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The Problem with Logical Positivism

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. The reasoning is that the meaning of a proposition lies in what reality would look like were the proposition to be true, and unverifiable statements, being unverifiable, do not correspond to any state of affairs in which their truth could inhere or imply itself.

The first problem with this line of reasoning is that it assumes that apart from logic, the only way for something to be part of (relevant to) reality's structure is to be physically differentiable within it in a way that's accessible to local observers, effectively denying that abstract laws play a part in determining how physical objects interact, relate to each other and transform from moment to moment. In principle, reality's structure may be divided into two distinct but recursively defined dimensions: physical entities and the laws which take them as their arguments. It might be argued that these laws would be verifiable through their effects on matter. But this is not quite true. For while a given law might be consistent with scientific findings it is never confirmed or verified by it. This is because for any given set of data there's more than one theory which could explain it. This is known as Quine's Underdetermination Thesis and it is accepted by virtually all scientists.

Therefore, laws cannot be defined on observables because observables "underdetermine" any hypothesis trying to explain them. If laws were defined on observables then two competing hypothesis trying to explain the same data would have to be regarded as synonymous, a logical absurdity. Therefore, laws stand above any discernible patterns they might produce in nature. There's no "physical state of affairs" in which a given law is observably true, only ones in which it is consistent with physical observations, awaiting further confirmation. So while I don't dispute that a meaningful proposition must remain meaningful when interpreted as being true, I see no reason to think that "what reality would look like when a given proposition is true" must refer only to an observable state of affairs . It should, instead, be replaced with following : "What would reality be like when a given proposition is true". We can hypothesize what a given law would mean for reality without knowing (or being able to know) whether such a law is in place.
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/1/2016 7:02:19 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable.

The theory of Logical Positivism is not itself logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. This must be like Alder's Razor. lol
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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5/1/2016 9:37:17 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/1/2016 7:02:19 PM, user13579 wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable.

The theory of Logical Positivism is not itself logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. This must be like Alder's Razor. lol

Well, a logical positivist would probably claim that it's a logical consequence of the way "meaning" is defined, and they'd be right so long as we define meaning in such a way as to exclude things of a more abstract nature. But of course, there's absolutely no reason to do that.
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/1/2016 9:45:51 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/1/2016 9:37:17 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:02:19 PM, user13579 wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable.

The theory of Logical Positivism is not itself logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. This must be like Alder's Razor. lol

Well, a logical positivist would probably claim that it's a logical consequence of the way "meaning" is defined, and they'd be right so long as we define meaning in such a way as to exclude things of a more abstract nature. But of course, there's absolutely no reason to do that.

Of course not, because such a redefinition would also not be meaningful. I'm just going to go ahead and say that Logical Positivism is not meaningful by the standards of Logical Positivism. So, let's just throw out Logical Positivism or do whatever we're supposed to do with things that aren't meaningful.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,236
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5/1/2016 11:32:16 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/1/2016 9:37:17 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:02:19 PM, user13579 wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable.

The theory of Logical Positivism is not itself logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. This must be like Alder's Razor. lol

Well, a logical positivist would probably claim that it's a logical consequence of the way "meaning" is defined, and they'd be right so long as we define meaning in such a way as to exclude things of a more abstract nature. But of course, there's absolutely no reason to do that.

There is reason. See: science.

I'll debunk the rest of this sophistry later.
"This site is trash as a debate site. It's club penguin for dysfunctional adults."

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"Your idea of good writing is like Spinoza mixed with Heidegger."

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"You seem to aspire to be a cross between a Jewish hipster, an old school WASP aristocrat, and a political iconoclast"

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keithprosser
Posts: 2,050
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5/2/2016 12:15:53 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
To we post-positivists LP can seem a little naive. LP was built on the premise that what is true can be proven to be true by a single suitably well designed experiment. Not merely confirmed or checked for consistency but 100% proved.

LP is in many ways to science what formalism was to mathematics. Formalism was invented as a way for all mathematical truths to be proven. Godel showed that to be an impossible goal more or less single handed. The impossibility of LP goals - obtaining positive proof of science truth by experiment - was chipped away more gradually by many hands.

The founders of LP thought - or hoped - experiments could verify scientific propositions and raise them to the status of 'truths'. It turned out that experiments can't do that - no amount of experiments can raise a theory to the level of a 'truth' even if it is, in fact, true.

Popper, building on the foundation laid by LP (or possibly out of its ruins, depending on how you look at it), turned things completely around and made falsification of the negative - not verification of the positive - the touchstone. Now everyone only wonders why it took so long. Hindsight is so 20-20.
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/2/2016 9:36:19 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/1/2016 11:32:16 PM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 5/1/2016 9:37:17 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:02:19 PM, user13579 wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable.

