Re: virus: Logical beliefs

Robin Faichney (
Wed, 04 Jun 1997 10:01:12 -0600

David McF wrote:
>At 11:39 AM 03/06/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:
>> say that most
>>instinctive action is rational. When people talk about the
>>rationality or otherwise of action, what they almost always
>>mean is defn #1: using reason or logic in thinking out a
>>problem. Which is the exact opposite of acting
>OK, we're making good progress now.

I'm not so sure. :-(

>I think that instincts
>*do* use logic.

Not "in thinking", they don't!

>All organisms have evolved to embody information
>about their environment...
>Some organisms are hard-wired, some
>are somewhat plastic

I'd say all are hard-wired, some are also somewhat plastic.

>some are sufficiently complex that they
>can simulate the actions in their head and "let their ideas
>die in their stead" (I think Mayr said that). The latter kinds
>are more flexible, but not qualitatively different. They embody
>information and rules about their environment and goals, and use
>them to act.

But isn't there a qualitative difference between genetically
transmitted information and the learned or logically deduced
sort? You see, seems to me the genetic sort only accords
with logic because logic is deliberately designed to accord
with reality. Successful action obviously has to accord with
reality, but it's only rational in the trivial sense that anything
that accords with reality is. What "rational action" generally
means, on the other hand, is action that is made to accord
with reality by means of rationality -- ie "reason or logic in
thinking". To use "rational" merely to mean "realistic" is to
debase an otherwise very useful word.

>To sum up, I'll claim that in order to act logically (I'll stay
>away from that "r" word for now), something must act in accordance
>with rules of logic but it doesn't have to consciously think about
>rules of logic.

What sort of claim is that? What are you trying to achieve
here? Is this an insight into the way the world works, or
just a redefinition of a word? Looks like the latter, to me,
and a very unhelpful redefinition, at that. Surely, what's
"logical" should use logic? Otherwise, an apple is being
logical when it falls from the tree. And the concept is
diluted to the point of uselessness.

>For example a computer has logical behavior but
>doesn't (necessarily) have a mind. Can everyone agree on that much?

I'm not clear what "has logical behavior" means, and I'm
far from sure that having a mind is relevant. Sorry!