The Conception of "real" in science and general discourse

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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 15th, 2018, 7:15 pm 

Here's what our old pal (*cough*), science commentator, David Berlinski, has to say about The Scientific Method:


"The scientific method has acquired a certain hold on the popular imagination. Every adult remembers something about the scientific method from high school classes; it figures prominently in textbooks with such titles as Reasoning Together, and it is a polemical bruiser in its weight class, useful under circumstances when members of the scientific community are persuaded they are under attack. It is then that the determination is made that members of the public have failed to understand the scientific method or properly to revere it. No effort need be made actually to exhibit the method or tie it to an argument."

[...]

"I will draw down the current of charity over this scene. Golf has no method beyond the trivial. Neither does science."

(-- David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion, p55)

Exactly right! In my useless opinion at least. Except that "current" in the third last sentence appears to be a typo. Shouldn't that be curtain?
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 15th, 2018, 7:50 pm 

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:15 pm wrote:Here's what our old pal (*cough*), science commentator, David Berlinski, has to say about The Scientific Method:


"The scientific method has acquired a certain hold on the popular imagination. Every adult remembers something about the scientific method from high school classes; it figures prominently in textbooks with such titles as Reasoning Together, and it is a polemical bruiser in its weight class, useful under circumstances when members of the scientific community are persuaded they are under attack. It is then that the determination is made that members of the public have failed to understand the scientific method or properly to revere it. No effort need be made actually to exhibit the method or tie it to an argument."

[...]

"I will draw down the current of charity over this scene. Golf has no method beyond the trivial. Neither does science."

(-- David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion, p55)

Exactly right! In my useless opinion at least. Except that "current" in the third last sentence appears to be a typo. Shouldn't that be curtain?


OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All is made clear now.

David Berlinski is a creationist and "intelligent" design advocate.

This is the most obvious reason for people to argue that there is no such things as a scientific method -- because they do not want to acknowledge any epistemological superiority to science or accept its role in modern rationality or the secular governance of a free society. They do indeed want to return us to the middle ages with theology as the "queen of the sciences" where they are free to burn anyone who dares to disagree with them at the stake. With no methodological difference they feel more free to both embrace and push willful ignorance to any extreme they choose whether it is to insist the earth is flat or only 6000 years old.

It is well known on this forum that I am a Christian, but also that I am a scientist. The irrational members of both Christian and atheist communities do not want to accept such a conjunction, and would thus prefer to deny one label or the other, trying to define either or both as a more exclusive ideology with intolerance as its middle name. But despite being a Christian, I have nothing but complete CONTEMPT for the squalor and ignorance of the middle ages -- a dark chapter in the history of BOTH Christianity AND human civilization. I actually insist that evolution is more compatible with Christianity than creationism, for unless your religion is more like devil worship, creationism has no satisfactory answer to the problem of evil and suffering.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 15th, 2018, 7:54 pm 

mitchellmckain » May 16th, 2018, 8:50 am wrote:
All is made clear now.

David Berlinski is a creationist and "intelligent" design advocate.



No, he's not. (We've hammered away at this in other places ad nauseum).

And even supposing he were, how exactly would this impinge on the veracity of his argument?

Does an argument not stand or fall on its own intrinsic merit?

*bangs head against wall furiously*

Since you seem a collector of logical fallacies, mitch, this one goes under the title "genetic fallacy".

What if it came to light that Mr Berlinski was actually Chuck Norris in drag, or God forbid -- a woman!! -- would the validity of his (her?) arguments thereby be rendered even more suspect?

*raises eyebrow*
Last edited by Reg_Prescott on May 15th, 2018, 8:21 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 16th, 2018, 1:36 am 

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:54 pm wrote:
mitchellmckain » May 16th, 2018, 8:50 am wrote:
All is made clear now.

David Berlinski is a creationist and "intelligent" design advocate.


No, he's not. (We've hammered away at this in other places ad nauseum).

Ok, perhaps that is a bit of an oversimplification. But it changes nothing which I said, which is that this is indeed a significant motivation for opposition to the scientific method. He has made his opposition to evolutionary science (synonymous with theoretical Biology) quite clear and he certainly does play a role in the organizations which advocate intelligent design. His motivation for opposing evolution seems to have more to do with the philosophical problems with social Darwinism. But one can reject social Darwinism and other forms of excessive Darwinism, as I do, without opposing science, evolution, or even abiogenesis. On some issues his reticence is a bit suspicious.

Social Darwinism and the exaggeration of the role "survival of the fittest" in the process of evolution is myopic and outdated. To that degree I also can be said to criticize the orthodox Darwinist view as overly focused upon individual evolution, according to which we would all be Daniel Boons and nothing else. I think my approach is infinitely more productive, eliminating the highly misguided tactic of attacking modern science itself. I have shown in other posts that role of communities in protecting their weaker members, rather than being an obstacle to evolution is actually a stimulus for whole new stage of evolution, because the driving force of evolution is NOT natural selection but variation. I have also shown from studies of mutagenesis that whole process by which variation is introduced into genome is a great deal more intentional and less random than is often presented.

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:54 pm wrote:And even supposing he were, how exactly would this impinge on the veracity of his argument?

None whatsoever, nor did I say anything in such a direction. The only point I made was that this revealed an agenda behind a lot of opposition to science.

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:54 pm wrote:Does an argument not stand or fall on its own intrinsic merit?

No. It does not. He speaks total falsehoods. The scientific method is used and demonstrated repeatedly, and it drives the work of the scientific community. I know this firsthand.

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:54 pm wrote:Since you seem a collector of logical fallacies, mitch, this one goes under the title "genetic fallacy".

And that is called the "fallacy fallacy" where you invent an excuse to plaster the name of a fallacy on something where this does not accurately apply without the use of outright lies.

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:54 pm wrote:What if it came to light that Mr Berlinski was actually Chuck Norris in drag, or God forbid -- a woman!! -- would the validity of his (her?) arguments thereby be rendered even more suspect?

Hmmm... I would say that this suggestion tells us more about you than anyone else.

Reg_Prescott » May 15th, 2018, 6:59 pm wrote:Dunno 'bout the others, but your pale blue font is unreadable to me.

Yes, that is the point -- to make it easily ignored. You have to highlight it in order to read it. I use it for comments which are a bit off topic and in such a different category of thinking that it would better fit in a different part of the forum.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 16th, 2018, 2:13 am 

Getting back to basics, I'd like to take a scan through the thread and identify (what I believe to be) certain conceptual muddles:

Firstly, the OP, who seems to have vanished, suggests in post 1 that

"As an example is someone believes this or that is "real" without empirical evidence we're not in a position to say they are misusing the term "real," because to them it has meaning."

I really can't see the problem here. Supposing Joe Bloggs were to claim, for example, that "Santa Claus is real" or "Russell's Teapot is real" or whatever -- existential claims which presumably lack the aforementioned empirical evidence -- then it doesn't seem to me that Joe is in any way "misusing" the term real . As far as I can see, his use of the term is perfectly standard; he's simply making a false statement.

Similarly, to say that the term has meaning "to them" seems perverse to me. I understand perfectly well what Joe means; don't you? I'd simply conclude that the statement he's asserting is false; not that it's meaningless or somehow semantically defective. Surely if that were the case we would not be able to understand it (cf. "hout nert vn plang yud", or else, a vacation in Glasgow).


Moving onto post 2, Eodnhoj7 immediately tells us:

"If we look at the nature of "real" it is generally dependent upon: 1) Empirical Objective evidence where the phenomenon is experienced through the 5 senses."

Now, having never met, I'm not quite sure how familiar Eod (may I call you that?) is with the relevant literature. There are a minority of philosophers of an antirealist bent out there who would endorse the sentiments you just expressed, but I'm wondering whether you appreciate what an enormously counter-intuitive position this is. Why, it's the kind of thing that perhaps only a trained philosopher could believe: to wit, that reality is somehow dependent upon us; that an entity can have no existence unless it is accessible to our sensory apparatus, or unless empirical evidence can be brought to bear on its existence.

In other words, if we can't detect it, it ain't real? Prepare yourself then, sir, for the standard barrage of counterarguments... "You mean to say, before the dark side of the Moon was observed, it was not real!!??", etc., etc.

(Note: I've seen statements such as those expressed by Eod before in these forums, generally from those immersed in quantum physics. The mistake, I hazard, is that these members extrapolate from the quantum realm to all of reality. Unlike the strictures of QM, or certain interpretations thereof, it is not the case up here in the commonsense, pre-theoretical world of medium sized objects that reality is contingent upon the act of observation.)

Eod, I must admit I had difficulty following your arguments thereafter. Sorry!


Post 3 now. mitchellmckain ends with the following statement:

"Science will and should only be about what the objective evidence shows and that will only ever be about what we can expect to observe and measure not about what is "real." "

Ah, ladies and gentlemen, if perhaps one blanket statement can be made about science it would be that no blanket statements can be made about science.

Mitchell, as I hinted at above, I suspect your views here may have been skewed by your own personal domain of research (QM?). As a matter of brute historical fact -- well documented fact -- it is simply false that science and scientists have no interest in what is "real" (as I wonder why we're using scare quotes).

Counterexamples could be offered virtually ad infinitum, but here's just two: (i) Galileo's clash with the Church was precisely a result of the former's insistence that the Copernican model was not simply a useful mathematical calculating instrument -- a position to which the Church had no objection -- but rather a representation of the way things really are. Yes, REALITY! (ii) atoms: It was in the late 19th century, largely due to the work of Perrin, I believe, that scientists began to convert en masse from the skeptical position that atoms might be useful hypothetical constructs, but probably nothing more, to the position that these little buggers actually exist. They're real!!


Doogles, in his/her first post on page 1, starts by telling us:

"If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it is a real duck."

Once again, and at the risk of sounding boorish, this strikes me as obviously false, Doogles. The work of Hilary Putnam into so-called natural kind terms springs immediately to mind. All that glitters is not gold. If something looks like gold, and possesses all the other superficial qualities of gold, is it thereby necessarily gold? What if a patient shows all the superficial symptoms of polio, yet the polio virus is absent, does the patient have polio?

More pertinent to your own case, supposing on Uranus a duck-like creature were discovered, yes, with all the requisite superficial ducky accoutrements (walking, quacking, etc), would we conclude that ducks are also indigenous to Uranus? Who gets dibs on this kinda thing anyway: evolutionary biologists? Looks like bad news for the Uranian "ducks" if so.


I'd like to write more on this, but gotta run now. Seems to me a common mistake running through the thread is to suppose that if we can somehow talk about a thing, e.g. "Santa Claus is a fat bastard" then that thing must enjoy some kind of existence -- otherwise how could we talk about him in the first place?

Philosophers of language refer to this, usually with fits and giggles, as "Meinong's muddle", after the much maligned Alexius Meinong, who concluded that if Santa Claus et al do not flourish in full blown existence, they at least enjoy some kind of second-class ontological status known as subsistence.

Um yeah.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 16th, 2018, 4:48 am 

Reg_Prescott » May 16th, 2018, 1:13 am wrote:Post 3 now. mitchellmckain ends with the following statement:

"Science will and should only be about what the objective evidence shows and that will only ever be about what we can expect to observe and measure not about what is "real." "

Ah, ladies and gentlemen, if perhaps one blanket statement can be made about science it would be that no blanket statements can be made about science.

Mitchell, as I hinted at above, I suspect your views here may have been skewed by your own personal domain of research (QM?). As a matter of brute historical fact -- well documented fact -- it is simply false that science and scientists have no interest in what is "real" (as I wonder why we're using scare quotes).

Counterexamples could be offered virtually ad infinitum, but here's just two: (i) Galileo's clash with the Church was precisely a result of the former's insistence that the Copernican model was not simply a useful mathematical calculating instrument -- a position to which the Church had no objection -- but rather a representation of the way things really are. Yes, REALITY! (ii) atoms: It was in the late 19th century, largely due to the work of Perrin, I believe, that scientists began to convert en masse from the skeptical position that atoms might be useful hypothetical constructs, but probably nothing more, to the position that these little buggers actually exist. They're real!!


Yes and scientists have made all kinds of statements and claims about things things including God, demons, and angels. That a scientist says something does not make it science. Science does not confer any kind of high priest, bishop, or pope status on its participants such that whatever they say counts as the dictate of science itself. Quoting texts and authorities may be how a lot religion and government works but it is not how science works. Non-scientists may imitate such authoritarian practices of more familiar activities when they dabble, but it counts for nothing in scientific inquiry.

