« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#62 — What is True?

2017-01-21 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with psychologist Jordan B. Peterson about freedom of speech and the nature of truth.

SUBSCRIBE to listen to the rest of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast at samharris.org/subscribe.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
But today I am speaking with a guest to many of you may not have heard of. He is a clinical psychologist at the University of Toronto by the name of Jordan, Peterson. Who has become quite famous online recently for standing in opposition to changes to the human rights coat in Ontario Canada that have really direct relevance to him. Ass, a professor and he's been on many different podcast, Joe Rogan Dave, Reuben, GAD sad. I think so. You know many people who you may also listen to have interviewed him and he is actually, as I say, the beginning of this interview. Most requested guest I've had at this point by all of you, I can't tell you how many people have emailed me or tweeted at me demanding that I have Jordan on the past has really, in anticipation of
not talking about free speech, but about his beliefs about religion and its importance. The connection between religious truth and scientific truth. The importance of mythology all. This is a step that has come out in his other interviews, which many atheists and secularists have found both perplexing and inspiring. I have seen many atheists say that this Jordan is giving a the first construed of religion that I find hard to grapple with. That is interesting. That seems more or less important, and intellectually honest. So many many of you have wanted to get the two of us together so that we could presumably but heads on these topics. So I did invite Jordan on the podcast and you are about to hear that conversation, and I am
as I say the end going to rely on all of you to figure out what happened, because, from my point of view, we got bogged down on a very narrow point of more than just philosophical interest. We got bogged down on what it means to say that something is true or not and to my eye, we didn't take that analysis very far. Because we immediately hit rather significant impediment and difference of opinion about what is entailed there, and I just couldn't get Jordan to agree on some facts that seem so basic to me that I was uncovered moving forward on other topics until we iron that out and it took more than two hours to get to a point where I thought well. This is this is a good starting point. We will see whether based on me, the public reception to this weather,
useful to move on, to talk about morality and myth and religion and all the rest. I wanted to be my best self for the rest of that conversation, and I just I was running out of energy and patience. They're, so I decided to pull the brakes, but you you, you know, have two hours of me in Jordan: putting heads on a variety of topics related to scientific, a ology for lack of a better word. Please judged for yourselves how we did and what was going on. There is not absolutely clear to me what we disagree about, but you'll hear me attempt to push really as hard as I could to get some answers there and
and I really dont feel that I got them so the fault could absolutely be mine, and I will rely on you to inform me of that. So I don't wear this best done perhaps on read it, but somebody bring my attention to what you said here of anything useful get said in response to this pike. These are all experiments in conversation. Now I bring you another one Please enjoy my conversation with Jordan Petersen. I am here Jordan, Petersen, Jordan, thanks for coming down the path cast, my pleasure thanks for the invitation. Listen you you have the distinction of being. I think without question person who my listeners most requested, that I talk to someone Actually people really want here what you have to say? Yes, well I think they wanna hear what we both have to say so and hopefully we can We can manage that in a way to go.
So we will not be good as far as I'm concerned axiom very hot for having an interesting conversation here. I think you know you seem to set really be everywhere on the internet and Andy, but on many other podcast, and I think we should talk briefly about the reasons why you suddenly become so visible, but I dont think which has spent a lot of time on them. I think, that's territory where you and I will almost fully converge and I think that's not what people are most interested in having us talk about, but to just people up to speed with what's been happening with you and why you ve been so visible. All of a sudden, less talk briefly about the free speech issues, the gender pronoun issues, what happening in Canada around this bill C. Sixteen in the gender provision in the Ontario Human Rights Code, just bring us up speed therein. I again, I think we should spend, probably no more than ten minutes or so there we'll move on to areas where you and I may not fully agree. Ten minutes will be plenty of net.
Canada moved at the federal level level to decide to do some legislation that, on the surface of it, seems more or less in keeping with the extension of human rights protection to different groups that's been occurring say over the last thirty to fifty years. This time they extended protection to gender identity and gender expression hum the first problem without, although by no means the worst problem, is that gender equality?
Russia is not a groom and as far as I can tell from reading the on terror, Human Rights Commission website policies which the federal government announced day that the provisions of Bill C sixteen would be interpreted within its now. You can now from provisionally heap prosecuted under the hate crime. He cried legislations tenderly for criticising someone's choice of sanction and are not being cynical about that. That's the on terrorism in rice, commission policies describe gender expression as the manner in which people present themselves through such well doing everyday activities like shopping through the choice of clothes and dress, and the idea that that requires protection of that magnitude. Well, I think it's I think it's
If you keep extending rights, all you do is weaken them. Don't you write for some one person's rights for another person's responsibilities in anyway? That's not the worst of it. The worst of it is that the cold war on terror Provisions which are like lurking behind the federal law on are already law in Ontario require the use of these so called preferred pronouns. If someone requests them- and I have a variety of objections to that, the most fundamental of which is, I believe them the manufactured pronouns, Z and preserve the fifty sort of variants of those are just for a moment described, yeah what you're referring to them. I think even among
my audience. This is in our Kane topic. What are these manufactured pronouns? Well there. It's dogma, I would say, among the radical laughed at gender, is a social construct and that there are multiple variants of gender, gender identity and some of those don't fit neatly into male female classifications. The legislation says that people can inhabit any position on that spectrum, work or not be on the spectrum at all between male and female, which course I find that particular claim essentially incomprehensible, anyways. The theory is that who are known binary, which is the terminology are entitled to be referred to by pronouns other than he or she, which include a which would I supposed need it most
compromise and then a host of other pronounce that have appeared basically out of the void over the last ten years, including words like Z and Sir and which would be HIV are and then there's a truly those like seventy different sets of them, and there is no agreement what's the weather on which ones should be used, and none of them have entered popular parlance because they're bound solutions to the problem the legislation on the last necessitates their use- and this is the first time that can The government has moved to make a particular kind of speech. Content mandatory in all. There are certain limitations on speed. Although not very many of them, but this is the first time out of the commercial round that the actual contents of speech had been made
mandatory, and my particular objection to this- is that I believe- and I think, have good evidence for believing that these Meda, pronounced these manufacture. Pronouns are part of the lexicon of the radical postmodern, slash New Marxist last, and it's part of their general agenda to occupy the linguistic territory that we use for common parlance, and I don't like their philosophy that I regard it as reprehensible to say the least, and because of that I am not willing to cede linguistic territory the to them, certainly not by being forced to use. Guinea logically would saturated ass an ideologically such saturated lexicon and so on. Said I wouldn't do it. I made a video on three videos actually complaining about now.
Say criticising bill C. Sixteen in the background legislation which also by the way, makes employers responsible for any word that their employees utter it causes anyone any all. Attended or unintended where, or not the employer, knows that that utterance occurred. So it seems to me, debate on the draft pony inside, but I think is in keeping with the same philosophy which is by no means pro business, and there are other elements of what's going on in the back other equally reprehensible from Canada. Ontario has set up social justice tribunals, that's their technical name, which gives you some insight into their person and into their staffing. And there was the antivirus human Rights Commission and eight basically decided that they have the right decision. And normal legal proceedings, normal legal and judicial procedure, and that they can more or less ascribed to them.
I whatever right stay whenever powers they choose and that's written into policy statements, and so I am not very happy about any of that, and so also at the same time, the University of Toronto made mandatory for their human resources. Employees to undergo Annette which is biased, training against racism, which is also something again that I dont, I dont believe the science forgot lamenting unconscious bias. As is anywhere near it back to the point where it should be used, ass, diagnostic indicator of the potential prejudice, oven of entire classes of people- and am I don't think, there's any question that is the tool is too weak to do that. Sir by the standards of appropriate cycle magic tests, and there is certainly no evidence that these training programmes that are popping up anywhere do any good with regards to prejudice and a fair bit that they actually make it worse.
Right so anyways. I may do videos opposed to them on my Youtube Channel, mostly I did it very late at night, and I was just trying to think this stuff through you know to get up get straight, my head and to an end and to lay out the argument in well. The response to them was absolutely insane reason. There was a hundred and eighty two separate newspapers articles written to protest at the university Toronto? When I received two warning letters from the administration and a letter of sand, Sure, from a number of my fellow academics and post docs and graduate students at the University of Toronto- and it was- it- was news literally yesterday- the Toronto star,
like a three thousand word biography of me in Toronto. Life, which is, I suppose, are equivalent to New Yorker, although not in the same league, he's going to publish a five thousand were, by a one man well administered, or to Joe Rogan and a whole bunch of other people for point out is being crazy, it's it's near. The reason for that is because I made something That was bubbling underneath the surface of our culture certainly bubbling under the surface of the earth. At the last election, I made it concrete and put forth my objections in inarticulate manner and it struck a chord with people and that is we'll news, not only in Canada, but it stretched its tentacles down to the states and and certainly into with no other way. Western Europe in Australia and New Zealand, I'm being interviewed in South Africa this weekend. In absolutely it's been like being in a shepherd
storm and on Europe and its founding. I can imagine you spend stressful I'm sure. Now it is your job at the University of Toronto in jeopardy. Is at the kind of community if you have received or well. I receive two warning letters, basically asking me to stop talking about this, based on the idea that even talk even mentioning the fact that I might not use these pronouns probably contravene the Anti Terror human Rights Code and also the university code of conduct. Although hypothetically the universe is, code of conduct is dominated by protection for free speech and so gonna, did the typical hr thing and got the lawyers on it and their conservative, and you know they warned me twice. I didn't stop talking about it, but then university was roundly criticised by a number of Canada's major journalists, including a coalition of a hundred newspapers and
