RE: Philosophy vs. rigor

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sun Oct 24 2004 - 13:20:21 MDT

At 01:52 PM 10/24/2004 -0400, Ben wrote:

>I've written at length about philosophy of science, so you can read my views

< In this essay I present a somewhat novel approach to the philosophy of
science, to which I give the awkward name "sociological/computational
probabilism" (SCP)[1].

My main goal in formulating this approach has been to develop a
philosophical perspective that does justice to both the relativism and
sociological embeddedness of science, and the objectivity and rationality
of science. I have also been motivated by an interest in clarifying the
relationship between probability theory and the validation of scientific

The SCP philosophy has its roots in several different places, most notably:

    * contemporary mathematical learning theory, particularly probability
theory and the theory of algorithmic information
    * Imre Lakatos' and Paul Feyerabend's conflicting but related
philosophies of science

It draws ideas from these sources, but adheres precisely to none of them.>

Which reminds me a little of what I dubbed, equally lumpishly, `stochastic
emergent schematism', in THEORY AND ITS DISCONTENTS (1997):

<If one had to give it a name (although my suggested name, alas, is not
very catchy), one might dub it `stochastic emergent schematism'. In common
with current cognitive science, my approach emphasises the role in all
complex adaptive systems - including individual humans, and our various
cultural surrounds - of schemata or models mapped within the brain and
nervous system. Organised systems that evolve to use such schemata are
notably emergent, generating regular patterns by no means simply
predictable from a `bottom-up' reductive analysis of their elementary
components. And this unpredictable predictability is why one needs to
stress the stochastic or random aspect of complex phenomena, which occur on
a boundary between crystalline order and chaotic turbulence. In the recent
summary of Nobel laureate physicist Murray Gell-Mann:
             "The common feature of all these processes is that in each one
a complex adaptive system acquires information about its environment and
its own interaction with that environment, identifying regularities in that
information, condensing those regularities into a kind of `schema' or
model, and acting in the real world on the basis of that schema. In each
case, there are various competing schemata, and the results of the action
in the real world feed back to influence the competition among those
schemata." >

Damien Broderick

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