Re: virus: Logical beliefs

David McFadzean (
Wed, 04 Jun 1997 17:20:35 -0600

At 10:14 AM 04/06/97 +0100, Robin Faichney wrote:

>>True, but that is precisely the point of contention...
>That wasn't clear to me. I might have come in late on this
>thread. But to drop "in thinking" is either to depart from the
>dictionary defn (#1) or to equivocate between defn #1 and
>#2 or #3, isn't it?

I admit I am departing from *a* dictionary definition, not the
dictionary definition. Definition #1 is a proper subset of
definition #2. Everything that can be called rational by #1
is also rational by #2.

And I am not equivocating so long as I stick to one definition:

Equivocation occurs when a key word is used with two or more
different meanings in the same argument. For example:

"What could be more affordable than free software?
But to make sure that it remains free, that users
can do what they like with it, we must place a license
on it to make sure that will always be freely

One way to avoid this fallacy is to choose your terminology
carefully before beginning the argument, and avoid words like
"free" which have many meanings.

>>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.
>OK, we're not going to reach agreement on this without
>getting into *much* more detail, and very likely not even
>then. Basically, I would say that in such cases there is
>no absolutely clear distinction between qualitative and
>quantitative. You choose which suits your purposes.
>So I say there's a significant difference between these
>different types of system, and you say that difference
>isn't significant to you. We have different agendas.

I'm saying that you are missing important insights by staying
with the restricted definition.

For instance, the common definition of "see" is to perceive
with eyes. Then I come along and start using it to mean
perceive with understanding (which encompasses and expands the
old definition). I now know what people are talking about when
they say they "see" an argument even though there is nothing visual
to see at all. If you keep the old definition then you would say
these people are either mistaken or confusing matters by using
a nonstandard definition or both.

>>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
>But that's a subjective attribution! I can say "the tree intended
>to drop the apple", and there's no way you can disprove it!

Yes and true. But it is not meant to be a scientific (refutable)
claim. It is only meant to be useful. You can certainly say that
about the tree, but do the implications make any sense? Why does
the tree want to drop the apple? Can the tree choose not to drop
the apple? I don't think so.

>>Anything that is hardwired to
>>use logic (organism or artifact) uses logic.
>But I don't think you can define "hardwired to use logic"
>to include instincts while excluding apple trees and solar
>systems. Can you?

Good question. Defining what uses logic may be as hard to nail
down as who has mind, intentionality, free will. I'll have to
think about this some more.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus