Hey Cobblepot. Super useful link. I was not aware of that concept handle, "conceptual fragmentation"—helps fill in the picture. Not surprising someone else has gotten frustrated with the endless "What is X?" philosophizing.
It sounds to me like this idea of "successful" looks a lot like the "bettabilitarian" view of the American pragmatists, like CS Peirce—the cash value of a theory is how it performs predictively. Does that sound right to you? Some links to evolutionary epistemology—what "works" sticks around as theory, what fails to work gets kicked out.
M... (read more)
Yes, Sally Haslinger and philosophers in her orbit are the go-to citations on a "therapeutic" engineering program. The idea is removing what Cappelen and Plunkett call "moral defects" from our language. I'm a little more skeptical of such programs to top-down re-engineer words on moral considerations, for reasons hopefully obvious to a reader of dystopian sci-fi or James C. Scott. I advocate instead doctrines of non-intervention & illumination:
The doctrine of non-intervention. Concepts should—in part because they can only, with any efficacy—be engineer
You might be interested in a post I wrote on some of the ethical problems of top down conceptual engineering: https://spilledreality.tumblr.com/post/620396933292408832/engineering-doctrines
I scold Cappelan & co a bit for exhibiting some of the high modernist tendencies James Scott critiques so well, and argue for a doctrine of non-interventionism
Hmmm, after giving it a day, I feel like I may have unfairly or unproductively bombarded you here, so know I won't be offended if I don't get a response.
I'll try to read some of the recommendations, and perhaps in a while I can come back to this conversation with more of value to contribute.
Appreciate the thorough response; there are some good recs here. I haven't read any of Chrysippus, and my knowledge of the Epicureans is limited to their moral philosophy (alongside that of the Stoics). That said, I can't help but get the feeling you're negging me a little with the references to skeptics, continentals, and professorial assistance! Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm less a rationalist than my presence here might imply—Bourdieu's symbolic capital and ethology's signaling theory are interchangeable in my book. Also fortunately or unfortu... (read more)
It's the set of notes that lead up to Philosophical Investigations! I haven't read PI so I unfortunately can't give good advice in choosing between them.
It sounds like you're right where you need to be though. I'd be curious your takeaways once you finish Investigations!
Some of your comments here are quite Wittgensteinian, so I recommend his Blue Book or Tractatus, but I'd imagine you've already encountered his ideas.
Literary theory has had about a hundred-year discourse over this question, though they're interested in literary, textual meaning specifically. Still, pretty much all of the proposals to come out of that discourse are what I've called "narrow and conquer" strategies—meaning is just and solely what the author intended, or the reader understood, or some aggregate of all reader understandings (perhaps all native... (read more)
Thanks for the thorough reply! This makes me want to read Aristotle. Is the Nichomachean preface the best place to start? I'll confess my own response here is longer than ideal—apologies!
Protagoras seems like an example of a Greek philosopher arguing against essences or forms as defined in some “supersensory” realm, and for a more modern understanding of concepts as largely carved up by human need and perception. (Folks will often argue, here, that species are more or less a natural category, but species are—first—way more messy constructed than most peopl... (read more)
Your name does suit you. I have in fact read (AFAIK good translations of) Plato and the Sophists! Very little Aristotle, and you're correct I fell asleep once or twice during an ancient phil course. Not, however, during the Plato lectures, and my prof—a hot young philosopher recently tenured at NYU—presented a picture of Platonic forms that agrees with my own account. I don't at all mean to imply that reading is the only correct interpretation, but it's a common and perhaps dominant one—several credible sources I've encountered call it ... (read more)
Thanks, I picked the name myself. This is a new account because I haven't commented before, but I'm long familiar with this community and its thought - and its norms. Given those norms, I probably should have cooled off a bit before posting that comment. Let me try again. I apologize in advance for the length of the below, but charity takes more work and therefore more words.
Fairness to the Ancients
I think we're talking past one another. Plato was definitely a Platonist, and he definitely employed counterfactual reasoning. &nb... (read more)
Thanks, I will check these out!
Thank for the tip on fn 7, it's a pull from an Axelrod & Hamilton paper! Updated.
How long have I been doing what?
Edit: I'll give some possible answers, been blogging regularly six or seven years, been lurking LessWrong four years, writing here a few months, and got into game theory six to eight months ago, though haven't had as much time as I'd like to dig around in it. Still really need to ready Schelling, and would love to do reading on multiagent simulation.
Ah thank you, looks like they all got jammed together in the formatting.
Hope you enjoyed reading!
It's always been a bit of a mystery to me why examples are so hard to generate. Once I thought my own struggle to get a handful of good examples together was good evidence my thesis was weak, but I'm less sure of that now.
Even when examples do present themselves they are never "quite right"; there are so often other factors in the outcome, beyond your simply toy model, that it would require much handwaving and disclaimer to persuade relevance.
And yet, as you say, they're butter to argument's bread.
Good pointer on nearest unblocked problem; that's a very good analogy and I'll have to think more about it. What kind of solutions might present themselves if we look at it through this frame?
