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Useful
#1
(02-08-2018, 12:05 PM)Valmar Wrote: *Sigh* You do realize that the use scientific method isn't restricted to, nor defined by, the dogmas of reductionist materialism / physicalism, right?

Parapsychology is a field that yields very useful results while adhering to the scientific method, for example.

What I find interesting is that most people here seem to be on the same page with respect to scientific investigation - there isn’t really anything which says that particular ideas aren’t amenable to scientific investigation a priori. And this showed up in the An Alternative Look at Naturalism thread, where there was general agreement that the claim that the “supernatural” was excluded from methodological naturalism was incoherent. 

Science doesn’t confine itself to material or physical causes. It only appears to do so because the products of science have turned out to be “material” and then “physical”. What I think that science confines itself to is ideas which are useful, and that objections to various “supernatural” ideas come about because they aren’t useful. For example:

(01-23-2018, 06:52 PM)Paul C. Anagnostopoulos Wrote: That depends on the definition. If it includes the fact that a supernatural agent cannot have any causal effect on the world, then I can rule it out. But yes, I can't rule out all possible definitions.

~~ Paul

I’ve been thinking for a while about what is meant by “useful”. This is what I’ve come up with so far. I’d be interested in any additions or revisions.

Knowledge is progressive. This refers to the ability to continue to build on past knowledge. Each successive generation has the state-of-the-art as its starting point (standing on the shoulders of giants). Contrast this with Buddhism, where the path to enlightenment obtained by Gautama Buddha is retrod by each successive generation, with little hope of ever even reaching those shoulders.

It distinguishes between ideas which are true or false.

It allows us to make predictions wth sufficient certainty to act on them. For example, we can launch a ship into space to eventually land on the moon prior to knowing the moment by moment position the ship takes. Contrast this with Paul’s inability to predict whether his house may or may not be shaded by a tree in his yard, under idealism.

It tightly constrains the possibilities. This doesn’t refers to limiting our creativity, but rather, whether an idea is specific. Newton’s gravity was so specific that even a very small deviation from its predictions told us that it was incomplete. Contrast this with the observation that any outcome (I am cured from cancer/I am given cancer) can be God’s will.

It generates novel information and observations. Quantum mechanics, which was concerned with the description of fundamental properties, was discovered to unexpectedly have something to say about local realism (EPR paradox). Similarly, it also told us about a new elementary particle which went unobserved til we looked for it (Higgs boson).

I’ve included a few illustrative examples, but examples of seeming exceptions, or examples which don’t seem to fall under any of those descriptions would be helpful.

I’ve posted this under “other stuff”, rather than “philosophy”, because I want this to be a description of how science actually operates, not a description of a philosophical stance which has little to do with actuality.

Linda
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#2
(02-12-2018, 02:38 PM)fls Wrote: darkCheese:  I don't have time to do this justice, current comments in bold for now.


What I find interesting is that most people here seem to be on the same page with respect to scientific investigation - there isn’t really anything which says that particular ideas aren’t amenable to scientific investigation a priori. And this showed up in the An Alternative Look at Naturalism thread, where there was general agreement that the claim that the “supernatural” was excluded from methodological naturalism was incoherent. 

In theory, naturalism could include more than what we consider natural. In practice, is this the same?

Science doesn’t confine itself to material or physical causes. It only appears to do so because the products of science have turned out to be “material” and then “physical”.

The scientific method lends itself well to testing repeatable phenomena in controlled conditions. Additionally, it is performed by humans. Thus, in addition to phenomena which are more easily understood, and thus replicated being more common, those that are monetizable or useful in other ways (military) would be preferentially explored. 
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#3
(02-12-2018, 02:38 PM)fls Wrote: What I find interesting is that most people here seem to be on the same page with respect to scientific investigation - there isn’t really anything which says that particular ideas aren’t amenable to scientific investigation a priori. And this showed up in the An Alternative Look at Naturalism thread, where there was general agreement that the claim that the “supernatural” was excluded from methodological naturalism was incoherent. 

Science doesn’t confine itself to material or physical causes. It only appears to do so because the products of science have turned out to be “material” and then “physical”. What I think that science confines itself to is ideas which are useful, and that objections to various “supernatural” ideas come about because they aren’t useful. For example:


I’ve been thinking for a while about what is meant by “useful”. This is what I’ve come up with so far. I’d be interested in any additions or revisions.

Knowledge is progressive. This refers to the ability to continue to build on past knowledge. Each successive generation has the state-of-the-art as its starting point (standing on the shoulders of giants). Contrast this with Buddhism, where the path to enlightenment obtained by Gautama Buddha is retrod by each successive generation, with little hope of ever even reaching those shoulders.