they got a lot of bad press. The press actually turned in support of me quite hard about two weeks after the start when they started to investigate what I was told, about and found out that I actually knew what I was knew. What I was led. My claims word exaggerated by any stretch of the imagination, and so I've seen that criticism. I have paid attention to what you ve been saying on the topic and some people have said that you are at least mistaken about the the legal implications of these changes in the law or these rulings, but it seems to me you. The one thing you can't be mistaken about is the treatment you have received thus far in response to your saying. You won't use these pronouns if
University lawyers have been convinced that I was correct in my interpretation. They wouldn't have sent out a warning that I should stop doing it because it might be illegal. That's the best piece of proof supporting my my position that the law has this draconian element. Because you know they didn't send me those letters in cautiously, they had their lawyers, review the damn legislation and then came to the same conclusion that I did run so, and the two lawyers who have been making these claims that this legislation is far more innocuous that I'm making it out to be our both social activists, lawyers, and so they have on the other serious agenda and eat one of them Brenda Kaufman, told me well that I wouldn't go to jail, although that is a possibility, despite what she said, because
the law does have that power. All that would happen. Is it essentially, I could be financially ruined slack. Well, ok! Well, that's not draconian at all. You know me yeah soul. In the end, the entourage Human Rights Commission is managed furthermore, as lots of people's lives. It it's a kangaroo court, in my opinion, an and a very dangerous one at that. One thing we absolutely agree about is that freedom of beaches, not just one among many different values. It really is the master value, because the only corrective to human stupidity is the only mechanism by which we can improve our society, and in fact it is, is the value that allows us to improve our other values through Kostiei. That's exactly right. It's a fundamental value of its exact right, it's the fundamental value upon which our entire cultural edifice is predicated. Then I believe that that's part of the reason why the most modern radicals in particular, are
was to freedom of speech, because they don't really, they don't believe in dialogue. They don't believe in it, reality. They don't believe that groups who have different orientations of power can discuss there differences in a civilised manner and reach resolution, because that is how they see the world. That's how modernists see the world but Postmodernism still believe any of that, and they seriously don't believe that its no it's not a facade aurora. It's it's very entrenched part of their their philosophy, so that's partly why they don't like to why they more speakers who oppose their views from countless and why the perfect willing to shut them down and why they don't, you know why they have no platform in policies which is basically, The decision not to let anyone who holds alternative views have a forum, even in its because I was because they don't believe in in wrath,
dialogue and the possibility of reaching a solution through it there's something at least eyes face so wrong, headed about this pronoun campaign that it makes feel. Like I dont understand something about it, you know. There's there is this. There is something more the various lurking at the bottom of the sea, Canada You know, I know that you're, not a social construction. I know that you, like Steven Pinker, believe deeply that human behavior is. Profoundly influenced by its underlying biological, some street, which is another, we share but can't it has now written social construction is view of human identity into the law. So it's a lead oh, is legally, ah, It's illegal, at least in principle, to claim that biology, has anything to do with gender identity or that violence
the gender ended identity have anything to do with gender expression or that any of those three have anything to do with, social orientation in a man right and that's right, and into the law. So what the social justice where you are going to do next is to go after the biologists you know they did that with Eel Wilson. Already back in don't thirty years ago. You're doing in Germany right now, but the there's, an anti psychiatry scholarship established at the Anterior Institute for the study of education, which is a particularly pernicious institution, and it's no longer obvious, what sort of claim you can make us a scientist about the release ship between biology and and sex or the hypothetically separate gender identity. So that's the worst of the lot you, because normally governments shy away from implement
in particular, any ology, especially one that's discredited, which certainly the radical social construction is position is to me to to do you know make that a fundamental part of the law and that's definitely happened in tat- one followed in a particular way down the way over the next ten years. Ideology aside, there's just a difference between A positive and negative injunctions tell I can ask you to stop doing an infinite number of things and that in Oh there's, no energy costs on you. I can say, stop using the inward. It offends me right or stop illiterate or stop I've in your car on the sidewalk right and you can not do those things and it takes no time not to do those things. It takes no cognitive overhead not to do those things, but I can't ask you to do an inch a number of things. I can't tell you to pick up all the litter you see everywhere because he reads been arrested. Life, doing that and you would still would fail to comply with the injunction and ass
in people to learn a new list of gender pronouns and then live in a state of vigilance to see that they apply them correctly. This is a part. Have injunction and your ear demanding that people do something for me to demand people will start using a word of my own invention or if I say I want to be addressed by sixteen digit number. And I'm gonna be offended. If you get the number on this is imposing a cost on people aren't going to yeah offended and I'm going to take you to court and you could be charged under hate speech and I to change that chrome. In an hour if I want or tomorrow, or the next day on a whim, because that's also part of the legislation, because that covers the people who were so called gender fluid, and so they have the right to travel form their identity according to their subjective whim. I would say
because the legislation also assumes that her, this identity, that's being protected so hard. Has no grounding in biology. It's only subjectively determined, so they actually go beyond social construction, is to make it essentially solid assistance. The only thing that determines your identity is the way that you feel at that time. So that's a NASA unbelievably poverty, stricken notion by identity, which at minimum is something that you have to negotiate with other people. I mean it has to be functional here and you have to negotiate with other people. So well You can not understandable unless you look underneath it and that's why I was objecting, because I think it's a curse ITALY reasonable manifestation of the Post modernism, nested in NEO Marxism, it's perfectly in keeping with their stated aims.
