Psychology.  He stayed alive in the concentration camps by imagining that we was really in a comfortable study in his home and he was just remembering the horrors of his time in the camp so that he could write about it.  Branden called that kind of defense, "strategic detachment" - some kids are able to get through an abusive childhood that way.

Frankl didn't just survive the camps, but went on to flourish.

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