I agree about passive aggression, but I'd also point out that "herding" culture is somewhat different from nurture.
My intuition would be that having categories would make these behavioral patterns legible and recognizable to others, potentially defanging them. Of course, as soon as they're "spotted," behaviors will shift evasively, but the core problem here seems to be reifying object-level behavior that at some historical point for some people, coincided with predation (e.g. "nice guy behavior") rather than identifying the higher-level, abstract patterns.
Yeah! That was my thought as well. Unfortunately, despite combing through fashion theory, there's not much literature on the subject; I've had to make a lot of it up as I go. I wrote a bit in the essay linked above about it:
In the Upper-Middle Paleolithic Transition, human societies and economies grow increasingly complex. Trade deals and diplomacy are performed among credible spokesmen, and social hierarchies need preservation across interactions between strangers. Fashion enters as a technology for maintaining and navigating the social graph. &
I want to pick at Simler & Hanson's "relevance constraint" as meaningful evidence of a signaling thesis. There is a much simpler explanation for why conversations travel along throughlines of pertinence, which first must be dealt with, and accorded causational influence, before we get carried away with signaling: human cognition is fundamentally associative (see not just Lakoff & Hofstadter but William James). Our thought bounces from one relation to the next; this much is self-evidently clear. Why would two individuals performing co... (read more)
Can you talk more about the movement of signaling frontiers? I'd be super appreciative of an example if possible. I assume your mention of Goodharting is the idea that as soon as something becomes legible as a reliable signal of a quality, it'll be optimized for and cease being reliable. This is the movement of the signaling frontier, I take it?
I've read through the papers you recommended in a previous comment, which I incorporated into The Dark Miracle of Optics, but I'd love to continue this conversation with you. Is there somewhere&... (read more)
Thank you! I'd be very curious to hear what didn't resonate, since I'm working the ongoing MetaSequences project, but of course you're very busy, so only if you think it'd be valuable for both of us!
re: meta-sequences, thank you! It's proven a much bigger and more difficult project than I'd naively imagined, insofar as I began realizing that my own readings of the original or secondary texts were not even remotely adequate, and that I needed to have extensive conversations with people closer to the field in order to understand the intellectual context that makes e.g. the subtle differences in Carnapian linguistics vs that of other logical positivists so salient.
The project will likely end up focusing mostly on language and reality (map and t... (read more)
Thank you! I'd seen the poll but not the repo.
Re-reading this, it strikes me that an entity communicating purely on the first level is himself a drone, not an agent. He is a slave to the territory, and can only report its condition, even when it may harm him. (See Kant's thought experiment about an ax murderer who enters your home and demands knowledge of where your friend is hidden.)
Any chance you could point me to some keywords/authors/texts on this topic? I'd love to learn more.
My research into animal mimicry, which closely resembles Baudrillardian simulacra, makes me think the slide in language/signaling from the first to second step is a potentially intractable problem. Once some association in information-space develops a reputation among situated actors, and is recognized as open to manipulation which benefits some of those actors at the cost of others... well, there's no way to break the freeriders of dishonest signaling.
Let's say that a black and red phenotype on a butterfly develops a reputation among predators ... (read more)
Yes, I think it all depends whether you find the criticisms of Socratic dialogue, logical positivism, and "tree falls in a forest"-type questions raised on this board since the late 00s compelling.
I agree, and think many conceptual engineering-type philosophers would agree, about natural language. The problem is that when you're applying rigorous analysis to a "naturally" grown structure like "truth" or "knowledge," you run into serious issues. Kevin Scharp's project (e.g.) is just to improve the philosophical terms, not to interfere with mainstream use.
Though I don't know much about it, I take "meaning as use" as a vague proto-version of the more explicit theories of fuzziness, polysemy, and "family resemblance" he'd develop later in his life. In some sense, it merely restates descriptivism; in another less literal sense, it's a tonal subversion of more classical understandings of meaning.
Conceptual engineering takes a very different stance from mere descriptivism; it specifically thinks philosophers ought to "grasp the language by its reins" and carve up word... (read more)
Yes, so the premise of Chalmers's lecture, and many other texts being published right now in conceptual engineering (a quickly growing field) is to first treat and define "conceptual engineering" using conceptual engineering—a strange ouroboros. Other philosophers are doing more applied work; see Kevin Scharp's version of conceptual engineering in his work on truth, or Sally Haslanger's version of it, "ameliorative analysis." But broadly, Chalmers's tentative definition is fine as a generic-enough umbrella: co... (read more)
If there was a single allele that coded for the half of the irreducibly complex eye it could become fixed even though having a half of eye is, strictly speaking, worse than not having an eye at all.
I understand this was a toy example, so I feel bad nitpicking, but I've never quite understood why this example is so popular. While eyeballs are incredibly complex, one must imagine that "half an eyeball" is in fact very advantageous: it can likely sense light, some movement.
Thought the connection of slack to randomness was provocative, though!