Re: PHIL: Dynamic Optimism as a tool in logical reasoning

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Fri Jan 21 2000 - 09:59:01 MST

> Is a failure to find something that disproves a theory A enough
> support to start believing in theory A ? I think not. I think
> that before stepping on to the ice and trusting in the theory that
> the ice is thick enough to support you, one primarily wants
> positive proof.

Every action in life is gambling: if some people aren't comfortable
with that, well, then they need to get over it. These arguments are
meaningless without numbers attached to them. There's no such thing
as "positive proof" and never will be, but one can count up or
estimate total observations and confirming observations and calculate
useful probability measures to base actions upon. For that matter,
if the numbers are right, it might be perfectly rational to base
actions on a theory that _has_ already been falsified: take Newtonian
mechanics for example. We know that it's not true, but it is
nonetheless completely rational to build a bridge using nothing else,
because we have enough experience with it to raise the probability of
it's being successful within the limits of bridge-building to near
certainty. No probability of success will ever be 1.00, but that's
just a fact of life. Accomplishment requires courage: the ability to
commit oneself to a course of action based on the best available
evidence, and leave those waiting for "positive proof" in the dust.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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