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  1. #71
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    If you are interested in rational argument; scientific, metaphysical and ethical investigation, and the pursuit of truth, then there is little gained by concerning yourself with "knowledge" as it is traditionally defined. Wield reason effectively and exert your critical faculties for your desired ends, and you might just end up thinking many true things while "knowing" very little.
    I understand how this applies to the metaphysical and ethical realms, but I don't understand how it can apply to science. Scientific theories are inductive in nature. All scientific theories are the sum of much collection of data, i.e. knowledge. In science knowledge leads to understanding.
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  2. #72
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    well, it's like BW said. if a theory is shown to be false, it is obviously not true. but a theory can't practically be shown to be true, so we can't ever practically conclude a theory is not false.
    It is quite irrelevent whether we can conclusively show a theory to be true or false. That has been the main thrust of most of my comments on the matter so far, and is the very issue which has concerned The_Liquid_Laser. There is nothing "unreachable" about the truth, since a statement which corresponds to the facts is true regardless of who thinks it, whether they can conform that they are correct, or indeed whether anyone thinks it at all.

    The truth can be reached, but like the summit of a mountain on a foggy day, you may never confirm once-and-for-all that you have really arrived at the summit. However, that does not preclude your ability to reach the summit.

    all manners of testing theories reduce down to predictive ability.
    Not all. Metaphysical and ethical theories in particular, primarily because they do not predict anything.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  3. #73
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Is the moral of this story to be confident about your current best theory as you search for more evidence that may point to a new best theory, rather than spend a lot of time wondering if the current best theory is the ultimate best theory?
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  4. #74
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nocturne View Post
    Not all. Metaphysical and ethical theories in particular, primarily because they do not predict anything.
    can you give me an example of one of these theories?

  5. #75
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Is the moral of this story to be confident about your current best theory as you search for more evidence that may point to a new best theory, rather than spend a lot of time wondering if the current best theory is the ultimate best theory?
    Yes, I think in the pursuit of knowing either true ideas or useful ideas you need a balance of confidence and humility. You should be confident about what you know, while being humble enough to realize that you might have to change your understanding if a better explanation arises.
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  6. #76
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    I understand how this applies to the metaphysical and ethical realms, but I don't understand how it can apply to science. Scientific theories are inductive in nature. All scientific theories are the sum of much collection of data, i.e. knowledge. In science knowledge leads to understanding.
    Induction is a type of inference, not a property of theories. Moreover, it is precisely because scientific theories are not a collection of data and have implications which go far beyond any data, that it is commonly thought that some inductive mode of inference should be necessary. However, induction is quite unnecessary and a distraction from the quest for truth, not an aid. The investigative process need not be fundamentally different for science than for metaphyics or ethics, and conventions of induction and data betray the legacy of naive empiricist epistemology.

    The empiricist dogma is that theories, or our belief that a theory is true, needs to be justified using sense experience, and that it is irrational to believe anything which is not so justified. The problem is that the theories of science have implications which far exceed the content of sense experience, which is limited to events which occured in the past, thus implying nothing about the future. The inductive mode of inference was introduced to partially justify the acceptence of scientific theories, but unless you subscribe to the empiricist dogma that it is only rational to believe theories that can be reduced, combined or derived from sense experience, then induction is an unwelcome distraction--it is simply an invalid mode of inference, and those who are interested in the truth would do better to steer clear.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  7. #77
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Is the moral of this story to be confident about your current best theory as you search for more evidence that may point to a new best theory, rather than spend a lot of time wondering if the current best theory is the ultimate best theory?
    Partially correct.

    Yes we should be confident that the theories we hold to be true are true. But we should also be open to potential refutation of our theories. (As otherwise we become dogmatic and ultimately end up with false beliefs about what the truth is if what we currently hold to be true is false.) So we should still wonder if our current theory may be false, but we shouldn't let this lead us to believe that our current theory is unreliable.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  8. #78
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dissonance View Post
    can you give me an example of one of these theories?
    There is a God. There is a Evil Demon manipulating my experience so that the world appears to be something which it is not. It is wrong to murder. The aim of scientific investigation ought to be the discovery of homosexual theories. Etc.

    Sometimes, as with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the idea has been designed so that anything and everything appears to verify the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and nothing we observe could possibly contradict it. In other words, it predicts nothing in particular, and yet most would also agree that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist, and behave as such.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  9. #79
    Occasional Member Evan's Avatar
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    i see what you're saying. i guess i just think of those propositions as pointless to think about.

    too stoned, peace y'all.

  10. #80
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    A homosexual theory? Would that be a theory that likes to listen to showtunes and has a bunch of friends of the opposite sex it calls regularly to bitch about relationships?

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