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

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2013 01:23:04 -0400
Message-id: <51B6B438.90404@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ed and Doug,    (01)

In this thread, I have been trying to explain some issues that Peirce
discussed and that O. W. Holmes (who was a member of the "Metaphysical
Club" with Peirce) applied to legal reasoning.  These topics are closely
related to what Searle (and others) call "social reality".    (02)

I discussed some of the issues about Searle, Peirce, et al., in
Section 3, pp 7 to 14, of http://www.jfsowa.com/pubs/worlds.pdf    (03)

>>> But they [drivers who slowed down on seeing the police] were up to
>>> that point violating the law; they are only taking  care to avoid
>>> having the violation OBSERVED.    (04)

>> Thank you for confirming my point:  The meaning of the law is in the
>> prediction of consequences.  In those cases where the agents can predict
>> that there are no undesirable consequences, the law is meaningless.    (05)

> And therefore, the law and its legislated consequences are not
> a prediction of behavior.    (06)

Please note what Holmes said:    (07)

OWH, from http://constitution.org/lrev/owh/path_law.htm
> If you want to know the law and nothing else, you must look at it as a bad 
> who cares only for the material consequences which such knowledge enables him
> to predict, not as a good one, who finds his reasons for conduct, whether
> inside the law or outside of it, in the vaguer sanctions of conscience.    (08)

As OWH said, The law does *not* predict what the violator would do.
Instead, it enables anyone, especially a violator, to predict what the
*courts* (with the aid of the police) would do.  If the violators think
that the police aren't watching, they will predict that they can ignore
the law without any penalty.    (09)

Your example confirms the point that OWH was trying to make.    (010)

> 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".    (011)

When I started this thread, I was just trying to show that the ability
to make predictions about the future was central to both meanings of
the word 'law' in English -- laws of physics and laws of society.    (012)

But I would really prefer to use Peirce's terminology and group all
kinds of laws, habits, and tendencies under the more general category
of Thirdness.  If you would prefer to use the English word 'law' in
a narrow sense, I don't care.  I prefer the general term Thirdness.    (013)

> The discussion below refers to encodings of laws -- which are quite
> different from the laws themselves.    (014)

In that passage, I was trying to summarize as succinctly as I could
some very good research that relates regularities in the behavior
of bees to their genes.  My immediate goal in that passage was to
encourage people to read the book by Robert Page -- or at least
to click http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=10201    (015)

>> There is a gap between bees and humans, but Peirce maintained that there
>> is a continuum among all life forms.    (016)

> There is no disagreement that there is a continuum of behavior.
> However, we have not been discussing behavior, but "social law" and
> "natural law".    (017)

To restate the point I was trying to make:  there is a continuum from
the regularities (processes that seem to be law governed) in physical
phenomena, the regularities in the social behavior of bees, and the
regularities in the social behavior of humans.  You can choose any
word or words you prefer to refer to those regularities.    (018)

> 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.    (019)

My preferred category is Thirdness, and it subsumes all those things.    (020)

>> 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.    (021)

> 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?    (022)

No.  The meaning is a prediction of what the courts will decide.    (023)

Both the upstanding citizen and the protestor will make the same
predictions.  But the protestor may decide that getting arrested
and put on trial is *desirable* -- in order to get publicity.    (024)

> I suggest that neither mice nor bees achieve such a level of
> analysis.    (025)

Nevertheless, the meaning is in the prediction.  Conscious awareness
is irrelevant.  No one would claim that a rock "decided" to fall
when Galileo released it from the Leaning Tower.  But the meaning
of the law is in the prediction, no matter who makes the prediction.    (026)

Biologists say that the origin of intentionality can be seen in
a bacterium swimming upstream in a glucose gradient.  Nobody would
claim that the bacterium makes a conscious prediction.    (027)

Whatever "learning" led to that behavior was undoubtedly at the
species level and was transmitted through the genes.  But the method
of learning and the way the information that produced the behavior
is encoded is irrelevant to the principle.    (028)

John    (029)

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