What I Stand For Part II: Meta SciencePosted: December 6, 2020
In the first installment of this series I addressed a topic that’s been important to me since I was a teen. It was then that I realized that each and every one of us are self interested products of our circumstances, and in contrast with our standard righteous moral assertions otherwise. I decided that the reason we deny and denounce our nature in this regard is because “selfish” is exactly what we are. Thus we rightly reason that others will tend to treat us better if we can convince them that we consider our happiness to largely depend upon their interests. Here outwardly denying our personal selfishness can ironically be the selfish way to go. (It’s essentially salesmanship 101. Have you ever met a successful salesperson who didn’t portray themselves to have their customers’ interests in mind while at work?)
I refer to this as the evolved social tool of morality, and it seems to exist to help a fundamentally self interested variety of creature function more productively under social settings. So strong does this tool seem to be that our mental and behavioral sciences have not yet been formally taken up in an amoral capacity, which is to say in the manner that harder forms of science are naturally explored. I believe that without formally acknowledging that “feeling good” constitutes the welfare of anything for which welfare exists, that these forms of science will continue to expand sideways rather than up.
(The behavioral science of economics seems to be an exception to this rule — it actually is founded upon the premise that happiness constitutes the value of existing. Apparently this has been permitted because it’s far enough from the central field of psychology to not overtly challenge the social tool of morality. Thus here we have a behavioral science with a central thesis from which to build, and so has been able to display a “hardness” which more central behavioral fields like psychology and sociology have not yet been able to.)
While I consider this observation to have done me well over the majority of my life, after I began intensely blogging on the topic I realized that science was in need of effective principles of epistemology and metaphysics as well as axiology, and so all three domains of philosophy. And though science sprang from philosophy in recent centuries to utterly transform our species, modern philosophers seem to jealously guard their independence and fervently denounce criticism for their inability to come up with any agreed upon principles in these regards so far. Thus here we seem to have a key to progress in science, but it formally lies under the heading of a defensive community which seems culturally bred to believe that it’s unable to provide what scientists need in this regard. So how might science nevertheless gain various effective principles of metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology from which to work, and so progress where it hasn’t so far been able to?
My suggestion (and the topic of this post) is that we’ll need to develop an initially small community of “quasi-philosophers” who differ from the standard variety in the sense that their only understood mission would be to become a respected community armed with various agreed upon principles from which to help science function more effectively than it has in the past. If traditional philosophers in general wouldn’t mind letting this second community reside under some separate classification of “philosophy”, then I’d also endorse that term. Otherwise however this community could be referred to as “meta scientists”.
Furthermore I’ve developed four such principles from which to potentially help improve the institution of science. The first of them is my single principle of metaphysics. It observes that science is destined to fail to the extent that causality itself does. The practical effect of this would be to divide general science into an entirely causal institution, whereas scientists unable to comply with this mandate would need to cultivate their ideas under a “causal plus” second variety, or effectively one open to the existence of “magic”.
Next there is my first principle of epistemology which gets into the nature of definition. It obligates an evaluator to accept the implicit and explicit definitions of a proposer in the attempt to assess what’s being proposed. This lies in contrast with the “ordinary language” approach of certain philosophers, though we do each seek rules of order so that evaluators might consider various issues by means of the definitions which proposers actually mean. The difference seems to be that I consider it important for theorists to freely develop definitions associated with the nature of their ideas, whereas they consider it important for theorists to work under the constraints of common terms usages (and though these in themselves seems highly variable and so can create definitional disparities).
My second principle of epistemology essentially addresses the procedure of science, and goes beyond it as well. It states that there is only one process by which any qualia based function (which is to say the kind which is “conscious” as I define it), consciously figures anything out. To do so it takes what it thinks it knows, or “evidence”, and uses this to assess what it’s not so sure about, or “a model”. As a given model continues to remain consistent with evidence, it tends to become progressively more believed.
Then finally there is my single principle of axiology, which I began with here and was the topic of the first post of this series. If we cannot formally acknowledge the nature of “value” which drives the function of the conscious entity (and whether this failure is fostered by the social tool of morality or not), then we simply should not have a solid platform regarding our nature from which to effectively build. Apart from the science of economics this seems to be the situation that our mental and behavioral sciences remain in today.
Though these “meta scientists” would be proposing such principles (and they might be made up of scientists, traditional philosophers, or otherwise), the ultimate arbiter of which principles this community accepts would be regulated by their practical effect within the institution of science itself. This is to say that scientists in general should end up validating or refuting what’s proposed. Otherwise most notably I suspect that our mental and behavioral forms of science will continue to expand sideways rather than up.