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Re: [ontolog-forum] Laws: physical and social

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "doug foxvog" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 12:31:17 -0400
Message-id: <fba8df41b9dcb9dc4e4c2d45ca11db07.squirrel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Sun, June 9, 2013 16:01, John F Sowa wrote:    (01)

> It's obvious that there is difference between a law of Nature, which is
> independent of what anybody thinks, and a social law that is legislated
> by some group of humans. But I recommend the following book about
> bees:    (02)

This discusses neither social laws, nor laws of nature, but animal behavior.
We've all agreed that there is a continuum of behaviors for people, from
habits.  There is also a continuum of behaviors of animals.  We could
call them different types of tendencies, but what Ed & i have been
objecting to is calling some generalization of some class of animal
tendencies and "laws of nature" by the term "law".    (03)

>     Page, Robert E., Jr. (2013) The Spirit of the Hive: ...
>  From http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=10201
>> Page talks about  the coordinated activity of the bees and
>> how worker bees respond to stimuli in their environment. ...    (04)

> You might claim that there is a difference between laws encoded in
> genes, encoded in neurons, or encoded on paper.  But note:    (05)

The "laws" for genes are rules for chemical creation of transfer RNA
from genes, rules for editing tRNA, and rules for creation of protein
from tRNA.    (06)

The discussion below refers to encodings of laws -- which are quite
different from the laws themselves.    (07)

>   1. Page shows how the information encoded in genes is only a partial
>      determinant of behavior. ...    (08)

So we are certainly stepping away from "laws" here.    (09)

>   2. Differences in encoding between neurons and paper ranges from
>      minimal to irrelevant, because no information on paper can affect
>      human behavior until it is transferred to neurons.    (010)

The physical encodings on paper are signs.  They are not laws.    (011)

>   3. Differences in the source of the encoded information can be useful
>      for classifying the kinds of laws.  But any hypothesis about the
>      way God, Nature, evolution, some legislature, or some geneticist
>      transferred information into the genes or neurons is irrelevant.    (012)

And is a topic different from what we have been discussing.    (013)

> There is a gap between bees and humans, but Peirce maintained that there
> is a continuum among all life forms.    (014)

There is no disagreement that there is a continuum of behavior.    (015)

However, we have not been discussing behavior, but "social law" and
"natural law".    (016)

> PC
>> I find it *convenient* (with no discernible utility other than
>> compactness of representation)
>> to include both physical and social rules under a single
>> category of "Rule", which is a "Proposition" created by an
>> "IntelligentAgent".    (017)

> I'm glad that you find it convenient.  But whenever a classification
> makes a representation more compact, it's important to ask *Why?*
> Is it the result of "data mining" -- an accidental result of the
> choice of data?  Or is it the result of something "real" that can be
> discovered by scientific methodology.    (018)

Agreed.    (019)

However, i suggest that considering a law as a "Rule" (meaning a
type of proposition) that has extra baggage (authorities, jurisdiction,
penalties, exceptions, starting date, author, ...) instead of as a
conceptual work that has among its properties such a "rule/proposition"
is a categorical error.    (020)

The same "Rule" (e.g., do not kill human beings) may be attached to
numerous SocialLaws, with different baggage, although the propositional
parts are the same.    (021)

> ...
> PC
>> I haven't found any reason to include the notion that
>> a human law makes a "prediction".
>> The only "prediction" I can imagine is that someone *may* be
>> punished for infraction.  But as we know, even innocent people are
>> punished by error, so I prefer merely to assert
>> that infraction creates a *liability* for punishment,
>> or more accurately, *increases* one's liability for punishment.    (022)

> Please note Page's book.  The *meaning* of a law is in the predictions.
> It's irrelevant whether the predictions are conscious (for scientists
> and lawyers) or unconscious (for most animals, including humans).    (023)

> I have no objection to introducing intermediate signs (such as
> liabilities or dispositions).  But those signs are *predictable*
> from the laws and the contexts in which the laws are applied.    (024)

> PC
>> One may for some purposes consider the "laws of nature" in possible
>> worlds, such as virtual reality programs, to be of the same category
>> as the "Laws of Nature" of our real world, but in that case, it will
>> be some human that created those laws.    (025)

> The source of the laws is useful for putting them in various categories
> of the ontology.  But that is independent of the use of laws to make
> predictions -- consciously or unconsciously.    (026)

> DF
>> Since the legislators didn't believe that, they didn't intend it.
>> Since those who created the law did not intend it, it is not
>> the "intent" of the law.    (027)

> The "intent" of the legislature is a metalevel consideration.
> It might be used by the courts to decide whether a law is
> constitutional or to clarify some ambiguities in its statement.    (028)

> But this point does not change the fundamental principle:  the
> *meaning* of a law for those who obey it, disobey it, or enforce it
> is the predictable consequences.  For bees, it's the pollen and
> nectar.  For people, it's what they think the police and the courts
> will do.
> DF
>> OWH was referring to how the law works for a "bad man".  He did
>> not discusss how it worked for a "good person".  A person deemed
>> to be "good" (or maybe "goody-goody") will accept the instruction
>> of a normal law.  To such a person, in the normal case, the size
>> of the penalty or the odds of being caught do not enter into the
>> decision to obey the law.    (029)

> On the contrary, the meaning of a law for everybody -- good or bad --
> is the consequences.  People with different backgrounds may think
> about the laws and evaluate the consequences in different ways.    (030)

> DF
>> For such people, the meaning of the law is a lot more than
>> prediction.  Different people (less "goody-goody") will weigh
>> different categories of laws differently -- obeying some types
>> when there is no possibility of being detected, while treating
>> others as OWH describes.    (031)

> You are confirming my point:  The meaning of a law for everybody
> is based on predictions about the future.    (032)

Au contraire.  We disagree on this point -- although i rarely disagree
with you.    (033)

> An upstanding citizen may want to preserve
> the social order.  But a protester may violate a law with the hope
> gaining publicity for changing the social order.    (034)

Are you claiming that part of the meaning of a law is that a protestor
may violate it in order to help bring about a change in the law?    (035)

>>> A directive without any prediction that a violation would be met
>>> with undesirable consequences is totally meaningless.    (036)

> DF
>> It is not meaningless for those who have a bent to obey laws.
>> It will affect their behavior even without a prediction of externally
>> imposed "undesirable consequences".    (037)

> No, but it may have *internally imposed* undesirable consequences,
> such as a disruption of the social order or a feeling of anxiety.    (038)

> DF
>> I suggest that mice react to danger, not having the concept
>> of "getting away with something".    (039)

> I'm sure that's true.   But people follow many "social laws" without
> any more thought than mice or bees.    (040)

People internalize social laws and follow them.  The subconscious mind
may then not suggest to the conscious mind violations of the social
laws.  But in cases in which the violation is suggested, such a suggestion
is immediately squelched.    (041)

I suggest that neither mice nor bees achieve such a level of
analysis.    (042)

>>> The continuity I was emphasizing in the previous notes was the range
>>> of social phenomena from preferences to habits to laws.    (043)

>> df:
>> Here, what you appear to be referring to is "tendencies".  Grouping all
>> of these under the phrase "social law" seems stretching that term.  I
>> suggest that habits and preferences have a closer relation to rules and
>> enacted laws than any of them do to "natural laws" of science.    (044)

> Fine. I'll follow Peirce by using the more general category Thirdness.
> But the *meaning* of any statement about a tendency or habit is the
> same as the meaning of any law:  a prediction about the future.    (045)

For reasons aforesaid, i respectfully disagree that the meaning of a
social law is a prediction.  One can certainly make predictions regarding
a law, but those predictions are not the meaning of the law.    (046)

-- doug f    (047)

> John    (048)

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