Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Peter_Turney comments on No Safe Defense, Not Even Science - Less Wrong

14 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 May 2008 05:19AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (66)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Peter_Turney 18 May 2008 02:30:46PM 10 points [-]

I agree with your general view, but I came to the same view by a more conventional route: I got a PhD in philosophy of science. If you study philosophy of science, you soon find that nobody really knows what science is. The "Science" you describe is essentially Popper's view of science, which has been extensively criticized and revised by later philosophers. For example, how can you falsify a theory? You need a fact (an "observation") that conflicts with the theory. But what is a fact, if not a true mini-theory? And how can you know that it is true, if theories can be falsified, but not proven? I studied philosophy because I was looking for a rational foundation for understanding the world; something like what Descartes promised with "cogito ergo sum". I soon learned that there is no such foundation. Making a rational model of the world is not like making a home, where the first step is to build a solid foundation. It is more like trying to patch a hole in a sinking ship, where you don't have the luxury of starting from scratch. I view science as an evolutionary process. Changes must be made in small increments: "Natura non facit saltus".

One flaw I see in your post is that the rule "You cannot trust any rule" applies recursively to itself. (Anything you can do, I can do meta.) I would say "Doubt everything, but one at a time, not all at once."