The theory of Logical Positivism is not itself logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. This must be like Alder's Razor. lol

Well, a logical positivist would probably claim that it's a logical consequence of the way "meaning" is defined, and they'd be right so long as we define meaning in such a way as to exclude things of a more abstract nature. But of course, there's absolutely no reason to do that.

There is reason. See: science.

I'll debunk the rest of this sophistry later.

Sophistry eh? Like that sophistry called "Objectivism" that goes something like "A=A, therefore everybody should act in their personal best interest at all times"? Objectivism is contradictory too, because individuals should form their own individualist "philosophy", not collectivize with Ayn Rand supporters! Objectivists have to form a collective of some kind in order to even tell each other about Objectivism.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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5/2/2016 6:19:14 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/1/2016 11:32:16 PM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 5/1/2016 9:37:17 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:02:19 PM, user13579 wrote:
At 5/1/2016 7:00:50 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
The theory of Logical Positivism holds that in order for a proposition to be meaningful it must be logically necessary or scientifically verifiable.

The theory of Logical Positivism is not itself logically necessary or scientifically verifiable. This must be like Alder's Razor. lol

Well, a logical positivist would probably claim that it's a logical consequence of the way "meaning" is defined, and they'd be right so long as we define meaning in such a way as to exclude things of a more abstract nature. But of course, there's absolutely no reason to do that.

There is reason. See: science.

I'll debunk the rest of this sophistry later.

If you mean to suggest that the only meaningful predicates are those which are locally differentiated and independently replicable (the prime conditions to be met before scientific inquiry can proceed), then please explain wherein nature resides the concept of "meaning" itself. Sorry that happened.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,050
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5/2/2016 7:25:44 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
As I see it, LP doesn't require the word 'meaning' at all. The word 'grom' would do as well. The untimate aim of the LP project, was to ensure discourse about science consisted only of 'grom' statements, where 'grom' statements are defined to be either axioms or demonstrably true by experiment.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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5/2/2016 8:30:23 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/2/2016 7:25:44 PM, keithprosser wrote:
As I see it, LP doesn't require the word 'meaning' at all. The word 'grom' would do as well. The untimate aim of the LP project, was to ensure discourse about science consisted only of 'grom' statements, where 'grom' statements are defined to be either axioms or demonstrably true by experiment.

But wasn't the stated reason for adopting this approach that non-verifiable statements are meaningless and therefore not worth thinking about?
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,251
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5/2/2016 8:43:55 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/2/2016 7:25:44 PM, keithprosser wrote:
As I see it, LP doesn't require the word 'meaning' at all. The word 'grom' would do as well. The untimate aim of the LP project, was to ensure discourse about science consisted only of 'grom' statements, where 'grom' statements are defined to be either axioms or demonstrably true by experiment.

Also, wouldn't the aim be to ensure that discourse become more or less wholly scientific in nature given that science is already in line with the LP program? In other words, to see science push out other "non-scientific" schools of thought?
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/2/2016 8:53:27 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/2/2016 7:25:44 PM, keithprosser wrote:
As I see it, LP doesn't require the word 'meaning' at all. The word 'grom' would do as well. The untimate aim of the LP project, was to ensure discourse about science consisted only of 'grom' statements, where 'grom' statements are defined to be either axioms or demonstrably true by experiment.

Is LP a grom statement?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,050
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5/3/2016 4:38:41 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
I knew someone would ask that! I'll approach it sideways.
An autological word is one that describes itself. Examples are 'short', 'noun', and 'multisyllablic'. A heterological word is one that doesn't describe itself., such as as 'long', 'verb' and 'monosyllabic'.
Is the world 'heterological' itself heterological? The question leads to a paradox but that doesn't mean that 'heterological' is rendered unusable. It still works for 'long', 'verb' and 'monosyllablic'.
Whether or not 'grod' is itself 'grod', or if its self-referentially paradoxical, doesn't invalidate it as a 'razor', classifying statements that are acceptable and unacceptable in the LP formulation of science.
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,236
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5/3/2016 5:09:42 AM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/2/2016 8:43:55 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/2/2016 7:25:44 PM, keithprosser wrote:
As I see it, LP doesn't require the word 'meaning' at all. The word 'grom' would do as well. The untimate aim of the LP project, was to ensure discourse about science consisted only of 'grom' statements, where 'grom' statements are defined to be either axioms or demonstrably true by experiment.

Also, wouldn't the aim be to ensure that discourse become more or less wholly scientific in nature given that science is already in line with the LP program? In other words, to see science push out other "non-scientific" schools of thought?

LPadmitsexpressiestatements;emotiemeaningisjustdelimitedfrom(ognitiemeaning

keyoardisroken
help
"This site is trash as a debate site. It's club penguin for dysfunctional adults."

