[extropy-chat] what is probability?

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Jan 11 18:20:26 UTC 2007

John K Clark wrote:

> Jef Allbright <jef at jefallbright.net> Wrote:
>> it has been traditional for some people to (misleadingly) 
>> label these as "laws", as if they were absolutely decreed,
>> rather than derived via a subjective process of
>> observation and sense-making refinement.
> Jef, if everything is subjective then nothing is subjective, 
> for something to be meaningful you need contrast. Suppose 
> that everything that exists and everything that does not 
> exist, everything you can imagine and everything you can't 
> imagine has the property of being bloxinated. Do you think 
> the word "bloxinated" is likely to be useful to you, can you 
> imagine any reason to use it in a sentence? I can't.

Although too busy to reply the last few days, I did spend some time
pondering the source of our differences here.  I suspect we're using the
term "subjective" differently.  Many people think of subjectivity as if
it were not grounded, and I think you're assuming that usage.  I see
misunderstanding of subjectivity at the heart of nearly all the
perennial problems of philosophy, due to the pervasive misbelief that a
subjective agent can somehow be independent of such grounding in the
"real" world. [Apologies for the scare-quoting, but it's for a purpose.]

Subjectivity is often thought of simply as personal bias. This idea is
so narrow that it leads to the disagreement we're having here, where you
seem to take subjective as implying no basis for comparison. But in a
more useful encompassing sense, these biases are the merely the result
of *limited context* ranging from purely subjective to purely objective.
There are no actual cases of truly independent subjective views--we all
share a great deal of context in common--and we most certainly can
compare and evaluate subjective models, most successfully by a process
known as the scientific method.

Please consider:

* I have little tolerance for those who promote equal tolerance for all

* I think that moral relativism is morally wrong.

* While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, our eyes and cognitive
structures hold much in common.

* I see increasing diversity as providing the source material for
increasing agreement.

Can you see from the points above that I'm not defending the
simple-minded view of subjectivity which you appear to be attacking?
>> The very high statistical regularity of "random" radioactive
>> decay
> My use of quotation marks in "this" sentence is as foolish as 
> your use of quotation marks above. Let me ask you something, 
> can you give me a logical reason why every event must have a 
> cause? I can't.

You and I and Hume would agree with regard to the problem of induction.

However, despite having no visible means of support, life goes on.
Rather than being paradoxical, this is a valid observation about the
inherently subjective nature of any reflexive system of awareness.

- Jef

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