Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Against Relativism by James Harris: The Current State of My Notes

[These are notes only.]

Supervising the analysis of empirical data transcends the empirical situation by assuming one's vantage point to be substantially immune to the influences of those empirical factors in deciding what is true about them.

Only empirically-informed reason and scientific method contain the possibility of their own critique.

Most all philosophies arbitrarily prohibit self-criticism, while criticizing other views as somehow inadequate or mistaken, or provincial, and especially compared to those views themselves.

The claim that a general notion of objective truth is culturally relative or context-dependent, or that there cannot be one general notion of objective truth, *itself* assumes a trans-cultural, general notion of objective truth, and is itself a counter-instance of its own assertion.

Any claim to know that culture contains a variety of general notions of objective truth, ignores that variety in that it is itself a trans-notional claim about what are and are not differences between notions of truth, objective or not.

To make any claim about general notions of objective truth is to assume a general meta-theoretic notion of universal objective truth about general universal truth.

If some explanations are preferable to others, then there are good and bad explanations.

Some explanations are scientific and some are not.

The understanding of science as empirical involves the claim that at least some of the terms and statements of scientific theory, on some level, are about objects, events, facts, or phenomena, and the data about those objects, events, facts, or phenomena are gathered by empirical observation.

We cannot avoid assuming a distinction between the purely theoretic parts and the observable parts of a scientific theory.

Scientific laws must exist in some sense at some level of abstraction because laws must contain some information about recurring regularities among many events in order for those laws to explain events or predict events.

But not all universal statements about recurring phenomena of a certain type provide a basis for prediction or explanation.

because universal statements which are contingently or incidentally universal cannot be properly regarded as expressing scientific laws, we must explain the difference between those universal statements which become regarded as laws and those universal statements which do not become regarded as laws.

And however that's done, we must eventually include some special qualifying claim about causality or physical necessity, in contrast to logical necessity, and hypothetical or future events by using contrary-to-fact hypotheticals.

Consider Archimedes' Law, which says that the buoyancy of any object is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by that object.

We can use that law to explain or predict what will happen to different objects when they're placed in a liquid only if we understand the law to be a claim which is based on some kind of physical necessity concerning the nature of physical bodies and liquids on earth and only if we understand the law to make a hypothetical claim about all bodies.

We normally express that kind of claim by saying that if a body were to be placed in a liquid, then its buoyancy would be equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by the object.

That law enables us to provide some explanation of events by merely subsuming the events under the general law.

To scientifically explain something already assumes that scientific laws are something separate from the things they explain.

The observable parts of a scientific theory provide an empirical justification to keep the theory connected to reality.

Otherwise, it would be impossible to distinguish what is science from what is not science.

Alfred North Whitehead. Discovery begins with observation.

It continues with imaginative generalization.

And observation is rendered precise by rational interpretation.

Discovery and theory construction are interplays between the observable and the theoretic.

Empirical science and empirical logical justification depend on the crucial role played by the distinction between experience and the interpretation of experience, between content and form or between content and structure.

Quine. Physical objects are conceptually imported into the scientific explanation as convenient intermediaries, not by definition in terms of experience, but merely as irreducible assumptions comparable to the God of Homer.

Both kinds of entities enter our concept only as cultural assumptions.

The myth of physical objects is superior to most myths because it has proved more efficacious than other myths as a device for working a manageable structure into the flux of experience.

Objector. But theoretic and metatheoretic concerns, not specific factual concerns, guide theory construction, and specific claims take on meaning and truth value only within an already operating system of ideal thinking.

Nelson Goodman. No one frame of reference is more factually accurate than another.

Objector. But what frame of reference decides factual accuracy?

Nelson Goodman. Truth and actuality claims are relative to a frame of reference.

Objector. But is that statement itself, that truth and actuality claims are relative to a frame of reference, itself relative to a frame of reference?

Thomas Kuhn. Facts are relative to theory, to paradigm-based science according to which facts are selected and within which they exist.

The basis for preferring one paradigm to another is never factual or rational.

James Harris. But if that were true, then no one could ever resolve disputes by reason or argument or evidence, because their paradigms, their frames of reference, are different, which means that their facts are different and their reasons are different.

Thomas Kuhn. Different paradigms have no common standards for comparison.

So the switch from one paradigm to another is a Gestalt, all-or-nothing switch according to which one just suddenly sees the world differently.

Objector. Science is just ideology like a transcendental realm or magic, and there's no reason to prefer any one of them to any other.

Peter Winch. There's nothing intrinsically rational about scientific method.

Rationality is sociologically based and biased.

There are different, culturally relative standards of rationality, and any person's claim to rationality is rational only relative to their own standards of rationality.

Objector. But what about that statement itself?

Peter Winch. Scientific method is not intrinsically and universally rational, and neither are the laws of logic.

Realist. A goal of research is to discover the most accurate theory for describing reality.

Reality is out there, beyond or beneath scientific theory.

Real objects, facts, or events are what scientific theory is about, and that real world is revealed to us through observation.

So observation is the starting point and the ending point for all scientific theory and provides the sounding board for checking all scientific theory.

Scientific theory must keep in touch with reality, which is why theory construction must begin with empirical observation, keeping general abstract theories and imaginative theories in touch with the actual world.

James Harris. The empirical justification of scientific theory and empiricist logical justification keep theories tethered to reality and continuously informed by empirical facts.

Theories cut off from that continuous justification in reality float away into speculative metaphysics with no possible checks.

Objects, facts, and events, the objects of our observations, are on the same level of actuality as the objective physical world, while language and theories are on another distinct level, a supervisory level, a necessarily influence-immune level.

The objects, facts, and events are out there waiting to be experienced by an observer and discovered by the scientist, and theory formation is constructing the right theory to describe those objective facts.

Observation and experimentation provide evidence for theories by focusing our attention on the crucial facts or events.

So objective facts are the beginning and ending point of theory construction.

Empiricist. From a common sense standpoint, it's rational to treat a true statement as one which accurately labels an actual situation.

When a witness in a courtroom swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that promise commits the witness to accurately describe, to the best of their knowledge, what actually happened.

Whether the testimony is true or not is determined by the judge or jury.

So truth is anchored in experience, and facts or one's statement of the facts become the final arbiter.

Questions about negative facts, such as that the fish are not biting today, general facts such as that the Heron is a migratory bird, and subjective facts, such as that if you were a realist, then you would be attracted to the correspondence theory of truth, are problematic as attempts to match up true statements with the facts of the world.

Quine. No statement is immune to revision.

James Harris. You conflate statements of logic with statements of fact.

And you reduce all questions about actuality, questions about what exists in reality, to questions about language.

Objector. Yet to argue against the distinction between logic and fact is to assume that same distinction and that same method in order to itself pass judgment on the nature and possibility of all knowledge and all knowing, which is a metatheoretic distinction, between logic and what is treated as theoretic fact about the entire empirically unspecified and unobserved empirical world.

Quine. The traditional distinction between analytic statements and empirically-informed statements should be abandoned.

On the traditional treatment of the distinction between analysis and empirical data, an analytic statement like No unmarried person is married, is regarded as logically true because of the logical components of the statement, independently of that statement's content.

It is the structure of that kind of statement which makes it true, regardless of the specific substitutions for the non-logical elements.

An analytic statement such as that No single person is married, can be turned into a logically true statement such as No unmarried person is married, by analyzing the meaning of the word single person and then substituting synonyms for synonyms.

But empirically-informed statements cannot be turned into logically true statements.

Statements such as that no unmarried person is married are usually called logical truths because their necessary truth does not depend on semantics but completely on the definitions of their logical components and how they are related to each other so that they remain true for all reinterpretations of the non-logical components of the statement.

But statements such as that no single person is married depend on essential predication or synonymity for them to be reduced to logical truths.

What is said to explain analyticity either begs the question itself or is as much in need of explanation as the original notion of analyticity.

Our beliefs form a network with logically important relationships among the different beliefs.

Even though amorphous, the network is structured so that certain beliefs occur more toward the outside periphery of the network while others occur more toward the central core of the network.

But all the positioning within the network of beliefs is relative to other beliefs in the network.

Beliefs close to the periphery are the most loosely connected to other beliefs in the network and correspond most closely to observation statements, reports of sense experience.

Beliefs near the center of the network correspond most closely to theoretic or logical statements.

They're more removed from immediate experience and more closely and thoroughly connected with other beliefs in the network.

That network of beliefs is constantly changing, with new beliefs being acquired and old ones being revised or given up.

A person approaches each new experience with a network of beliefs, and a new recalcitrant experience occasions a belief which then enters the network at the periphery.

A recalcitrant experience is an experience that cannot be explained away or otherwise dismissed.

A recalcitrant experience is one which the subject accepts as indicating what's true.

With accepting a recalcitrant experience and some statement which describes that experience, the subject has to adjust the rest of the statements in their network of beliefs.

So accepting a statement might force one to give up or revise some other statements.

Choosing which statements to revise and which ones to allow to remain unchanged is a choice internal to the network, made on the basis of deciding which statements or beliefs are the most practically important to the network as a whole.

A conflict with experience at the periphery occasions readjustments in the interior of the network.

Re-evaluating some statements entails re-evaluating others, because of their logical interconnections, the logical laws being in turn simply certain further statements of the system, certain further elements of the network.

Having reevaluated one statement, we must reevaluate some others, which may be statements logically connected with the first statement, or may be the statements of the logical connections themselves.

So every belief inside the network is valued because of its relative practical value to the network.

Whatever differences there may be between analytic statements and empirically-informed statements are merely differences of practical degree, differences measured by the comparative value of usefulness which each statement has to the rest of the system.

So that difference among beliefs, based solely on practical differences of degree of importance, explains why any statement can be held to be true come what may, or that no statement is immune to revision.

Even though statements at the periphery are the most closely linked with experience, given a knowing subject's natural propensity to disturb the entire network of beliefs as little as possible, the ones at the periphery are those chosen for revision first.

So the beliefs toward the periphery have more empirical reference while those toward the center are more theoretic.

Logical truth is to be handled in the same way as analytic truth.

In other words, statements of the form that (1) no single male or female is married, wind up in the same practical boat as statements of the form that (2) no single person is married.

Logical laws are merely further elements in the system, and we might choose to re-evaluate and presumably revise the statements of the logical connections among different statements in the system, as well as we might any other statement in the system.

because no statement is immune to revision, even revision of the logical law of excluded middle has been proposed as a way to simplify quantum mechanics.

What I mean here can be drawn from experiments used in quantum theory to illustrate Niels Bohr's principle of complementarity, the claim that a complete description of light must include descriptions of different aspects of light which are both wave and particle in nature.

But the wave-like behavior of electrons and the particle-like behavior of electrons on the sub-atomic level cannot be determined by the same experiment.

So, whether one describes a beam of light as a wave or a particle depends on which experiment is conducted.

In an experiment involving electron interference, if a beam of electrons is directed at screen B through screen A which contains a double slit, we find that the slits in screen A set up a pattern of electron interference which can be measured on screen B.

That is evidence that the electrons should be described as a wave.

But if in the same experiment the slits in screen A are provided with a device for detecting electrons, we get evidence that the electrons are particles because we can now show which of the two slits in screen A an electron passes through and determine a trajectory for it.

At the same time, any data of interference of the slits in A, which provide evidence of the wave-like nature of electrons, completely disappear.

Given the other options available when faced with that kind of recalcitrant experience and the necessity of having to revise or give up some claims in one's network of beliefs, one might decide to revise the law of excluded middle.

So within quantum theory, it may be that electrons can be described as both waves and particles, depending on different experimental data, and that the law of excluded middle, which would require that a claim such as that electrons are particles be either true or false, does not hold for quantum phenomena.

Usefulness and practical value is the basic value for determining adjustments within that network theory.

William James. The truth of any new belief ought to be measured by a relationship between already accepted beliefs and the new belief.

We must understand a belief as true if it unites easily with accepted beliefs.

But true ideas agree with independent objective reality.

So the ultimate purpose of a true idea is its practical value as a guide to the subject in dealing with reality.

Truth is relative to a system of beliefs or to a specific individual.

So there's no absolute truth, and even what is true relative to a specific system can also change with time.

The true is merely the expedient in the way we think, just as the right is merely the expedient in the way we behave, expedient in almost any way, and expedient in the long run.

Because what expediently meets all the experience in sight won't necessarily meet all further experiences equally satisfactorily.

A practical concept of truth is the theory that a knowing subject makes a claim true by assimilating, validating, corroborating, and verifying it, and that process itself is relative to different belief systems and to different times.

Quine. Practical determinations about beliefs and the acceptance or rejection of beliefs are made internally by the consideration of the consequences for other beliefs in the system.

William James. Practical value is measured by the success or failure of the organism in its environment.

Scientific investigation will not eventually evolve toward a single specific truth.

When all things have been unified to the max, the notion of a possible other than the actual may still haunt our imagination and prey on our system.

There's nothing improbable in the assumption that an analysis of the world may yield multiple formulas which are consistent with the facts.

Why can't there be different points of view for surveying it, within each of which all data harmonize, and which the observer can either choose between, or simply cumulate one upon another?

Charles Pierce. But at any given moment, if any two theories are equally compatible with all the data, then given the practical theory of meaning, the two theories are identical and mean exactly the same thing.

William James. Those different formulas, theories, or views of the world would have to meet our purely logical needs.

James Harris. The central issue is whether our purely logical needs are external to any one of the views.

Quine. All standards for evaluating the system of beliefs are internal to the system, including the practical standard of minimizing important changes in the set of beliefs.

Not only truth but analyticity and logical truth become questions that are internal to some network of beliefs.

William James. But that doesn't work for logical laws.

The structure of our thinking provides the framework within which pragmatism operates.

And those abstract relations which make up that structure coerce us, and we can't play fast and loose with them.

When truth happens to an idea, when we make an idea true, that is a process which takes place within a given framework and according to certain rules, the abstract relations.

The truth of those definitions or principles or laws is not variable or relative but has an eternal character to it.

James Harris. If logical laws are no more immune to revision than are other statements in one's network of beliefs, then standards of rationality and reason itself would become relative to different networks of beliefs.

So any absolute notion of rationality, as well as any defense of scientific method as a preferred or unique method of inquiry about logical justification, are equally threatened by the holistic network theory.

And you cannot develop your network theory if you abandon the distinction between analysis and empirical data.

Your practical network theory depends on and uses a form of the distinction between analysis and empirical data, just as empiricist logical justification does.

In that view, a notion of rationality based on universal necessary logical laws remains intact as well as the method for fixing beliefs based on those logical laws.

Quine. A recalcitrant experience occurs and causes a formation or revision of some statement on the periphery of one's network of statements.

But if one re-evaluates one statement, then one must re-evaluate other statements because of their logical interconnections.

Objector. But that eliminates the possibility of reliable revision, because both the necessity to re-evaluate other statements and the statements of the logical interconnections between statements are simply additional revisable and possibly already-revised statements in the network.

Quine. Re-evaluating some statements entails re-evaluating other statements, and, having re-evaluated one statement, we must re-evaluate some others.

It is through that logical entailment that one is led, through evaluating and redistributing truth values, to considering statements at the interior of the network by a statement at the periphery of the network.

But those logical rules are simply further elements in the system.

And no statement is immune to revision.

Objector. But what about that claim itself?

How does that claim affect its own truth?

Quine. The logical laws or rules, according to which the re-evaluation of statements takes place, have the same value as all the other statements in one's network of beliefs.

(Q) If some recalcitrant experience occurs which causes one to regard as true, or hold on to, some statement, and if that statement and some second statement are incompatible, then that second statement must be given up, revised, or considered false.

Objector. But you're exempting incompatibility from revision as an ongoing network rule.

Quine. If holding onto the first statement or the revision of the second statement causes some other inconsistency with some other third statement, then that third statement must also be revised.

Objector. But you're exempting inconsistency with revision as an ongoing network rule.

Quine. The most important consideration in evaluating that is the practical concern for preserving the system of statements and its smooth operation.

So the statements toward the center of the system, because they're the most important ones to the system, are the statements which most strongly resist revaluation.

Objector. But the preservation of the system requires unrevisability of the preservation rule.

And the same applies to the statement that statements toward the center of the system are more important to that system than statements toward the periphery.

James Harris. On the basis of empirical evidence, people frequently hold on to a specific belief come what may, even to the point of abandoning logic or reason.

Someone might try to retain a belief in something by refusing to accept any belief which would tend to threaten that belief, even to the point where observers might describe that person as crazy or irrational.

A parent may refuse to believe that their child is a drug dealer by making sweeping and extensive changes within their system of beliefs.

They use a principle of belief revisability to adjust their networks of beliefs for practical purposes.

But the network theory is not describing an individual's psychological inability to accept or reject a belief, and the logical laws are much more basic than the notion of logical or rational in those examples.

All of those people might stubbornly and blindly persist in their irrational beliefs and still use conditional implication or the law of noncontradiction or the law of excluded middle regularly.

James Harris. The revisability principle must be on the meta-theoretic level because it is what enables the person to compare beliefs.

And because the revision principle itself is simply one of the further elements of the network of beliefs, it too must be revisable within the network of beliefs.

But the network theory cannot manage without the revision principle.

If no statement is immune to revision, then neither is the revision principle itself.

And if the revision principle is not itself revisable, then the revision principle represents an illegitimate totality.

If the revision principle is itself revisable, then the entire network theory is relative to different networks and may have nothing to recommend it to anyone who refuses to accept that principle.

Quine. The possible revision of the revision principle is also merely another revisable statement in the network of beliefs.

James Harris. Then the revision of the revision principle must be on the meta-theoretic level, because it is making a claim about the possible revision of itself.

Whether one decides to revise the revision principle or hold on to it by revising the revision of the revision principle, there must be an additional logical level and a statement which says something like, If the revision principle and the revision of the revision principle are incompatible and one wants to hold onto the revision principle, then one must give up the revision of the revision principle itself.

But that statement of the revision of the revision principle must also itself be revisable, according to Quine's definition of network in his holistic theory.

So the re-evaluating would never end and one would have an infinite series of different logical levels if the meta-theoretic statements, the rules for re-evaluating statements, are classified with all the other statements to be re-evaluated in the network.

Quine. There are revisions and there are serious revisions.

One might modify the revision principle slightly, and cause no great problems for the network theory.

James Harris. But what if one chooses to give up the revision principle itself completely, or simply revise it to the point where it's no longer a principle of revision at all?

The network theory cannot manage with no such rule on the meta-theoretic level for re-evaluating statements in the network.

because the statements of the network are related to each other according to logical interconnections, the re-evaluating of some specific statement in the network causes the re-evaluating of some other statement or statements in the network.

Suppose that because of some recalcitrant experience, one decides to accept that Richard Nixon was a crook.

In that case, one might be forced to re-evaluate other statements in one's network, such as regarding the statement that Richard Nixon was not a crook as false.

But regarding the statement that Richard Nixon was a crook as true, would have no relevance to the statement that Water boils at 100 degrees Centigrade at sea level, or the statement that Things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other, or that The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second.

How can one determine, given the re-evaluating of beliefs in the network, which other beliefs are to be re-evaluated?

There must be some rules on the meta-theoretic level for revising statements on the basis of other statements.

Otherwise, re-evaluating statements in the network relative to each other is random.

And there would be no way to evaluate while minimizing network disruption.

And if reevaluation is random, then it's not even a theory.

There must be some meta-theoretic rules and logical laws operating in order to reevaluate statements.

But there must also be semantic rules to indicate which statements are related to other statements so that the revision principle and the logical laws are applicable.

Definitions and semantic rules are required to relate statements to each other.

Otherwise, there would be no way to know which statement is to be reevaluated on the basis of which other statement.

Rejecting the distinction between analysis and empirical data eliminates the only way of knowing that certain statements must be revised because other statements have been revised.

So some notion of synonymy or analyticity must be re-introduced to reevaluate the network and to know when practical maximization has been achieved.

But there's no way to know how different beliefs in a network are related to each other if the distinction between analysis and empirical data and the related notions of synonymy and analyticity are rejected.

To apply the revision principle requires prior inferences.

That one has already inferred that a recalcitrant experience has occurred.

That one has already inferred that some statement is true because of a recalcitrant experience.

That one has already inferred that if that statement is true, then some other second statement must be false.

But if the second statement is true, then some other third statement must be false.

For reevaluation to imply redistribution of truth values, to make any changes in the truth values of the statements in the network, that change must be on the basis of inferences based on the logical interconnections between the statements of the network.

And inferences which imply that truth values among the statements must be changed are determined by the logical rules of the network.

Unless one is willing to accept some system of logical rules that has greater logical authority than the inferences it generates, no justification is possible, and no inferences can be made, and no adjustments to the belief network can occur.

Any change in truth values requires using network-necessary logical laws.

To have a network rule at all, noncontradiction must be used explicitly as an unrevisable general law governing all revision of beliefs.

Quine. When a set of beliefs has accumulated to the point of contradiction, we can be sure that we're going to have to drop one of the beliefs in that subset, whatever else we do.

James Harris. Not if the belief-dropping rule has been revised.

And do we get notice when it's revised?

According to what standard can we even tell if it's been revised?

Necessary laws cannot be merely further revisable elements of the network.

Otherwise, there would be no way to tell that they are laws in the first place.

An exact definition of law rules out revisability.

There's no way one could ever decide that the truth of any statement implies the falseness of any other statement.

And there's no way to infer that conditional implication must be false, revised, or given up.

Only because of some meta-theoretic statement of the form: A statement is true, and if that statement is true, then a statement of conditional implication must be false.

But that statement is itself in the form of conditional implication.

So any attempt to revise conditional implication according the revision principle must itself use conditional implication.

If you have to use the same rule of inference to try to revise conditional implication, then conditional implication is not revisable and is not merely an additional element of the network.

There must be logical laws on the meta-theoretic level which are immune to revision and inviolate according to which statements about other statements in the network are made.

The same thing is true of other logical laws such as the law of non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle.

Quine. A revision of the law of excluded middle might be an option for simplifying quantum mechanics.

James Harris. But within any network of beliefs, quantum theory must either force a revision or not force a revision of the law of excluded middle.

If one decides to revise the law of excluded middle because one wants to hold onto certain recalcitrant data which result from experiments on the sub-atomic level, it can only be because the law of excluded middle is still being used at the meta-theoretic level.

Relative to the same network of beliefs, the experiment involving electron interference cannot both force a revision of the law of excluded middle and not force a revision of that same law at the same time.

Quine. I'm just advocating a purposive suspension of the logical.

James Harris. But your suspension of the logical cannot even be properly stated.

One cannot suspend the logical for the good of the system, and make any sense of that notion, without the logical laws according to which inferences about consequences for the system are made in the first place.

Unless the logical laws remain in place at the meta-theoretic level, there would be no way to rationally project the possible outcomes of different possible revisions within the network of beliefs.

Without the logical laws and semantic rules on the meta-theoretic level, there would be no rational justification for preferring one possible revision to another.

Every decision about the possible change in a belief in the network is assumed to be made on the basis of the reasons that produce better results for the network.

But those kinds of results cannot even be projected, much less actually carried out, without assuming the inviolate logical laws of the network that are in question here.

So the necessity of such logical laws at the meta-theoretic level is logical and not merely practical as claimed.

It's logically impossible to give an argument or a reason using anything like the revision principle which could force abandoning those logical laws, without using those same laws in that procedure itself.

So it's logically or theoretically necessary that there be logical laws, rules, or principles at the meta-theoretic level of anything we call a theory or system of beliefs, any system, network, or theory within which there's a rational explanation of experience.

So rationality is not merely practical and the case against the distinction between analysis and empirical data and the structure-content distinction fails.

So there's no logical relativity.

Quine. Actuality is basic to the conceptual paradigm by which one interprets all experiences.

Carnap. Actuality statements about such things as classes, abstract entities, and material objects are disguised statements about the syntactic rules and forms of language which are conventional.

One can develop any logical system one wants, according to whatever conventions one chooses, as long as it's constructed clearly and the syntactic rules and conventions are properly formulated.

In logic there are no morals.

There are two kinds of questions about actuality, questions that are internal to a theoretic framework, and questions that are external to a theoretic framework.

If one wants to speak in their language about a new kind of entity, they must introduce a system of new ways of speaking, subject to new rules.

That constructs a theoretic framework for the new entities in question.

We must distinguish two kinds of questions about existence.

There are questions about the existence of certain entities of the new kind within the framework, called internal questions.

And there are questions about the existence or reality of the system of entities as a whole, called external questions.

The external questions are more interesting and more troublesome.

Internal questions become rather routine and are empirical or scientific, and are decided according to the rules of the theoretic framework.

External questions are questions about the suitability of an entire theoretic framework or the relative merits of different theoretic frameworks.

In the case of the external world, with its room-sized material objects, actuality issues are resolved by one's decision to use the theoretic framework of room-sized objects.

To accept the actuality claims about that kind of world amounts to accepting the theoretic framework within which such claims are expressed.

And there are external questions because there are debatable reasons for accepting or rejecting a theoretic framework.

The question of whether or not to accept a theoretic framework might turn out to be a practical question.

But there must be some limitation on what kind of question can arise within the framework.

Otherwise, one ends up with an illegitimate totality.

Acceptance of a room-sized material object language assumes certain statements and the possibility of raising certain questions such as the existence of the African Violet on my desk.

But the claim that an external world of material objects exists cannot be raised internally because a general totality question could not be properly formulated within that framework.

Quine. I completely eliminated the external questions about actuality, and collapsed all questions about actuality into internal questions.

There simply are no legitimate absolute questions about the existence of objects.

There's no fact-of-the-matter actuality.

Two views of what is actual, if explicitly correlated to one, are empirically on a par.

There's no empirical reason for choosing one rather than another.

All questions about the actuality of a theory or language are internal to that theory or language, and only adopting a theory or language commits one to certain kinds of entities.

So all legitimate questions about what exists are relative to some language or theory, and commitment about what exists is relative because different people might adopt different theories at different times and for various reasons.

The actuality commitment of a theory is double relative because the only way to determine the actuality of a theory is by comparison to some other already-accepted theory using some method for translating one theory into the other.

One cannot question the actuality commitments of a theory completely in isolation from all other theories because one would eventually become involved in an illegitimate totality and problems of self-reference.

To question the reference of all the terms of our all-inclusive theory becomes meaningless, merely because of lacking further terms relative to which to ask or answer the question.

So determining the actuality of a theory can only be done relative to some other theory.

So the actuality of a theory becomes relative to one's choice of the background theory it's compared to, as well as one's choice of the method for translating the theory under consideration into the background theory.

Objector. Then there must be some mechanical or theoretic procedure for translation which will quickly and easily resolve actuality problems.

Quine. The indeterminacy of Translation leads to the Inscrutability of reference.

How one is to translate a term from one language to another in terms of reference can never be completely determined objectively because there will always be several choices available to the translator.

The reference words of one language individuate or slice up the world in many different ways, and the translator can choose a single object referred to for a word only relative to a decision about a loosely associated group of words and constructions in the background language, which is the apparatus of individuation.

There's no real fact of the matter.

Consider the difficulty involved in trying to translate the word gavagai from some unfamiliar, native language into English.

Objector. We can determine the object referred to empirically by questioning a native language speaker in a situation where the word is used.

Quine. But that kind of objective determination is impossible, and we are left with a theoretic inscrutability of the reference of the word gavagai.

The only difference between rabbits, undetached rabbit parts, and rabbit stages is in their individuation.

If you take the total scattered portion of the spatiotemporal world that is made up of rabbits, and that which is made up of undetached rabbit parts, and that which is made up of rabbit stages, you come out with the same scattered portion of the world each of the three times.

The only difference is in how you slice it.

And how to slice it is what example-citing or simple conditioning cannot teach.

So we have no objective empirical reasons for deciding the reference of words and thus actuality for any given language.

So there's no clear difference between translating or clarifying an actuality and simply specifying one.

That is true even in our home language, such as standard English, where we must still have some background network of assumed terms and constructions, some coordinate system in order to determine what is referred to.

It makes no sense to say what the objects of a theory are, beyond saying how to interpret or reinterpret that theory in another theory of objects.

So it's meaningless to think of any conceptual paradigm as an objective mirror of reality because the standard for evaluating a conceptual paradigm cannot be realistic in the sense of correspondence with reality.

The best one can do is to evaluate a conceptual paradigm in practical terms, in terms of its efficacy in communicating and predicting.

The standard is a standard for languages, theories, sentences, doctrines, and forms of discourse.

James Harris. Your network theory cannot even determine what a theory is.

Quine. The actuality commitment of a theory is what a theory assumes or requires or implies.

To show that a theory assumes a given object, or objects of a given class, we must show that the theory would be false if that object did not exist, or if that class were empty, and So we must show that the theory requires that object, or members of that class, in order to be true.

Charles Chihara. But what do we gain by that standard?

The kinds of objects that would have to exist in order for the theory to be true are those kinds of objects that would have to be within the range of the bound variables of the theory in order for its assertions to be true.

But what progress has been made?

We still have the vague notion 'would have to', and instead of the term 'exist', we have the expression 'be within the range of the bound variables'.

James Harris. On that view, the truth or falsity of a theory would simply mean whether or not one chooses to accept the theory, and nothing more.

Connecting actuality commitment to the truth or falsity of a theory might initially appear to give a definite decision procedure for actuality commitment until one remembers that truth, along with every other belief statement, is relative to some theory for you.

Quine. One can determine the truth of one theory in terms of its translation into another.

James Harris But using the notion of a background theory as a form of bedrock to prevent an infinite regress of languages is self-serving and assumes what is in question.

Quine, Given that background theory, one is assumed to choose between different possible theories or languages for practical reasons, and choosing for practical reasons is a rational decision.

One must be able to go through some kind of decision procedure using practical reason to make the practical choice of theories or languages.

Carnap. There's a distinction between internal and external questions about the existence of objects, but the external questions, the questions about the choice of theories, are fake problems.

Internal questions relative to a theoretic framework, are the genuine problems of science.

Objector But how does that claim about all questions and theoretic frameworks affect its own truth?

Quine. All questions are internal, because they involve translating one theory into another, and so all questions collapse into science.

And the question about the choice of a theory is a rational one.

James Harris. You can't do both.

The notion of an uncritically accepted background theory is an arbitrary and self-contradictory trans-theoretic claim.

Because the only kind of background theory which could explain and justify translation indeterminacy and inscrutability of reference must already assume those distinctions.

So no actuality relativism is implied.

The most important distinctions are the ones between analytic statements and empirically-informed statements and the distinction between form and content.

To translate, we must use meta-theoretic rules for translation from the object language which supervise the language to be translated.

Only meta-theoretic rules for translation could make sense of the translation and give rise to the possible, various, conflicting translations between them, which generate the indeterminacy of translation.

Otherwise, there would be no way to determine that the possible conflicting translations would be conflicting.

There would be no way to determine that gavagai cannot mean both rabbit and rabbit part.

And there would be no way to determine that rabbit, rabbit part, and rabbit appearance would even be conflicting translations of gavagai.

Quine. Translation and the Extensional Theory of Meaning. The extensions of the words along with the linguistic behavior of the speakers of the native language which is being translated would be adequate for determining the differences in meaning.

But extension by itself will not do the job.

If such words as centaur and unicorn have no extension then the differences in their meanings cannot be explained merely in terms of the extensions of those terms.

Nelson Goodman. There's an extensionalist explanation of meaning which depends on augmenting the primary extension of the original terms with the secondary extensions of those terms, the extension of any linguistic compound formed by using the original term.

In addition to the primary extensions of centaur and unicorn, we must also concern ourselves with the secondary extension of such expressions as picture of a centaur and picture of a unicorn, or story about a centaur and story about a unicorn.

And because pictures of centaurs and pictures of unicorns are not what they are because of resemblance to some object, we should shorten such expressions to centaur pictures and unicorn pictures and treat those shortened expressions as arbitrary ways of naming different objects.

The secondary extensions of such expressions as centaur pictures are determined independently of the primary extension of the word centaur.

So two terms have the same meaning only if they have the same primary and secondary extensions.

I build my case for secondary extensions using only examples of null terms.

If we consider terms which have primary extensions such as Frege's examples of the morning Star, and the Evening Star or picture of the Washington Monument and picture of the Lincoln Memorial, then there's no reason to turn such expressions into single place predicates such as Washington Monument picture or Lincoln Memorial picture.

James Harris. But even if you're right that centaur picture is a one-place predicate whose extension is independent of the extension of centaur, the extensions of picture of the Washington Monument and picture of the Lincoln Memorial are not independent of the extensions of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

An expression, such as 'picture of', may not always be a relation, but it sometimes is.

We cannot keep our present meanings of picture of the Washington Monument and picture of the Lincoln Memorial, and decide to reverse the extensions of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

So extensions by themselves cannot prove the rules on the meta-theoretic level that are necessary for translation.

Conflicts between possible translations must be logical conflicts because the indeterminacy assumed to be generated by such possible conflicts is theoretic and basic to everything.

So the logical conflict can occur only relative to a background theory which contains the distinction between analysis and empirical data and semantic rules.

Translation can be radically nonspecific only within a background theory which contains the logical laws according to which the conflicts of the different possible translations are decided.

So the theory of actuality relativity can work only if the theory of logical relativity fails.

The result of my claim that countless alternative world-versions may be equally true or right, is radical relativism, which implies that truth must be something other than correspondence with a ready-made world.

The problem of induction is one of justifying the claim that reports of observations about known or observed cases provide some logical basis for making statements about unobserved cases.

Induction is inference whereby one concludes that unobserved cases will resemble observed cases in some crucial sense.

But why would one ever be justified in believing that unobserved cases will resemble observed cases in some crucial sense?

Hume. Any such justification of induction is impossible, because any justification would require that there be some connection between events so that the occurrence of one event would impose some necessity on the occurrence of another event.

Because we cannot justify the claim that there are necessary connections between matters of fact, there are no reasons for believing that what has happened or what has been observed gives any reason for concluding something about what has not happened or what is still unobserved.

Even though people do believe in induction or operate using induction, there's no logical justification for induction.

The belief in induction is generated by the regular concatenation of events in experience which eventually is responsible for the formation of a habit of expectation.

Because of that habit, the human understanding is led to associate two events so that whenever one event occurs, the second is expected to follow.

That explains why human beings use induction to make claims about the future or other unobserved events, but it doesn't justify induction.

And if induction is not logically and rationally justified, then neither is science justified.

James Harris. Regularities between occurring events produce beliefs because of the mind's habitual association of those events, but the crucial point which Hume overlooked is that not all regularities between events produce such beliefs.

Why is it that some regularities which we experience between two events result in the development of some habit of association and the accompanying expectations about future events, and other regularities do not?

Why does the mind form habits based experiencing some regularities but not others?

Hume. Observed regularities between two events, though never a good logical reason for an inference about unobserved events, still gives rise to beliefs about unobserved events.

Objector. But what about the two thought events as in inference?

Nelson Goodman. Experience does not justify knowing in advance which predictions will turn out to be accurate.

But there are numerous regularities which the mind chooses to ignore.

So the problem becomes one of not merely asking whether or how observations ever justify claims about unobserved events, but rather one of asking whether or how certain claims about unobserved events are justified on the basis of certain observations of regularities.

Hume overlooks the fact that some regularities do and some do not establish such habits and that predictions based on some regularities are valid while predictions based on other regularities are not valid.

To understand the new riddle of induction, we should use the model of deduction.

A deductive argument is justified or valid if it conforms to the general rules of deductive logic and unjustified or invalid if it does not.

So justification leads to an investigation of the rules and proceeds on the basis of some rules rather than others.

Justification of induction should lead to an investigation of the rules of inductive logic and any justification would then proceed on the basis of certain rules.

Justification of an inductive argument would then be a matter of showing that the argument conforms to those rules.

Such an explanation must eventually lead to some explanation of the rules themselves and the issue of the justification of those rules.

Deduction's specific rules themselves must be valid.

My position is based on the circularity of evaluating the general rules by their conformity to the valid inferences which they justify.

A rule is changed if it yields an inference we are unwilling to accept.

An inference is rejected if it violates a rule we are unwilling to change.

But justifying induction follows a strict parallel to justifying deduction.

Induction is also justified by an appeal to general rules which, in turn, are justified by the inferences justified by those rules.

Predictions are justified if they conform to valid rules of induction.

And the rules are valid if they accurately codify accepted inductive practice.

So rather than asking how a certain kind of knowledge is possible, we should ask why certain inductive inferences are valid and others are not.

The issue is not about justifying induction but justifying valid inductive inferences and distinguishing those from invalid ones.

James Harris. If Hume is right then we are never justified in making an inductive inference.

We're always equally justified whatever the inductive inferences might be.

Hume's proposed solution results in induction being a psychological belief or habit induced by regular association of events.

Goodman's proposed solution to the new problem of induction results in raising the specter of relativism with theory-relative facts.

We must justify why we choose a theory.

If some world versions are to be right and others wrong, then there must be some standards of rightness.

But your standards of rightness might be interpreted as relative to your own unique metatheory of worldmaking.

Just as facts on the object level are created by the creation of world-versions through worldmaking, facts on the meta-theoretic level are also created by creating world versions through worldmaking, constructing theories about worldmaking, part of which is formulating standards of rightness.

On that explanation, the standards of rightness are world-version neutral, but not meta-world-version neutral.

Harvey Siegel. Your meta-version is itself only one of countless possible meta-versions.

So the restraints on radical relativism which keep it from being the case that anything goes in your relativism are themselves relative to your meta-version.

Relativity of versions recurs at the level of meta-version.

So not everything goes, but only in your meta-version.

because you recognize that your own meta-theoretic explanation of worldmaking is only one among many of that kind of explanations, a large number of which would be mutually incompatible, you must also allow the equal legitimacy of competing meta-theories with standards of rightness which are incompatible with your own.

Your standards of rightness become impotent for distinguishing right world versions from wrong world versions, because they are on your paradigm no more authoritative than rival incompatible standards which offer different statements about the rightness of object-level versions.

That interpretation of your standards of rightness undermines your own distinction between right and wrong world versions and makes your constrained radical relativism a real radical relativism where anything goes.

James Harris. If your explanation of the standards of rightness are relative to and internal to your own unique meta-worldmaking version, then all bets are off for picking between rival world versions for any reasons.

If your standards of rightness are completely relative on the meta-theoretic level, then so is everything else you say in your metatheory of worldmaking, including the claim that worlds get constructed through worldmaking.

Your standards of rightness would be powerless to distinguish right world versions from wrong world versions, but your entire explanation of worldmaking would be no better or worse off than the realist explanations of traditional science prior to the relativist revolution.

Why should we prefer your explanation of worldmaking to any other explanation?

That's a question on the meta-meta-worldmaking level.

It's a question about the standards for evaluating and choosing meta-world versions.

The different world versions which result from worldmaking do not themselves cut across any of the major relevant disputes involved.

Different ways of constructing the world might be equally compatible with realism and nominalism or with physicalism or phenomenalism.

And there must be reasons on the meta-worldmaking level for preferring one explanation of worldmaking to another explanation of worldmaking.

Presumably, for you, logical consistency would be that kind of standard for evaluating meta-worldmaking theories.

And there would probably be practical standards that are similar to the notion of fit for world versions.

Richard Rorty. Logical justification is dead because it fails in its attempt at commensurability, interpreting different theories or systems so that they all fall under a single set of rules or principles for comparing different theories and for settling disagreements in a rational way. SELF-REF

James Harris. You have to assume different world versions are commensurable to compare them on the basis of fit.

The statement that one world version is preferable to some other world version because of a better fit with practice assumes that the two world versions are commensurable.

Otherwise, you couldn't say which is better.

So traditional standards of rationality must be assumed on the meta-theoretic level in order to compare world versions to decide the question of fit with practice.

So induction and the scientific method remain intact.

The main purposes of science have traditionally been to explain and predict phenomena or reality or the world or some comparable description.

Scientific theories and even simple observation statements are about something, facts, events, reality, or the nebulous phenomena, which are in some metaphorical sense out there for science to describe and predict.

The Augustinian view of the nature of language and scientific theory explains empirically trying to justify bridging the gap between language or theory and the reality that language or theory is about.

That attempt has given rise to the special status ascribed to definition by example, the reference theory of meaning, the correspondence theory of truth, and the verification standard of meaning.

In each case, there's an effort to provide a tether to anchor theory or language in some objective independent reality.

Connecting theory to fact requires some kind of metatheory about both theory and fact.

One must give some explanation of how theory and reality are connected at some privileged point and then justify the entire structure based on that kind of foundation.

There are many empiricist candidates for the basic linguistic components which connect with reality.

They include sense-data reports, atomic statements, logically proper names, and protocol statements.

Providing an explanation for a phenomenon involves providing reasons for entertaining certain beliefs about that phenomenon or for making claims about it.

And the best explanation is the one which provides the best reasons.

So science is concerned with justifying beliefs and with deciding between properly held beliefs and improperly held beliefs.

What makes some reasons good reasons and others not?

Harold Brown. Reasons are provided by the information we begin with, along with the rules that establish the connection between that information and the statement that is believed.

But on what basis do we select the information from which to begin?

And on what basis do we select the rules?

There would not be any point in claiming that a conclusion was rationally inferred if we got there on the basis of a perfect algorithm using randomly chosen premises, or on the basis of appropriate premises in strict accordance with a random algorithm or set of rules.

Thomas Kuhn. The practicing scientist within normal science is someone who mindlessly, endlessly, and almost feverishly twists a Rubik's Cube to try and solve the puzzle without ever asking why one is trying to solve that puzzle instead of some other puzzle.

Adopting a new paradigm is a conversion experience which often occurs in defiance of the evidence and which can only be made on faith.

If two people disagree about the relative fruitfulness of their theories, or if they agree about that but disagree about the relative importance of fruitfulness and scope in making a choice, then neither can be convicted of a mistake or even being unscientific.

There's no neutral algorithm for choosing a theory, no systematic decision procedure which, when properly applied, must lead both individuals to the same decision.

Objector. But how could you know that without assuming a neutral algorithm for adjudicating theory choice?

Thomas Kuhn. Science is a matter of nonrational, intuitive flashes of insight, political clout, or mass psychology.

There cannot be any paradigm-neutral or paradigm-independent standards for paradigm evaluation.

So the selection of paradigms must be irrational.

To accept a paradigm is to accept not only theory and methods, but also governing standards or standards which justify the paradigm as against its rivals.

So each paradigm is in effect self-justifying, and paradigm debates cannot be objective.

Israel Scheffler. Paradigm-internal standards for puzzle-solving do not imply that second-level standards for paradigm selection are also internal.

The kinds of puzzles generated might differ from paradigm to paradigm, and what counts as a solution to a puzzle might differ from paradigm to paradigm as well, but one can still argue over the choice of paradigms.

But when we choose a paradigm, the standards for comparing paradigms prior to choosing one must operate on a supervisory level.

Thomas Kuhn. Rational theory choice is impossible.

Given the limitations imposed by the incommensurability of paradigms, no one can examine and compare them to make a rational choice.

The limitations on what a person who holds one paradigm can understand about another paradigm make it impossible to hold both theories in mind together and compare them point by point with each other and with nature.

Just as one cannot hold two different Gestalt perspectives of a picture simultaneously or just as one cannot slowly and carefully move from one Gestalt perspective to another, one's perspective of phenomena which is controlled by a paradigm, one's scientific point of view, is a perspective which one comes to hold suddenly and completely.

One cannot slowly and carefully reason oneself from one paradigm to another because that would require and assume the ability to compare rationally two different paradigms.

James Harris. The whole notion of frame of reference and the incommensurability claim itself are meta-paradigm theories.

They assume commensurability because they are themselves universal claims about multiple objects of thought called paradigms.

The incommensurability claim is itself about all paradigms and facts about paradigms, such as the alleged fact that they have no common standards for comparison.

But there's no reason to prefer that incommensurability claim to any other theory.

The standards for evaluating the incommensurability claim and comparing it with other meta-scientific theories are either internal to that claim itself or external to it.

If they are internal to the incommensurability claim, then facts about paradigms and scientific theories, including their very existence, are merely arbitrarily assumed.

If object-language facts are relative to paradigms, then so are meta-linguistic meta-theoretic meta-paradigm facts.

If adopting a paradigm is not a choice but merely a conversion experience, then adopting the incommensurability claim itself is also an arbitrary conversion experience.

That interpretation makes the entire debate about the nature of science a farce.

If the standards for preferring the incommensurability claim to its alternatives are internal to that claim itself, then those standards apply only to that claim itself and cannot imply anything about other theories including preferring the incommensurability claim to any other theory or none at all.

And that makes the entire issue non-debatable.

And it ignores its own incommensurability problem in relation to other meta-paradigm theories.

Thomas Kuhn. Because there are limits to what someone under the influence of one paradigm can understand about another paradigm, it's impossible for any one person to ever understand both paradigms simultaneously in order to compare them to make a rational choice.

Objector. But aren't you assuming that you understand all paradigms in order to say that they are incommensurable or even that they are paradigms in the first place?

That statement itself is a universal claim about multiple paradigms.

And how do you make those trans-paradigm or meta-paradigm claims in the first place in order to deny the comparability of those paradigms?

James Harris. Then there would be no reasons for a person to adopt the incommensurability claim, and you would not be able to compare that claim with any of its alternatives, because you yourself could not understand multiple meta-paradigm theories at the same time.

If the standards for evaluating the incommensurability claim are internal to that incommensurability claim, then there's nothing else that can be said about the issue.

But if the standards for evaluating the incommensurability claim are external to that claim, then we can in fact compare that claim to alternative claims about the nature of scientific theories and use the same standards to evaluate those alternatives as well.

But if the standards for paradigm evaluation are internal to paradigms, then the standards for meta-paradigm theory evaluation cannot be external.

Because the incommensurability claim is a theory about the nature of paradigms and their relation to each other, that incommensurability claim requires being able to compare and understand different paradigms in order to merely claim that two paradigms are different, much less incommensurable, or even that they are paradigms in the first place.

But the incommensurability claim states that science is generally paradigm-based and that paradigms have no common standards for comparison.

If the standards for evaluating meta-paradigm claims about the nature of paradigms are external to the theory making the claim, the incommensurability theory in that case, then the standards for evaluating paradigms must also be external to the paradigms.

Otherwise, there's no way that the comparative advantages and disadvantages of the incommensurability claim itself could be discussed and scrutinized.

Because a major component of the incommensurability claim is that the standards for paradigm choice are internal, there's no way one could ever evaluate that part of the incommensurability claim and compare it with other claims about the nature of paradigm evaluation, unless one could examine and compare different paradigms and their different standards for paradigm evaluation.

The incommensurability theory's claim that paradigms have no common standards for comparison can be evaluated by standards which are external to it only if paradigms are not incommensurable, only if they can be compared.

To say that two paradigms have no common standards for comparison requires one to assume that one can stand outside the totality of any single paradigm to make that claim itself about multiple paradigms.

To develop a general theory about a totality which includes drawing the boundaries or limitations of that totality, one must also include as part of the theory something which is outside of that totality.

In the cases of the Third person Argument against Plato's Theory of Forms and Wittgenstein's ladder analogy in the Tractatus, the problem is caused by the universality of the theories.

Because rules and standards for paradigm evaluation, including logical consistency, are assumed to be internal to a paradigm, incommensurable is a predicate which can only take on meaning relative to a single paradigm.

But incommensurability itself is a relation between paradigms.

So that relation must follow as a result of standards or rules which are not internal to any given paradigm.

So paradigms can be incommensurable only if they're not incommensurable.

Whether the failure of intertranslatability is understood as complete radical failure or merely partial failure, the notion of conceptual relativity does not make sense.

Whether we regard a paradigm as organizing reality, facts, or experience, organizing a content is a matter of which statements are assumed to be true.

Incommensurability means that it's meaningless to say that another person holds a paradigm-based view which is incommensurate with our own.

There's no way to even analyze the claim of incommensurability where terms, definitions, and facts are all relative to different paradigms.

That kind of claim is based on and used to support a theory of universal meaning variance according to which the meanings of terms are dependent on and variable within the theory they occur in.

Even if the meanings of scientific terms depend on the theoretic context they occur in, that does not imply that the meanings of scientific terms must change radically if the theoretic context changes.

If the meanings of terms change when their theoretic context changes, then to say that another person holds a paradigm which is incommensurable with one's own is to say that the terms of the other's paradigm cannot be understood in or translated into one's own paradigm.

There's no way to understand a claim occurring within our own conceptual paradigm, that some statement is true in some other paradigm incommensurable with our own.

And the claim that some statement is true in another paradigm, must occur in our own conceptual paradigm in order for us to even say that there is a conceptual paradigm which is different from our own.

So we can understand the claim that some statement is true in another paradigm only if we understand the statement that that claim is true in our own conceptual paradigm.

We must be able to understand the claim within our own conceptual paradigm, that some statement is true in another paradigm, in order for that claim to even occur in our own conceptual paradigm.

Our own conceptual paradigm must contain the identifying claims of the statements we want to say are true in another conceptual paradigm and the identifications of the statements which, if we want to maintain that both paradigms have no common standards for comparison, we want to say are not translatable into our own conceptual paradigm.

/ But even though we use the name of some statement in some conceptual paradigm to say that that statement is true in some other third paradigm or that the statement is not translatable into our own conceptual paradigm, it's not the name of that statement which is actually true in a different paradigm or not translatable into our own conceptual paradigm.

It's the statement itself that we would want to claim to be true in another paradigm or non-translatable into our own paradigm.

So for either of those claims to make sense in our own conceptual paradigm, the statement itself and not merely its identification must occur in our own conceptual paradigm.

So the kinds of prohibitions which the incommensurability claim is assumed to set up regarding the occurrence of a statement in our conceptual paradigm can be understood by a person using our conceptual paradigm only if that statement is translatable from another conceptual paradigm than our own.

So the notion of a conceptual paradigm different from one's own depends on a notion of truth which involves successful translation.

So the incommensurability of our own conceptual paradigm and some other conceptual paradigm cannot be explained in terms of failure of translation or else our ability to understand the original claim is also lost.

And there would be no way to make intelligible the claim that there are other people whose conceptual paradigms are radically different from our own.

If the claim of incommensurability rests on the claim of non-translatability, then we cannot make sense of that incommensurability claim in our own language and that claim thereby becomes self-referentially unintelligible.

So it would be equally wrong to even claim that all of humanity shares a common conceptual paradigm.

If we cannot even intelligibly say that paradigms are different, then neither can we intelligibly say that they're similar.

To understand within our own paradigm the claim that paradigms have no common standards for comparison, we must assume the same translatability which that claim denies.

But if I claim that all people share the same conceptual paradigm, and so deny the claim of incommensurability, that claim is not self-referentially unintelligible and is rational even if it's not true.

The claim of incommensurability must itself be paradigm relative too, because the standards for paradigm evaluation are assumed to be equally relative.

According to some theory of paradigms one might be able to understand other paradigms, but relative to the incommensurability theory one cannot.

And if laws, principles, and standards of paradigm evaluation are only internal, then relative to some paradigm other paradigms might be both commensurable and incommensurable at the same time.

Thomas Kuhn. Competing paradigms have no common standards for comparison because the standards for paradigm evaluation are internal to a paradigm.

But to say that in matters of theory-choice, the force of logic and observation cannot be compelling is neither to discard logic and observation nor to suggest that there are no good reasons for favoring one theory over another.

Even though there's no neutral algorithm for theory-choice, there can still be good reasons to prefer a theory.

James Harris. But I thought you said that theory choice is a matter of conversion rather than choice and that one cannot reason oneself from one paradigm to another.

Thomas Kuhn. Nothing about the theory that theory choice is not the result of a logical or mathematical proof implies either that there are no good reasons for being persuaded or that those reasons are not ultimately decisive for the group.

And it does not even imply that the reasons for theory choice are different from those usually given, such as accuracy, simplicity, fruitfulness, and similar things.

Those kinds of reasons for theory choice function as values and they can be applied differently, individually and collectively by people who agree to honor them.

Scientists share certain values, but differences between paradigms are to be explained by the way those values are applied by different scientists within different paradigms.

Two people committed to the same values may choose different paradigms.

But that difference in outcome does not imply that the values scientists share are less than critically important either to their decisions or to the development of their research.

Values such as accuracy, consistency, and scope may prove ambiguous in application.

They may be an insufficient basis for a shared algorithm for choosing paradigms.

But they do specify many things, such as what each scientist must consider in reaching a decision, what they may not think is relevant, and what they can legitimately be required to report as the basis for that choice.

James Harris. Now your earlier radical paradigm-incommensurability claim has deteriorated into the claim that theory choice is not the result of an algorithm, which no one has ever maintained anyway.

Thomas Kuhn. Values provide a person with a good reason for paradigm choice.

James Harris. And if criteria for paradigm evaluation are internal to paradigms, then what is a good reason would also depend on a paradigm for its meaning.

Harvey Siegel. Meaningful deliberation about different applications in different paradigms of shared values is prohibited by the incommensurability claim.

Any debate about different applications of the shared value of consistency assume a shared commitment to the same rules and logical principles for applying the value of consistency.

But the incommensurability claim means that rules and logical principles themselves are paradigm relative.

So the incommensurability claim is self-defeating even when dressed up as values.

And there's nothing to be gained by introducing the notion of values.

To call accuracy and consistency values implies that they're in the same category as social usefulness, as something subjective and relative from which one might pick and choose.

But consistency cannot be the same kind of value as social usefulness.

Nothing about social usefulness is necessary to debate incommensurability.

But without agreement on logical laws and rules which ensure consistency, no one can rationally agree or disagree with anyone else about anything.

And for two scientists to agree or disagree about applying shared values, there must be a common commitment to those same logical laws and principles.

Calling such rules, laws, and principles values implies a subjectivity and relativity which is not present and obscures the difference between a paradigm-choice standard like consistency and a value of a paradigm such as social usefulness.

If one includes consistency within the same values of a paradigm as social usefulness, then the position is relativistic.

So not all standards for evaluating theories are in the same group of values.

Some values must be necessary and universal.

Martin Hollis. The standards for evaluating rationality are universal and necessary, not paradigm dependent and not merely incidentally or empirically universal.

There may be many kinds of spectacles worn at different times which do different things to one's perception, but there's one pair of spectacles which one can never take off, and that is necessary and universal reason.

Harvey Siegel. It's difficult to take the denial of the rationality theory seriously, because you're unwilling to give up the incommensurability claim, because you hedge about the status of reasons, and you reduce theory choice to mere gestalt switches and conversion experiences.

Peter Winch. Because ways of talking about things and social practices are rule-governed, meaning and understanding are relative to the linguistic or social context.

The notion of social includes some basis in certain social practices, a way of life.

So research in the social sciences, and any understanding of different social practices in different cultures which might follow from that research, are not the results of the scientific method of the natural sciences.

The data available to the social scientist always require some interpretation.

And any understanding of different social practices must be relative to some specific way of talking about things and the underlying way of life.

So there's an essential, subjective, and interpretive element in sociology and anthropology which cannot be eliminated.

Richard Bernstein. If understanding and interpretation of all social practices are subjective and relative, then so is everything else.

Peter Winch. Domains of discourse may be so radically different from each other in their standards of rationality about beliefs and actions that to understand and interpret alien or primitive societies we must bracket our prejudices and biases and suspend our own standards of rationality.

The ways rationality expresses itself in the culture of a human society cannot be elucidated merely in terms of the logical coherence of the rules according to which activities are carried out in that society.

Because there comes a point where we're not even in a position to determine what is and what is not coherent in that kind of context of rules, without raising questions about the purpose of following those rules.

An observer can't impose their own standards of rationality on a different culture in order to try to understand it, because at some point you have to decide what counts as following the rules which set the context for rationality in that culture.

Objector. But what are the standards for interpreting and deciding the status of rationality standards?

Peter Winch. because the limits of my language mean the limits of my world, and because there are many different languages, each of us is faced with limitations of our understanding which are rooted in our language and our form of rationality.

The main issue is about differences in standards of rationality, about whether there's a single system of rationality with a single set of rules or whether there are different systems of rationality with different rules.

because the basic notions of evidence, confirmation, and contradiction differ from our culture to other cultures, comparisons and objections to transcultural standards of rationality are impossible.

Just as Wittgenstein abandoned his beliefs in essentialism and the possibility of any universal character of language or any general form of statements for non-essentialism and the irreducible variety of languages, so we ought to abandon any single essentialist notion of rationality.

Objector. But the claim that one ought to abandon any single essentialist notion of rationality is itself a universal abstract principle about how to construe rationality and issues about rationality.

Peter Winch. So every society has some form of rationality which is imposed by its language, because the use of language means that there must be a right way and a wrong way to say things, but different societies might have different forms of rationality.

Every society must appeal to some standard of rationality, but those norms might well differ from one society to another, and the best we can ever do is to talk about our standards and the standards of others.

So in any discussion about rationality, we must be clear about whose concept of rationality is being alluded to, because something can appear rational to someone only in terms of their understanding of what is and is not rational.

So transcultural rational standards are impossible, and both understanding and intelligible interpretation are culturally relative.

Objector. But that assumes a rationality of adjudicating concepts of rationality and deciding what the appearance of rationality is in relation to one's concept of rationality.

James Harris. There's a basic common notion of rationality which provides the essence of human rationality.

You assume that kind of common basic notion in claiming that a certain group of people would be utterly lost and bewildered without their oracle as the mainstay of their life.

Suppose multiple traditions' belief that God exists provides the mainstay of their lives and that they would also be lost and bewildered without belief in God.

Each group attributes causal efficacy to different sources of power.

But there must also be something which they all have in common.

In what sense can a person's belief, regardless of content, influence their behavior or understanding of the world?

One belief must always preclude other beliefs.

In order for a belief to lead to any course of action, it must somehow preclude other courses of action.

A belief which leads to one understanding the world must preclude other understandings of the world, even in order to merely be what it is.

If someone uses an oracle to decide any issue to base any behavior or understanding on, it can only be because the oracle is not consistent with all possible behavior and understandings.

One can't act on the basis of an oracle and not act on it at the same time and in the same sense.

If the oracle is to be the mainstay of someone's life, and if that means that the oracle is to provide some way to decide some behavior, such as avoiding dangers, or getting some understanding of causes, that can only be because certain behaviors and understandings are consistent with or implied by the oracle while other behaviors and understandings are not.

Peter Winch. To question the consistency of the oracle-follower's beliefs is to merely reveal the prejudices of our own standards of rationality.

Because the oracle-follower does not treat their oracles in the same way scientists treat scientific theories, and because they don't press their thinking about oracles to the point where they would become involved in contradictions, logical consistency is a non-issue.

Apparent contradictions are explained away or the oracle-follower apparently refuses to consider them.

They simply refuse to apply logical rules or principles to their beliefs.

The problem of the consistency of belief systems arises not merely in the context of comparing different cultures but within an individual culture.

The oracle revelations are not the kind of beliefs we can raise the problem of consistency about, and to insist that the issue of the consistency of beliefs be pursued to its logical conclusion is a category mistake.

The oracle-follower's beliefs about the oracles are not a matter of intellectual interest but the main way in which the oracle-follower decides how they should act.

One separates a certain subset of beliefs and refuses to apply the same standards or rules to that subset as is applied to one's other beliefs.

James Harris. But I've already proved that it can't be done with any set of beliefs that function as the basis for any possible individual action.

But according to you, that's what the beliefs about oracles are assumed to do for the oracle-follower.

Any belief that a person is willing to act on, which directs one's behavior or provides an understanding of the world, necessarily excludes other behavior and other understandings.

An oracle-follower may refuse to pursue an examination of all of their beliefs, but they cannot both act on an oracle and not act on it.

For anyone to act intentionally, to plan their behavior, to pursue certain goals, to act to satisfy certain desires, one course of action must be inconsistent with others.

Suppose someone is warned not to take a certain route because of some possible danger.

And it doesn't matter if that warning comes from an oracle or the National Weather Service.

The way the belief directs a person's behavior is the same.

If a person holds some belief, then on the meta-belief level, there must be ways that that belief is tied to specific behavior.

A game with an inconsistent set of rules is the same as a game with no rules which is the same as it not being a game.

An inconsistent set of beliefs excludes no behavior, and any behavior is just as likely as any other behavior to produce a desired result.

So in that kind of situation, one could not act intentionally and so could not act rationally.

There's a universal commonly shared set of beliefs and inferences.

All interpretation is based on rationality assumptions shared by everyone and applied to some set of beliefs.

That set of commonly shared beliefs which provides the basis for all rationality and a connection for interpreting one culture from the standpoint of another, is made up of what a rational person cannot fail to believe in simple perceptual situations, organized by rules of coherent statement, which a rational person must subscribe to.

Those issues themselves are genuine only by assuming universal standards of rationality for recognizing the contrasts that define controversies in the first place.

The issues of those standards, such as whether they exist necessarily and must be applied universally, are genuine issues only if one already assumes universal logical standards to recognize the differences and contrasts which define what an issue is in the first place.

Different possible interpretations or translations can be recognized to be different only if one interpretation excludes another or conflicts with another, and interpretations can exclude or conflict only by assuming universal logical relations.

Actuality relativity can succeed only if logical absoluteness is assumed.

And the same conclusion applies to any question about interpreting another society or culture.

Interpretations of different societies are possible only if there are universal logical standards of rationality which are not relative to those different societies.

So to try to argue for relativism by arguing for indeterminacy in interpretations or translations from one paradigm to another is to argue for the universally shared standards of rationality for statements about anything.

Barnes and Bloor. The word yakt is used by the Karam in New Guinea for bird, but the fact that bats are counted as yakt but not cassowaries complicates the situation.

So specifics of perceptual experience are ordered into clusters and patterns specific to a culture.

So there's no connection of commonly shared perceptual experience.

James Harris. But in that case there would be no way to determine that different interpretations of yakt even conflict in the first place.

Why can't bird be understood to include bats?

Why can't yakt be understood to include bats and not include them at the same time?

In fact, we can know that possible interpretations are different only because of the assumed underlying universal standards of rationality that distinguish one thing from another.

There must be universal commonly shared standards of rationality in all societies for there to be any rational behavior on the basis of belief.

Barnes and Bloor. The claim for universal standards of rationality based in the form of the inferences or rules of coherent statement is spurious because deductive inferences cannot be justified.

And in Lewis Carroll's story, "What the Tortoise Said to Achilles", the tortoise demonstrates that any attempt to justify deduction fails because justifications of deductions themselves already assume deduction.

The defender of universal standards must admit that we have reached the end-point at which justification goes in a circle.

Objector. But an appeal to going in a circle as a way of refuting assumes those same universal standards and is a necessary component of those standards.

James Harris. It's a predicament only to a rational person.

Justification of deduction assumes deduction, but all justification assumes a context made possible by the laws and principles of deduction.

It's the tortoise and not Achilles which is in the predicament, because nothing follows from the tortoise's position without assuming the same logical law which is at stake.

But none of those conclusions follows from the tortoise's position in Carroll's dialogue without assuming the same rules of deductive inference which the tortoise is supposed to be challenging.

Each claim allegedly follows from some argument such as that if Carroll is right that the laws of deduction cannot be proved, then all justification of deduction is circular, Carroll is right, So all justification of deduction is circular.

But any claim that there is a predicament of deductive logic can be inferred only by using that same rule of deductive inference.

Any argument against the connection must confirm the same rules of inference and forms of statement on which the claim for that kind of connection is based.

The problem is that if the tortoise really has demonstrated that the rules of logic cannot be proved, that fact itself cannot be known and nothing follows from it anyway.

If any belief resulting from some method or reasons is to base any behavior, that belief and its negation cannot both follow from that method and its premises.

So there must be some warrant, some standard, some logical justification in order to infer that belief.

Perhaps the standard is merely recognizing and implicitly assuming an authority, or maybe it's a certain ritual or procedure, or the application of a specific method to certain data.

But whatever the standard is, one must be able to reason that if that standard is true, then the belief follows from it, and if the standard is not true, then the belief does not follow from it.

On the meta-theoretic level, the oracle follower must be able to determine when a belief is based on an oracle and when it is not, and to do that there must be some supervising standard or set of conditions for evaluating oracles, to distinguish legitimate oracles from illegitimate ones or oracles that are just made up.

That process must be possible, because the oracles are the mainstay of the lives of oracle followers and are the source of the beliefs on which they act, but that process is possible only because rules are operating at the meta-theoretic level.

Barnes and Bloor. Because rules of inference depend on the meanings of logical words or semantics, any claim to universality has been completely devastated by A. N. Prior's demonstration that different logical connectives with different meanings would justify different inferences.

Objector. But what about that statement itself about logical connectives and meanings?

A. N. Prior. Consider the logical connective tonk.

Tonk's meaning is completely given by the rule that from any statement we can infer any statement formed by joining that statement to any other statement by tonk, and that from any tonk-connected statement we can infer the contained other statement.

Barnes and Bloor. So from any statement we can infer any other statement.

So we cannot use rules and meanings to justify intuitions about validity, because we must rely on our intuitions to prove that the word 'and' is an acceptable logical connective and tonk is not.

Objector. But what about that inference itself?

James Harris. But one doesn't have to rely on intuition to prove that tonk is an unacceptable logical connective.

One cannot act on inferences using tonk.

No belief could reject any behavior using tonk.

One could not act intentionally to try to bring about any intended state of affairs, to satisfy any need or to pursue any purpose or goal, based on tonk.

No society can exist in which inferences based on tonk are performed and acted on or relied on to understand the world.

The rule that one use tonk is not an undeniably rational principle.

We must use common rules and forms of statement even to understand the intended meaning of tonk.

A. N. Prior. The forms in which rationality expresses itself in the culture cannot be elucidated merely through logical coherence of the rules according to which activities are carried out in that society.

James Harris. But that's the reason for rationality being elucidated in any society.

Peter Winch. There comes a point where we're not even in a position to determine what is and what is not coherent in that kind of context of rules, without raising questions about the point which following those rules has in the society.

James Harris. There may come a point where an observer cannot determine what is and what is not coherent, but if beliefs are to direct behavior, they must be coherent, and in the same way and according to the same rules as logical coherence.

You can't act on a set of inconsistent beliefs.

Peter Winch. The notion of a reality revealed by science is merely an attempt to avoid the relativistic aspect of rationality.

The notion of reality cannot be used to distinguish between science and mysticism because some concept of reality must be assumed before we can make any sense of the notion of what science reveals to be the case.

James Harris. But it's not necessary to assume any pre-method notion of reality if scientific method is rational.

It's scientific method rather any assumed notion of reality which contradicts relativism.

MacIntyre. There are cases where one can use one's own standards of rationality to criticize what people in a different society do because it's only through such criticism that we can determine that there are difficult cases of apparent conflict between different standards of intelligibility.

Peter Winch. There may be some cases like you describe, but criticizing and transcultural interpreting must always come to an end at some point.

The proper question is not whether there are ever any cases such as the ones you describe, but whether there are any cases where we're not even in a position to determine what is and what is not coherent.

James Harris. It all depends on what one means by intelligibility and rational.

If one means that one cannot really understand what it is like to believe in magic unless one is a follower of oracles, then there's a sense of understanding and making intelligible where that would be true.

There's a sense in which we can all learn much from a study of other cultures by putting aside our prejudices and trying to understand the different culture in a new way, without imposing our own beliefs on the beliefs of the other culture.

But even on that level, no direction or guidelines have been provided about how that's to be done.

Richard Bernstein. What standards should we use in doing that?

It would be impossible to say anything intelligible about another culture.

One would always either be in one culture with one set of norms operating or else in another culture with a different set of norms operating.

And that would eliminate social science altogether.

James Harris. When the controversy is about logical consistency itself, then toleration of differences comes to an end.

Any set of beliefs which are used to direct behavior and any social practices which are governed by rules must be logically consistent.

Language is rule-governed.

The force of the rules is to establish a context within which the possibility of error exists and consequently the notion of correct and incorrect usage becomes possible.

Any such context must be logically consistent.

Heidegger. There's no essential aspect to human nature which transcends specific historical situations.

Objector. But what about that claim itself about all historical situations?

James Harris. The general attempt to delegitimize, relativize, and hermeneuticize knowledge is one of the grandest meta-narratives ever told about the nature of knowledge.

The critiques of logical justification and science are intended to be a general critique applicable to all knowledge.

But in offering a theory for consideration, one is proposing a meta-narrative for understanding the nature of knowledge, a meta-narrative in the same tradition which one is trying to delegitimize.

Nothing could ever lead anyone to prefer their own version of the narrative or their pretended rejection of metanarrative.

Does a theory of hermeneutics apply to itself?

Is hermeneutics self-legitimating?

Hans Gadamer. Russell's theory of types, Godel's proof of incompleteness and Tarski's semantic concept of truth have all taught us that truth does not mean provability in a general system.

Joel Weinsheimer. Doesn't that apply to the human sciences as well as the natural sciences?

James Harris. One might agree that human passions cannot be governed by the universal prescriptions of reason and that the possibilities of rational proof do not fully exhaust the sphere of knowledge.

But the move from those modest and rational claims to the claim that general refutability of a statement does not necessarily exclude its being true is self-contradictory self-serving nonsense.

Hans Gadamer. Someday, historicism and hermeneutics may no longer be considered true, and people will think unhistorically.

Historicism might have its day and then come to an end and be replaced by some other theory such as logical justification and rational method.

James Harris. But on your view, there's no way that could ever happen.

Or if it did happen, there would be no way to know that it did.

Hans Gadamer. Should historicism ever be replaced with another theory, it would not be because my claim that all knowledge is historically conditioned is self-referentially contradictory.

James Harris. But unless your hermeneutics is internally consistent, it cannot even be distinguished from other theories or non-theories, much less compared with them and replaced by them.

Objector. The principle of historical conditioning cannot be true, it can only be a result of historical conditioning.

James Harris. Neither the claim that all knowledge is historically conditioned, the claim that all statements are revisable, nor the claim that all paradigms have no common standards for comparison can avoid logical scrutiny and the requirement of logical consistency by pleading special privilege.

Lyotard. It's impossible to arrive at any universal transcultural paradigm for legitimizing knowledge.

We're left with a basic heterogeneous set of ways of talking about things whose differences result in the impossibility of any absolute knowledge.

there's no common ground which allows for any general universal knowledge.

To try to construct a general universal logical justification is to fall victim to the inventor's paralogy.

Knowledge is a much broader notion than science, because scientific knowledge is narrative, legitimized by appealing to a single grand paradigm which provides logical warrant.

While scientists have examined other narratives which they have described as fables, myths, or legends characterized by ignorance, prejudice, and customs, they failed to examine the underlying narrative which is assumed to provide warrant for science.

But any attempt to legitimize science by applying the rules of science to itself always results in science becoming just an ideology.

Postmodern knowledge abandons any attempt to arrive at a single universal paradigm for understanding or justifying knowledge, yet postmodern knowledge is itself asserted to be the same thing.

It's made up of an extensive array of competence-building measures which are derived from culture and custom, and any attempt at legitimization must be sociopolitical and ethnocentric.

Any serious justification of knowledge fails.

All we can do is gaze in wonder at the diversity of discursive species, just as we do at the diversity of plant and animal species.

Everything is relative to ways of talking about things.

James Harris. Except what you have to say about ways of talking about things.

Your analysis of knowledge is as much a single grand narrative explanation as are any that you criticize.

In your argument against the claim that people of different cultures might reach a consensus through discourse, you arbitrarily claim that while the notion of a consensus is a suspect value, justice is not.

Lyotard. We must assume a situation where we have multiple irreducible limited ways of talking about things with the arbitrary stipulations that we rule out terror, the use of force, and that we agree that the rules for the various ways of talking about things and the moves within those ways of talking about things have local autonomy, that they're agreed on by their respective players.

We must assume the basic tenets of my logical justification relativism.

James Harris. But what if one of the ways of talking about things is not willing to grant your assumptions?

What if some member of one of the heteromorphous groups insists that you prove your claims to the satisfaction of the members of that group?

And what if the members of that or any other group refuse to admit the rationality of the claim and treat it as a paralogical metanarrative?

The statements of relativistic theories are either arbitrarily immune from logical scrutiny or arbitrarily treated as a non-narrative.

Everything changes except one's theory of the nature of change which is arbitrarily exempted from the theory itself.

Karl Popper. Historicists are trying to compensate for the loss of an unchanging world by clinging to the belief that change can be foreseen because it's ruled by an unchanging law.

Richard Bernstein. There's a growing sense that there may be nothing, not God, science, or poetry, that satisfies our longing for ultimate foundations, for a fixed Archimedean point on which we can secure our thought and action.

But incommensurability of different frameworks does not mean that they cannot be compared.

We can recognize losses and gains.

We can even see how some of our standards for comparing them conflict with each other.

We must move beyond relativism by returning to practical rationality and practical discourse and community and solidarity.

We must try to reinstate the Socratic virtues and further the kind of solidarity, participation, and mutual rethinking that is found in dialogical communities.

But the incommensurability claim has nothing to do with relativism.

And I have no commitment to any nonhistorical claims.

James Harris. But if practical rationality is radically relative to the community, if there's no basis for trans-historical critique, then there's no basis on which you can advocate any specific purpose for dialogue.

There are no reasons why you can consistently advocate communities which value dialogue.

Given your rejection of any trans-historical standard for evaluating a community and your adoption of the claim that the only possible standard for evaluating a community is the assent of the relevant community, you have no reasons on which to advocate or prefer dialogue or argumentation or rhetoric, except relative to the assent of the members of your own community.

You assume that the various individual communities will play by your rules.

And that is a move beyond relativism.

Jurgen Habermas. There must be some general meta-hermeneutical theory.

To legitimate a hermeneutical critique of knowledge and method, one must appeal to principles and rules of reason which transcend the immediate concrete situation.

There are universal principles transcending pure hermeneutics which function in a regulating normative way to explain how competent language speakers can formulate statements and use them in appropriate ways in appropriate circumstances.

That theory of universal practical assumptions imposes a limit on any attempt at a universal hermeneutics and becomes a connection between individual discourses, thereby forming a basis for the possibility of a general universal discourse through which some agreement or consensus among various people becomes possible.

We must search for the underlying conditions for the possibility of thinking about history.

There must be a meta-hermeneutical theory which legitimates and regulates hermeneutics.

Otherwise, hermeneutics is another illegitimate totality hoisted by its own petard of simply referring to itself.

E. D. Hirsch. To interpret is to try to determine the original meaning of the author.

Original meaning or intention constrain interpretation, according to which the meaning of any text is variable to the interpreter and the historical context of the interpreter.

Claiming the notion of the original intent of the author provides a framework within which sensible interpretation can take place.

The original meaning of the author, even if it is never known to the interpreters, provides a regulating normative principle according to which hermeneutics can proceed.

It's only because of the regulating force of the original meaning of the author that we can avoid the complete chaos of a hermeneutics with no standard or warrant for different interpretations.

Without some regulating normative principle which functions as a rule, it's impossible to talk meaningfully about validity among different interpretations.

To get rid of the original author as the determiner of meaning is to reject the only compelling normative principle that could lead to validity in interpretation.

James Harris. The author's original meaning is required for meaningful or rational interpretation to take place.

That's not an imposition of a final authority.

David Hoy. Your claims about the original meaning of the author provide a basis for the dogmatic assertion that some specific interpretation is true.

James Harris. But that does not follow.

The point is not that the notion of original meaning provides us with any authority to label any single interpretation as true.

The notion of original meaning is the only thing that can make any talk about the relative merits of different interpretations intelligible.

It's the only way to distinguish between dogma and theory.

Without some rule, principle, or standard to regulate inquiry, there can be no distinction between right or wrong interpretations, no distinctions between different interpretations, no ability to say anything about multiple or all interpretations, and any answer is as good as any other answer.

Such a standard provides a context within which the distinction between right and wrong answers is possible, as well as the distinction between right and wrong moves within inquiry.

Without that kind of rule or principle, whatever seems right is right.

That leads to a situation where the strongest argument does not prevail but the strongest prevail, where argumentation in any form gives way to coercion.

But there's no reason to expect that in a world of cognitive anarchism we would have justice and Socratic virtues prevail without some standard or principle to decide between various interpretations, by providing a basis for comparative statements among different interpretations.

Quine. The positivists failed to translate all meaningful language into language based on immediate sense experience.

That's one reason we should not try to provide a general logical justification based on and reducible to sense experience.

Why did Carnap continue to pursue a conceptual logical and rational reconstruction of the meaning of knowledge claims?

A rational reconstruction of the meaning of knowledge claims would explain how science and sense experience are related, clarify the claims of science, and provide a deeper understanding of truth claims.

So knowledge empiricism cannot justify natural science on the basis of immediate experience.

The two cardinal tenets in question are that the only evidence for science is sensory evidence, and that the meanings of all words are based on sensory evidence.

But that kind of link between science and sense experience cannot be proved.

We must abandon the make-believe attempts at rational reconstruction in favor of creative reconstruction, simply replacing logical justification with psychology without trying to translate or reduce, thus abandoning the logical justification enterprise altogether.

Traditional logical justification tries to provide some warrant for our beliefs about the existence of an objective independent external world

Given that we have no immediate access to that kind of world, we must construct such warrant according to immediately given experience.

If we give up trying to explain or justify science in terms of sense experience and simply focus instead on how science in fact develops, we would do better to settle for psychology.

In abandoning logical justification for psychology, we would be admitting the failure of the empiricists' program of reducing knowledge claims to claims based on sense experience.

Empirical meanings of individual statements about the physical world are theoretically inaccessible because individual statements are always embedded in some general theory.

Objector. But what about that theory itself about theory and empirical meaning?

Quine. One must evaluate a theory logically as a whole rather than evaluating an individual statement which must be held up against experience for comparison.

That kind of reductionism is the second dogma of empiricism.

Given any kind of empirical theory of meaning which embodies meaning in some verification procedure, what is to count as evidence for the truth of any claim will always be relative to some general theory in which that claim occurs.

Various ways of translating statements of a theory might all preserve the empirical content of the general theory.

So we get rid of logical justification just like the logical positivist empiricists got rid of metaphysics.

Our project of knowing and the psychology wherein it is a component chapter, and all of natural science wherein psychology is a component book, all that is our own construction or projection from stimulations like those we were meting out to our subject.

With logical justification naturalized, we should abandon any notions about the priority of theories of knowing in comparison with actual physical sense stimulation.

We should no longer talk or think about theories of knowledge as providing a framework for structuring or interpreting physical experience or as providing some justification or warrant for science.

So we must give up all considerations of logical justification and recognize that knowledge claims like analytic claims, are simply additional claims in the theory, along with and on the same level with psychological claims.

As part of psychology, logical justification becomes merely an inquiry into the reliability of human thoughts given psychology's best estimate of the actual nature of human beings, their actual environment, and how the two interact.

Objector. But that means that psychology's best estimates are themselves merely an inquiry into the reliability of human thinking given those same estimates, which reduces itself to the same factors.

Karl Popper. Science is a series of conjectures and refutations.

When theories are in competition with other theories, trial and error attempts at refutation enable us to choose the theory which survives where the others fail, the one which proves to be the fittest.

Evolutionary logical justification also requires a reorientation of traditional logical justification, a recentering of the logical justification problem, which makes the growth of knowledge central to logical justification.

So an understanding of learning as well as perception will be essential to any logical justification.

Quine. When another person makes any claims about their surrounding world, that person assumes bodies and projects their physics from their data.

To evaluate those claims, we must be in a position to say something about them in addition to merely saying that they assert certain facts.

Because we determine that some claims made by others are true while others are false, we must have some way to determining truth and falsity independently of simply examining what is said by others.

James Harris. But if we are to imagine ourselves in the same logical justification position as another subject, how are we to gain independent information about the world which will enable us to make any statements about our own claims?

Barry Stroud. We could not compare our beliefs with the world they're about as we can in the normal experimental study of another person.

Each of us would find themselves with a set of beliefs and dispositions to assert things about the world, and we could undergo experiences that would strengthen or change those dispositions, but those reinforced or newly acquired beliefs themselves would have to be seen in turn as at most some further projections from some new but still extremely meager input.

They could not be seen as a source of independent information about the world against which their own truth or the truth of the earlier beliefs could be checked.

If all our beliefs about the external world are mere projections, then the belief that the input for those projections is the result of sense experiences must also be a projection, as well as the belief that we have sense organs.

On naturalized logical justification, one's own output would be no better than whistling in the dark.

Without the underpinning according to which one's projections are based on sensory inputs, one would have no reason to prefer science to any other method of inquiry and no reason to prefer psychology to the belief that God exists.

Without logical justification, there's no reason to prefer naturalized logical justification to theologized logical justification.

James Harris. And the notion of truth is one of the concepts eliminated or reduced to psychology.

If the notion of truth is stripped of all justifying normative content, then all that is left of truth is a Tarskian semantic concept, according to which to say that something is true is merely to assent to whatever it asserts.

Hilary Putnam. Tarski's procedure defines true so that saying that a statement is true is equivalent to believing it.

James Harris. The notion of truth adopted from Tarski by Quine carries with it no normative import.

It's merely a semantic device which allows us to move from the object language level to the meta-language level.

Without a logically justifying notion of truth, we cannot evaluate the claims of others or even our own claims.

There's no notion of rightness by which to make such evaluations.

Psychology tells us what is the case, how humans arrive at beliefs and knowledge, while logical justification tells us how we ought to arrive at beliefs and knowledge.

But psychology cannot provide us with any justifying paradigm for evaluating beliefs, because that's irrelevant to psychological evaluation.

The concerns of psychology and logical justification are about different kinds of inquiry.

Harvey Siegel. A psychological claim can never offer good reasons for taking some knowledge claim to be true.

Because psychology merely describes the processes by which we arrive at beliefs, it cannot tell us what beliefs are good ones or true ones.

Psychology cannot provide any explanation for notions such as justified and true unless we're willing to count whatever people actually think as being justified or true, and conduct logical inquiry merely by observing and tabulating what people in fact happen to say and do.

But that method reduces logical justification to merely a factual question about who believes what.

Quine. We cannot resort to observation as a way to anchor our beliefs if one person's observation is another person's closed book or fantasy.

Because what counts as an observation statement varies with the speakers of the various languages, to arrive at something like an objective and absolute standard for evaluating our beliefs one can only survey speakers of the language.

James Harris. One must be in a position to make statements about the statements, while one is merely to imagine oneself in the same logical position as everyone else.

So we're not even in a position to get the survey process started.

Quine. All questions about the justification of logical justification and science must be raised within some theory.

The old view of justification aspired to contain in a sense all of natural science.

The old view would construct natural science from sense data.

James Harris. The allegedly illegitimate circularity of the old logical justification arose assumedly from trying to validate knowledge of the world by using that same knowledge.

But we're in no better position with naturalized logical justification.

Quine. The benign circularity of my naturalized logical justification is different because naturalized logical justification is itself part of psychology and consequently part of the science of nature whose sources naturalized logical justification tries to understand.

James Harris. But any attempt to exempt some privileged theory from itself or from the general constraints and requirements of reasoned thought necessarily fails.

We cannot use Neurath's boat parable when analytic statements, logical rules and laws included, are equivalent to empirically-informed rules and laws, as well as observation statements.

There would be no way to make the replacement of one part of the boat for another and gradually rebuild the boat.

The situation would be like evaluating beliefs and redistributing truth values over statements in a network of beliefs.

Some principle for evaluation and validation must be used.

Quine. If some recalcitrant experience occurs which causes one to regard as true or hold on to some statement, and if that statement and some other second statement are incompatible, then that second statement must be regarded as false or given up or revised.

And if holding on to that first statement or the revision of the second statement causes some other inconsistency with some yet other third statement, then that third statement must also be revised.

If we invoke that principle and make the appropriate changes to continue the analogy of completely rebuilding a boat while keeping it afloat, we could invoke the following floating-boat principle:

(FB) Each part of the boat is examined and evaluated.

If some evidence is available which allows us to validate a part, we keep it.

But if some evidence or experience causes us to regard a part as unwarranted or undesirable, we discard it and make whatever adjustments are necessary to the other parts to keep the boat afloat, either by replacing it with a new part or by rearranging the remaining parts.

But the floating boat principle sets forth a logical procedure for examining the parts of the boat or theory and deciding what to do with them.

But a process must assume some principles as well as normal rules of inference such as conditional implication.

Think about what would be necessary to physically replace some parts while not replacing others while keeping the boat afloat.

The floating boat principle, Archimedes's Law, as well as all the laws of logic and rules of inference are merely other parts of the boat.

James Harris. But if that were the case, the boat would sink.

The analogy of the boat is useful only if one distinguishes between descriptive statements, which provide the content, and logical statements which provide the structure.

It's only because of those rules and principles that we would have any idea of the proper way to repair the boat, and there must be a proper way and improper way because we must repair it in a specific way in order to keep the boat afloat as opposed to possible ways of repairing it that would not keep the boat afloat.

It is those rules and principles which provide the basis for introducing some normative evaluative aspect into evaluating our beliefs.

Without such rules and principles, anything goes and the circularity is not only endless but vicious.

Quine. The warrant for empirical psychology must derive from within psychology itself rather than from any more general logically justifying claims.

James Harris. There's no justification for physical psychology having that kind of privileged status.

If we begin with the general logical justification inquiry into the relationship between our beliefs and the external world, what special condition would make psychology itself immune to that kind of inquiry?

And it's impossible to construct a theory of logical justification within psychology without the general logical justification problems being dealt with first.

Barry Stroud. Suppose we have asked how any knowledge of the physical world is possible, and suppose that we have asked because of what we assume is true about the physical world, specifically perception.

If we then refute, by reduction to logical absurdity, the general skeptical conclusion, then we would find all our alleged knowledge of the physical world to be suspect.

At that point, no scientific knowledge could then be unproblematically introduced to meet that skeptical challenge.

James Harris. What is needed is an argument for the special status of scientific psychology which gives it immunity from the general problems about justification and truth and establishes it as the context within which all inquiry will take place.

Quine. Once we abandon talk about consciousness and awareness and concentrate exclusively on the completely scientific question of the stimulation of our sensory receptors, we are freed from the traditional entanglements of logical justification.

We then take as given whatever the current, most approved theories of empirical psychology and perception happen to be, and those theories are immune to the usual questions about their logical justification.

James Harris. But the stimulation of sensory receptors assumes some causal theory of perception, and there's no way to know that we have sensory receptors except by other stimulations of our sensory receptors, which beg the same questions all over again.

Richard Rorty. Any assumed connection between psychology and logical justification comes from your vagueness about terms.

Quine. I see the dilemma of logical justification as one of trying to distinguish between causal stimulus and awareness.

Once we have converted to naturalized logical justification, we have the advantage of not having to worry about when or how or even if consciousness arises.

We can view a person as a black box in the physical world, exposed to externally determinable stimulating forces as input and spouting externally determinable testimony about the external world as output.

Just which of the inner workings of the black box may be tinged with awareness is unknown.

James Harris. But that ignores the basic logical justification question about causality or arbitrarily assumes an answer to it.

Your condensing of all justification questions into problems of consciousness and awareness assumes what is in question.

Richard Rorty. We may talk about irradiated patches on a two-dimensional retina or pulses in the optic nerve, but that will be a matter of choosing a black box, not of discovering standards of inquiry.

You dissolve a dilemma only by changing the motive of inquiry.

If one were only interested in causal mechanisms, one would never have worried about awareness.

If there are no experimental standards for where the real data come from, then the suggestion that we give up the notion of sense data and speak causally about nerve endings and logically about observation statements does not resolve the dilemma of the logical justification of claims.

You want to retain the notion of an observation by defining it in terms of the intersubjective agreement of the members of the language community.

Quine. An observation statement is one on which all speakers of the language give the same verdict when given the same concurrent stimulation.

There must be some kind of anchor or tether to connect logical justification claims to sensory stimulation.

We want observation statements to be the statements that are causally closest to the sensory receptors.

An observation statement is situated at the sensory periphery of the body scientific and as the minimal verifiable aggregate which wears its empirical content on its sleeve.

Richard Rorty. You develop what should lead to a complete dismantling of logical justification, and then at the most crucial point, you turn away from the process and reintroduce, or simply refuse to part with, the notion of an observation statement.

Quine. Some such notion of an observation statement is required in order to ground language and logical justification in our experience.

It's the observation statement's relation to our knowledge of what is true that is like the traditional relation.

Observation statements are the repository of evidence for scientific theories.

James Harris. By holding on to the notion of an observation statement and using our experience and intersubjective agreement about experience to justify that notion of an observation statement, you're still using standard logical justification.

You explicitly admonish those who accentuate cultural relativism and discredit the idea of observation, and you offer the absolute standard of community agreement for observation statements instead.

But the notions of observation statement and community agreement are arbitrary exceptions.

All of the problems of verification, truth, and evidence still arise in trying to decide what is intersubjective community agreement.

Some way of handling all of those problems is necessary to even know that there is a community to agree or disagree.

The agreement of the community is assumed to provide an absolute standard for observation statements which means that we must survey, observe, record, and compare the reactions of various different members of the language community to the same sensory stimulations under the same conditions.

You assume that that describes empirical psychology and provides a basis for logical justification.

But what counts as a member of the language community?

What counts as the same sensory stimulus?

What counts as the same conditions?

How do we know that people agree or disagree?

How are we to trust our records of our earlier interviews with other members of the community?

Quine. An observation statement must have empirical content to provide any evidence for scientific theories.

James Harris. But how are we to settle on that empirical content?

Aren't all the same old problems of verification which you highlighted as the major stumbling blocks of the old logical justification still there in your use of observation statements?

Quine. The empirical content of observation statements is obvious.

James Harris. That's merely traditional empirical justification.

Thus you retain an element of empiricism and realism in order to avoid a completely relativistic position.

Holism and naturalized logical justification both operate on a higher supervisory level above observation statements.

Quine. Individual statements beyond observation statements are meaningless.

Psychology replaces logical justification once we have psychology.

But we need observation statements to develop psychology.

Richard Rorty. You should either let the relativists say that observation is merely a matter of what we can agree on these days, or else you should show how psychological discoveries can make something more of the notion of observation.

If they cannot, then defining dependence on present sensory stimulation in terms of intersubjectivity will be merely invoking the old logical justification claims to no psychological purpose.

Quine. I see the Humean predicament as persisting only in the fallibility of prediction: the fallibility of induction and the hypothetico-deductive method in anticipating experience.

James Harris. That understanding of Hume's predicament places you in mainstream logical justification, except that you want to call it science instead of logical justification.

Quine. Things which occupy our world such as sticks and stones, electrons and molecules, are merely ways of speaking.

Those same sticks and stones and electrons and molecules are real.

The way to resolve the apparent tension between such extreme claims is to see that through naturalized logical justification, we come to deal with such issues within science rather than within logical justification.

All metatheoretic and meta-questions about method are internal questions, internal to the theory or method.

Objector. But what theory is that statement itself internal to?

Quine. The major differences are merely semantic.

The semantic considerations are concerned with questions that are not about reality but about method and evidence.

They belong not to actuality but to the method of analysis of actuality, and thus to logical justification.

And here I recognize no views logically prior to science.

James Harris. The main issue is not merely semantic.

It's not true that what other people call logical justification you now call science.

One cannot develop the general theory of naturalized logical justification without doing metatheoretic analysis, which is what naturalized logical justification is supposed to eliminate.

Quine. Meaningfully trying to logically justify something can be done only within empirical psychology because it's merely a part of psychology.

James Harris. But the claim that logical justification can be only within empirical psychology is not itself a claim of empirical psychology.

It's a meta-scientific, meta-theoretic claim which cannot be reduced to or made a part of any scientific theory.

Yet you yourself assume that the claim is a rationally held position.

Naturalized logical justification itself is a universal meta-theoretic theory, not a scientific theory.

You offer a detailed argument for that claim, which is assumed to be an argument or reason for our preferring that claim to the old-style logical justification.

You accept Hume's critique of induction, and you use your rejection of the distinction between analysis and empirical data and the resulting collapse of analytic statements into empirically-informed statements to broaden the scope of Hume's attack to include all of our knowledge claims.

But both of those arguments are traditional logical justification arguments.

And you've explicitly denied that there's a metatheoretic analysis within which such questions as the justification of induction and the viability of the distinction between analysis and empirical data can arise, which is the main point of naturalized logical justification.

Either that claim must be unjustified or else it's self-refuting.

If all matters of justification and warrant are assumed to be internal to the theory being put forth, then you can't justify or give any reasons or evidence for that theory itself.

Unless there are meta-scientific standards for evaluating that claim, there are no reasons why we could say that it's a good or true theory, or that it's to be preferred to any competing theory, or that there's any reason for adopting it.

The claim that justification is only empirical psychological observation is not itself a claim of empirical psychology.

And if all evidence and reasons occur only within empirical psychology, then there can be no evidence or reasons for the naturalized logical justification claim.

To the extent that the claim is a justified theory which commands considered assent, it is inconsistent and self-defeating.

So good reasons for the claim are also good reasons against it.

Harvey Siegel. To rationally accept naturalized logical justification, one must assume that some meta-theoretic claims are justified on the basis of meta-scientific reasons, but to recognize that is to reject naturalized logical justification, which does not believe in that kind of meta-scientific justification.

So naturalized logical justification assumes, rather than eliminates, metatheoretic justification, in order to deny it.

Paul Roth. Because naturalized logical justification is a meta-scientific theory about the nature of science, it cannot be justified by any appeal to natural science.

The theory of logical justification is part of the argument for adopting naturalized logical justification and so cannot be a part of naturalized logical justification itself.

Because naturalized logical justification arguments about the logically prior limits to theoretic knowledge are what convince us to accept naturalized logical justification, the relevant arguments cannot assume the prior acceptance of that stance itself.

Objector. Then the theory about naturalized logical justification is a logically prior claim about the nature of knowledge.

James Harris. But given its criticism of traditional logical justification, naturalized logical justification cannot be required to justify its claims about the nature of knowledge as logically prior claims.

Resorting to logically prior claims as a way out of the difficulty of justifying naturalized logical justification means that we are back to doing traditional logical justification or metatheoretic analysis once again.

By nature, logical justification can learn from psychology.

But that's a logical point, not a psychological point.

Charles Peirce. All knowledge begins with experience.

And only through experience does a person gain knowledge.

No experience comes stamped with some seal of approval saying that is a basic experience which can be used as the foundation for all knowledge.

There are distinctions between different objects of consciousness, such as between different objects of imagination and sensation, but none of those comes labeled as basic.

The legitimacy of any claim to knowledge is not to be found in its beginning point but rather in the method used to attain it.

The beginning points are many and are constantly changing because they're always open to further scrutiny and future revision.

Knowledge is justified by the shifting sands of experience.

The bedrock of knowledge is in experience.

But there's no bedrock in experience.

So the knower is involved in pursuing knowledge in a way that is foreign to science.

Hans Gadamer. All understanding involves some prejudice.

Objector. But how prejudiced is that claim about understanding being prejudiced?

Charles Peirce. We can never completely overcome such prejudices and take refuge in pure reason.

Rather, while embracing our prejudices, we must make them explicit and subject them to scrutiny.

We cannot begin with complete doubt.

We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we begin to analyze those issues.

Those prejudices are not to be dispelled by a rule, because they're things which do not even occur to us as things that can be questioned.

Reality is not a method for uniquely identifying an object, but existence and experience are.

Both existence and experience involve the notion of relationship to or interaction with something else.

And an inference is the process by which one belief determines another.

The general rules which regulate inferences are leading principles, and critical logic is primarily a study of those leading principles.

Belief, which is itself a habit, gets fixed by inference which is determined by leading principles.

Logic enables our reasonings to be secure, and further enables us to act on our beliefs, while doubt prevents our beliefs from becoming fixed and inhibits our ability to act.

/ Reason, rationality, thought, beliefs, habits, inference, and logic are all conventional in the sense that they all involve signs, So thirdness, which are governed by rules or principles which give rise to habits and eventually action.

But those habits, conventions, and principles are not subjective.

So the real is that which information and reasoning would finally result in, and which is consequently independent of the vagaries of me and you.

So the origin of the concept of reality shows that that concept involves the notion of a community, without definite limits, and capable of a definite increase in knowledge.

But no ideas provide a magical, private,and subjective beginning point or endpoint to inquiry.

So any investigation of internal subjective matters must proceed by inference from external facts, and there's no faculty of introspection as Descartes assumed.

Wittgenstein. It's logically impossible for there to be a private language which is theoretically accessible to only one person, in which the names for sensations are learned by example, and which is used to describe subjective, internal experiences or sensations.

The absence of some public external standard makes the whole enterprise impossible.

Someone tells me that they know what pain is only from their own case.

Suppose everyone had a box with something in it, called a beetle.

No one can look into anyone else's box, and everyone says they know what a beetle is only by looking at their own beetle.

Here it would be possible for everyone to have something different in their box.

One might even imagine that kind of thing constantly changing.

But if the word beetle had no use in those people's language, then it would not be used as the name of a thing.

The thing in the box has no place in the language as anything, because the box might even be empty.

One can divide through by the thing in the box.

It cancels out, whatever it is.

if we construe the grammar of the expression of sensation on the model of object and designation, the object drops out of consideration as irrelevant.

The situation of the diary keeper also illustrates the absurd situation of any theory which must rely on the notion of a private language.

Suppose I want to keep a diary about the recurrence of a certain sensation.

To that end I associate it with the sign S and write that sign in a calendar for every day on which I have the sensation.

A definition of the sign cannot be formulated.

But I can still give myself a kind of definition by example.

I can't point to the sensation in the ordinary sense.

But I speak, or write the sign down, and at the same time I concentrate my attention on the sensation, and so point to it inwardly.

But what is that ceremony for?

Because that is all it seems to be.

A definition service to establish the meaning of a sign.

That's done by concentrating my attention, because that is how I impress on myself the connection between the sign and the sensation.

But to impress it on myself can only mean that that process brings it about that I remember the connection correctly in the future.

But in the present case I have no standard of correctness.

One would like to say that whatever is going to seem right to me is right.

And that only means that here we cannot talk about right.

But giving more careful attention to the private subjective sensation or focusing on the memory of earlier sensations will not ensure that one is correct.

Such attempts do not allow one to distinguish between what is right and what seems to be right and are like reading different copies of a newspaper in order to verify a news story.

An external public standard creates the possibility of correct usage, incorrect usage, and error generally.

Any meaningful use of language must take place in the context of a rule-governed situation within which there are recognizable proper and improper moves.

Otherwise, anything one might say is just as correct as anything else one might say, which means that the entire business would then be nonsense.

Charles Peirce. The real is a concept which we must first have had when we discovered that there was an unreal, an illusion, when we first corrected ourselves.

The distinction that that fact logically called for was between real relative to private inward determinations, and a real which would stand in the long run.

The real that would stand in the long run is that which finally comes from the community, sooner or later, given enough information and reasoning.

The concept of the real first originates only because we discover that sometimes we make mistakes and that there is such a thing as the unreal.

/x But Wittgenstein's diary keeper could never make a mistake because when they introspect and examine their sensations and focus on their memory, whatever they decide will always seem right to them.

So they will never be in the position of having to correct or being able to correct themselves.

To correct ourselves, the distinction between the subjective private realm of the individual and the objective public realm of the community is logically required.

/x There's no subjective reality about which we can be undoubtably certain.

/x So there's no basic primitive foundation of human knowledge which is theoretically immune to mistakes and which can serve as the source for all knowledge.

There's no knowledge which is known immediately and directly.

We have no faculty of intuition according to which we can have thoughts which are not determined by other thoughts but are determined directly by some transcendental subjective object.

So there's no foundation of knowledge which we can know in some qualitatively different way from the way in which we know all other knowledge claims.

And none of our knowledge claims are infallible.

Thinking and inference, thought and reason, are thus justified by habits, rules, and principles.

And even though those habits and principles may be the beginning point of inquiry, they're not absolute but are constantly open to scrutiny and review.

Objector. But isn't that openness itself an absolute?

Charles Pierce. Inquiry is a process of continual self-correction and adjustment, and any result of the process may prove to be fallible and revisable in the face of some future changes or adjustments by the community.

Only through that process could we ever correct ourselves or realize that we've made a mistake.

James Harris. But if you are successful in undermining both the assumed foundations of knowledge and the results of inquiry as legitimizing factors, or as belief warrant guarantees, then all that's left is skepticism and relativism.

It's the method which guarantees the results of inquiry and knowledge.

Richard Bernstein. Our claims to knowledge are legitimized not by their origins, because the origins of knowledge are varied and fallible, but rather by the norms and rules of inquiry itself.

Ian Hacking. Truth is whatever is in the end delivered to the community of inquirers who pursue a certain goal in a certain way.

Humanity is language.

The world is not deterministic.

And there's an objective surrogate for truth to be found in the method of analysis.

Charles Peirce. The notion of a method for uniquely identifying an object is a feeling, not a concept which is the result of a deliberative process of reasoning.

The notion of existence is nonrational in the sense that it is immediately experienced.

So a method for uniquely identifying an object is given not by perceiving any qualities nor as the result of any inference, but by estimating its insistency at that moment.

James Harris. Imagine a scientist in a position similar to the one which Wittgenstein describes concerning the diary keeper.

Think about what would be involved in that kind of scientist conducting an experiment completely privately.

Consider a biologist who imagines looking through a microscope at different pieces of tissue.

They imagine observing certain characteristics and mentally note them.

They make mental imaginary comparisons between different kinds of tissues, and then on the basis of their memories of those differences form a theory which they further test in a similar way.

At some point, they finally announce to the world that they have discovered the cause of a certain kind of cancer.

Other scientists would not take that kind of announcement seriously, nor would we even regard the activity as practicing science.

The scientist in that example is in the same position as Wittgenstein's diary keeper.

There's no standard of correctness here, no theoretic possibility of error or even an understanding of what error would mean, which implies that whatever is going on here it is not a rational process about which we can make any claims.

Even the individual involved is not in a position to make any such claims.

Whatever seems right will be right for them.

Consider the example of a geologist making a map.

They imagine a landscape, perhaps even a landscape which they have actually visited before.

They then begin to mentally draw a map of the landscape.

They carefully concentrate on every exact detail of the landscape, the topography, bodies of water, coast line, and so on.

And they finish the map.

Is the map accurate?

Initially, it seems that no one but the individual involved can sensibly answer that question.

But is even the individual in a position to answer the question?

They may give us an answer by again imagining the landscape and then comparing their imaginary map to their imagined or remembered landscape.

But whatever the outcome of that process, it's completely empty.

In the absence of any public and external standard, there's no standard of correctness, no possibility of error, even theoretically.

Whatever the final determination of the map maker, it will be right simply because it seems right.

So not only can the imaginary mental map maker not answer the question about the accuracy of the map, the question cannot even be sensibly asked.

Science and the scientific method are public just as language is public.

One can no more play a completely private game with oneself or perform private inferences than one can use a private language.

What would it be like to win or lose, or to even make a proper or improper move?

What would guarantee correct inference?

In each instance, one would be in the same position as the diary keeper.

Science and inference and method are as much in need of some public standard as language, and the community provides that standard.

Objector. But what guarantee do we have that the community provides the correct standard of truth or reality?

Charles Peirce. It is only within the public social context that the further question about the correctness of the method or the results of the method can be raised.

If Tarot Card reading and astrology were to have some public mechanism for evaluating their methods and for determining when and how mistakes are possible, only then would they become rivals to science.

To the extent that one can make sense of anything like a commonly accepted standard for the correct way of practicing those kinds of alternative methods for fixing beliefs, such as reading Tarot Cards, that method must and does approximate the scientific method, depending on public observation and repeatable events, not just upon Tarot Card reading itself.

Reading Tarot Cards is not self-regulating, or self-correcting, or self-justifying.

It is that feature which makes mistakes and fraud in science possible.

James Harris. And fraud in science is a legitimate cause for concern.

Much attention has justifiably been given to the extreme competition among scientists for recognition and financial rewards which come from success.

There's also legitimate cause for concern about the great pressure on scientists in some positions to generate the funds for their research through various grants, and there's also the problem of the additional pressure on scientists in academic institutions to produce research quickly for tenure and promotion decisions.

The mounting concern is one of how science and scientific research can maintain their integrity in the face of ever-increasing pressures and rewards for cheating and fraud.

Science would be much better off if the incentives for fast, sloppy, and fraudulent research were reduced.

But the most crucial theoretic point is that it is the unique nature of scientific method which even allows for the possibility of fraud.

It is only against the backdrop of legitimate research and legitimate scientific method that the notion of fraud or hoax even makes sense, and it is of the nature of scientific method to try to disprove its own findings.

Scientific method is the only method that this is true of.

Fraudulent astrology is simply astrology.

It's of the nature of the scientific method to question the results of its own method, and it's of the nature of the scientific community to question the findings of its own members.

In other situations, such inquiry is left to the initiative and energy of different individuals, but publicizing the results of one's experiments and subjecting them to the scrutiny of other members of the community of inquirers is a part of the method itself.

So the scientific community is constantly on vigil, and even though mistakes are made and frauds are perpetrated, the scientific community is never unsuspecting but is skeptical by nature.

Whether the report about someone concerning possible fraud in science is found to be fact or mistake, or even fraud, will result only from the most intense scrutiny and testing imaginable within the scientific community.

Hundreds or thousands of chemists and physicists will spend as much time as it takes to try and prove them wrong.

That's an excellent example of the self-correcting mechanism at work within the scientific method.

If there's a mistake in applying the scientific method, it will be detected by applying that same method, and even though mistakes and frauds do occur, they can only be detected and corrected within the framework created by the method which provides the notion of what is to be considered in advance to be legitimate results.

A counterfeit piece of currency can exist and be known about only within a monetary system framework for the meaning of legitimate currency.

It's necessary to have an external standard in order to have a context within which true and false, right and wrong, good and evil, mystery and the known, being there and supervising the analysis of being there, are even possible.

We necessarily use a method by which our beliefs can be determined by nothing human, but by some external permanency, by something that our own thinking has no effect on.

Because there's that external permanence, science is the only method which presents any distinction between a right method and a wrong method.

The method of tenacity, the method of authority, and the logically prior method provide no possibility of critical examination of the method and no possibility of error.

With methods other than science, one is left to think however one wants to think.

Only science provides even the possibility of making mistakes and correcting the mistakes by using the method.

The test of whether I'm following the scientific method is not an immediate appeal to my feelings and purposes, but itself involves applying the method.

So bad reasoning as well as good reasoning is possible.

Objector. You have not demonstrated that science is the best method for fixing beliefs, but that it is the only method.

Imagine a Robinson Crusoe who is left on their deserted island while they're a mere infant.

He is raised in the wild by some animal until he finally becomes a mature adult.

We then raise the question of whether that kind of person could invent a language.

Could one invent a language in which one could keep a diary similar to the one attempted by Wittgenstein's diary keeper?

In one sense one could because one could invent symbols and write them down.

In one sense, the results of such diary-keeping efforts would appear no different from yours or mine.

But in another sense, that kind of diary is meaningless gibberish.

Rush Rhees. But it's absurd to suppose that the marks they use mean anything, even if we want to say that they go through all the motions of meaning something by them.

Language is a social phenomenon and requires a social context within which rules, patterns of use, principles, and a community of language speakers create standards of correct usage and within which incorrect usage becomes possible.

No one could invent language by itself.

Language goes with a way of living.

An invented language would be a wallpaper pattern, nothing more.

James Harris. Even if we imagine that Crusoe's attempt to invent science involves only external, publicly observable objects, we are still led to an immediate rethinking of the necessity of some kind of public community for Crusoe to develop any understanding of such notions as laws, theories, and experiments.

The considerations which hold for language hold for science.

Suppose that Crusoe makes observations about the flora and animals on the island, forms theories about possible explanations for certain phenomena, and tests those theories by making further observations using his own private individual science.

In one sense, what Crusoe does would be no different from what you or I might do.

But the results of Crusoe's attempts at science are scientific gibberish in a way completely analogous to the way in which Crusoe's attempts at language are gibberish.

Even though that extended claim about science may not be as readily apparent, consider the questions about method which might be raised about Crusoe's attempts at science, questions about method which parallel the questions raised about Crusoe's attempts at language.

What would it be like for Crusoe to make a mistake not just about some observation but about some rule or law or principle which they invent and then invoke in their investigation?

Even if they pay careful attention to whatever consideration is at stake, even if they go over their memories of the designs of their experiments time and time again, what is to prevent them from making the same mistake each time?

Without a public empirical standard by which the results of that kind of investigation can be evaluated, memory is no better than imagination, and Crusoe would be in no better position than our biologist and geologist with their imaginary experiments.

Scientific theories, laws, principles, designs of experiments, and so on, are social phenomena, just as language is.

To do science and to hold certain scientific beliefs or to maintain certain scientific theories does not mean merely to arrive at results.

Science and scientific theories are not characterized simply by their content but also by the process by which they're derived.

It's not simply that Crusoe's results must be available in a form which makes them accessible to other people in order to be scientific.

It's rather that the scientific language, theories, laws, and experiments by which the results are obtained are available for public scrutiny.

Otherwise, the private scientist is in the position of having invented a game in which they're the only umpire and player, the only judge and defendant, and in which there are no right or wrong moves.

Wittgenstein. Looking up a table in the imagination is no more looking up a table than the image of the result of an imagined experiment is the result of an experiment.

James Harris. And looking up a table solely in the memory fares no better.

The logical justification position of a normal mature adult placed in an isolated situation is different, and it's not all that different from the position in which many of us find ourselves from time to time.

The mature Robinson Crusoe who finds their way to the deserted island as a normal adult with a language and an understanding of science already in place can practice science.

Their position would not be all that different from a scientist practicing science in a private isolated laboratory.

An individual living alone can form theories and test them, and that kind of individual can make mistakes and correct them in much the same way that you or I can play a game of solitaire.

But what about a game of solitaire I played yesterday for which there are no records or other public explanations?

Did I make a mistake in that game?

If our only access to the game of solitaire which we played yesterday is our memory, then our best recollection will necessarily be the right answer because it's the only possible answer.

We are in that kind of situation many times with respect to our own memories.

And there are many problems with that.

We impose higher logical justification standards for science than we do for individual beliefs.

In order for the beliefs of an individual to be scientific, those actions must not only be theoretically analyzable, they must also be empirically analyzable as well.

About the example of playing solitaire again, we might be inclined to say something such as that if another person had been present when I was playing solitaire yesterday, then that person could have observed my mistake.

That's true, and it illustrates that playing solitaire is on a better logical justification footing than claims about one's private mental states.

But unless the records, explanations, videos, or some other publicly analyzable explanations which the parties agree about are an accurate record of the earlier event, then science cannot be involved.

An ideal observer kind of theory is not adequate for providing the kind of public access needed for science.

The adult Robinson Crusoe, living in isolation, can form and test theories scientifically, but only if there are empirical explanations of some kind for them and others to consult.

All experiments must be repeatable in order to evaluate the logical justifications given and evaluate correct and incorrect applications of the method carried out in those experiments.

If repeatability were not required, there could be no dissent to or discovery of fraud.

The idols or negative influences on one's thinking which lead to biases, confusions, and mistakes which threaten science, include tribe, cave, marketplace, theater, and closet.

The idol of the closet is the belief that one can pursue the life of a private scientist.

That's why Descartes's notion of clear and distinct ideas cannot be the standard intended.

A clear and distinct idea is assumed to be something which the subject never mistakes for anything else.

Its own guarantee is assumed to be obvious, so that one can determine its truth simply at face value.

But what would it be like for a person to be mistaken about a claim involving clear and distinct ideas?

What standard can one impose to make sure that one's statement about a clear and distinct idea is correct?

Because all of that is completely internal and subjective for Descartes, trying to make statements about clear and distinct ideas places one in the same untenable logical justification position as Wittgenstein's diary keeper.

And the only way to avoid that cul de sac is to avoid the idol of the closet.

A clear example of failing to avoid adequately the idol of the closet is the history of astronomy in ancient China.

Even though very extended and exact astronomical observations were made by ancient Chinese astronomers, astronomy never developed to the level of a mature science there because of the influence of the secret science of priest-kings.

Given a powerful and well-organized central government with leaders who regarded scientific information from the state astronomers as vital state secrets and an official ancient state secrecy act which prohibited the state astronomers from collaborating with each other, from working with their own subordinates, or from even telling anyone else about their findings or theories, it's questionable whether astronomy as practiced by the ancient Chinese was really scientific.

The practice of science requires an external and public scientific community.

The accuracy of the observations or the gathered data is not the issue here.

One might well make what turns out to be accurate observations or even accurate predictions based on those observations, as the ancient Chinese actually did, but how are we to know whether a person's data are simply the result of sheer happenstance or luck or fraud if the methods for arriving at those data are not recorded and made public?

Gettier's counterexamples to the justified true belief theory have shown the necessity for some connection between the reason a person holds a belief and whether the belief can qualify as knowledge.

In that case, the mere accuracy of certain beliefs on the part of ancient Chinese astronomers does not make those beliefs scientific beliefs.

The content of beliefs may first come from dreams, hallucinations, hunches, or indigestion.

Scientific beliefs are those beliefs which are the result of a specific method according to which one belief produces another.

So the method is more logically primitive and necessary than the beliefs it produces.

And theoretically the method is neutral in terms of the content of the beliefs which it produces.

The young boy in D. H. Lawrence's "The Rocking Horse Winner", who consistently and unerringly predicted the winners of horse races by rocking himself into a frenzied state on a rocking horse is a good example of this.

The accuracy and precision of the boy's predictions might well be the envy of every scientist, but the boy is not doing science.

And the scientist and the rational person are committed to the method, not to the results.

Such a commitment to method has direct consequences for dealing with two important aspects of the history of science.

The logically basic and public nature of scientific method enables one to explain the phenomena of simultaneous discoveries in the history of science by appealing only to internal reasons.

The public method and community act as forces which, if not directing scientific inquiry and history, can be used to explain the events in the history of science.

But that commitment to method requires one to look at the revolutions in the history of science in a different way from paradigm relativism.

Thomas Kuhn. Changes in paradigms, revolutions, are a dramatic, cataclysmic, and ultimately, nonrational process.

One cannot conceptually stand within one paradigm and reason oneself into a new paradigm.

A change in paradigms is not merely a reinterpretation of the data.

Something much more drastic takes place, something requiring a Gestalt-like change which occurs in a lightning flash or in flashes of intuition.

That's why paradigms have no common standards for comparison with each other and why one cannot use normal science to move from one paradigm to another.

Peirce and Lakatos. Those changes are not irrational and cataclysmic.

Charles Peirce. because the initial and ultimate commitment of the scientist is to method, the truth and reality become secondary, even though inevitable and ultimate, byproducts of continual commitment to that method.

If scientific method acts as the ultimate guarantor of the content or result, then how are we to demonstrate that the beliefs fixed by science are true or that there's any progress in the history of science?

What good reason is there to believe in the convergence of science?

Even though there may be some dead ends and setbacks, and even though the way may often be circular, the developments and changes in the history of scientific inquiry must be viewed as a gradual convergence toward the ideal goal.

Objector. But why is there any reason to believe that inquiry converges?

And your claim that there's an idealized state has no good reason for it.

Charles Peirce. Think about how inquiry begins.

No inquiry is possible without doubt.

Only the irritation of doubt causes the struggle to reach some resolution to the irritation, some belief.

The irritation of doubt is the only immediate motive for the struggle to attain or maintain belief.

Inquiry begins with doubt, and ends with the elimination of doubt.

The purpose of inquiry is to settle opinion, to fix belief.

And we are led toward that final goal by the nature of that method itself.

