Walter O'Sheavey wrote:
---------> Rorty is woefully confused on a number of epistemological points, esp. those pertaining to moral theory. Putnam and Habermas have clearly exposedthe errors in their respective writings.
OMG ! -- tell me I didn't read that! Please. Is theere no God left anywhere?
Mike Geary formerly of the O'Gara clan somewhere back there now in Memphis and in shock.----- Original Message ----- From: <wokshevs@xxxxxx>
To: <jlm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>; "John McCreery" <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx> Cc: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2008 4:45 PM Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Valid-Some Thoughts
More replies to John McC's philosophically mistaken views ---------------> Quoting John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>:My thanks to Walter for persevering in a most gracious and thoughtful manner. Concerning specifics of what he has written here I offer only the following,----------------> My thanks to John for his kind words. I am pleased to offermy views and I thank John for his own perseverance. May the new year bring enlightenment to all .... (esp. John. :) John quotes me:> We understand John's criticisms here only because we make, and cannot > but> make, the epistemic > distinctions I refer to.John:That we do make these distinctions is undeniable. That we cannot but makethem is debatable. Richard Rorty argues, in a manner that I find persuasive,that some, at least, are more trouble than they are worth.---------> Rorty is woefully confused on a number of epistemological points, esp. those pertaining to moral theory. Putnam and Habermas have clearly exposedthe errors in their respective writings. Back to John:Walter writes,> "Scientific method" is yet another "thingie."The scientific method I have in mind is a bit more sophisticated than the cartoon to which Walter refers. I have noted before that I think of this issue in terms I learned from reading Chomsky. Scientific method as taught in schools can be described as a Discovery procedure: Take a body of data, apply the procedure, the output is Truth. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the history of science knows that this description is far from what scientists actually do.-----------------> Agreed. Back to John:As taught in somewhat more advanced schools scientific method can bedescribed as a Decision procedure: Take a body of data and a theory, apply the procedure, the output is a decision that the theory is Right or Wrong.Anyone who has actually done science or has a slightly more advancedknowledge of the history of science knows that this description is also farfrom what scientists actually do.------> I certainly hope so. Back to John:The way in which I, following Chomsky, think about scientific method can be described as an Evaluation procedure: Take a body of data and at least two theories, apply the procedure, the output is a judgment that, given the data in question, one theory is superior to the others. This judgment is alwaystentative, since what scientists actually do is engage in activities that generate new data and new theories that may either reverse the original judgment or provide a better account--where better means accounting ingreater detail for new as well as old data. In other words, the question is no longer True or False, Right or Wrong, but, instead, Better or Worse, in terms of Fit, i.e., how well competing theories fit the data with which thescientist is working. What counts as better or worse fit is, of course, acontinually debated issue, in which the nature of available data, types ofmeasurements used and precision of theoretical claims are all in play.---------> Be it far from me to call a theory "true" or false." But I have noqualms about calling a theory "wrong." Kuhn offers a number of suitable examples. Back to John:Given this characterization, it makes no sense, for example, to argue whether a theory is an example of Truth or Belief. There is no way ofknowing that. All we can say is that Theory A appears to offer a better fitwith the evidence at hand than Theory B.-----> When it comes to theories, I'm willing to go eclectic. I subscribe to avariety of different criteria of assessment given the purposes at hand: parsimony, predictive value, correspondence, deductive cogency, elegance (Einstein spoke of the "beauty" of a theory). I'm willing to be quitepromiscuous on criteria here. But I'm not clear on the relevance of all this tothe issues we were originally discussing. Neither theory change nor theorychoice contradicts any of the transcendental concepts and principles necessaryfor inquiry and argument. If they did, we would have neither justifiable"change" nor "choice." (As Popper put it, I paraphrase from memory,: Kuhn isdescribing scientists who have been inadequately trained.) Back to John:As a practical matter the need to regard Theory A as beyond reasonable doubtand thus grounds for action frequently arises.-------------------> John loses me here. First, no empirical theory is "beyond reasonable doubt." The empirical realm is one of contingency, not conceptualnecessity. (Only philosophy can establish the latter in its quest for the transcendentally universal and necessary.) If a claim or hypothesiswere indeed "beyond reasonable doubt," we wouldn't need an empirical theory toaccount for the phenomenon in question. Oder? Regarding the matter of an empirical theory providing "grounds of action," this is surely a category mistake.Empirical theories do not, and cannot, provide justifiable grounds of action on their own. Normative principles are required for such justifiedness and the realm of contingent fact possesses no resources for this purpose. (Rawls beinghopelessly mistaken on this.) Back to John:Evaluations may be the bestthat science offers, but decisions have to be made. Who gets to make them?Here power enters the equation.---------> Cogent inquiry, pursued in whatever specific discipline, arrives at decisions and evaluations on strictly epistemic grounds. Power in itself has no necessary epistemic worth. (It can at times luck into justifiable claims, ofcourse. But I wouldn't bet my Volvo on its epistemic worthiness.) Moreover, does John wish us to believe that his views, evaluations and decisionsas expressed in our discourse here are grounded in power relations? We shouldavoid performative self-contradictions whenever we can. Back to John:I can, at the end of the day, offer no better description of the position ofwhich I am persuaded than Hamilton's words in Federalist No. 1,"Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimateof our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to bewished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberationsaffects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many localinstitutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to thediscovery of truth."-----------> Oy! It's enough to make you believe Plato was right! Hamilton would have benefitted greatly from a bit of reflection upon Habermas's distinction between strategic and communicative action. (Did Hamilton read any Kant? Ifnot, why not? Surely it is the responsibility of a politician to appriseherself of the central texts within the tradition of the discourse informingher vocation.) What does George W read, anyway??Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2008. John-------------> S novom godum! Kalinka, kalinka, kalinka, moya! C# Valodya-- John McCreery The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN Tel. +81-45-314-9324 http://www.wordworks.jp/------------------------------------------------------------------ To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html
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