So... the truth is that when Galileo claimed that the Copernican model is how things really are, he was full of crap. The Copernican model is no more or less how things "really are" than the Ptolemaic model -- no more so than the perspective which has the sun hurtling at 250 km/s around the Milky Way -- no more than the perspective which has the sun dancing in a corkscrew as it goes screaming at 631 km/s along with the rest of the galaxy in the direction of Hydra (relative to earth)

As for atoms and a lot of the things in science there are still a lot of scientists who will insist that they are all nothing but theoretical tools for making calculations but point here is that such disputes are philosophical rather than scientific questions. Personally I am not logical positivist and I am very much of the position known as scientific realism, but these are still PHILOSOPHICAL positions!!! Just because we are scientists doesn't mean we have no interest in the philosophical issues. BUT, when it comes to actually doing science these issues are IRRELEVANT!


But hey... I will do you a favor and give you a much better argument. Look up "local realism." What you will find is that at least with respect to a more specialize meaning of the word "real" in this context, you can say that scientists are indeed concerned with whether the things measured in QM are real, i.e. independent of the mind of the observer. But this can also be put down as either as a general assumption or as a matter of interpretation which would be considered more philosophical than a matter for scientific inquiry.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby doogles on May 16th, 2018, 6:03 am 

Reg_Prescott asked me "More pertinent to your own case, supposing on Uranus a duck-like creature were discovered, yes, with all the requisite superficial ducky accoutrements (walking, quacking, etc), would we conclude that ducks are also indigenous to Uranus?"

Definitely! And heretofore we would all regard it as a REAL Uranus Duck. But not necessarilly indigenous. It could have been a stowaway on a Uranus probe.

There comes a stage when we have to put a trust in our simple senses to identify phenomena, otherwise we would never negotiate a simple day. We have to primarily regard what our senses detect for us, and which match our memory stores of the objects in our own environments, as being real. Let's keep our feet on the ground.

I have no idea how discussions of the scientific method took over this thread with such religious fervour.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 16th, 2018, 9:37 am 

doogles » May 16th, 2018, 7:03 pm wrote:
Definitely! And heretofore we would all regard it as a REAL Uranus Duck. But not necessarilly indigenous. It could have been a stowaway on a Uranus probe.



Hmm, my intuition tells me otherwise. At first, we'd be faced with the question, "Well, are these things ducks or not?"

And what do we normally do in such situations? Why, turn to the experts, of course! And in this particular case, the relevant experts would presumably include zoologists, ornithologists, biologists, etc.

I suspect the answer they'd come back with would be something like the following:

"Well, we can all agree that they look an awful lot like ducks, quack like ducks, and all the rest, but inasmuch as they have an entirely different evolutionary history, chromosomal structure, etc., etc. blah blah blah... they are not ducks. Really!"

(Of course, your stowaway duck theory would put an entirely different complexion on the case.)

The "really" I added at the end is not accidental. I sense mitchellmckain's intuitions have been contorted beyond recognition by overexposure to quantum weirdness, where indeed, scientists do tend to recoil in horror from use of the word "real" and its cognates.

To suggest that scientists qua scientists in virtually every other domain are unconcerned with cataloging the architecture and furniture of the universe, however, is, quite frankly, ludicrous.

"Professor, are penguins real?"

"Well, son, I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you."
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Braininvat on May 16th, 2018, 9:49 am 

Mitch,

I'm a bit underwhelmed by the notion that when scientists assert the reality of something, we just shunt that over into philosophy. When Galileo made that assertion, I think he spoke very much as a scientist. The evidence supports Coperny, not Ptoly. When Einstein said that gravity, as a force, wasn't real ( what's called a pseudoforce) but rather it was particles responding to the curvature of space, again, not a philosophic statement. Scientists do, in their interpretation of findings, make assertions of reality. I think it's a sign of the incompleteness of QT that such assertions are avoided. Or agonized over.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 16th, 2018, 1:33 pm 

Braininvat » May 16th, 2018, 8:49 am wrote:I'm a bit underwhelmed by the notion that when scientists assert the reality of something, we just shunt that over into philosophy.

I will grant you that there is a bit of semantics involved. But... take for example when scientist announce they have discovered something like the Higg's Boson. You can indeed see this as something of an existence and reality claim. But the truth is that the such claims really are not the content of the scientific work. What they have done is find a record of a bunch of particle trails originating at a point so that the total energy and other conserved quantities correspond to those attributed to the Higg's boson. Scientist's are far more concerned with the actual details of that event rather than existence and reality claims which are more for the media and public. They WILL continue to look for alternate explanations of that event because that what scientists do. The actual scientific discovery ALWAYS consists of the actual measurements and not the announcements to the media. It is like the difference between final cut of a film shown to the public and what is actually happening in the making of the film where the actors often don't see the same things at all. The former can easily make you confuse the actor with the character in the story because that is part of the illusion they are creating.

Braininvat » May 16th, 2018, 8:49 am wrote: When Galileo made that assertion, I think he spoke very much as a scientist.

Yes and no. There is always a difficulty when you reach very far back into the past because the distinction of science from philosophy is something which has continued to evolve. You can be considered correct in the sense that for his time what he did can be considered science. But that doesn't mean that in retrospect we would not say now (in light of such things as relativity) that he was wrong and unscientific in making such a claim. On the other hand, we can be very sympathetic for the simple fact that the tyranny of theological dogma of the church needed opposition. But if a scientist today were put in that position, he might state his opposition very differently, because the two views (Ptolemaic and Copernican) are just two different non-inertial frames of reference (though one definitely more non-inertial than the other) -- and what is crucial to the work of science is not some meaningless declaration of which is "more real," but the fact that we are free to look at things from multiple perspectives and frames of reference.

Braininvat » May 16th, 2018, 8:49 am wrote: The evidence supports Coperny, not Ptoly.

There is no evidence whatsoever to show that one is "more real" than the other. The Ptolemaic view matches what we actually see in the sky of earth. But the Copernican models shows the advantage of looking at things from a different perspective (frame of reference) because then a lot of the purely observational features of the Ptolemaic model can be explained with simpler calculations. To be sure, scientist like it when their models are simpler and more predictive, not only because it provides more powerful tools for calculation but because it give them the explanatory power needed for theoretical science.

Braininvat » May 16th, 2018, 8:49 am wrote:When Einstein said that gravity, as a force, wasn't real ( what's called a pseudoforce) but rather it was particles responding to the curvature of space, again, not a philosophic statement. Scientists do, in their interpretation of findings, make assertions of reality. I think it's a sign of the incompleteness of QT that such assertions are avoided. Or agonized over.

But gravity is a force. It is not pseudoforce. It is indeed just as much a force as any of the other forces. What Einstein provided was a alternate description of forces in purely geometric terms -- one which by the Kaluza-Klein formulation can encompass electromagnetism as well as gravity. Einstein overstated things, and he did that on a number things, where he was eventual proven to be totally incorrect. A big part of the problem is talking about the work of science in a language like English which is chock full of philosophical assumptions. This is why the statement is repeatedly made that the correct language for stating scientific findings without distortion is mathematics rather than English.

Braininvat » May 16th, 2018, 8:49 am wrote:Scientists do, in their interpretation of findings, make assertions of reality.

And scientists have made all kinds of theological assertions also. But perhaps one clarification should be made. While I insist that reality is a topic for philosophy rather than science, I do not mean to say that the findings of science have no relevance for the discussions of what is real. The separation I am making is one way only, in that the talk of reality ultimately has no relevance to the work of science, not that the findings of science have no relevance to the philosophical questions about what is real. The same goes for the divide between science and theology.

Braininvat » May 16th, 2018, 8:49 am wrote: I think it's a sign of the incompleteness of QT that such assertions are avoided. Or agonized over.

Others come to the complete opposite conclusion. The evidence has shot down all claims of incompleteness. And many scientist see this inability to decide between philosophical issues to be a sign that QT has finally escaped the way philosophical presumptions have been built into human language. Some rejoice in this as an escape from a mire of meaningless rhetoric and others like myself simply accept the resulting divide between the subjective and the objective.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby dandelion on May 16th, 2018, 4:35 pm 

Reg_Prescott » May 16th, 2018, 7:13 am wrote: (snip) Unlike the strictures of QM, or certain interpretations thereof, it is not the case up here in the commonsense, pre-theoretical world of medium sized objects that reality is contingent upon the act of observation.) (snip)


Hi, I wonder on what basis the statement is made?
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 16th, 2018, 7:24 pm 

dandelion » May 17th, 2018, 5:35 am wrote:
Hi, I wonder on what basis the statement is made?



Oh gosh. It took you perhaps ten seconds to type that question, Dandelion. It would take me perhaps ten hours to do it justice LOL.

Well, briefly, are you familiar with the ongoing, and apparently neverending, battle between so-called scientific realism and scientific antirealism?

If you're not, I'm sure there must be threads on this site which address the topic. Otherwise, the relevant literature is positively (pardon the pun) voluminous.

Now, both schools come in a bewildering panoply of forms, but roughly:

Scientific realism is the claim that there exists a world out there quite independently of observers such as ourselves, and the job of science is to provide not only descriptions of that reality (to "save the phenomena", as they say), but to offer causal-explanatory accounts of that reality, in both the observable and unobservable realms.

Scientific antirealism is the claim that the job of science is simply to "save the phenomena", i.e., offer systematic descriptions of observable phenomena. And what of all those unobservable entities so ubiquitous in scientific theories (quarks, fields, forces, etc)? In other words, wot's goin' on behind the scenes, guvnor? Well, perhaps it's better not to ask.

Dammit, why did you have to open your big mouth?! Oh well, depending on the particular breed of antirealist, you may be told that talk of unobservables is translatable into -- i.e., means the same as -- talk of observables (positivism), talk of unobservables in scientific theories must not be taken literally; scientific theories are not even the kinds of things to which the terms "true" or "false" apply (instrumentalism), the epistemic warrant is insufficient to make existential claims about unobservables (constructive empiricism), etc., etc.


Now, thanks to the foundational work of Niels Bohr and his co-conspirators, the orthodox school of thought in quantum physics has been overwhelmingly antirealist, as you'll see exemplified in remarks made by mitchellmckain and his ilk. ("Science has no business dabbling in questions of reality" -- if you REALLY wanna scare 'em, just mention absolute reality, Tee hee, "we just construct models", "just shut up and calculate", etc.). And famously, this is what Einstein loathed, setting him at loggerheads with Bohr and his bandwagon: for Einstein "shut up and calculate" just ain't good enough.

Quantum physicists, by and large, are trained to think in an antirealist mode. The problem is, though, from my own encounters with our QM brethren is that they tend to extrapolate from their own training and modes of thought, concluding that what goes for QM goes for all of science.

This, of course, is a gross distortion of the way most scientists view their work.

Were you to pose the question to an evolutionary biologist, say: "So, all you guys do is construct models? All this talk of natural selection and whatnot is not to be taken at face value? After all, I've been told science is not in the business of providing causal-explanatory accounts of reality."

Well, if you don't get punched in the face, and assuming the biologist can even understand your question at all, after regaining her equanimity, she might reply:

"Dunno where you got your info, pal, but this is not "just a model". This is way, we believe, things really are."
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 17th, 2018, 12:50 am 

Reg_Prescott » May 16th, 2018, 6:24 pm wrote:Dammit, why did you have to open your big mouth?! Oh well, depending on the particular breed of antirealist, you may be told that talk of unobservables is translatable into -- i.e., means the same as -- talk of observables (positivism), talk of unobservables in scientific theories must not be taken literally; scientific theories are not even the kinds of things to which the terms "true" or "false" apply (instrumentalism), the epistemic warrant is insufficient to make existential claims about unobservables (constructive empiricism), etc., etc.

Now, thanks to the foundational work of Niels Bohr and his co-conspirators, the orthodox school of thought in quantum physics has been overwhelmingly antirealist, as you'll see exemplified in remarks made by mitchellmckain and his ilk.

Time to interrupt this train of polemic and lying rhetoric with a little truth. As I explained before, I am a scientific realist, not anti-realist and not positivist and certainly not instrumentalist or empiricists as Reggie chooses to describe them. The primary issue here has been the existence of a scientific method and the divide between science and other human activities like philosophy (and this forum to be sure) where the methodology of rhetoric rules. Just because scientists may have an interest in the issues of philosophy like metaphysics doesn't mean these are an issue of scientific inquiry itself or that the opinions on this subject ultimately have any relevance to the work of scientific research -- no matter how much particular scientists may personally find them necessary for their own rationality (just the same as can be said of religious questions).

Reg_Prescott » May 16th, 2018, 6:24 pm wrote:("Science has no business dabbling in questions of reality"

If there is any validity to this claim, some clarification is required.
The following, for example, are incorrect.
1. Scientists are not interested in questions about reality.
2. Scientists do not and cannot voice opinions on questions of reality.
3. The findings of science have no relevance to questions about reality.
4. Scientists do not employ philosophical thinking in their search for new areas of scientific inquiry or in their efforts to understand and interpret scientific results.
5. Science can always avoid issues of reality when explaining their results to nonscientists.

What is correct is the following.
1. We cannot expect answers to questions about reality from the methods of science.
2. Because of 1, opinions on questions of reality are not something which should be called science.
3. Answers to questions of reality have no relevance to the conduct of scientific inquiry.

Reg_Prescott » May 16th, 2018, 6:24 pm wrote:Quantum physicists, by and large, are trained to think in an antirealist mode.

This is completely incorrect. On the contrary, scientific realism is the overwhelming presumption of the scientific community and this does not change when the topic is quantum physics. BUT just because scientists presume this does not mean this question is a matter of science rather than philosophy. The same goes for questions about the scientific method and nature of scientific inquiry which is not a subject of science but of the philosophy of science. Like I have said repeatedly, Science does not hold itself up by its own bootstraps. It is a product of and founded upon natural philosophy.

Reg_Prescott » May 16th, 2018, 6:24 pm wrote:After all, I've been told science is not in the business of providing causal-explanatory accounts of reality.

If so, then you have been lied to. BUT this does not change in the slightest the fact that questions about whether the theoretical constructs like protons, quarks, and quantum fields are actually real is a matter for philosophy not science. For the most part scientists simply presume they are real or dismiss the question of their reality as philosophical while saying that they are going to treat them as real regardless.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 17th, 2018, 5:40 am 

Philosophers have been known on occasion to get a wee bit carried away with themselves, perhaps assisted by a Heineken too many, and wax lyrically on quantum theory before an audience of trained physicists. The result, as you might imagine, is that before long, our heroic philosopher's scientific ignorance becomes painfully apparent, and ends up with egg all over his Kantian countenance.

Needless to say, the converse is by no means unheard of either: emboldened scientists with wild abandon encroach into unfamiliar territory outwith their own bailiwick of expertise with the result that they come across as both philosophically naive and confused.

I suggest that is the case here.

Mitchellmckain has stated explicitly more than once in this thread that he subscribes to scientific realism.

In his latest post, after pointing out my own "complete incorrectness", he elaborates:

mitchellmckain » May 17th, 2018, 1:50 pm wrote:... scientific realism is the overwhelming presumption of the scientific community and this does not change when the topic is quantum physics ...


So, not only is mitchell himself a scientific realist, but, on his own account, it is also the overwhelming presumption among quantum physicists too.

Somewhat incongruously, though, we find out at the end of the same post that:

mitchellmckain » May 17th, 2018, 1:50 pm wrote:For the most part scientists simply presume they [theoretical constructs like protons, quarks, and quantum fields] are real or dismiss the question of their reality as philosophical while saying that they are going to treat them as real regardless."


Assuming that mitchell's information here is accurate, we now learn that most scientists do NOT in fact endorse a position of scientific realism, but rather, act as if the entities in their theories are real, presume they're real, or else avoid the question altogether. Reticence to assert scientific realism is not itself a realist position. The realist affirms knowledge (as opposed to mere pretense or as-if presumption) of the reality of the entities in question.

For contrast, try asking Jane Goodall the following multiple choice question: "Are chimpanzees real?"

a). Yes!
b). Well, I'm hesitant to say, and it's not really a scientific question, and here-we-go-round-the-mulberry-bush, but I conduct my studies as if they were real.

(Note: a is an endorsement of realism; b is not)

After that, try asking geologists if they think rivers and mountains are real, meteorologists whether typhoons are real, and perhaps paleontologists about the ontological standing of fossils, say.

So, all members are now requested to gather in the conservatory for mitchell to deliver the denouement which is: Most scientists adopt a position of scientific realism vis-à-vis quantum physics, and most scientists do not adopt a position of scientific realism vis-à-vis quantum physics.

Well, there you have it, folks. Dabble in quantum physics for long enough and you too can be in two positions at once.

Finally...

mitchellmckain » May 17th, 2018, 1:50 pm wrote:Time to interrupt this train of polemic and lying rhetoric with a little truth"


It may well be the case that I've made false statements in the thread. In fact, as bets go, that would be a pretty safe one. That said, to assert a false statement that one sincerely believes to be true is not to lie.

For anyone less acerbic and genuinely interested in the issue of scientific realism and antirealism as applied to the surreal landscapes of quantum physics, I'd highly recommend the following books:


"Quantum Theory and the Flight from Realism: Philosophical Responses to Quantum Mechanics" by Christopher Norris

"Quantum Mechanics: Historical Contingency and the Copenhagen Hegemony" by James T. Cushing

"The Shaky Game" by Arthur Fine
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby dandelion on May 17th, 2018, 6:09 am 

Sorry for the lack of detailed direction in the question! Yes, a little familiar I guess and thanks for the elaboration. Regarding that, maybe more-or-less-likely views are worthwhile. Regarding the basis of the statement, I did wonder about derivation from views, and so, for example, if based on some reasoned evidence that a particular sort of limited observer such as a human observer may not alone be a requirement for such phenomena, I think that agrees with current positions I’ve read too, but perhaps the statement might not allow for a possibly wider views of the nature or role of observer. More interesting, perhaps, is that I think the statement might not allow for evidence suggesting quantum behaviour may not be limited to a certain microscopic level. I think considerations like this may have contributed to some weakening of support for a divide in the sense described.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Braininvat on May 17th, 2018, 9:45 am 

Well, there you have it, folks. Dabble in quantum physics for long enough and you too can be in two positions at once.


Hehe. I think Mitch is a scientific realist, but not in the classical sense of realism where you can give plain English descriptions of entities at the tiniest levels of magnitude. At the subatomic level, natural language accounts tend toward analogies rather than pure realism. "A Higgs field is really just a thick gob of molasses" isn't going to quite nail it.

As for being in two positions at once, just don't attempt that with the Kama Sutra.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Eodnhoj7 on May 17th, 2018, 11:01 am 

Braininvat » May 17th, 2018, 9:45 am wrote:
Well, there you have it, folks. Dabble in quantum physics for long enough and you too can be in two positions at once.


Hehe. I think Mitch is a scientific realist, but not in the classical sense of realism where you can give plain English descriptions of entities at the tiniest levels of magnitude. At the subatomic level, natural language accounts tend toward analogies rather than pure realism. "A Higgs field is really just a thick gob of molasses" isn't going to quite nail it.

As for being in two positions at once, just don't attempt that with the Kama Sutra.



The dualism of quantity and quality seems to be the foundational problem observed in this dialogue.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 17th, 2018, 2:24 pm 

Reg_Prescott » May 17th, 2018, 4:40 am wrote:So, not only is mitchell himself a scientific realist, but, on his own account, it is also the overwhelming presumption among quantum physicists too.

Somewhat incongruously, though, we find out at the end of the same post that:

mitchellmckain » May 17th, 2018, 1:50 pm wrote:For the most part scientists simply presume they [theoretical constructs like protons, quarks, and quantum fields] are real or dismiss the question of their reality as philosophical while saying that they are going to treat them as real regardless."


Assuming that mitchell's information here is accurate, we now learn that most scientists do NOT in fact endorse a position of scientific realism, but rather, act as if the entities in their theories are real, presume they're real, or else avoid the question altogether. Reticence to assert scientific realism is not itself a realist position. The realist affirms knowledge (as opposed to mere pretense or as-if presumption) of the reality of the entities in question.

There is no incongruity here at all. But apparently Reggie needs things spelled out for him more painstakingly to keep his panties untwisted.

Scientists when teaching or doing science simply presume these things are real. But if asked they may dismiss the question as irrelevant and thus give the agnostic response that they will treat them as real regardless and leave such questions to the philosophers. If you press them then they will naturally give a variety of responses from scientific realism to instrumentalism or positivism -- and I think scientific realism would be the majority response. A variety of opinions is the usual response to philosophical questions because unlike science there is no objective means of determining an answer. Thus a diversity of thought is natural and should be accepted by those who are decently reasonable.

So... yes when speaking for science, most scientists are likely to give a response totally supporting my claim that such philosophical issues are not a matter for science to say.

But as I pointed out before when I suggested you look up "local realism", this can be considered evidence that when push comes to shove, the consensus does side with scientific realism.

Reg_Prescott » May 17th, 2018, 4:40 am wrote:It may well be the case that I've made false statements in the thread. In fact, as bets go, that would be a pretty safe one. That said, to assert a false statement that one sincerely believes to be true is not to lie.

Oh!!! ok. So I wasn't lying when I said you were lying. I just didn't grasp that when you said I believed things in direct contradiction to what I wrote, it was because you were functionally illiterate and thus actually believed your claim despite the fact that I already made it clear that I believed the opposite. Glad we cleared that up.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 17th, 2018, 2:49 pm 

Braininvat » May 17th, 2018, 8:45 am wrote:
Well, there you have it, folks. Dabble in quantum physics for long enough and you too can be in two positions at once.


Hehe. I think Mitch is a scientific realist, but not in the classical sense of realism where you can give plain English descriptions of entities at the tiniest levels of magnitude. At the subatomic level, natural language accounts tend toward analogies rather than pure realism. "A Higgs field is really just a thick gob of molasses" isn't going to quite nail it.

As for being in two positions at once, just don't attempt that with the Kama Sutra.


First of all... I take this in the humorous tone in which I think it was meant despite any impressions you may have from my habitually non-humorous and overly serious tendencies in response. And in that light, I will say that if after dabbling in any area of academia, you can express your position on a subject so that it sounds like a mere two positions at once then it will be a nearly miraculous feat. Indeed, one may have the impression that the academic measure of intelligence is number of simultaneous position you can maintain in a single sentence.

Second... there is a big difference between the question of whether you think these theoretical constructs are real and what you think they "look" like. Thinking the Higgs field should be conceived as a thick gob of molasses (or whatever) has no significance whatsoever to whether you think it is real.

Third... my explanation was of a different nature entirely. It was to point out that statements to the press and the nonscientific public "we found it!" despite sounding like it is the about the existence and reality of these things actually represent something quite a bit different in the work of science itself. The reason is likely because adhering to the precision which science is capable of tends to make the eyes of most people glaze over somewhat leaving them with no comprehension of anything whatsoever.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 17th, 2018, 5:38 pm 

I have been reviewing my posts on the forum with a search for "scientific realism."

As usual, labels like this only get us in the approximate ball park and then you have to look more carefully at various definitions and claims about what the label means. The same is true of any label I might apply to myself, such as when I say I am Christian. Hear my words repudiating substitutionary atonement as totally irrational and medieval, and a large number of people in the western sector of Christianity are likely to deny that I am any sort of Christian at all.

So looking over my previous posts on the forum you will see me saying many times that I am an "effective scientific realist." So it might be best to take a closer look.

We can start with the simplest statement of Wikipedia
Scientific realism is the view that the universe described by science is real regardless of how it may be interpreted.

I certainly have no disagreement with that! So in this first approximation I am a scientific realist.

However, the Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy begins with the observation, "t is perhaps only a slight exaggeration to say that scientific realism is characterized differently by every author who discusses it, and this presents a challenge to anyone hoping to learn what it is." So the question of whether the label applies in a particular case is not cut and dried.

Even Wikipedia does not stop at the simple explanation above:

Scientific realism involves the two basic positions. First, it is a set of claims about the features of an ideal scientific theory; an ideal theory is the sort of theory science aims to produce. Second, it is the commitment that science will eventually produce theories very much like an ideal theory and that science has done pretty well thus far in some domains. It is important to note that one might be a scientific realist regarding some sciences while not being a realist regarding others.

According to scientific realism, an ideal scientific theory has the following features:

The claims the theory makes are either true or false, depending on whether the entities talked about by the theory exist and are correctly described by the theory. This is the semantic commitment of scientific realism.

The entities described by the scientific theory exist objectively and mind-independently. This is the metaphysical commitment of scientific realism.

There are reasons to believe some significant portion of what the theory says. This is the epistemological commitment.

Combining the first and the second claim entails that an ideal scientific theory says definite things about genuinely existing entities. The third claim says that we have reasons to believe that many scientific claims about these entities are true.

Scientific realism usually holds that science makes progress, i.e. scientific theories usually get successively better, or, rather, answer more and more questions. For this reason, many people[who?], scientific realist or otherwise, hold that realism should make sense of the progress of science in terms of theories being successively more like the ideal theory that scientific realists describe[who said this?].

And at this stage, I am already having some difficulties, because of the parts in italics. While I can affirm that I believe myself that they are genuinely existing entities, I would deny that an ideal scientific theory asserts such a thing.

I would tend to relate question of labeling to one of my often repeated assertion that we have excellent evidence to believe there is an objective aspect of reality, but then not only deny that we have any evidence that reality is exclusively objective but say we have excellent pragmatic reasons for believing there is also an irreducibly subjective aspect to reality as well. I think this is one of the best measures of my adherence to scientific realism. Yes I am going to believe that there are really such things as electrons and Higgs bosons out there in an objective reality apart from the human mind and understanding (even if my conception of them as quantum fields may be hard for many people to understand), but that it would be going a little too far to define these as the totality of reality itself. I would not, for example, preclude the possibility of encountering aliens with a vastly different outlook and way of understanding of the universe which has practically no commonalities with our science, and some of the differences may be arbitrary matters of labeling and categorization of objective realities while others are more subjective differences (possibly revealing subjective elements of our own understanding which we haven't been fully aware of).
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Braininvat on May 17th, 2018, 5:59 pm 

Second... there is a big difference between the question of whether you think these theoretical constructs are real and what you think they "look" like. Thinking the Higgs field should be conceived as a thick gob of molasses (or whatever) has no significance whatsoever to whether you think it is real.




I got all that, MM. Twas just suggesting that some may take natural language analogies as the Revealed reality when only the mathematical model really approaches a realistic one. I was saying that natural language can make the "what it looks like" sound misleadingly like a realistic framing of the thing-in-itself. I don't believe for a moment that bosons look like anything my mind could wrap itself around. (I have to note that my auto-correct changed bosons to "bosoms" which really took that sentence in a different direction....)
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Eodnhoj7 on May 17th, 2018, 6:32 pm 

Braininvat » May 17th, 2018, 5:59 pm wrote:
Second... there is a big difference between the question of whether you think these theoretical constructs are real and what you think they "look" like. Thinking the Higgs field should be conceived as a thick gob of molasses (or whatever) has no significance whatsoever to whether you think it is real.




I got all that, MM. Twas just suggesting that some may take natural language analogies as the Revealed reality when only the mathematical model really approaches a realistic one. I was saying that natural language can make the "what it looks like" sound misleadingly like a realistic framing of the thing-in-itself. I don't believe for a moment that bosons look like anything my mind could wrap itself around. (I have to note that my auto-correct changed bosons to "bosoms" which really took that sentence in a different direction....)



I am not sure a strict quantitative approach is possible without equating the actual physical structures which compose our universe (atoms, gravitational waves, black holes, etc.) to numbers in and of themselves. Even then a strict quantitative approach requires a qualitative argument. It appears the problem of physics, from an outside perspective, stems from a lack of balance between the two modes of definition (language/math) and most of its problems lie in ontological problems of definition...hence a prerequisite metaphysics of measurement is necessary.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby DragonFly on May 17th, 2018, 6:49 pm 

mitchellmckain » May 17th, 2018, 4:38 pm wrote:Yes I am going to believe that there are really such things as electrons and Higgs bosons out there in an objective reality apart from the human mind and understanding (even if my conception of them as quantum fields may be hard for many people to understand), but that it would be going a little too far to define these as the totality of reality itself.


Covariant quantum fields are what's being headed to as the final unveiling of reality's totality.

What has fallen by the wayside, in order:

1. Newton's separate, absolute space and time as backgrounds/containers, with particles in space moving through time—gone. (To be replaced by Einstein's spacetime.)

2. Faraday's and Maxwell's fields and particles as coming from particles—gone. (To be replaced by particles manifesting from fields, along with spacetime and other fields becoming covariant.)

3. Classical fields/particles—gone (no continuum). (To be replaced by spacetime and quantum fields in quantum mechanics.)

4. Spacetime—gone (emergent). (To be replaced by covariant quantum fields in quantum gravity.)


Fields in general are granular, indeterminate, and relational. The particles manifesting exist as themselves only during interactions; they are not persistent things. Their spectrum is discrete, such as that electrons can only have certain orbitals (from this the periodic tables can be constructed). Gravitational field quanta are different; they are not in spacetime but are spacetime.

No infinities (Einstein's curved spacetime is finite but boundless; Planck size / granularity /digital limit makes size scale absolute, plus eliminates classical, analog continuums of endless divisibility. No more Zeno paradoxes.)

No things as permanent; no fundamental lego type of building blocks that can build anything. (Called constitutionalism?)

No original space and time. In Quantum Gravity theory, 'time' would amount to a counting of beats but no universal clock; 'space' quanta serve as 'space' themselves.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby DragonFly on May 17th, 2018, 7:05 pm 

Eodnhoj7 » May 17th, 2018, 5:32 pm wrote:I am not sure a strict quantitative approach is possible without equating the actual physical structures which compose our universe (atoms, gravitational waves, black holes, etc.) to numbers in and of themselves. Even then a strict quantitative approach requires a qualitative argument. It appears the problem of physics, from an outside perspective, stems from a lack of balance between the two modes of definition (language/math) and most of its problems lie in ontological problems of definition...hence a prerequisite metaphysics of measurement is necessary.


The covariant quantum fields fields do not reside in spacetime; they live, so to speak, one on top of the other: fields on fields. The space and time that we perceive in their large scale low energy states are an approximate image of the the quantum gravitational field.

Fields living on themselves, without the need of a spacetime or any background to serve as a substratum, and which are capable by themselves of generating spacetime, are called “covariant quantum fields.

The substance of which all is made has been radically simplified. Our world, universe, particles, light, energy, space, and time—all of this is the manifestation of a single type of entity: covariant quantum fields (as the Real).

That's whats likely beneath it all; however, bosom energy can often overwhelm all else, seeming even realer than real.

Now, then, about what's real: all that becomes of /transforms from the Real is also real; some might assign degrees of realness to secondary and higher forms but one can't take away the realness.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Eodnhoj7 on May 17th, 2018, 7:19 pm 

DragonFly » May 17th, 2018, 7:05 pm wrote:
Eodnhoj7 » May 17th, 2018, 5:32 pm wrote:I am not sure a strict quantitative approach is possible without equating the actual physical structures which compose our universe (atoms, gravitational waves, black holes, etc.) to numbers in and of themselves. Even then a strict quantitative approach requires a qualitative argument. It appears the problem of physics, from an outside perspective, stems from a lack of balance between the two modes of definition (language/math) and most of its problems lie in ontological problems of definition...hence a prerequisite metaphysics of measurement is necessary.