It distinguishes between ideas which are true or false.

It allows us to make predictions wth sufficient certainty to act on them. For example, we can launch a ship into space to eventually land on the moon prior to knowing the moment by moment position the ship takes. Contrast this with Paul’s inability to predict whether his house may or may not be shaded by a tree in his yard, under idealism.

It tightly constrains the possibilities. This doesn’t refers to limiting our creativity, but rather, whether an idea is specific. Newton’s gravity was so specific that even a very small deviation from its predictions told us that it was incomplete. Contrast this with the observation that any outcome (I am cured from cancer/I am given cancer) can be God’s will.

It generates novel information and observations. Quantum mechanics, which was concerned with the description of fundamental properties, was discovered to unexpectedly have something to say about local realism (EPR paradox). Similarly, it also told us about a new elementary particle which went unobserved til we looked for it (Higgs boson).

I’ve included a few illustrative examples, but examples of seeming exceptions, or examples which don’t seem to fall under any of those descriptions would be helpful.

I’ve posted this under “other stuff”, rather than “philosophy”, because I want this to be a description of how science actually operates, not a description of a philosophical stance which has little to do with actuality.

Linda

I think what you've explained at length can also be said simply as: a practical understanding how something works.
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#4
(02-12-2018, 02:38 PM)fls Wrote: What I find interesting is that most people here seem to be on the same page with respect to scientific investigation - there isn’t really anything which says that particular ideas aren’t amenable to scientific investigation a priori. And this showed up in the An Alternative Look at Naturalism thread, where there was general agreement that the claim that the “supernatural” was excluded from methodological naturalism was incoherent. 

Science doesn’t confine itself to material or physical causes. It only appears to do so because the products of science have turned out to be “material” and then “physical”. What I think that science confines itself to is ideas which are useful, and that objections to various “supernatural” ideas come about because they aren’t useful. For example:


I’ve been thinking for a while about what is meant by “useful”. This is what I’ve come up with so far. I’d be interested in any additions or revisions.

Knowledge is progressive. This refers to the ability to continue to build on past knowledge. Each successive generation has the state-of-the-art as its starting point (standing on the shoulders of giants). Contrast this with Buddhism, where the path to enlightenment obtained by Gautama Buddha is retrod by each successive generation, with little hope of ever even reaching those shoulders.

knowledge can be progressive and has been so in the last couple of centuries. This is particularly seen in areas in which knowledge has given us the ability to query the universe in a more refined manner. For example, with Nucleic acid sequencing , we can now access information at a scale that even 20 years ago was a pipe dream.

where I think we need to be careful is knowing where is the line between what experiments show (as in what is repeatabie), and the subsequent interpretations of the data. How much human is being inserted into the data? Is it a good or a bad thing? It may depend on the context.

I don’t quite follow the Buddhism example. Perhaps you meant it’s somewhat nihilistic?


It distinguishes between ideas which are true or false.

This can be true in some cases, with caveats of course.

It allows us to make predictions wth sufficient certainty to act on them. For example, we can launch a ship into space to eventually land on the moon prior to knowing the moment by moment position the ship takes. Contrast this with Paul’s inability to predict whether his house may or may not be shaded by a tree in his yard, under idealism.

We can use scientific methods to discern patterns which are repeatable and useful ( say in engineering) yes I agree. But I’m not quite sure what Paul and his tree has anything to do with that. It’s a relatively simple system to describe, probably from what was known even hundreds of years ago. I seem to be missing the point here.

It tightly constrains the possibilities. This doesn’t refers to limiting our creativity, but rather, whether an idea is specific. Newton’s gravity was so specific that even a very small deviation from its predictions told us that it was incomplete. Contrast this with the observation that any outcome (I am cured from cancer/I am given cancer) can be God’s will.

by constrains the possibilities, do you mean that we don’t expect the earth to start exerting a different amount of gravity each day, for example? Yes that is a good line of thinking.

getting into cancer cures being God’s Will has already made a few jumps ( what exactly is god, what is being cured exactly (cancer can be pretty tough to get rid of completely sometimes, remission can be ‘good’ but not perfect). But that probably is besides the point. You mean to say, that something like that would not be easily studied by the scientific method? I would agree, it’s hard to control for what other variables could be occurring, and get a capricious agent such as the god to heal on our demand.

It generates novel information and observations. Quantum mechanics, which was concerned with the description of fundamental properties, was discovered to unexpectedly have something to say about local realism (EPR paradox). Similarly, it also told us about a new elementary particle which went unobserved til we looked for it (Higgs boson).