~ Skepsikyma <3

"Your idea of good writing is like Spinoza mixed with Heidegger."

~ Dylly Dylly Cat Cat

"You seem to aspire to be a cross between a Jewish hipster, an old school WASP aristocrat, and a political iconoclast"

~ Thett the Mighty

"fvck omg ur face"

~ Liz
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/3/2016 7:36:58 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/3/2016 4:38:41 AM, keithprosser wrote:
I knew someone would ask that! I'll approach it sideways.
An autological word is one that describes itself. Examples are 'short', 'noun', and 'multisyllablic'. A heterological word is one that doesn't describe itself., such as as 'long', 'verb' and 'monosyllabic'.
Is the world 'heterological' itself heterological? The question leads to a paradox but that doesn't mean that 'heterological' is rendered unusable. It still works for 'long', 'verb' and 'monosyllablic'.
Whether or not 'grod' is itself 'grod', or if its self-referentially paradoxical, doesn't invalidate it as a 'razor', classifying statements that are acceptable and unacceptable in the LP formulation of science.

Well, I guess the question is whether LP is itself acceptable or unacceptable. It's kind of an important question, because why should I use it if I don't need it?
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/3/2016 8:40:07 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/3/2016 5:09:42 AM, ShabShoral wrote:
At 5/2/2016 8:43:55 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 5/2/2016 7:25:44 PM, keithprosser wrote:
As I see it, LP doesn't require the word 'meaning' at all. The word 'grom' would do as well. The untimate aim of the LP project, was to ensure discourse about science consisted only of 'grom' statements, where 'grom' statements are defined to be either axioms or demonstrably true by experiment.

Also, wouldn't the aim be to ensure that discourse become more or less wholly scientific in nature given that science is already in line with the LP program? In other words, to see science push out other "non-scientific" schools of thought?

LPadmitsexpressiestatements;emotiemeaningisjustdelimitedfrom(ognitiemeaning

keyoardisroken
help

Sounds like something right out of an Ayn Rand book. Not that I would really know.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."
keithprosser
Posts: 2,050
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5/3/2016 10:05:39 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
You don't need LP, but you do need a philosopy of science. These days the dominant philosophy is Popperian 'falsificationism'. The founders of KP were optimists - they hoped that experiments can be 'positive' (hence the name),i.e. actuall prove scientific truths. Popper said no, experiments can only be 'negatiive', that is disprove false theories. Popper repleaces 'verificationism'(*) (ie proving true) with falsificationism (proving false).

The question "Is Popperism falsifiable?" is a perfecly reasonable one, and probably has a definite answer. But the answer doesn't matter for the validity of Popperism as a good philosophy of science.

(*) verificationism in this sense means 'Rigorously proving true', not merely checking or confirming.
YYW
Posts: 36,364
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5/4/2016 9:01:00 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
At 5/3/2016 10:05:39 PM, keithprosser wrote:
You don't need LP, but you do need a philosopy of science. These days the dominant philosophy is Popperian 'falsificationism'. The founders of KP were optimists - they hoped that experiments can be 'positive' (hence the name),i.e. actuall prove scientific truths. Popper said no, experiments can only be 'negatiive', that is disprove false theories. Popper repleaces 'verificationism'(*) (ie proving true) with falsificationism (proving false).

The question "Is Popperism falsifiable?" is a perfecly reasonable one, and probably has a definite answer. But the answer doesn't matter for the validity of Popperism as a good philosophy of science.

(*) verificationism in this sense means 'Rigorously proving true', not merely checking or confirming.

Why didn't you accept my friend request?
Tsar of DDO
keithprosser
Posts: 2,050
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5/4/2016 9:38:20 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
It's nothing personal, I assure you! I have had lots of friend requests in the year or so I've been a member (as everyone does) which I automatically 'ignore'. I don't even bother to note who they are from, so I will take your word for it you sent a friend request - and thank you for so doing! - but I just don't do the 'friends' thing. Perhaps I should, but I don't.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned we're all friends here. I look forward to exchanging friendly and unfriendly posts with you, as it should be.
user13579
Posts: 822
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5/4/2016 9:53:22 PM
Posted: 7 months ago
Muenchhausen trilemma:

The only way anything can be proven is by circular reasoning, infinite regress, or deduction from axioms.

Don't even ask how you prove the trilemma. lol.
Science in a nutshell:
"Facts are neither true nor false. They simply are."
"All scientific knowledge is provisional. Even facts are provisional."
"We can be absolutely certain that we have a moon, we can be absolutely certain that water is made out of H2O, and we can be absolutely certain that the Earth is a sphere!"
"Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain."