All of myron_tho's Comments + Replies

7lukeprog8yI don't think this is going anywhere useful. You're still straw-manning me and failing to provide exact counterexamples and counter-evidence. I'm moving on to more productive activities.
0siodine8y1. I'm not even remotely autistic. 2. How is philosophy going to get us the correct conception of reality? How will we know it when it happens? (I think science will progress us to the point where philosophy can answer the question, but by then anyone could)
5TimS8yTo expand on your point, philosophers like Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend provide a vision of what sophisticated modern philosophy [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/incommensurability/] can do to improve the scientist's perspective. It's so much fun to write that. Still, please don't. Your point is well made in the previous paragraph - this sentence only detracts from your persuasiveness.
5lukeprog8yI don't understand. Certainly, I'm at least "pretending" to have "some familiarity" with the field's content, and how that content relates to its raison d'etre, by way of citing hundreds of works in the field, quoting philosophers, hosting a podcast for which I interviewed dozens of philosophers for hours on end, etc. Of course many philosophers pay attention to science. When Eliezer wrote, "If there's any centralized repository of reductionist-grade naturalistic cognitive philosophy, I've never heard mention of it," I replied (earlier in this sequence [http://lesswrong.com/lw/4vr/less_wrong_rationality_and_mainstream_philosophy/] ): Again: you're straw-manning me. I've said specific things about the ways in which many philosophers are ignoring scientific results, but I'm quite aware that they pay attention to other parts of science, and of course that many of them (e.g. the experimental philosophers) pay attention to the kinds of evidence that I'm accusing others of ignoring. Straw man number... 5? 6? I've lost count. Where did I say that? Wait, first you claim that "you said in your article that..." and in the very next paragraph you claim that I've "taken it for granted without outright saying it"? I'm very confused. No. I complain when I do all the work of presenting arguments, examples, and evidence, and you simply deny it all without presenting any arguments, examples, and evidence of your own.
6siodine8yYou're both arguing over your impressions of philosophy. I'm more inclined to agree with Lukeprog's impression unless you have some way of showing that your impression is more accurate. Like, for example, show me three papers in meta-ethics from the last year that you think highlight what is representational of that area of philosophy. From my reading of philosophy, the most well known philosophers (who I'd assume are representational of the top 10% of the field) do keep intuitions and conceptual analysis in their toolbox. But when they bring it out of the toolbox, they dress it up so that it's not prima facie stupid (and then you get a fractal mess of philosophers publishing how the intuition is wrong where their intuition isn't, or how they shouldn't be using intuitions, or how intuitions are useful, and so on with no resolution). If I were to take a step back and look at what philosophy accomplishes, I think I'd have to say "confusion." You can say this is just the way things are in philosophy, but then why should we fund philosophy?
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

According to Luke, this is not a strawman, but in fact a correct representation of the current state of affairs.

It is correct if you go by a select set of quotes that, from what I can tell, have been chosen specifically to support a presupposed position, i.e., philosophers don't think about obvious problems which have been intimately entwined with moral and ethical philosophy for hundreds of years.

Obviously I don't feel that this is correct, or that the quotes given are representative of what they're being made to represent.

I don't know what you mean

... (read more)
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

In this "Philosophy by Humans" sub-sequence, it seems like the most common response I get is, "No, philosophers can't actually be that stupid," even though my post went to the trouble of quoting philosophers saying "Yes, this thing here is our standard practice."

So? I can quote scientists saying all manner of stupid, bizarre, unintuitive things...but my selection of course sets up the terms of the discussion. If I choose a sampling that only confirms my existing bias against scientists, then my "quotes" are going ... (read more)

7lukeprog8ySo you're worried about the problem of filtered evidence [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Filtered_evidence]. Throughout this sequence, I've given lots of citations and direct quotes of philosophers doing things — and saying that they're doing things — which don't make sense given certain pieces of scientific evidence. Can you, then, provide citations or quotes of philosophers saying "No, we aren't really appealing to intuitions in this way?" I'll bet you can find a few, but I don't think they'll say that their own approach is the standard one. You're asking me to do all the work, here. I've provided examples and evidence, and you've just flatly denied my examples and evidence without providing any counterexamples or counterevidence. That's logically rude [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1p1/logical_rudeness/]. Here, you managed to straw man me twice in a single paragraph. I never said that debates about ethics are problematic, and I never said there's something wrong with philosophy examining ideas. I've only ever said that specific, particular ways of examining ideas or having philosophical debates are problematic, and I've explained in detail why those specific, particular methods are problematic. You're just ignoring what I've actually said, and what I have not said. Again, I'm the one who bothered to provide examples and evidence for my position. You're the one who keeps declaring things wrong without providing any examples and evidence to support your own view. Declaring something wrong without providing reason or evidence is against the cultural norm around here, and you are the one who is violating it.
1siodine8yImproving upon this: why care about what the worst of a field has to say? It's the 10% (stergeon's law) that aren't crap that we should care about. The best material scientists give us incremental improvements in our materials technology, and the worst write papers that are never read or do research that is never used. But what do the best philosophers of meta-ethics give us? More well examined ideas? How would you measure such a thing? How can those best philosophers know they're making progress? How can they improve the tools they use? Why should we fund philosophy departments?
-1Jahed8yThis seems reasonable.
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

You can understand the difference between being a rough progenitor of a historical tradition in thought, on the one hand, and the views held by an individual, correct?

Honestly I'd expected a little better than the strategy of circling of the wagons and defending the group on the site of Pure Rationality where we correct biased thinking. Turns out LW is like every other internet forum and the focus on "rationality" makes no difference in the degree biases underpinning the arguments?

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

If you aren't denying or opposing anything, then what work is "only" doing in the sense "the natural world is the only world"?

In that there is "no more than", in ontological terms, there are no other fundamental categories of being. I don't have to explicitly deny that unicorns exist in order to rule them out of any taxonomy of equine animals.

If you've presupposed a worldview that allows for "supernatural" or "mystical" or Cartesian mind-substance or what have you, then of course the opposition seems ob... (read more)

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

Luke says that even naturalistic philosophers exhibit these bad habits. He does not say that naturalism is a bad habit, or that it's a bad habit because it uses science to understand the world.

Not quite:

reading too much mainstream philosophy ... is somewhat likely to "teach very bad habits of thought that will lead people to be unable to do real work."

"Teach" implies that engaging one's self with "too much" mainstream philosophy will cause bad habits to arise (and make one unable to do 'real work', whatever that might be).

Unexamined presuppositions make a wonderful basis for discourse.

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

Because in a general sense, ignoring a large and useful body of knowledge out of hand and on the grounds that it triggers intuitive dislikes (esp. when said intuitions are based on a weak strawman interpretation of said discipline) is usually not a good move.

More specific to the argument at hand, why should a debate about reliability of intuitions disqualify philosophy? Do you believe this is a settled debate? And if so, on what grounds is it settled?

The center of the issue is that you can't answer these questions empirically. What observation(s) could yo... (read more)

0DanArmak8yOr we can just toss out the questions as meaningless.
-1Bugmaster8yAccording to Luke, this is not a strawman, but in fact a correct representation of the current state of affairs. I myself am not sure whether that's the case. I don't know what you mean by "settle", but Luke does present several pieces of strong evidence against the proposition that our intuitions can be trusted.
6RichardKennaway8yI'm not sure what you mean there. Didn't Luke just present empirical evidence that our intuitions do vary? That answers the question. Our intuitions vary, therefore any way of conducting philosophy based on assuming they don't is wrong.
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

To be frank, although I speak for myself and not lukeprog, framing the scientific method or world-view in terms of 'naturalism,' or in terms of a nature/'supernature' dichotomy, is a bad habit. I can't say much more than that until you explain what you personally mean by 'naturalism.'

I'm thinking of naturalism as broadly accepted by modern analytic philosophy, in Quine's terms and in more modern constructions which emphasize i) that the natural world is the "only" world (this is not to be confused with a dualistic opposition to anything "... (read more)

1Rob Bensinger8yDefine "natural world" so that it's clearer how the above is non-tautological. If you aren't denying or opposing anything, then what work is "only" doing in the sense "the natural world is the only world"? What does it mean in this context to 'rule out as an option' something? How does this differ from 'opposing' an option? Define 'science,' while you're at it. Is looking out the window science? Is logical deduction science? Is logical deduction science when your premises are 'about the world'? Same question for mathematical reasoning. I'd think most scientists in their daily lives would actually consider logical or mathematical reasoning stronger than, 'preferred' over, any scientific observation or theory. The vagueness of the term 'naturalism' is the primary reason it's a bad habit to define your methods or world-view in terms of it. I don't know what you mean by 'beyond the realm of the empirical.' Plenty of logic and mathematics also transcends the observable. I think we'd get a lot further in this discussion if we started defining or tabooing 'science,' 'philosophy,' 'empirical,' 'natural,' etc. To be honest, this sentence here pretty much sums up what I think is wrong with modern philosophy. There is virtually no content to 'naturalism' or 'scientism,' beyond the fact that both are associated with science and the former has a positive connotation, while the latter has a negative connotation. Thus we see much of the modern philosophical (and pop-philosophical) discourse consumed in hand-wringing over whether something is 'naturalistic' (goodscience! happy face!) or whether something is 'scientistic' (badscience! frowny face!), and the whole framing does nothing but obscure what's actually under debate. Any non-trivial definition of 'naturalism' and 'scientism' will allow that a reasonable scientist might be forced to forsake naturalism, or adopt scientism, in at least some circumstances; and any circular or otherwise trivial one is not worth discussing.
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

Thinking 'naturalism' is a unitary concept that the members of some relevant linguistic community or intellectual elite share is itself a startlingly good example of the 'intuitions aren't shared' corrective lukeprog was making.

But calling it a "bad habit" with no justification or qualification is exempt from being an equally good (better, in fact, given that I'd not at all expanded on naturalism and certainly not with a dismissive one-liner) example of the "corrective"?

PS -- the Stanford Encyclopedia is as good a "proof" a... (read more)

1Rob Bensinger8yTo be frank, although I speak for myself and not lukeprog, framing the scientific method or world-view in terms of 'naturalism,' or in terms of a nature/'supernature' dichotomy, is a bad habit. I can't say much more than that until you explain what you personally mean by 'naturalism.' I don't follow. A Stanford Encyclopedia is much better evidence for the professional consensus of philosophers than is a Wikipedia article. Are you alluding to the fact that we all rely on intuitions in our everyday reason? If so, this is an important point. The take-away message from philosophy's excesses is not 'Avoid all intuitions.' It's 'Scrutinize intuitions to determine which ones we have reason to expect to match the contours of the territory.' The successes of philosophy -- successes like 'science' and 'mathematics' and 'logic' -- are formalized and heavily scrutinized networks of intuitions, intuitions that we have good empirical reason to think happen to be of a rare sort that correspond to the large-scale structure of reality. Most of our intuitions aren't like that, though they may still be useful and interesting in other respects.
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

But secondly... debate about the reliability of intuitions, really ? Isn't this basically a very strong sign that modern philosophy can safely be ignored, just like modern astrology ?

No.

3Bugmaster8yWhy not ?
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

arguing endlessly about definitions, or using one's own intuitions as strong evidence about how the external world works.

So this comes down to what you said previously about not liking people who came out of Philosophy 101, e.g., it's an argument against a philosophical tradition that does not actually exist.

These are bad habits relative to, you know, not arguing endlessly about definitions, and using science to figure out how the world works.

You mention naturalism as a "bad habit" for using science to understand the world?

Do you actually understand what naturalism is and what relationship it has with science?

6lukeprog8yNo. It's an argument against a philosophical tradition that does exist. In this "Philosophy by Humans" sub-sequence, it seems like the most common response I get is, "No, philosophers can't actually be that stupid," even though my post went to the trouble of quoting philosophers saying "Yes, this thing here is our standard practice."

You mention naturalism as a "bad habit" for using science to understand the world?

No, he doesn't (which is why I downvoted this comment, BTW). Luke says that even naturalistic philosophers exhibit these bad habits. He does not say that naturalism is a bad habit, or that it's a bad habit because it uses science to understand the world.

7Rob Bensinger8yI don't think that's what lukeprog meant. That said, thinking 'naturalism' is a unitary concept that the members of some relevant linguistic community or intellectual elite share is itself a startlingly good example of the sort of practice lukeprog's 'intuitions aren't shared' meme is warning about. The Stanford Encyclopedia article on naturalism [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/] itself begins, amusingly enough:
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

I think Eliezer is generally right that reading too much mainstream philosophy — even "naturalistic" analytic philosophy — is somewhat likely to "teach very bad habits of thought that will lead people to be unable to do real work."

Also could you expand on this as I didn't catch it before the edit?

It's not obvious what the "bad habits" might be, and what they are bad relative to. This reads as a claim that would be very hard to defend at face value, and without clarification it reads like a throwaway attack not to be taken seriously.

0Peterdjones8yAgreed. What is critical here is whether there are better habits.

It's not obvious what the "bad habits" might be, and what they are bad relative to.

Examples of bad habits often picked up from reading too much philosophy: arguing endlessly about definitions, or using one's own intuitions as strong evidence about how the external world works. These are bad habits relative to, you know, not arguing endlessly about definitions, and using science to figure out how the world works.

Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

The field as a whole (or rather, some within it, to be more accurate) takes these issues seriously as a matter of debate, yes, but arguing over controversial claims is the entire point of philosophy so that's no mark against it. It's also a radically different position from the strong claim you've advanced here that the field itself is broken, which is nonsense to anyone familiar with modern moral philosophy and ethics/meta-ethics and is dangerously close to a strawman argument.

To say the problem is "rampant" is to admit to a limited knowledge of the field and the debates within it.

4siodine8yWell, Lukeprog certainly doesn't have a limited knowledge of philosophy. Maybe you can somehow show that the problem isn't rampant.
4Emile8yJust see if people are arguing over it. Duh.
9RichardKennaway8yYou have precisely identified the fundamental problem with philosophy [http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1173].
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

Oh I doubt I'd be surprised, but that's more a problem of the people coming out of Philosophy 101 than the discipline itself. Frege and Bertrand Russell put most of the metaphysical extravagances to bed (in the Anglo-American tradition at least) with the turn towards formal logic and language, and the modern-day analytic tradition hasn't ever looked back.

As it stands the field has about as much to do with mind-body dualism or idealism (or their respective toolkits) as theoretical physics. This goes for ethics and meta-ethics, and no serious writer in that... (read more)

0Rob Bensinger8yAmusing in light of Russell's rather exotic metaphysical views.
0siodine8yShow me three of your favorite papers from the last year in ethics or meta-ethics that highlight the kind of the philosophy you think is representational of the field. (And if you've been following Lukeprog's posts for any length of time, you'd see that he's probably read more philosophy than most philosophers. His gestalt impression of the field is probably accurate.)
5lukeprog8yNo, seriously: the assumption that others will share one's philosophical intuitions is rampant in contemporary philosophy. Go read all the angry papers written in response to the work of experimental philosophers, or the works of the staunch intuitionists like George Bealer and Ernest Sosa.
Intuitions Aren't Shared That Way

For one thing, we would never assume that people of all kinds would share our intuitions.

You write this like it's an original insight and not a problem that has been taken seriously by every philosopher who ever wrote seriously about ethics or meta-ethics.

5lukeprog8yYou would be surprised to learn how often I talk to Less Wrongers who have been corrupted by a few philosophy classes and therefore engage in the kind of philosophical analysis which assumes that their intuitions are generally shared. Despite being downvoted in this comment [http://lesswrong.com/lw/4vr/less_wrong_rationality_and_mainstream_philosophy/3q9a] , I think Eliezer is generally right that reading too much mainstream philosophy — even "naturalistic" analytic philosophy — is somewhat likely to "teach very bad habits of thought that will lead people to be unable to do real work."
0chaosmosis9yAllow me to rephrase: what do we use to distinguish between conflicting intuitions, if not meta-intuitions?
2chaosmosis9yWell, I can't do so all by myself. You'll need to do some introspection to help me out. I don't feel like you're considering my arguments fairly, you've been combative and demanding and hostile throughout this conversation. This means I might stop wasting my time on you soon. What do you think we could use to make arguments, if not logic? A big part of my argument is that we are limited. I don't have the ability to use things other than logic to make decisions, my decisions never seem to work out when I don't. If you do, then you are a superhero and you should definitely use your powers to the fullest extent. It has a foundation. It doesn't justify itself in terms of an undeniable logical proof but in terms of a process that cannot be escaped and which is intrinsic to every aspect of human behavior. "Best" is a brute fact about what my values say. If your values are different, I can't argue with you. On a side note, I'm pretty convinced that you're an arrogant asshole. You don't seem to be on a quest for truth, you seem to be on a quest to show that you are smarter than me. You came into this conversation claiming that you wanted to teach LessWrongers about the value of epistemic tolerance, but you've mocked me and my arguments throughout this entire discussion. I think you're more about proving to yourself how smart you are than actually figuring out the way the world works and how you should live your life. Fuck off.
3Vaniver9yDo you think this [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEjdiE0AoCU&feature=related] is a pretty piece of music? Please just listen to it, without being primed by the description, comments, or related videos; it'll only take 2 minutes.
0chaosmosis9yFirst, you claim that rationality is exclusive and ignores other legitimate fields of inquiry. Now, you claim that rationality is overly inclusive, trying to incorporate too many things. You're a bit of an idiot.
2chaosmosis9yI think you're using a different definition of rationality than is common on this site. I need more detail to be able to evaluate what you are saying here. I think you might accept it but have hidden flaws within your reasoning process that lead you to misunderstand your own beliefs. I think that if you truly rejected this position then you would be unable to make decisions or understand arguments in aesthetic or ethical or consciousness related domains. I think getting to such a rejection would be impossible for a human being but that some human beings might mislead themselves to believe in arguments for that conclusion and to selectively believe in that conclusion, and to believe that they believe in that conclusion fully. This is why I said such a rejection would be a form of abstract nihilism. I think that rationality is capital-T insofar as it is the best paradigm. It has no ultimate foundation, but the foundation that it does have is intrinsic to the very mode of our existence and our values, and that makes it the best. Also, I don't understand why you disagree with this reasoning. It seems very similar to what you claim. I don't understand what you mean by "non-rational" or why you believe that aesthetics is that. Also, rationality doesn't believe that values are logical truths, but that doesn't mean that rationality thinks that values are valueless. Anyone who isn't using rationality extremely badly will recognize that values are valuable and not valueless. Your thinking is confused.
3Vaniver9yI don't know, the process of recognizing beauty seems pretty rational to me. I may not have introspective access to my modules that calculate beauty, but introspective access and rationality are different things.
Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline

There is no logical way that I can prove to you that reality exists. If you want one, I am sorry. Nonetheless, my senses tell me that reality exists and that logic works and that my values are good. I accept those senses because the alternative is to embrace groundlessness and the total destruction of meaning.

I have no exceptional quarrel with scientific realism nor the existence of an objective and mind-independent reality. I am however skeptical, firstly, of the idea that restricting inquiry into that domain to "rationality" is needlessly co... (read more)

5chaosmosis9yI think that rationality encompasses all of those things entirely and don't understand why you believe differently. Rationality is the tool that we use to distinguish the claims about aesthetics and consciousness and ethics that make sense from the ones that don't. A refusal to use this tool seems like it would be crippling. Other tools might still prove useful, and there are issues as to what we should do if our tools conflict, but I think rationality is the ultimate tool because it is very good at making comparisons between different things, because it uses such generalized ideas like logic. If one aesthetic claim contradicts another, only rationality can recognize that as a problem and work towards solving it. This epistemic condition is inevitable, because you ARE a thinking subject. If you prioritize a different epistemic condition above this one I don't understand how you can go about living your life. There's no logical reason to give rationality privileged grounds. But I think that people should choose epistemic systems which connect to their own understanding of the way reality works. I think this on a value-level basis, not a logical metaphysical one. (Side Note: I believe that values, not logical truths, are the ultimate metaphysical justification because they inherently connect to motivational states. However, I arrived at this position through the heavy use of logic, such as by trying to think of a solution to the is-ought problem. Values are the ultimate metaphysical foundation but rationality is the ultimate metaphysical tool that we use to weigh values against each other and to consider the implications of certain values, etc.) I don't believe that aesthetics is meaningless. I don't know why you think rationality believes that. Please show me the quote. I don't believe that LessWrong has disavowed anything that you've said you valued.
Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline

The brute fact of our existence is that some things work and others don't, that some things seem right and others seem wrong. If someone is insistent upon denying reality, then that's their affair, but they should know that there are consequences to this rejection. I consider the rejection of reality to be viceful, because those who do so reject their own current values and intutions in favor of an embrace of an abstract form of nihilism. Nihilism is much easier than acknowledging reality, but it's also much worse, in my opinion.

This paragraph moves fro... (read more)

2chaosmosis9yThere is no logical way that I can prove to you that reality exists. If you want one, I am sorry. Nonetheless, my senses tell me that reality exists and that logic works and that my values are good. I accept those senses because the alternative is to embrace groundlessness and the total destruction of meaning. You do not show how other philosophies can solve the problems I outline. You have no offense against rationalism. Rationalism has offense against other philosophies because rationalism works. Even if rationalism doesn't work, it appears to, and is the inescapable condition of my life. I can't help but think in terms of logic and induction and empiricism, and I refuse to embrace any abstract form of truth without a tangible connection to my own internal understanding of the universe. The choice isn't between one philosophy and many, which are equally justified, but between one philosophy which is my own and the one that I can't help but believe, and others which are so abstract and deconnected from my own experiences and understanding that they fail to provide any sort of value in my life. I don't believe that reductionism destroys value. That seems like a separate debate, anyways. I'm not trying to do that. I'm saying that my reality is inescapably the way it currently is. If I didn't accept the metaphysical condition that I currently accept, I would believe things indiscriminately and have no ability to judge things or discern things or to make choices. However, I want to do those things. Therefore, I accept rationality. This isn't pretty, from a logical standpoint. But it's basically inevitable for anyone who wants purpose in their life. Your alternative philosophy, whatever it might be, is at least as groundless as rationality, if not more so. If you want to reject rationality, please pick a specific paradigm and explain how it would provide an answer to the problem of induction and turtles all the way down. Otherwise, you're being unfair in your evalu
5chaosmosis9yOthers: downvotes don't fix what problems might be in myron's thoughts. They make them worse. Myron: preliminary note, your comment sounds a bit presumptuous and demanding. Substance: I don't believe that rationality necessarily has a fundamental undeniable metaphysical grounding. I believe every philosophy lacks this. Problems like the problem of induction (knowledge comes from experiences and it's impossible to know that the future will be like the past) and the turtles all the way down problem (assumptions are either unwarranted or dependent on further assumptions, which makes all forms of thought either infinitely regressive or groundless) are basically insurmountable. These are problems that all philosophies face and cannot answer satisfactorily. However, I think you're asking the wrong question. Instead of starting by looking for fundamental metaphysical justifications, which we know to be impossible, we should look to a more pragmatic and tangible level. The brute fact of our existence is that some things work and others don't, that some things seem right and others seem wrong. If someone is insistent upon denying reality, then that's their affair, but they should know that there are consequences to this rejection. I consider the rejection of reality to be viceful, because those who do so reject their own current values and intutions in favor of an embrace of an abstract form of nihilism. Nihilism is much easier than acknowledging reality, but it's also much worse, in my opinion. Even if nothing that we see or predict or experience or value is real in an absolute and abstract and irrefutable metaphysical sense, it's real and meaningful and useful in the context of our everyday lives. The reality that we face each day is the one that I care about, not the abstract and irrefutable ideological one. That's why I support rationality even if I don't know why rationality works. The fact that it does work, or that it seems to work, is enough for me. I also think
An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction

I'm interested to know how this methodology is supposed to diverge from existing methods of science in any useful way. We've had a hypothesis-driven science since (at least) Popper and this particular approach seems to offer no practical alternative; at best we're substituting one preferred type of non-empirical criteria for selection (in this case, a presumed ability to calculate he metaprobabilities that we'd have to assume for establishing likelihoods of given hypotheses, a matter which is itself controversial) for the currently-existing criteria, along... (read more)