The community of inquirers settles on a single understanding of reality when all doubt has been satisfied, when all irritation has led through inquiry to the satisfied state of belief.

But why must anyone admit that what the community of inquirers settles on is the right or only understanding of the nature of reality?

Anyone who engages in inquiry of any kind must admit that there's a single understanding of the nature of reality which has a legitimate claim to the title of truth.

Otherwise, doubt would and could present no irritation and no dissatisfaction.

Any inquiry, and therefore the commitment to any method of fixing beliefs must arise from some apparent conflict between different claims.

So even in trying to appease doubt, in the pursuit of inquiry itself, there's already a vague assumption that there's some one thing which a statement should represent.

So the theory of some reality on which scientific inquiry converges is one which every inquiring mind must admit.

When we try to find the answer to a question, we are going on the hope that there's an answer which enough inquiry will compel us to accept.

When an airliner crashes and there's an investigation to determine the cause of the crash, there's an implicit commitment to the theory that there's theoretically some single correct explanation for the crash and that given enough time and information, and enough money, it would be theoretically possible to provide the explanation of the cause of the crash.

We think that we will never know the complete truth of what happened but the mere pursuing of the investigation commits us to the theoretic belief that there's a single objective complete truth to be known, and possibly by no lone individual inquirer, but theoretically by the community of inquirers.

Once we admit even the possibility of the reality about which inquiry takes place, then given the nature of scientific inquiry, the ultimate, idealized state of the goal of inquiry which converges upon that reality follows.

Objector. But what guarantees that the method will converge to one single theory or understanding of reality?

William James. There's nothing improbable in assuming that an analysis of the world may yield a number of formulas, all consistent with the facts.

Richard Rorty. What guarantees that our changing theories of the world are getting better rather than worse?

James Harris. What even allows the question to be raised?

How would one even determine what would make a theory better rather than worse?

How would one even determine that our theories are changing?

Only within the context of scientific method are answers to those questions intelligible or possible.

One can detect different or changing theories only because one theory already explains different facts, or is already compatible with and supported by different facts from another theory.

For any alleged challenge to scientific method to even begin, that method itself must already be assumed.

Objector. Has inquiry has come to an end?

Has all doubt been appeased and is the community of inquirers satisfied at that point in the inquiry?

If not, then the inquiry must continue.

Charles Pierce. Because science is the only method to provide us with a context within which correct and incorrect applications of the method are possible, then science provides us with the only possible mechanism for testing theories and for distinguishing one theory from another.

The essential nature of science which ultimately guarantees it is the unique fact that it is self-correcting.

The method has a built-in mechanism for catching and correcting its own mistakes.

Not only is science the only method within which it even makes sense to talk about mistakes, it is also the only method which purifies itself by eliminating those mistakes.

Science is the only method of fixing beliefs where the practice of the method itself does not give rise to doubts about the method.

Given that self-correction feature, the only thing one needs to arrive at truth and reality is an unswerving commitment to the theory and an unflagging willingness to learn.

There are real things whose characteristics are entirely independent of our opinions about them.

Those reals affect our senses according to regular laws, and, even though our sensations are as different as our relations to the objects, using the laws of perception we can reason out how things really and truly are.

And anyone, if they have enough experience and they reason enough about it, will be led to the one true conclusion.

Reality and truth are the ultimate goals of inquiry.

Continual pursuit of science by a public and external community of inquirers not only will but must arrive at the truth.

It is the scientific method which guarantees progress in science.

The longer the story is told, and the longer the inquiry goes on, and the more data which are added, the closer we get to the truth, and the shorter the distance becomes between our current state and the truth.

So science is a method which if duly persisted in must in the nature of things lead to a result indefinitely approximating the total truth in the long run, because it depends on induction, which must generally lead to truth in the long run.

Larry Laudan. The claim that the scientific method is reliable and self-correcting, and that there's necessarily a convergent truth are merely a face-saving tactic for those who must be satisfied with ever-closer approximations of truth because they cannot justifiably lay claim to truth itself.

The most important considerations are the maximization of the empirical problems which we can explain and the minimization of the anomalous and conceptual problems we generate in the process.

And in pursuing that activity, scientists have no way to know for sure or even with substantial confidence that science is true, probable, or that it is getting closer to the truth.

Determinations of truth and falsity are irrelevant to the acceptability or the pursuitability of scientific theories and research traditions.

But the rationality of a scientific theory can be determined by evaluating its progress, and that progress is determined by the number of important and interesting problems which it enables us to solve.

But empirical problems are still relative to some conceptual framework and calling them empirical is merely a convenience because we still deal with those problems as if they're really matters of fact.

James Harris. You still maintain that empirical problems are qualitatively different from other problems because we deal with them by examining the objects in the domain.

Empirical facts function for you just as they do for the realist.

So you have the same problem of explaining how, if facts are relative to a conceptual framework, anomalies can ever arise or even be recognized.

What's the origin of the efficacy of a fact to be anomalous if facts are relative to theories or paradigms?

A fact must have some objective independent logical justification if it is to force a re-examination of the theory within which it occurs.

You uncritically accept and use the notion of anomalous facts without addressing the theoretic problem of how those kinds of anomalies could consistently occur within scientific theory itself as you have described it.

So you still have a notion of objective reality operating within your theory.

If empirical facts are relative to theories, then empirical problems cannot force themselves on us.

You say that the claim that science is self-correcting is incorrect, and then you give an argument, including several historical examples, to the effect that the self-correcting theory is false based on the history of science and Western thought.

It's impossible to use facts from the history of science to attack theories about the nature of science if determinations of truth and falsity are irrelevant to those theories.

In attacking the decision in a much celebrated U.S. federal court case from Arkansas concerning the academic status of creationism, you argue incongruously that the decision which ruled that creationism is not a science and So does not have to be taught in public schools was in error because creationism is an empirical theory which has been falsified.

But if facts are relative to theories and determining what's true is irrelevant to theories, then whatever facts are regarded as falsifying creationism are not those facts which are relative to creationism and what is true is irrelevant to theories about origins.

Hilary Putnam. How are we to maintain that science is what scientists currently do given the sometimes bizarre and foolish things which scientists have done at different periods in the history of science?

Larry Laudan. One can adequately explain for the complicated and divergent path of progress in the history of science only by understanding the maximization of progress as science's reason for existence and by abandoning the pretense about any connection between a rational or preferable scientific explanation and truth.

Sandra Harding. Traditional science is gender-biased.

The social structure of science, many of its applications and technologies, its modes of defining research problems and designing experiments, its ways of constructing and conferring meanings are not only sexist but also racist, classist, and culturally coercive.

Carol Merchant. During the changes in human thought which took place in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the organic concept of the universe gave way to a mechanistic concept.

Abandoning the organic view of nature paved the way for technological excesses and abuses and for the exploitation of our natural resources, and the foundations for a responsible ecological attitude toward nature are to be found in an organismic world view.

Evelyn Fox Keller. The main general criticism is that in some sense male thought has dominated the content and method of the observations, laws, and theories of the practicing scientists as well.

Objector. But on what dominates the content and method of that claim itself?

Susan Harding. The ways of defining research problems and designing experiments are sexist.

Donna Haraway. Is there a specifically feminist logical justification growing today which is analogous in its implications to theories which are the heritage of Greek science and of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century?

Would a feminist theory of logical justification be a family member to existing theories of representation and realism?

Or should feminists adopt a radical theory of knowing that denies the possibility of access to a real world and an objective standpoint?

Would feminist standards of knowing genuinely end the dilemma of the split between subject and object or between noninvasive knowing and prediction and control?

Feminist. Feminist scientific reasoning is unique and different from the traditional scientific method as practiced.

Helen Longino. Social and cultural values influence the very nature of scientific inquiry, scientific reasoning itself.

Defining values, internal to the sciences, are the source of the rules determining what is acceptable scientific practice or scientific method.

But merely defining values does not determine the nature of scientific inquiry, and contextual values also influence its nature and structure.

So the notion of a value-free science is pernicious, and both the expression of masculine bias in the sciences and feminist criticism of research show that bias is business as usual.

James Harris. Feminist science is a position according to which assumed gender differences in practicing scientists result in assumed differences in the nature and method of scientific inquiry, theory formation, experiments, observations, and other related activities of practicing scientists.

But because your version of feminist science is a form of externalism, the reasons for accepting scientific claims or adopting scientific theories are external to scientific method itself and So external to practicing scientists.

The ultimate consequence of your view is a society-wide Hobbesian war of all against all.

And if science among practicing scientists is understood broadly enough to include logical justification and rationality itself, then there's no possible peaceful or rational resolution through any possible common basis of what makes up evidence.

But given a radical feminist science, there cannot be any objective data for feminists themselves to point to in support of their argument against a male-dominated, sociobiological theory of sex differences, because facts and data, including fossil data, would in that case be relative to a specific brand of science.

And if such relativism is the case, and it's a socio-political battle, then what feminists claim about the natural sciences is also true for the social sciences, including social and political sciences.

Normal persuasion and argumentation based on evidence or observations of any kind, such as statistics involving medical research, would not be a viable option if according to feminist science a person's observation and experience and reasoning, the defining values of practicing scientists, are all determined by each person's prior commitment to the underlying social and cultural values, the contextual values of the general scientific community.

In that kind of world, the only possibly effective action would be to line up the economic and political forces to do battle against competing ideologies.

Attempts at serious scholarly works and persuasion based on evidence and argumentation would have to give way to propaganda and epithet mongering.

Genetic fallacies and ad hominem fallacies would be the order of the day.

Helen Longino. Defining rules cannot prevent the contextual rules from influencing the nature of scientific inquiry and So the notion of reason itself.

Scientific reasoning always takes place within a context wherein background assumptions determine the way one reasons by determining the way in which they deal with evidence in relation to a theory.

So we should not be concerned with the question of rationality but with the question of rationality in a context.

The background assumptions which operate in science are those from capitalist and male supremacist societies.

And we should construct our own new social context with its unique contextual values.

James Harris. If it's possible to have both masculine science and feminist science which can be justified as objective and non-arbitrary, then are we to expect the same of Black Science, or Hispanic Science, or Aryan Science? Where does it stop?

If background assumptions can shape and influence the nature of scientific reasoning itself, then contextual values would be able to change the defining rules themselves.

And if the contextual rules can change and determine the defining rules, then it's impossible to limit the degree to which that can be done without assuming what is in question.

And there would be no real distinction between questions of fact or scientific questions about nature, and questions about ideology and political belief.

The analysis of science would become merely an arena for political and ideological war, where might is literally right.

Feminist. A feminist science would incorporate certain unique aspects of female sensibility or cognitive temperament such as complexity, interaction, and holism which might make a feminist, ecological science preferable because it might contain a more accurate depiction of the true character of natural processes.

James Harris. But all that would itself be tainted by the same social and cultural commitments of the psychologists and biologists.

If the general cultural and social values of scientists on the level of the general scientific community are logically basic, and if scientific data and reasoning from the community of practicing scientists are filtered through and colored by those general cultural and social values, then so are all the scientific data and theories of practicing scientists about the similarities and differences of the characteristics of the sexes.

Even if we grant there's enough clarity about what makes feminist science feminist, what makes it science to begin with?

There cannot be objective scientific facts to support a general theory which says that all facts are tainted.

Sociobiologist. Behavior is caused by genetics.

Certain animal or human behaviors, if genetically caused, could have maximized the reproductive success of the individual.

That implies that the behavior was genetically determined.

Ruth Bleier. Feminist science is also in the same boat as sociobiology in the sense that it is a meta-scientific theory on the level of the general scientific community.

But it is a theory according to which the evidence, facts, and reasoning are relative to the values or background assumptions of the general scientific community.

So to supply any supporting alleged evidence for radical feminist science mirrors exactly the circular argument for sociobiology.

Radical Feminist Scientist. Differences are gender based, those gender-based differences explain differences in behavior of members of the practicing scientist community, which would be the case if radical feminist science were to be true, and those explanations are evidence that radical feminist science is true.

/ But those alleged facts from the community of practicing scientists concerning sex differences, on which the claims of feminist science is based, would, according to feminist science itself, be relative to different social and political values on the level of the general scientific community.

Sandra Harding. A feminist view of science can attack the distortions of traditional science caused by male bias for traditional objectivist reasons.

But modernist theories of knowledge still incorporate distinctively masculine concepts and practices, and a fully developed and coherent feminist science must await the political and social changes which will lead to a feminist society.

James Harris. You want to hold open the possibility of a unique feminist science and feminist logical justification without committing yourself to the kind of radical relativism which follows from a commitment to feminist science.

Whatever further developments take place in feminist theory, there's a theoretic limitation on how those developments can affect our view of the nature of scientific inquiry and human reason.

But the force of evidence of male bias is compelling only if we regard that evidence as objectively falsifying claims for universal and objective theories.

Bias can be recognized and evaluated only by following a set of unbiased objectively authoritative rules for proper theory construction, validation, and confirmation.

The scientific method is the only framework in which fraud can take place, be identified, and be corrected.

But both the value and the tyranny of reason is its repressive tolerance. It's rules and principles constrain what is true and legitimate but only within the context of allowing any and all objections considered from any and all perspectives.

Feminist. Feminist criticisms of modern science are re-affirmations of the fallibilism in which all beliefs based on warrant and evidence are held.

No belief whose warrant is supplied by scientific method is privileged to the point where it is immune to being overturned.

James Harris. If that's true, then fallibilism must also extend to the claims of feminists who defend a unique feminist science based on gender-distinguished cognitive abilities.

There must be an arena where the claims to that kind of science receive what warrant they can muster and are subjected to the same scrutiny to which the identified, male-biased claims were subjected.

And it's the same method and same use of reason which makes it possible for that scrutiny to take place.

The only way feminists can even explore, much less begin to resolve, the problems created by the fractured identities of women as black women, white women, yellow women, working class women, married women, heterosexual women, homosexual women, Marxist women, libertarian women, and so on, is by appealing to a method which provides a common ground on which argument, rejoinder, and resolution can take place.

Jane Roland Martin. Overgeneralizing from the data, selective use of data, a failure to ask key questions: those are mistakes in scientific procedure and method.

James Harris. If that's true, then it raises serious questions about the results of much scientific investigation.

James Harris. But possible mistakes are identifiable only because of the context made possible by the scientific method and the arena of free inquiry created by that scientific method.

Without assuming that kind of method, the accusation of sexist bias in science could not even rationally be made.

It is the method of scientific inquiry and not the results of the inquiry which is uniquely scientific.

Any results of scientific inquiry must receive whatever warrant they have by appealing to the method by which we finally came to arrive at those results, and the community of inquirers is essential in that regard.

Scientific inquiry cannot be a solitary process or even a process severely limited to a small select group of inquirers.

In some cases, that has meant that the scientific view has been limited and incomplete, and in other cases it has meant that the results of the inquiry have been biased or distorted.

We can identify the rules and principles which determine correct and incorrect application of scientific method only because of the unbiased nature of scientific inquiry.

Because we can correct science, we can explain progress in science when progress in other areas of human endeavor is so ambiguous and controversial.

It's because both scientific method and its results are, by their nature, systematically scrutinized, evaluated, and corrected that progress in science is both possible and necessary.

And what we learn from science is that we do learn science.

In science, we have a standard of progress by which we can determine in advance of testing a theory whether it would represent an advance on existing theories or not.

Without that kind of cornerstone of objectivity and bias-free inquiry, science becomes like art or music, with different sciences for different communities of people with different tastes based on differences in sex, race, or culture.

Science and the nature of scientific inquiry would then become mere matters of social, political, and perhaps aesthetic preferences, but such relativism in the case of human rationality and scientific inquiry is impossible.

The existence of a standard for measuring progress in science and the intrinsically rational structure of scientific method explain why we regard modern science so differently from the way in which we regard modern art and modern music.

Things do get settled in science.

Controversies, which themselves are essential to the nature of science, do get resolved.

In the short run, disagreements and controversies must rage in science because the very nature of science requires a public hearing for every new discovery and every new theory.

So whereas we can easily understand and tolerate a person who prefers only Baroque music or early Renaissance art, we cannot easily understand or tolerate a person who prefers alchemy or Nostradamus to modern science.

Paul Feyerabend. The idea of a fixed method, or of a fixed theory of rationality, rests on too naïve a view of humanity and its social surroundings.

There's only one principle that can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development.

It is the principle that anything goes.

James Harris. But what about those claims themselves. Any argument that total intellectual anarchism is preferable to traditional understandings of rationality and method confirms that same method.

Games with no rules are not games, science with no rules is not science, and metascience with no rules is not metascience.

To regularly appeal to using detailed and careful arguments for one's own cause proves the tolerance of scientific method.

Relativism appeals to arguments for its own cause, thereby proving the tolerance of rationality and scientific method.