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Perplexed comments on Reductive Reference - Less Wrong

20 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 03 April 2008 01:37AM

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Comment author: Perplexed 02 August 2010 01:14:00AM 0 points [-]

tpckac: "We do not know that the territory is single-level. It is conceivable that it is not, and the available evidence does not exclude the possibility."

ENC: "The available evidence does not support the possibility either. Lack of evidence actually is a form of evidence...for the opposing argument. http://lesswrong.com/lw/ih/absence_of_evidence_is_evidence_of_absence/"

Cool! A one-level territory beats a multi-level territory due to lack of evidence. Now all we need is some evidence that there is a one-level territory, rather than no territory at all ("maps all the way down").

It sure seems to me that the notion of territory is just not carrying any weight here. I can determine the truth of "snow is white" directly at the level where "snow" has a simple non-reductive meaning by simply looking at lots of snow. Or I can be a reductionist and examine crystals of H2O with spectroscopic equipment. I could do that even before anybody had even heard of quarks. And we will still be able to do it three centuries from now when the standard model has been replaced by superstrings or whatever. I just don't need territory. I can be just as reductionist as I like using maps.

And even if we had a Theory of Everything in hand, how have we gained anything by calling the lowest-level map "The Territory"? Or is it that "territory" represents The One Shared Reality, whereas maps are inside people's minds - we have 6 billion of them floating around. Cuz if maps are (objective) mathematical objects with (objective) platonic existences of their own, I don't really see the need for a Territory - how is it different from a map?

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 02 August 2010 01:38:45AM 1 point [-]

the map is in your head, the territory is not.