 These are other interesting things which we have models for now thanks to science ? Yes they are quite interesting and it seems we can use them to further refine our modes.

I’ve included a few illustrative examples, but examples of seeming exceptions, or examples which don’t seem to fall under any of those descriptions would be helpful.

Will see what I can think of, unfortunately I’m writing on a mobile now, and almost out of time. Could be an interesting discussion, glad you started the thread.

I’ve posted this under “other stuff”, rather than “philosophy”, because I want this to be a description of how science actually operates, not a description of a philosophical stance which has little to do with actuality.

 Look forward to seeing what people put forth.

Linda
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#5
(02-12-2018, 02:38 PM)fls Wrote: I’ve posted this under “other stuff”, rather than “philosophy”, because I want this to be a description of how science actually operates, not a description of a philosophical stance which has little to do with actuality.

The trouble is that - at least with regard to psi - "science" isn't really operating in a manner that's consistent with scientific principles. There should be an objective and unbiased evaluation of the evidence, and there isn't. 

I think for this kind of discussion to be useful, one would need to consider how the scientific community responds to evidence of psi in practice, how it should respond in theory, and what (if anything) can be done to bridge the gap between the two.

And it would be best to focus on the most specific claims and the a priori strongest evidence.
"There are more things in philosophy than are dreamt of in heaven and earth."
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#6
Interesting thread.

What does science have to say about human purpose?

While rhetorical it does highlight the challenge I see to your definition of "useful".  I think most people believe purpose to be a useful concept even if the ardent scientific materialist asserts it to be a nonsensical.  Similarly, love, beauty, and various things folks would put under a broad heading of "spiritual".  Again, none of these things seem to be explained by science so does this make them things that are not "useful"?

So bringing these back to the supernatural, to "God", to Buddhism, etc it seems to me your definition is narrow and rather drab (if you will).
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#7
(02-12-2018, 07:45 PM)Silence Wrote: Interesting thread.

What does science have to say about human purpose?

While rhetorical it does highlight the challenge I see to your definition of "useful".  I think most people believe purpose to be a useful concept even if the ardent scientific materialist asserts it to be a nonsensical.  Similarly, love, beauty, and various things folks would put under a broad heading of "spiritual".  Again, none of these things seem to be explained by science so does this make them things that are not "useful"?

So bringing these back to the supernatural, to "God", to Buddhism, etc it seems to me your definition is narrow and rather drab (if you will).

That is a question for philosophers. Why should anyone think there's a purpose for humanity?
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#8
(02-12-2018, 08:29 PM)Steve001 Wrote: Why should anyone think there's a purpose for humanity?

What does that have to do with the question at hand?  Linda put forth a definition of "useful".  I responded.

However, to answer your question directly: Leave your basement and go talk to a human being.  Really, any human being.  I'm pretty sure you'll get lucky and the first one you ask will tell you that the concept of purpose is useful to them.  Hell, they may even offer you their personal sense of purpose.  Might even start talking about "meaning" too.

Weird weird stuff Steve.  You should try it.
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#9
(02-12-2018, 09:44 PM)Silence Wrote: What does that have to do with the question at hand?  Linda put forth a definition of "useful".  I responded.

However, to answer your question directly: Leave your basement and go talk to a human being.  Really, any human being.  I'm pretty sure you'll get lucky and the first one you ask will tell you that the concept of purpose is useful to them.  Hell, they may even offer you their personal sense of purpose.  Might even start talking about "meaning" too.

Weird weird stuff Steve.  You should try it.

This is a forum where ones postings are not private certainly you know someone may respond.

When one opens their eyes a sees how draconian nature treats life including human life they should see there is no purpose of the kind you have in mind. And if one wants to learn the purpose, book a trip to the African Savannah with only the clothes on your back. I assure you you will find the purpose of life quickly.
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#10
Darkcheese, your style of posting makes it difficult to quote you, so I’ll respond generally. 

I suspect there’s a lot of leeway in how repeatable or regular something has to be to study it. Medicine is a good example of how highly variable and subjective conditions have still been amenable to investigation. Events and experiences ascribed to “psi” (for example) have been at least as regular as those.

My reference to Paul’s trees is too much of an inside reference, I guess. When discussing idealism, Paul asks idealists what the explanation is for why the trees in his yard appear the same whenever he looks at them. I don’t think he has received a coherent answer on that, yet.


My reference to Buddhism was as an example of knowledge which isn’t progressive. Each new entry on to the path of enlightenment starts from scratch.

With respect to God and cancer, it was an example of a non-specific idea - any outcome can be attributed to God.

Linda
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