From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Sun Aug 26 2001 - 02:07:43 MDT

David McDivitt writes

> I do not differentiate between classes or disciplines of knowledge, as
> in science compared to morality for instance. There are simply different
> contexts in which we devote similar forms of thought. Each contains
> protocols, authority, and experience. Each is a social endeavor.
> I do not agree with people who say morality does not exist because there
> are no facts to support it. What is a fact? Isn't a fact just what you,
> me, or someone has chosen to be significant? Saying there are no facts
> to support morality implies there are facts to support something else.
> Is anything really supported by facts? No. Not to me. Things are
> supported only by an argument someone makes, or the will of that person
> to make an argument.

Probably the nominalists are divided from us realists mostly by
terminological disagreements. I will argue that some of the
nominalist sentences above are nearly incoherant. Take "Isn't a
fact just what you, or me, or someone has chosen to be significant?"

Well, what is a "someone"? Is there a fact of the matter? In your
coordinate system, it appears that the following are fundamental:

 * people
 * will
 * significance
 * argument
 * context
 * thought

while realists regard "rocks", "trees", "people", etc., as fundamental.
Moreover, in our "web of belief", we can account for a great deal of
what happens in our world (to you, "in our model of the world") by
evolution. What really bugs you about calling "some birds can fly"
a fact?

Our epistemology is also in accordance with natural learning
among primates: babies are wired to recognize objects, numbers,
and faces, and they build up their higher order abstractions
(e.g., "thought", "context", "argument") on the backs of the
lower order abstractions only after many years of familiarity
with the latter.

> When you tell me what reality is, or is supposed to be, you are
> attempting to dictate to me what things to find significant and
> disregard.

No (especially on this list) we defend your right to make as
many errors as you like. It's just that some things, e.g.,
"the sun won't rise tomorrow" is erroneous. If you want to
take a correction as an attempt to control your thinking,
then you are being way too closeminded.

Lee Corbin

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