The Debate about Funding Basic Science

The comment below concerns the article here:

I find the issue of objectivity/subjectivity to be where some critical mistakes are commonly made, and have three points here: i). Issues must be assessed objectively. ii). Good/bad is naturally subjective. iii). The nature of ultimate good/bad does still require definition.

i). When a given idea of good/bad is being considered, such as “Should more public money be devoted to general science research?” maintaining an objective position can be difficult. This is presumably because we’re all naturally selfish, and thus tend to let our own personal interests taint such assessments. In this post Massimo Pigliucci seems to have done a good job of building an objective assessment, while Michael White quite clearly seems to have let his own interests taint his assessments. In fact this seems to be such a common problem that we often don’t even complain when we see such subjectivity, and perhap just ask to hear the other side as well. I do find this unfortunate however. As mother always said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right!” Though it may be appropriate for a lawyer to represent his/her client in a biased manner, such subjectivity in science and philosophy shall simply bring failed assessments on each side.

ii). The tables then become turned regarding that which is good/bad itself, since this will always be subjective. This can be an even greater problem since it commonly isn’t formally understood (and yes even though Coel keeps mentioning, “Objective good does not exist!”). Nevertheless those who do formally understand good/bad to be subjective, do need to set this example and thus formally state exactly who’s good is to be promoted for any such question. (I suppose Massimo thought it clear that the subject here was “America,” though formal declarations can still be useful since other subjects may be substituted, and we also must not propagate the myth of “objective good.”)

iii). Then the final piece of the puzzle here happens to be “meta.” What exactly is ultimately good/bad for a given subject? It isn’t difficult to see why such discussions can become nauseating for those in the business, since this issue has exhaustively been explored for thousands of years without much consensus. Will we here do any better, or instead produce beaten down meta-ethics speculation? And if only the latter, perhaps we must then each just develop our own faiths from which to live by? I do, however, hope that youthful optimism can emerge once again!

The answer which I propose is “qualia.” I see this as a crucial engineering feature which permitted non-conscious minds (such as the computers we build) to evolve into conscious minds. Given this punishment/reward aspect to reality, good/bad for any given subject over a given period of time, will be the magnitude of its positive qualia minus the negative. So what is the best use of public funds regarding science research? Whatever brings the greatest amount of happiness for any given subject.


2 Comments on “The Debate about Funding Basic Science”

  1. I saw this link at Scientia Salon and I think your definition of “good” and the central importance of it based on your definition are wrong. You seem to be traversing my work in your posts and it seems that you have taken a turn towards it that is disguised to promote your own views. In other words, you have noted key points I have made at Scientia Salon in the past and probably read my work free on the net, but you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge it. That’s my reading. My work is merely used by you to give you confidence to oppose the likes of “Coel” and “Marko”. They are complete duds in my view, so you are at least on the right track there – their arguments can be disintegrated.

    Good is by reasoning – logic about facts we observe. There is pain & pleasure, but neither of those is “good” unless it has a clear logical basis for ourselves and the world around us. The only condition to this is that humans would need to have a very high level of competence with logic and a very clear and comprehensive view of facts in the world to use reasoning effectively. Otherwise, we would be just fumbling and unable to have any “universal” confidence in being “good”. The obvious missing piece, which you probably know already, is the comprehensive Design to the human anatomy clearly presented in my work. With that Design, we can indeed have confidence that our reasoning is sufficiently comprehensive and our facts well identified enough to be “good” in reasoning and proceed to actions accordingly.

    As you know, I have a complete theory and I do not waffle. My recommendation to you, as you appear to have been swayed by my work, it to admit it. Just quote from it directly and clear up the mess in your arguments properly. I have found many blogs adopt my ideas, which are completely new and original and unlike others, and they also do not acknowledge it. A classic case is “Conscious Entities” where “computationalists” have done a complete about-face on the bases for “mind” without naming my book of course, and by using twisted obtuse reasoning to justify their “new view” because they cannot admit the source – it would detract from their new brilliant insights of course to admit they took it from someone else!

    Human nature is low, but hopefully it will be raised slowly by my work over time. You can object to my view that you have read some of my many posts at Scientia as Marcus Morgan or my pseudonym John Smith, where links are always provided and the work can be accessed by clicking my name at any time. Your “new insights’ and “confidence” suggest to me that you have, as have many others in the same way. Straighten up, that’s my advice.

    • Hi Marcus,

      I’m happy with your interest, but then your comment does seem contradictory. You tell me that my definition of good happens to be wrong, and then claim that I’ve stolen ideas which you’ve developed. Actually no, I’m not familiar with you, though if your ideas do happen to be similar to my own then I would very much like to become familiar. Personally I’ve never been worried about others stealing my ideas since I’ve had them quite well documented for a good while. In fact I’d love for others to actually ‘steal my ideas’ and make them famous, since this would save me some difficult work.

      I certainly do not oppose “Coel” and “Marko” however, so I doubt that your ideas could be all that similar. Of course it is possible that some have independently discovered what I have, but this will all become settled once there is something tangible for us all to fight over. Right now we’ve got nothing anyway so it is a bit amusing that you’re already telling me that I’ve stolen your ideas.

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