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Posted by Mario Dovalina on May 15, 2002 04:29:50 UTC

"My reply was directed at the principle of justifying scientific realism using Putnam's miracle argument."

Perhaps, then, I am not a scientific realist. Judging by what you know of my opinions, what would you classify me as? Do you find my views to be internally inconsistent, or do you just disagree with them?

"You are mixing up 'theories have [pragmatic benefits] in the outside world' and our theories being approximately true. These are two different issues. You can infer all day as to why our theories have pragmatic benefits, but justification doesn't come from explanation."

I disagree. I say that if a theory has tangible pragmatic benefits in the outside world that correlate to what that theory predicts what would happen, then it can be inferred to be "approximately true." Einstein (relativistic physics) is a wonderful example. When Einstein wrote his theory, no one had even considered the possibility of black holes, but yet the theory predicted that they would exist (when his equations were subjected to extreme conditions.) They continued to exist as theoretical objects until observations in the sky showed light bending greatly around what appeared to be empty space. Hence, there was something invisible and incredibly massive there. The most logical conclusion would be that black holes actually do exist, as Einstein's theory predicted. So, I conclude that relativistic physics is superior to describing the universe than classical physics. I correlate this approximate description of the universe to its actual state, independent of our existence (since I am of the opinion that an external reality is neccesary for the functioning of our consciousness, in any context, therefore our observations describe something, no matter how small)

You said yourself that you consider evidential evidence superior to non-evidential. That is, more accurate. I don't know how you can say that and still claim that pragmatic observations are not valid justifications to approximate truth statements.

"How do humans justify that they possess truth or even an approximation of truth. There is no means that I know of to obtain this kind of result. If there were such a justification, it should never be wrong. But, theories have been wrong (not just approximately true - but just plainly wrong). Obviously a theory can't be approximately true one moment and fully wrong the next."

Well, ANY statement about reality is 'true' within a certain margin of error. That is, every truth statement (other than one that is absolutely true, which we can never know for sure) is an approximation. By approximation I mean the best approximation. Saying that the universe is made of earth, air, fire, and water was an approximation, as is relativistic physics. But since relativism is better justified through pragmatic knowledge, I consider it to be more accurate, hence, closer to truth.

"You cannot justify a position which thinks that our axioms of reality (truth statements) are justified, if that were the case, then we would have absolute knowledge."

I do not attempt to justify truth statements. I try to avoid it as much as possible. I only try to find out which use statements best fit the observations. I then assign those use statements to a 'proxy' truth statement for the time being, but with full knowledge that it is only an approximation,

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