The covariant quantum fields fields do not reside in spacetime; they live, so to speak, one on top of the other: fields on fields. The space and time that we perceive in their large scale low energy states are an approximate image of the the quantum gravitational field.

Fields living on themselves, without the need of a spacetime or any background to serve as a substratum, and which are capable by themselves of generating spacetime, are called “covariant quantum fields.

The substance of which all is made has been radically simplified. Our world, universe, particles, light, energy, space, and time—all of this is the manifestation of a single type of entity: covariant quantum fields (as the Real).

That's whats likely beneath it all; however, bosom energy can often overwhelm all else, seeming even realer than real.

Now, then, about what's real: all that becomes of /transforms from the Real is also real; some might assign degrees of realness to secondary and higher forms but one can't take away the realness.


The problem of definition occurs as the fields existing relative to fields, equates each field being a part of a larger whole that relate much in the same manner as "parts". Considering all parts exist as relations of movement between eachother and through eachother, what seperates a field from a macro-particle?

Multiplicity of dimensions is multiplicity of dimensions, hence contain an inherent degree of movement. A "single type of entity" does not eliminate the fact that there are multiple relative entities which move through eachother...this is considering a "type" implies a number of multiple relations.

You have to remember from a base form of logic that if all things exist with fields as their premise, including the thought and corresponding conversations we are having, then these fields result in abstract realities which contradict the premises. In simpler terms, a thought may be a result of a field but that would require the field to reflect back to its own origins in one respect and divide itself in another.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Reg_Prescott on May 17th, 2018, 8:09 pm 

mitchellmckain » May 18th, 2018, 3:24 am wrote:Oh!!! ok. So I wasn't lying when I said you were lying.

That's right. You were just sincerely wrong.

mitchellmckain » May 18th, 2018, 3:24 am wrote:I just didn't grasp that when you said I believed things in direct contradiction to what I wrote, it was because you were functionally illiterate and thus actually believed your claim despite the fact that I already made it clear that I believed the opposite. Glad we cleared that up.

You have indeed on several occasions affirmed your undying commitment to scientific realism. The problem is, it became apparent very quickly that you boast but the most nebulous and confused understanding of what scientific realism is.

As if further evidence were required, I see lately you've taken to consulting Wikipedia in order to learn exactly what position it is to which your commitment undies .
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby mitchellmckain on May 17th, 2018, 10:09 pm 

To continue on in the face of boors who by ignorance or art paint the world in black and white and themselves as its author...

Wikipedia gives the following list of common assertions to which I will add some numbering:
The following claims are typical of those held by scientific realists. Due to the wide disagreements over the nature of science's success and the role of realism in its success, a scientific realist would agree with some but not all of the following positions.[1]

1 The best scientific theories are at least partially true.
2 The best theories do not employ central terms that are non referring expressions.
3 To say that a theory is approximately true is sufficient explanation of the degree of its predictive success.
4 The approximate truth of a theory is the only explanation of its predictive success.
5 Even if a theory employs expressions that do not have a reference, a scientific theory may be approximately true.
6 Scientific theories are in a historical process of progress towards a true account of the physical world.
7 Scientific theories make genuine, existential claims.
8 Theoretical claims of scientific theories should be read literally and are definitively either true or false.
9 The degree of the predictive success of a theory is evidence of the referential success of its central terms.
10 The goal of science is an account of the physical world that is literally true. Science has been successful because this is the goal that it has been making progress towards.

1. Yes, though this seems far too weak to me. The best scientific theories are true to all the currently available evidence, simply by stating the conditions under which it is known to hold.
2&5. Yes. Why would anyone in any form of discourse use expressions which do not refer to anything. That sounds like something done by someone indulging in subterfuge even if it is only shore up his own self deception. Perhaps the difficulty here is that I tend to be rather easy and inclusive when it comes to affirming the existence of things, suggesting that the more meaningful question is what are they exactly?
3&4. Yes. The truth value of a scientific theory is practically equivalent to its predictive capabilities.
6. Yes.
7. No. Scientific theories may have serious implications for existential questions, but this is really an issue for philosophy rather than science.
8. No. Literalism is generally the refuge of those who do not want to understand the actual meaning of statements. Theoretical claims are about constructing a logical framework so we can calculate and predict the results of measurements and observations before they are made.
9. Yes.
10. No. Science is successful because it adheres to the ideals of objectivity and honest inquiry, so that its findings do not become mired in the personal beliefs of those seeking answers using its methods.

If you want a numerical measure then this is 7 yes and 3 no, on the typical statements of scientific realists. It seems that one of the issues in this list is the theory of truth one is using. In a previous discussion, I have supported deflationism and pragmatic theories of truth while not crediting very highly the correspondence theory of truth which a lot of these statements appear to be based upon.


Also to clarify my previous post...

mitchellmckain » May 17th, 2018, 4:38 pm wrote:I would not, for example, preclude the possibility of encountering aliens with a vastly different outlook and way of understanding of the universe which has practically no commonalities with our science, and some of the differences may be arbitrary matters of labeling and categorization of objective realities while others are more subjective differences (possibly revealing subjective elements of our own understanding which we haven't been fully aware of).

I should have said space-faring aliens so it was clear that wasn't just talking about the possibility of aliens who could be easily dismissed (by some) as ignorant savages.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby dandelion on May 18th, 2018, 9:12 am 

Reg Prescott DIY, so, from notions read and discussion above regarding notions of realism but also nature or role of observer in interactions and division, what do you think of the following scenario? Without restriction to observer notions to human consciousness etc., possibly any system in interaction may have an observer role. If this were the case for all interaction then all interaction might be considered as involving an observer, disregarding dependence or independence?
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Braininvat on May 18th, 2018, 9:30 am 

If you water observation down to simply meaning interaction, then you'll lose the value of the word. The photon will observe your retina as much as your retina observes the photon. Hmm.
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Re: The Conception of "real" in science and general discours

Postby Eodnhoj7 on May 18th, 2018, 9:39 am 

Braininvat » May 18th, 2018, 9:30 am wrote:If you water observation down to simply meaning interaction, then you'll lose the value of the word. The photon will observe your retina as much as your retina observes the photon. Hmm.



That is part of the problem however considering the photon is one of the key elements which composes the retina, hence the retina observing a photon inevitably leads to a degree of a photon interacting with a photon as a "part" of observation.

It appears that observation is dependent upon cycles, but is not limit to strictly cycles alone.
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