zondag 15 december 2013

Is logic part of the world's ultimate structure?

"Everyone faces the question of what is 'real' and what is the mere projection of our conceptual apparatus, of which issues are substantive and which are 'mere bookkeeping'. [...] These are questions of structure: how much structure is there in the world? Unless one is prepared to take the verificationist's easy way out, and say that 'theories are the same when empirically equivalent', one must face difficult questions about where to draw the line between objective structure and conceptual projection. The ontological realist draws the line in a certain place: part of the world's distinguished structure is its [logical] quantificational structure. Those who regard ontological realism as 'overly metaphysical' should remember that they too must draw a line.

And in fact, the ontological realist can give a pretty convincing argument for his choice of where to draw the line. Quine's (1948) criterion for ontological commitment is good as far as it goes: believe in those entities that your best theory says exists. But in trying to decide how much structure there is in the world, I can think of no better strategy than this extension of Quine's criterion: believe in as much structure as your best theory of the world posits. The structure posited by a theory corresponds to its primitive notions - its 'ideology' in Quine's (1951) terminology - which includes its logical notions as well as its predicates.

[...] [N]otice this: every serious theory of the world that anyone has ever considered, employs a [logical] quantificational apparatus, from physics to mathematics to the social sciences to folk theories. Quantificationalism is as indispensable as it gets. This is defeasible reason to think that we're onto something, that quantificational structure is part of the objective structure of the world, just as the success of spacetime physics gives us reason to believe in objective spacetime structure.

[...] If you remain unconvinced and skeptical of ontology, what are your options? First, you could reject the notion of objective structure altogether. I regard that as unthinkable. Second, you could reject the idea of structure as applied to logic. I regard that as unmotivated.

[...] There are [...] alternatives to ontological realism. [...] [I]f you [are] tempted by one of the alternatives, think about one final thing. Is your rejection of ontological realism based on the desire to make unanswerable questions go away, to avoid questions that resist direct empirical methods but are nevertheless not answerable by conceptual analysis? If so, none of [...] [the alternatives] will give you what you desire. None of them lets you bypass debate over the ultimate structure of the world. Far from it: each is simply an alternative proposal about what that structure is like. Given each proposal there remain substantive metaphysical questions, namely those that can be raised in what the proposal grants to be fundamental terms. Furthermore, the very assertion that the proposed variety of structure, as opposed to the quantificational structure [...], is part of reality's objective structure seems itself to be incapable of being established by either straightforward empirical means or conceptual analysis. In fact, even a 'negative' thesis such as quantifier variance itself is a claim about the extent of the world's structure, and as such is as epistemologically problematic as any thesis in first-order metaphysics. Quantifier variance is 'just more metaphysics'.

[...] The point of metaphysics is to discern the fundamental structure of the world. That requires choosing fundamental notions with which to describe the world. No one can avoid this choice. Other things being equal, it's good to choose a set of fundamental notions that make previously intractable questions evaporate. [...] But no other than a positivist can make all the hard questions evaporate. If nothing else, the choice of what notions are fundamental remains. There's no detour around the entirety of fundamental metaphysics."

Ted Sider, “Ontological Realism,” in Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, eds. David J. Chalmers, David Manley and Ryan Wasserman (Oxford University Press, 2009): pp. 416-420.

3 opmerkingen:

Rogier Schravendeel zei

In my opinion talking about 'reality' like this, is in fact posing a purely theoretical - and very dangerous - concept of 'objective reality' on our experiences. For the individual 'reality' is a supposed background of his or her experiences. That means that 'reality' is for a part a theoretical concept and for a part a result of my experiences. In fact I as a person shape a concept of 'reality', which is changing all the time. Every person and even every point of focus whatsoever can shape their own (concepts of) 'reality'. That is why 'reality' is a very personal thing: it's my experience and my concept.

Rogier Schravendeel zei

Now what about a 'shared reality'? I as a person can take over views of 'reality' from other people. In this way we can - in a very limited way - try to share concepts of 'reality'. It is still my 'reality' as well: that's the only way I can know it as such. But you say it's your 'reality' too. So we say might say that we have a 'shared reality': it's a thing we both believe in. And we will try not to change this our mutual perspective too soon, because we prefer to have a shared belief in our concept of 'reality', because that makes us stronger: we're united in that concept. When we pose an 'absolute reality' that makes us even much stronger, because in that case we can state that concepts of 'reality' of others are explicitly wrong. When we're strong enough we even can start to destroy these other concepts, by destroying the bearers of them as much as possible.
But what about the concepts themselves. Are some of them more 'true' than others? The question about the 'truth' of these concepts is in fact a question on the usefulness of them for the user. Something is 'true' in the case that 'it works': it makes me happy by giving a feeling of safety and predictability of the scaring movements around me. So the most 'true' concepts for me are more than only the ones that can predict the scaring movements around me, but also the ones who make me happy - feeling safe - in others ways. In that way also 'truth' for every individual is finally dependent on the personal combination of experience and (chosen) supposed backgrond of the experience.

Whereas 'reality' and 'truth' are finally personal concepts, the idea of a 'shared reality' in fact is the result of personal choices. It is what people do all the time, in order to have contact with other people. Even language is a temporal agreement on a shared way of expressing our (lonely) selves. There is nothing wrong with that. But at the moment there is something very strange going on. Since a couple of centuries there is a concept of 'reality' coming on very strong, and it seems to be very destructive towards other concepts. It is the concept of a logical and quantificational structure of 'reality', which is destroying and replacing other concepts very violently and very fast at this very moment. The problem with this concept is that it ultimately is not fit for humans.

Rogier Schravendeel zei

In the christian concept of this world, God created man in His image and - being finally autonomous, in other words: free - with that gave man a spark of freedom, a soul. However, in the scientific worldview which is so very dominating and agressive today, finally there can be no definite freedom which is even not measurable by statistics. So we have two concepts of 'reality' here, which finally are opposed and at least logically cannot exist at the same time. We might say: there is a fight going on, between the God of man, and another god, which somehow could be called the god of the machine. This god of the machine is trying to reshape this world in something completely unfree: a machine, by destroying uncontrollable units and replacing them by controllable ones. In this world man and nature finally are to be destroyed, in so far that (and: if) they are not controllable. In this context 'objective reality' can be understood as 'controllable reality', which is the 'reality of the machine' and not the 'reality of man (nature, life)'. It is very agressive and can be seen as a virus.