Re: virus: Logical beliefs

David McFadzean (
Wed, 04 Jun 1997 10:01:50 -0600

At 07:00 PM 03/06/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:

>>I think that instincts
>>*do* use logic.
>Not "in thinking", they don't!

True, but that is precisely the point of contention (so
that, in itself, cannot be taken as evidence one way or
the other).

>>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.

Yes, that's what I meant. Additionally, some are plastic...

>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

I don't think so. There is a continuum between these types of
information. Obviously there is a quantitative difference, otherwise
adaptive intelligence would not have evolved.

>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.

But I am not using the term "rational" as a synonym for "realistic".
I do not think the earth is behaving rationally by orbiting the sun.
The term only applies when talking about intentional agents, i.e.
systems that can be attributed beliefs and goals for predictive purposes.

>>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

You totally lost me there. How is that a redefinition? Are you
saying that acting logically is somehow different than acting
in accordance with logic?

>"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.

I agree. But I don't think you have to be conscious of using
logic in order to use logic. Anything that is hardwired to
use logic (organism or artifact) uses logic.

>>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!

I mean its behavior has logical rules. If X and Y are true,
then do A otherwise do B. And I'm suggesting that having a mind
is not relevant (computers being one obvious example).

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus