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More On Use Statements

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Posted by Harvey on May 1, 2002 12:41:19 UTC

Hi Mario,

***Look, Harv, I do understand what the basis of your argument is. I do, and I agree with you. I don't, however, agree with your conclusions. I've previously admitted that science is incomplete and will never give us the whole picture.***

It is incomplete when it comes to use statements. It is irrelevant as far as truth statements unless we accept precepts on faith. Since use statements themselves depend on some truth statements, the whole enterprise is built on faith.

***We will never know any truth statements for sure. That seems to be your major point, but you take it too far. You take it to mean that since all human knowledge rests on incomplete and uncertain foundations, and since we can never know anything for sure, we might as well believe in something pleasant. Have I summed this up well? (and in less than 40 paragraphs)****

Not exactly. Since use statements are based on meaningful beliefs (pragmatic) to humans, we might as well stay consistent with this policy and stick with meaningful beliefs whenever possible. The exception would be if there is a contradiction in our meaningful beliefs (e.g., science contradicts God), but since science is a use statement and God is a truth statement, these two statements cannot contradict. The core assumptions of science are truth statements, and these truth statements could possibly contradict a belief in God (i.e., since they are both truth statements). If they don't do so, then we should take as true all the meaningful statements as possible (use statements and truth statements).

***In order for your statement to be valid, however, you would have to add in the notion that all possible realities are equally probable, or else you would have to admit that the evidence discovered to support a certain theory increases the possibility of it being "closer" to the ultimate truth.***

We cannot say whether a truth statement is equally possible, since we have no way of gauging whether a truth statement is probable or not. Probability has nothing to do with a truth statement (probability is a use statement). Truth statements are justified only if they are pragmatically meaningful, and these we accept on faith (even those truth statements that form our core beliefs and foundation of science). Therefore, it is not even possible to say whether a truth statement is more possible in being 'closer' to the 'ultimate truth'. All we can say is that our truth statement is more meaningful to us humans. That's why we accept them as part of our conceptual framework, and that's why we build upon them with making use statements (that do use the notion of probability).

***(which is more probable: that the universe's shape is spherical or cuboidal?)***

This would be a use statement since it is talking about probability, but it is not justified since we don't have any way to validate it. Therefore it cannot be supported as a valid use statement belief.

***If you say that some ideas are more valid than others, it more or less means that our flawed human investigations can steer us in the right direction. In which case, evidential investigation is superior to non-evidential. Do you agree, and why the heck not?8***

Of course I agree. But, here's why I agree. The truth statements of science (core beliefs) are such that we accept the use of evidence to make validated use statements. Our core beliefs also accept that our use statements say something about reality that is true. Since this is our truth statement position (i.e., scientific realism), the use of evidence is by definition of our core beliefs necesssary to consider the existence of something that is validatable by a use statement process (i.e., science). Truth statement beliefs can also be included in this investigation, but a contradiction must be shown to exist. For example, if we use physics (use statements) to study whether the axioms (truth statements) of Euclidean geometry are valid (e.g., the fifth postulate), and we find that there is evidence for Reimannian space in GR (use statement that is taken as a truth statement - scientific realism), then this is evidence against the truth statements of the fifth postulate (i.e., assuming scientific realism is a reasonable truth position). However, keep in mind that we are giving priority over truth statements of one (i.e., using physics we deduce that Reimannian space is real - scientific realism) with another set of truth statements (i.e., Euclidean axioms are real and necessary for meaningful interaction in the world). So, if you can show that the truth statements of science lead to a contradiction to the truth statements of a belief in God, then please point it out. I haven't seen any evidence of that sort.

***Don't you think that the fact that we have nuclear reactors suggests that we're at least in the right ballpark with atomic theory? We may never find out any truth statements, but we can find out the probable general direction of where they are. It's an asymptote.***

You can't validate scientific realism with a use statement. The acceptance of scientific realism is a pragmatic decision. The argument becomes whether scietific realism is needed to support our use statements. Without scientific realism, then you completely lose the connection between the way reality is and what we think it is. We simply stop thinking about the way reality is. However, if you adopt this view you have accepted antirealism, and this is another truth statement (unproven).

***So harv, do you consider all possible realities to be equal in probability or not? I need to know for this discussion to go much further.***

I consider that question to be completely subject to the truth statements we accept. Since I am a (sophisticated) scientific realist and a (sophisticated) mathematical realist and a (sophisticated) logicist, I believe that some realities are impossible while others are possible. There may only be one possible world, or there may be many. I don't have an answer on that one (i.e., my truth statements that I accept as valid do not exclude other realities).

***Yes. I'm saying that looking for "truth" statements is a hopeless endeavor. The best we can hope for is to ESTIMATE truth using the reliability of the use statements.***

This itself is a truth statement. If your best is based on a truth statement, then your best is based on faith.

***Okay, so science isn't perfect. I haven't meant to say otherwise. Regardless, it's the best we have.***

Again, this is another statement based on a truth statement. I disagree that science is the best we have. I think it all depends on what we are discussing. If we want to know about the world of truth statements, then I think philosophy is much more qualified than science (science can kick in and shed light on certain philosophical problems, though). If talking about finding meaning in our lives such that our lives are enjoyable, then I think science is not the best. I would much rather prefer theism. Fortunately I can have both so I don't have to choose!

***Deducting the truth answers through the use answers we currently have may be somewhat inaccurate. Especially since, as you said, use statements rely on certain truth statements to function. Still, if any evidence contradicts the truth statement foundations, they will be modified to fit the new data. And then we're a step closer. The system may not be perfect, but it's a far cry from your suggestion to play pin the tail on the donkey.***

The same process is happening in other fields as well. Logicians are working on improving our conception of logic. Mathematicians are working on our conception of what is mathematically acceptable. Metamathematicians are improving on our conception of what is math. Philosophers are hacking away. So are theologians. It's happening all over the planet, not just in science.

***All I say is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Don't make me pull out the dragon in the garage thing again.***

Extraordinary use statements require extraordinary use evidence. When talking about truth statements (which this phrase amounts to btw), is a different animal (dragon) altogether.

Warm regards, Harv

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