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Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 17 Aug 2011 08:40:23 -0400
Message-id: <4E4BB6B7.3050707@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 8/17/2011 6:44 AM, Richard Vines wrote:
> On slide slide 67 of thishttp://www.jfsowa.com/talks/iss.pdf  you say:
> ● But all true theories must be consistent with observations.
> I am not sure if this is a pedantic or a substantial matter I am raising.
> I would take the view that there are never any "true theories".
> All knowledge is fallible...

I completely agree with the last line, especially since that is what my
philosopher, C. S. Peirce said many times.

But Peirce was quick to point out that much of what we think we know
really is true.  Unfortunately, we can never be certain that every detail
is correct.  And we can never know how accurately our theories will
apply to circumstances and conditions that have not been tested.

In other words, we can correctly use the words 'true' and 'false' in
ordinary conversation as we normally do.  We can even use them
correctly when we testify in a court of law ("the whole truth and
nothing but the truth").  And we can even use those words correctly
about the observed data in a scientific publication.

> some theories better explain something than others because they
> are consistent with observations (principle of induction).

Yes.  We can say that a certain theory is true of certain observations
or even certain kinds of easily repeatable observations.  But we don't
know whether its predictions will be true for any conditions for which
it has not been tested.

> I prefer the idea of 'evidence informed' decision making...

Peirce used different terminology, but he would agree.

> Translation of the elements of content from one set of categories
> to another cannot, we claim, be accomplished without the application
> of what we will call ‘human interpretive intelligence’.

I certainly agree that our current AI systems cannot compete with humans
in complex reasoning, understanding, and intuition.  But even today,
there are many instruments that are far better than humans in detecting
and evaluating certain kinds of observations.

There are also many kinds of illusions, errors, and traps that humans
typically misinterpret and misjudge -- just ask any trained magician.

But the term 'human interpretive intelligence' is too vague to be useful.
It is much better to characterize the kinds of things we know how to
analyze by current technology and other kinds that we don't yet know
how to specify accurately.

Peirce rejected Kant's claim that there is something behind the
observable phenomena that is ultimately unknowable.  And he would
reject the claim that there is anything we know for which it's impossible
to specify the evidence and reasoning that led us to that knowledge.

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