Tyndmyr wrote:But, if you include all future computer development, can you really say with confidence that no solution to the general halting problem can be found? Certainly I cannot see such an answer now, and we can prove it cannot exist within certain problem spaces, but perhaps someone in the future, working with far more information than I, can see something I cannot. This does not prove that it IS solvable, of course, merely demonstrates that we have not found a solution yet.
There's a reason I specified equivalence to a Turing machine. I can say with absolute confidence
that no solution of the kind I stated
will ever be found.
Of course. But our knowledge of science is not quite so encompassing. It may, one day come to pass that we have discovered all of the things we can discover, or very close, and thus, become quite certain of what things can never be discovered by science. We're definitely not there yes.
But similarity of songs COULD be tested scientifically.
Yes, and I have acknowledged this from the beginning. My point is that there are many different ways that two song examples can be similar or different, and while science could measure the degree of similarity in each of those ways, it cannot tell us which ways are important to the question of whether something is the "same song" or not.
Certainly. Just like there are many possible acceptable margins of errors for measurement, but we don't announce that science is unable to measure things.
The only reason you have difficulty over "same", is because you are still relying on the amiguity of that word. It's not a thing that science cannot do. It's a word that you are using ambiguously.
Definitions only matter so long as both parties are using the same ones. What the definitions of different words are is fairly unimportant, but ambiguity results in miscommunication, of course, and is thus, undesirable.
As for which particular communication schema is most desirable, that is a conversation about language, and no doubt we could measure various properties of language scientifically. I do not see why you are so eager to label things "fundamentally extrascientific".
You are making the implicit ethical
assumption that some notion of "desirability" (i.e. whether some group of people (which people?) does in fact desire something) is equivalent or at least related to whether actions are "good".
That value judgment is extrascientific because science doesn't deal with questions of value.
Science does so all the time. It does not generally use terms so generic as "good", unless it's a very high level summary, of course. Terms like "correlates with low rates of mortality" or "beneficial to x in y doses" are used. Valuation is part of what it does, though. It tests things to determine their value, rather than assigning them arbitrarily.
Of course, you'll no doubt point out that the overarching goals are subjective, and a short, terrible life is not inherently better or worse than a long, happy one. This is, of course, true. However, science can just as easily be used to find either path. It's simply a result of natural selection that the latter goal is far more popular, and thus, makes a more reasonable assumption of a random individual's goals.
Why? Can we not study the effects of such belief? Is it not possible to determine if beliving in a magical sky-god correlates with refusing critical medical care, or other such harmful activities? Is it strange to advise against courses of action that raise your risk of harm? Is it unscientific?
Of course we can study the effects of a belief, but no empirical results from such a study get us the underlying value judgments about whether we should
behave or believe a certain way. If you advise against some type of harm, you're implicitly judging that type of harm to be "worse" than any harm that comes from an alternate course of action.
Why can we not measure those other sorts of harm? Is measuring not something science does? Yes, in some cases, measuring and predicting harm may present practical difficulties, but certainly there is no theoretical barrier to doing so.
Of course you can measure certain types of harm, but you can't measure whether we should concern ourselves more with one type or with another.
Why can't we? Are you saying it is impossible, instead of merely difficult, to compare the effects of say, losing one's job to getting cancer? These are certainly different types of thing, but the effects can be measured, and, if sufficiently accurate and encompassing measurements are taken, the two could be compared.
Again, practical difficulties today, but nothing intrinsicly impossible. If the only objective to comparing things is volume of data captured and crunched, well...that's an area in which we have progressed quite rapidly.
I dare say that if your suggestion of what the laws should be runs counter to scientific evidence, then you're out there in the realm of religion and so forth. Why is it impossible for someone to argue that we should base laws on what has been scientifically demonstrated? If policy A produces a better outcome than policy B, is that not sufficient reason to argue for it, philosophies be damned?
You keep sticking ethical terms into your supposedly completely scientific statements. This is either scientism or ignorance of (the complexities of) what those words actually mean.
A better outcome for whom? As judged by whom?
Better as in, fulfills it's goals. If one can demonstrate that laws intended to say, reduce death by drug abuse, actually increase drug abuse, one can obviously rate that law as being terrible at fulfilling it's goals. This is a dramatic example, but comparing and contrasting different laws due to testing is quite possible.
What is the purpose of punishment? What is a good outcome for punishment to have? Should the penal system be primarily rehabilitive, primarily preventative, or primarily retributive? Why? Sure, you can use science (which is to say, statistics) to determine how a given system measures up in each of those three ways (and others I'm sure I haven't considered). But how is science supposed to tell you how heavily each should be weighted? I might believe that rehabilitation should be the primary concern, while someone else may believe that retribution should be primary, and how is science supposed to tell us which view is the correct one?
Does retribution provide benefits? Given adequate measurement, surely one could compare and contrast the different styles. Does capital punishment cost less or more? Does it have any deterrence effect? And so on, for each of no doubt many potential differences.
We don't need to take the goals as givens at all. If a person wants retribution, nothing prevents us from asking why, and attempting to determine what actual value that approach has, if any. Basing these laws based on belief without evidence is unnecessary and likely undesirable.
The same issue arises with rights. It's nice to say certain rights are inalienable (though that is already a philosophical claim), but how do we decide which of those rights are more important when they come into conflict? Should laws be set up to protect your life at the possible expense of your liberty, or to protect your liberty at the possible expense of your life? How much of an impact on other people must there be before their interests outweigh your own in either case?
Again, these are testable. To some degree, thanks to history, they already have been(albeit not always in the most controlled of fashions). Surely, results matter here. A policy of infringing freedom mildly to prevent suicides has effects that are, even at our current level of science, fairly unambigously identified as a net win. Suicide is costly to society, the cost of intervention is small, and it ends up being fairly strongly supported as desirable policy by the evidence. More ambiguous cases exist, of course, as there's a continnum of possibilities all the way to terminal patients refusing life support. Finding the exact point where the costs outweigh the benefits and applying this on an individual basis is probably something we lack the data for presently, but again...this is not a failing of it in principle, merely a lack of sufficient data and understanding of it.
Two people might agree completely on the factual outcomes of a particular pair of policies, but that doesn't imply that they will necessarily agree on which one is preferable. And while science can of course help to resolve the first type of disagreement, I don't see what empirical observations could resolve the second. (Even finding out which outcome is in fact desired by the majority of the population doesn't answer the question unless you also presuppose some manner of utilitarianism.)
Utilitarianism incorporates many elements of evidence replacing belief, yes.
Disagreement is possible without a disagreement on fact, but this seems to be the exception, not the norm. The vast majority of policy debate includes significant disagreement on fact. Bluntly, people are starting with a belief, and if the facts contradict it, instead of changing their belief, they attempt to change, ignore, or avoid the facts. This is exactly backwards from a scientific approach(and yes, I'm aware that similar politics do happen even in scientific domains, but eventually, experimentation tends to settle things in a way that other fields do not).
I do not, of course, propose that embracing science will solve ALL disagreements...outliers will exist, humans are imperfect, and so forth. But philosophy certainly doesn't solve all disagreements either. In fact, it seems horribly worse at solving them than science. Once scientists are agreed on the facts, it seems that the bitter disagreement between them mostly goes away. Look at global warming. A discussion between actual scientists involved with the topic is almost invariably about the facts. They may have a different interpretation of results, in some degree, due to measurement limitations, uncertainty, different models, whatever. But...as those things converge, the disagreement vanishes. On the flip side, we have the unscientific viewpoint that global warming is some kind of false conspiracy, which seems to be connected with those who fear that responding to such a thing would threaten their ideology, etc. They perpetuate disagreement, BECAUSE they are embracing axiomatic values and belief as more important than evidence, and see evidence as something only useful to support those things.
I've avoided discussing the actual issue of "what should we do with clones", because my reply is already quite long enough, but it's surely an interesting topic.
You've avoided discussing the actual philosophical question, in other words.
That's not the question. The question is one of identity, and if it is an issue science can address. Discussing legal solutions for a hypothetical world with clones is an interesting tangent, but need not be discussed to answer the central question.
The question is one of identity, which is relevant whether or not it can be addressed scientifically precisely because of the legal implications in a hypothetical world with clones. It's not an interesting tangent, it's the whole central part of the argument about whether (what I maintain are) extrascientific questions can nonetheless be relevant.
The closest modern analogy would be twins. Despite strange historical treatment of twins(which seems wildly irrational today, looking back on it), there seems to be no legal difficulty with handling them now. I imagine law will adapt.
In the case of this question, the ambiguity comes in the use of "same". The answer yes or no hinges on your definition of "same". There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.
Yes, and whatever science can tell you about different types of similarity, it isn't the sort of thing that can resolve the question of what definition to use.
Why not? Is taxonomy not scientific? Can science not define terms?
If not, you should probably notify someone, because it's already done that quite a lot.
Tyndmyr wrote:Claims about something that does not influence the real word whatsoever cannot be tested and are essentially meaningless. We also do not talk about truth or falsehood of a baby babbling, because...no coherent idea is being communicated there. ... Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**.
Likewise, you simply assume without argument that claims that cannot be tested are meaningless. Why should I believe it? And isn't the claim "Your question is either meaningless or it is testable in principle" itself an untestable claim
Meaningless within the context of a scientific viewpoint. Someone else could, I suppose, claim to find meaning in whatever. If something is untestable even in principle, then it is outside the realms of science.
Well no shit. That's why I keep calling such things "extrascientific", as in, outside the realms of science.
Yeah. I'm not sure why people keep challenging this. It seems obviously true by definition. *shrug*
I suspect the difference here is that I don't see a particular need for an overarching philosophy in order to view things scientifically. Science isn't part of philosophy...it's a different domain. The domain of the real, the testable. Philosophy is the domain of...the other stuff. You could also call it religion. Same domain.
However, this is an extremely broad set of parameters, and I dare say it would be difficult to demonstrate the practical value of non-scientific beliefs. You could attempt to do so using some other belief structure, but then we get back to the crux of the matter. Science works. That's why it's science. It is not merely another philosophical viewpoint.
As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.
Oh, and I italicized yet another philosophical term you've used in your "scientific" claims.
What is "practical value"? Who gets to decide how "practically valuable" something is? What sorts of use does something need to have to be considered "practical" or "practically valuable"?
Science answers things. Philosophy really doesn't. Or rather, you can come up with an "answer", but it's no different from answers provided by religion or what have you. If it is in the domain with which science cannot interact, it is necessarily untestable and uncertain.
Or, judging from the history of religion and philosophy, fiction. Not real.
There is no practical problem in the real world that cannot be addressed by science, but that philosophy/religion solves.
Tyndmyr wrote:There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.
This is where we need to be careful and precise in our use of language. This is not really a question about definitions of words (which it might well be possible to stipulate in different ways) but rather about the nature of the concepts that those words denote (sameness or goodness rather than the word "same" or "good"). We could change the words (if, for example, we were speaking French) and still be having the same discussion.
If two people have a different concept in mind, and use the same word to describe it, is that not ambiguity?
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I would add that I don't think that "philosophical viewpoint" is in any way a slur against a position; Tyndmyr says that science is "not just another philosophical viewpoint" as if philosophical viewpoints are things that one can adopt or reject for no reason at all. To the contrary: I think that scientific realism is a philosophical viewpoint which there are excellent reasons for adopting. Just as I think there are excellent reasons for adopting moral realism or the reality of a priori knowledge.
Tyndmyr, I don't see how the conversation can possibly move forward if you aren't going to defend your contention that untestable claims are "beyond facts" or "meaningless."
The thing about axioms is that one does indeed adopt them without justification. If something is adopted as a logical result of x, y and z, it isn't an axiom.
Religion/philosophy is big on these things. Science, not so much. Finding reasons for things is pretty essential to the concept. As for why one adopts science instead of another viewpoint....because it works. See also, natural selection.
As for the latter, it's already been addressed, and...I do not understand why there is confusion. Something that is wholly untestable is not a fact. That seems quite clear and simple, I'm not sure where the confusion lies. Certainly, I do not see how someone could regard things as facts in lieu of evidence. That way lies madness.
Izawwlgood wrote:Tyn will have to chime in here, but I think he was suggesting that Science is separate from Philosophy insofar as not simply being a subset of it, and it's hypotheses being rejected or accepted based on non-philosophical means.
gmalivuk wrote:I'm fine with saying that science itself (it's methodology in particular) isn't a philosophical position, but I think TGB is right that a philosophical position is implicit in believing its results.
What philosophical position? Science works because we have defined as scientific those methodologies that work. It's like natural selection, there is no lower level. The two connect, of course.
One might as well speak of a squirrel practicing philosophy because he does not cease eating food and reproducing.
Ahammel, sure, other definitions are definitely possible. I am using one fairly strict definition consistently...but I note that for those questions that can be addressed scientifically, I cannot see why a scientist would wish to use a non-scientific approach instead. So, I'm not sure what philosophy is good for there. Using belief instead of evidence would be wildly unscientific by definition. It also gets into "everything is philosophy" territory, at which point...we're in ambiguous territory again, and "philosophy" mostly loses any real meaning. So, I am using the stricter defintion for clarity.