Contra David Miller : Confusing Fact and Value


Regarding theories:
–“they are nothing more than conjectures or guesses about the unknown state of the world.”–

–“the principal function of experience in science is to eliminate mistakes”–

–“The principal function of science in technology is again to eliminate mistakes.”–

–“Neither experience in science, nor science in technology, can determine that a problem has been solved in an ideal way. The best that they can tell us is that we could have done worse.”–

-David Miller


I want to state David Miller’s arguments somewhat differently, by converting them from the language of perception and experience, to the language of action and economics in time. The reason is that objective language assumes discounts that are the equivalent of something more than platonism and less than magic.

Solving something an ‘ideal way’ cannot be stated without consideration of time and cost. As such, the ‘idea way’ that something can be done to satisfy a need is the ideal at that is available at the lowest cost at that moment in time.

Induction was a biological necessity given that costs for organisms competing in nature are extremely high, and kept high through competition, just as costs of time and opportunity are very high in the market due to competition.

But, induction tells us only about available opportunities for further action, neither about (a) the probability of expanding explanatory power, or about (b) the limit of utility in expanding explanatory power.

Induction as a statement of PROBABILITY is an example of the ludic fallacy. If we could determine probabilities that would mean the set of possible permutations would be finite. But given that we have no idea what the ideal solution is to most problems we cannot conduct probabilities. But this criticism is not the only one available. Since efficiency of any given figure action in any given future where we have more knowledge, is determined by the total cost of arriving at that minus the intermediate rewards of production. Further, there are points at which no further increase in precision (efficiency) provides a return that covers the cost of the investment, until we invent additional utility to be obtained from the investment that has been made to date.

However, for the purposes of action, our guesswork is informed by induction as a means of identifying opportunities for expansion of our efforts, and it does tell us what further actions are available for us to investigate, and test.

The principle function of the ‘logics’ and ‘methods’ is to reduce error through physical and logical instrumentation. That instrumentation allows us to test our imagination (or theories) against the real world, and limits our mind’s biases in the interpretation of those real world stimuli. This testing is made possible by reducing that which we could not sense without instrument and method, to analogy to experience which we can sense, perceive, compare and test given the help of symbol, measure, instrument and method.

While we cannot prove that a general statement about the world are true, we can prove that specific instances of statements about the world are false. As such, we can say that science has demonstrated X to be false, but we cannot state that science has demonstrated X to be true. We can say however, that given our current knowledge the current candidates for truth available for further action are A, B and C. And we can also say that any further refinement of A,B or C would not sufficiently change the current argument about X, such that it would make any difference at this moment.

You cannot be sufficiently certain of anything such that you can use it in an argument to demand my agreement. You can only seek to obtain my consent by eliminating the possibility or desirability of my position in contrast to yours. This constrains science to voluntary consent, and does not allow science to override the contract for voluntary cooperation we enter when we enter into debate.

**The difference between physical science and engineering, as between mathematics and computer science, is simply the UTILITARIAN VALUE we attach to either (a) the product of the test and (b) the extension of deductive power that results from the test. In either case the method is the the same.**

Scientific language is LOADED with these value judgements, and it is this LOADING of scientific language with VALUE JUDGEMENTS that generally distracts us (pretty much all of us) from the fact that there is no difference at all in our actions or methods no matter what theory we pursue, but there is a great difference in which products we value.

Science can be LOADED with this language because unlike other fields, science ignores costs in exchange for pursuing truths. Whereas, in all other disciplines, costs and utility are the equivalent of truth, since truth is time dependent for the purpose of satisfying human wants and desires.

***By failing to articulate our ideas in operational language we hide these incentives, and reasons from our discourse. And we are rapidly confused when we argue as if they are differences in fact, when they are but a difference in value.***

As such:
**As opportunity costs decrease, demand for truth increases.**
**As opportunity costs increase, demand for utility increases.**

This is the supply demand curve for truth and utility.

An individual who seeks to estimate his own costs and utility is different from another individual demanding costs from third parties regardless of utility.

It is a subjective preference, but not a difference in method. All theorizing is the same. We may not make truth claims about our theories, but that does not mean that we cannot LOGICALLY choose how to act on them.

I guess I should say more clearly that I see scientific pursuit of truth independent of opportunity cost, and necessity for production, as one of the ultimate signs of conspicuous consumption and privilege.

The same applies to progressives who ignore the cost of norms and treat them as non-existent, as a means of signaling their conspicuous consumption.

One of the externalities produced by western aristocratic philosophy, and its permanent placement in our values, is the demonstration of one’s independence from the market for norms, and the market for production, as the ultimate source of signaling their conspicuous consumption. This is the level that all artists, journalists, and public intellectuals all seek as well.


Unfortunately, the material rewards for ORGANIZING PRODUCTION in the private sector, and ORGANIZING EXTORTION in the private sector, are more materially rewarding, than organizing RENTS and STATUS SEEKING in the non-commercial sector.

Just as economists should be better trained as philosophers, most philosophers would better trained if they understood economics. And both would be better of if they understood all human behavior was in fact, economic: equilibrium exchanges in pursuit of signals, opportunities, alliances, and mates.

So as far as I can tell, the scientific method is a continuous one independent of any form of problems solving, and argument to the contrary is the use of obscurant language to ridicule others for the fact that they must pay costs in time, and that scientists can signal their privilege of acting independently in time – and nothing else.

Science may be useful for signaling purposes, but we should not let our signaling purposes interfere with our understanding that all theoretical processes work the same, and must work that way, and that the criticism that we make of one another is over the ECONOMICS of using knowledge for the purpose of persuasion and signaling.

As such, the output of any process can be easily categorized as (a) amusement, (b) production (transformation), (c ) knowledge and (d) signal , – or some combination of all four, in exchange for material and/or opportunity costs in real time. But truth, and honesty, and ethics dictate that we understand that any process we follow consist in the value we attach to each output and who benefits from each output at the cost of whom?

— Curt Doolittle

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