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ENC comments on Reductive Reference - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: ENC 04 April 2008 05:11:13AM 2 points [-]

"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."

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/

"Just: There are patterns that exist in reality where we see "hands", and these patterns have something in common, but they are not fundamental."

Reality is the space in which we observe trends that either bear out or contradict our beliefs. Reality seems to bear out a pattern corresponding with hands. Hands, then, correspond to something true about reality (even if it is just probably true, the probability is a true statement of something real.) We are not privy to the knowledge of how many removes we are away from the true experience of hands, but it isn't clear how one could convincingly argue the non-existence of a hand-like pattern OR that the bottom level of the territory corresponding to hands is more complex than the map we represent them on.

Otherwise stated: I cannot exclude the idea of the Bible being an exact account of creation. I can, however, disregard it in light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. If I do not disregard it then I must consider it on equal grounds with all "accounts" of creation and concede the utter impossibility of making a decision. To me, it is not clear how a human brain could be capable of granting equal weight of truth to mutually exclusive possibilities without a bit of cognitive dissonance or intellectual dishonesty.

So when something is not excluded by the evidence, you may either a.) acknowledge the high degree of probability that the unsupported claim is false (rationality); b.) disregard the evidence and believe in it anyway (irrationality); c.) see who can make the most unintentionally ironic assertion about the lacunae in the evidence holding more weight than the evidence itself (arationality.)

I don't see any likelihood for the existence of evidence of reality contradicting itself (thereby becoming non-reality.) I can't even fathom what form that evidence might take. Therefore I call reality objective and work within it as if it were. I'm open to the possibility of this not being true, but a person telling me "it might not be true" is not enough to forestall my effort at evaluating the trends I seem to see.

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.