And those aims are not. If you or an admirer of western culture at least a good parts of western culture. Then, You're, the enemy of the post, modern, slash New Marxist, then their approach, absolutely everything. You believe we're gonna get into that territory, I would imagine by another route, so I don't think there's more to say here, because I think we pray, they agree about everything. I'm obviously a lawyer, and certainly not a canadian lawyer. So if this anyway, which we're getting some of the legal details wrong. I offer a blanket apology, but it, but in terms of the belief that biology does significantly determine gender or sexuality or the wisdom and Kennedy of inventing new. Identities and demanding. Everyone keep track of them in perpetuity.
I think you and I'm more or less totally overlap there is, I think we should go move, I had better, not a better outcome to Canada. Have that discussion at the moment. It is just a has been bizarre to see some of these encounters. You can have it, but it's. This is why you have suddenly become so visible the people, and it is very interesting to see that this is how its manifesting, but we we have bigger, deeper, more parental fish too, for I think we need to talk about religion and science and atheists em and the foundations of Morality, things like meaning your info in mythology your fear of night Alison, let's get and all that I thank you and I share some funding concerns and we feel a similar kind of urgency. I think it express itself in slightly different ways in different ways of talk. But we feel and urgency that are fellow here,
beans get certain questions right, but I think we probably disagree about some fundamental matters and whether those will be in the end, a matter of semantic difference and can be pushed to the periphery or not. I think that remains to be seen, but I think it will be interesting to talk about these things. Yeah yeah. Well, you know one of the things I thought I might do is pursuing the town you're, not enough of a darwinian, which I thought would be quite comical, because I'm often thought the same about Richard Dawkins. But I would like to point out: Some of the things because I've read, I read a fair bit of what you have written now, I'm not by now incomprehensibly, but I think I've come I understand your your central claims and, of course, the very powerful because you're an advocate for terrorist rationalism- essentially, I would say with a bit of- well I'll, be on the side, and you know materials.
Listen is an unbelievably powerful tool and it's very coherent, and so you know I I I addressed the topic with trepidation As you know, it was certainly the case that them the philosophical doctrine, when she would here has done as for the world and has posed an unbelievably potent threat. Let's say that's one way: challenges us better to traditional, the use of the world. So but there are some things that We share in common that maybe we could start with so, and you tell me if I'm gonna need is wrong. I think a good starting point is this: it actually leads directly into this
claim about not being darwinian enough, but it is the concept of truth. I've heard you say in a variety of ways that religious truth isn't scientific truth and that the difference here is that science tells you what things are and that religion tells you how you should act. So let s talk about that. I think that does connect to this darwinian concern of yours, yeah, that's a good that will I'm gonna is that all bleak cling to begin with. So so let me draw a couple: a propositions are even- and I know that you don't except huge distinction between them- is an art. You know that you're willing to challenge that. Unlike fair enough, you know it reasonable thing to try to challenge, although it is quite difficult, but but that doesn't mean it's impossible, but I've been thinking a lot about the essential. Philosophical contradiction between a newtonian world view, which I would say,
here. The EU is nested inside and a world view, because those use are not the same their seriously, not the same mean dark the door. We in the EU, as the american pragmatists recognise that was William James in his crown recognised. Also almost immediately was a form of crime magician and the pragmatists claim that the truth up statement or process can only be adjudicated with regards to its efficiency with which in attaining it, in then its aim, so their idea was the truth- are always bound because we're ignorant and every action that you undertake that school directed has an inn.
Colonel ethic embedded in it and the ethic is the claim. That is what you do. Work spend its true enough and that's all you can ever do and so and what Darwin did as far as the pragmatists were concerned was to put forth the following proposition. It was that it was impossible for a finite organism to keep up with a multi dimensional, transforming landscape, environmental landscape, let's say, and so the best that could be done was to generate random variance, kill most of them. They were wrong and let the other is that were correct enough live long enough to propagate, whereby the same process occurs again. It's not like the organism is a solution to the prom one of the environment. The organism is a very bad partial solution to an impossible problem. Again
The thing that the thing that about that is that you can't get outside that claim that I can't see how you can get outside that claim, if you're a door because the darwinian claim is that- The only way to ensure adaptation to DE unconnected. Transforming environment is through random mutation essentially and death, and that there is no truth claim whatsoever that can surpass that, and so That brings me to the next point: if you don't mind and then all shut up and let you and let you talk so I was thinking about and I thought about that for a long time, so it seems to me there is a fundamental contradiction between Darwins claims in and the Newton determine
Is that clear and the materialists objective blame that science is true in some final sands, and so I was thinking of two things that I read. One was the attempt by the KGB back in the lake, part of the twentieth century to hybrid eyes, smallpox Ex Ante Bore and then era soul it so it can be used on on. You know, for mass destruction, and the thing is: is it that's a perfectly valid scientific enterprise as far as I'm concerned is an interesting.
Problem you may say: well you shouldn't divorced from the surrounding politics. Well, that's exactly! The issue is how much can be divorced and then and from what and then. The second example is, you know, a scientist with any sense, it would say. Well, you know, are truths are incontrovertible. Let's look at the results and we could say well, let's look at the hydrogen bombs in always, if you want a piece of evidence that our theories about the subatomic structure reality are accurate. You don't really have to look much farther than hydrogen bomb. It's a pretty damn potent demonstration in Sudan. I was thinking well, Imagine for a moment that the end Of the hydrogen. Belong did lead to the outcome which we were also terrified about in me during the cold war, which would have been
for the sake of argument, either the total elimination of human life or perhaps the total elimination of life. Now the latter possibilities. Quite unlike but the former one certainly wasn't beyond comprehension, and I would say well the proposition that the universe is best conceptualize, as some atomic particles was true in ass, to generate a hydrogen bomb, but it wasn't true enough to start every one from dying and therefore lithuanian perspective. It was are insufficient, pragmatic proposition and was therefore in some fundamental sense wrong, and perhaps it was wrong because of what it left out. You know. Maybe it's wrong in the doorway incense, to reduce the complexity of being too a material substrate and forget about the surrounding context. So well,
you know those are two examples, and so you can have a way of that. If you want you, ok, so there are few issues here that I think we need to pull apart. I think that the basic issue here and where we disagree, You seem to be a quiver carrying on the nature of truth here, you're using truth in two different senses and finding a contradiction that I dont in fact think exists. So let us talk about about pragmatism. And Darwinism. Briefly four seconds. I spent a lot of time in the the thicket of of pragmatism because I was a student Richard Majorities at Stanford, and I took every class he taught and just basically did nothing but argue with him about pragmatism, so I am very familiar with this way of viewing the concept of sight. The truth. I'm not so sure audience is deeply schooled in this. So briefly, let me just add a little too how you describe pragmatism
His report- he was one of the leading lights of pragmatism, has, as you know, so this his view may be slightly racing Craddock, but it was fairly well subscribed among pragmatists and he was influenced by Dewey and he linked his view in some similar ways too, to a Darwin in conception of truth, but not quite the way. You're doing this, to me. In any case, the idea is that we can never stand outside of human conversation and talk about Ray clearly as it is or truth as it is. We never. We never come into contact with naked truth. All we have is our conversation and our tools of augmenting our conversation, scientific instruments and otherwise, and all we really have that the currency of of truth is whatever successfully passes muster. In a conversations I say something that I think is true:
and it seems to work for you. We have a similar or plain a similar language game and some people disagree. They criticise what we're are claiming to be true and we go back and Fourth, and all we ever have is this kind of ever accept and in horizon line of successful conversations that allow us to do things technologically, that are very persuasive. So, as you say, we can build hydrogen bombs and so the conversation about the structure of the atom, at the very least, the conversation about the amount of energy hidden in the otherwise nebulous structure, of an atom that becomes a very well grounded in facts that we that we all agree are our interest subjectively, true, Diego It seems to me that seems to weaken the claim that it's just within language, you know which is kind of a post more inclined to, because it's very difficult for me to believe
that they didn't born, is what it is just because we agree what it is in conversation in our jobs and immediately reflects a world outside now that the outside of language, that doesn't mean we we get permanent and on this he had access to that world, but it's more than languages force so maybe misunderstanding rarity or or I think you're. You are understanding him. He just he will say that again all we ever have is our effort org eyes. The way the world seems to us with concepts and language, and we just have successful iterations of that and unsuccessful one, and a hydrogen bomb explosion, no matter how big assuming we survive. It still falls within this, political context of an evolving language game, and I agree with you that this does it does connect with
post modernism in a way that is decidedly unhelpful and then roars was a fan of Derrida and Foucault end. You know, member walking out of their dies lecture at Stanford, I literally had it climb over the bodies of the credulous who were sitting in the aisles listening to the great man speak and he didn't speak a single, intelligible sentence. As far as I recall. Well, that's so, obviously, just because you don't have the profundity to understand you know a post, modern, French, Neil Marxist Intellectual. I don't, but to get back to some of your claims here. There's this claim you're, making about the darwinian basis of truth and knowledge that there really is just survival right. There's just biological change.
Selected against by and environment, and there is what works in that context. What is pragmatic in that context biologically and there's what doesn't and what doesn't gets you killed you now, obviously, that picture of of how we got here is something that I agree with. But our conception of truth and our conception of truth in general and scientific truth specifically and and even of darwinian evolution within that subset of truth claims. That is not functioning by merely darwinian principles, and this just goes to right, but that that could be an objection to it. Validity, like there's, no reason to assume an end up Don't get me wrong, but I am perfectly happy science. I'm a scientist, and but there's no reason to assume that are
view of the world are current scientific view of the world, isn't flawed or incomplete in some manner that will prove fundamentally fatal to us as a working assumption. We can decide not to worry too much about it. And that's fine. But yes, I agree and more fundamental the man. I think this is the accurate version of the claim you're making. This is something that I spoke about. Another podcast with MAX Tag, markka physicists from MIT. The There is just the fact that, within the darwinian conception of how we got here there no reason to believe that are cognitive faculties have evolved to put us in error, free contact with reality, that's, not how they evolve and we did not evolve to be perfect mathematicians or perfect, illogical operators or perfect conceive errors of dick reality at the very small subatomic level, or
the very large cosmic level or very old cosm, illogical level. We are designed by the happenstance of evolution, who function within a very narrow band of of light, intensities and physical parameters things we are designed to do very well. Are you not recognize the facial expressions of apes just like ourselves and to throw objects in parabolic art within a hundred metres and and all of that and celebrate the fact that we are able to succeed to the degree that we have been in creating a vision of scientific truth and the structure of the cosmos at large that radically exceeds those narrow pray.
That is a is a kind of miracle- is an amazing fact about us. That seems not to be true remotely true of any other species we know about, and that's that something to be celebrated, and it's a lot of fun to see how far we can get in that direction. But I would grant you that there are no guarantees as we move forward in that space and in fact we should be sceptical about how easy we can have it in this space. Yet one thing that MAX tag Mark said, which I thought was fascinating. He goes one step further than I had tended to go along these lines where he said that we should expect as just Base Don accepting the the logic of revolution. We should expect that we will have our common sense intuitions, frequently and really incessantly violated by what we discover to be true about them.
Your reality through Sonya. What we discover scientifically the true about nature reality out well, so I was so partly. I made the case that I made to indicate to you and the listeners where I'm starting from some sense, no, I think it's not unreasonable to assume that you are making metaphysical claim, in some sense that darwinian truth is nested in side newtonian truth, I wouldn't call it Tony not just change. Your war is a little bit, but it may be a distinction without a difference here, but I would oppose real ism site and civic realism and even moral realism. I consider myself a moral realist. I think they're right and wrong answers to moral questions. I would oppose realism with pragmatism and
the core tenant of religion, for me, is that it is possible for everyone to be mistaken as possible for there to be a consensus around truths that are, in fact not true. It's possible do not know what you're missing, there's a horizon of ignition beyond which we can't currently see, and we may be right or wrong about what we think exceeds our grasp at the moment. And so that's that's something of the pragmatists can't say the pragmatists hast alone. Eight truth, always within the context of existing conversations, existing consensus and in this darwinian conception of truth, you are saying that there is just what works for us biologically pragmatically apes on earth now and there is nothing there's, no larger context of truth claims that we can make that situate. That, in a way, in a larger sphere, where you can intelligibly say
that everyone is wrong about something. Well, it's complicated that I would Say I'm saying exactly that. I certainly don't agree with the language game, part of it and see if you if you think of the darwinian process, is something you can't escape like this no outside of it and partly to me, for that is that you today. I am ignorant to to get inside of it in any in any true, send it. Man are now. You might say why you do that to some degree with science and we can argue with that, but not before you move, I'm just understand the claim, because it seems to me we are outside of it in every respect where you want to emphasize as the darwinian component of it so own we're outside of the implications that certain phenotypes would have killed you outright five. Now years ago, whereas now we have a civilization mechanism to protect those people. So, if your way
and I ll and you you are able to function just as well as your neighbor. Who's got perfect vision, you're out of a darwinian paradigm there. It doesn't matter that you're wearing eyeglasses right on a thousand points. We can make that same observation and therefore more less everything we care bout has followed along those lines, miss out just the fact that we are. You know one of the greatest gains We are attempting to make, although we we have done it imperfectly. Thus far is to outgrow tribalism in all its forms right, so we recognise it. Tribalism is not the best in a moral bedrock and yet in darwinian paradigm. Tribalism is really the only in town- and so we stand outside of darwinian logic, both morally and intellectually all the time. Now are you deny that? What am I a confused about? I'm calling into question. I'm I'm not
necessarily denying it, and I am certainly not presuming that you know that what I saying is right because I'm trying to solve another problem at the same time, but you see the thing about this, I take the point is that it leaves certain things out and it leaves out. It doesnt know. Obviously, although the same might be said for any other system of belief and should be it also looks at the world in a particular way. For example, it strips the world of its subjectivity- and it may be the test fatal error now that doesnt, in that it stop science from being unbelievably useful as a tool, but I think of science as a tool. Rather than as a description of reality, and you know that. Well, that's where we differ and its fair that we differ in all. Is it isn't obvious which of those two positions.
Could be held to be correct because you know you could say that the more we learn about the object of world. You know the wheelers manner the hire them probability that will survive and its conceivable, with those things are lying in that manner. But it's also it conceivable that they're not- and I am wary of that- because Radical changes, produce unintended consequences and we ve lived relatively successfully, has as primates for in a couple of dozen million years and we're transforming things pretty damn rapidly. You one need one potential outcome: is that in five years were more machine than human in
and they were not really human at all and any realistic sense, and I can't necessary see that, as you know, you could claim that that's supposed about come, but it isn't necessarily that it's a positive outcome so you're you're, assuming that there is an alignment between the two? No I'm not doing that at okay and I'm getting a little confused about what you're claiming. So let me just go over that ground. You just sketch just to to get myself on track It seems to me that you are saying that they reduce deal ad absurdum of a darwinian conception of now it would be if we ever learned certain truths that got us all killed while then that would prove that these things warrant true or this was an intellectual dead end. Yet they were true enough. I would say my things here, when is it? Does nothing about my conception of science? That discounts
a reality or the significance of subjectivity. I understand what you're saying when you say that science or material Listen leaves out subjectivity and nuts I've written that same hobbyhorse against that conception of science myself, so you won't find a friend eliminating materialism in me. That's just not how I think about the human mind. Well, do you think that it's true of your views on consciousness, because that's another place where I would say we radically disagree the hour. I don't know that you would. You understand, Matthew's unconsciousness. If you think that, but we can get there, I think there's a subjective dimension of reality. That is undeniable, in fact, and I said, for instance, that consciousness: the one thing in this universe. That can't be an illusion. Is the only thing that you can be absolutely sure exists at this moment, in the sense that I asked like another claim that you make better. That's that's related to that.
The one thing- and this is, I think, part of your fundamental ethical metaphysics and it's a point on which we agree. I believe You know you, you are very kind with. Let's call it pain for lack of a better word, and you know one of them: conclusions that I've, which is, I think, in keeping with what you just said, because it is, it necessarily involves consciousness, but So let's call consciousness a reality, but then I would say that the most Undeniable form of consciousness is acute agony because no one doubts that not if you watch them out and that's one of the criteria by which I judge whether or not someone believes something you know so people. If people act out something uncontrollably, then
convinced that they believe it, regardless of what they think they believe also so, and I think it for that reason that so many religious systems start with the same metaphysic witches life is suffering, that's the ultimate reality and that's that's associated with consciousness. Certainly, but it's it's more, precise than that, because maybe you can doubt whether you're happy but its very difficult doubt that you're an agony and how that actually work. Some people act as if that's the most real thing in part of your ethical metaphysics, as far as I can tell is you take me out his bedrock in some sense and then say what, whatever we do, we shouldn't go there and you know: there's there's in a matter in a way? The way that I think Para parallels that accept that you posit well being as the opposite? Let's say of suffering
and this is. This is something I really want to talk to you about, because I think that there is a paradox in your thinking. I could be wrong, but tell me what you think: less weight yet there, because this is a different topic. I why deafening wanting to morality with ok and that's all all ripe for discussion, but this conception of truth. I think we have to nail down, because It just seems to me undeniable that There are facts whether or not Many of us, any existing population of human beings are aware of those facts so before there, was any understanding of the energy trapped in an atom. The energy was still trapped in the autumn right and end. The trinity test prove that beyond any possibility, of doubt so, prior to that the bomb going off at Almah Gordo you had the sum of the world's best physicists, not entirely
sure what was going to happen. They had a an educated guess about what was gonna happen. I think there was a there was a betting pool on the question of of just how big the detonation would be. There are some people who thought that nothing will happen. They would actually failed to initiate a chain reaction. The point is that there was a kind of a probability distribution among the smartest people over the the, range of possible outcomes there. So this was a linguistically mediated conception of what was true at the level of the very, very small in physical reality, and we got more information once we saw that bright light and mushrooms and now the conversation continues, but it seems to me that a realistic conception of what's going on there, and really the only saying one if you look long and I've had it is that our language didn't put. The energy in the autumn is not because we spoke a certain way about it, that that determined
character, physical reality. No physical reality has a character when, are not their apes around to talk about it. Ok, so look look everything you said there. I agree with it. I guess one by one objection to that is the well. Is it true enough objection, so you know, in order to establish an objective that we have to. Parameter eyes, the search we have to narrow the search we have to exclude we better and I think, some time when we do that we have of generating a truth- and I would say it's a pragmatic truth that works within the confines of the parameters that have been a stand, was around the experiment, but then, when launched up off into the broader world, much of which was excluded from the theorizing the results can be catastrophic and I would say that again,
the problem of theirs, racial isolation. Right where were you reduce? The phenomenon something that you can discover and discuss typically and then there's generalization back to the real world and one of the things that you see, We frequently is that the operational isolation succeed be the case with the application of social science theories to the world. Look about him leave so much out of his less lustrous. Restore the world. Look about him leave so much out of a let's just focus on this claim, or this concern about. Certain forms of knowledge or certain descriptions of the world leading to catastrophe. Now I completely agree that that's possible but it doesn't mean what you seem to think. It means a here, so it's possible for there to be scientifically correct, realistically true conceptions of the world.
That are bad for us. There are many examples of that. I think I think the utility of of knowing it's going on is usually so high. That is better. To know what's going on, but, for instance, in the example I occasionally uses there, the right way to synthesize the smallpox virus right now. Is this knowledge good for any one to have well paid at the CDC or and in certain labs. We want this knowledge, because it allows us to develop and inoculation again. Smallpox allows us to to understand viral proper. These in ways that perhaps we would otherwise I don't know I don't do that work, but it seems to me to be objectively day Europe to play around with synthesizing smallpox, and this is not the kind of knowledge you want to spread it far and is why is by what right, exactly that's the parameter, isolation and the generalization grub? That's precisely prohibited to point out that this is dangerous to point out that it would be irresponsible to spread this knowledge.
Point out that in the wrong hands, this could be catastrophic and, in fact, could end the human experiment right the career of the species the very anti darwinian to use your framing yeah in a local sense, with respect to homo sapiens, because this could be the thing that kills all of us right right? That's, yes, catastrophic! but that doesn't undermine the scientific truth value of but had under mice, I agree, but it now It does undermine the claim. The scientific truth is the ultimate truths that, the claim that it undermines knowing doesnt undermine it epistemological, it undermines it as something you want in your life right it s finds it in terms of its value to us as a species, if knowing What is true got you all killed. Will then that would be a truth. It wouldn't be knowing, but it wouldn't make it less true right or vice versa. Case without okay. So that's that's! Ok! So, let's imagine for a moment. I understand what you're saying
and I dont see that there is any logical problem with it, but I would say that were actually starting from different fundamental axioms like the fundamental axiom, but I'm playing with is something that was basically expressed by nature and its a definition of truth, and so I would say if it doesnt serve life, it's not true, but that, but so what were arguing about his when I became a Jordan, I have to pull the brakes there. I think that's agree. Morally, ethically, given my concern about the well being humanity. I agree with that as a moral starting point. We were to know what is worth knowing we don't want to know every thing, and we certainly don't wanna know truth that will get us all killed or make us all needlessly miserable We want good lives right so then I would say that you fight by making that proposition you
Second, the claim, but no light Big endeavours have invested inside a moral endeavour. Yes, salute me. I like I accept that claim, but well then it can't be grubbed up more than the moral endeavour can't be grounded in the scientific endeavour, because the outside thing count the inside thing cannon round the outside thing, logically, not possible. I would disagree there. Let's talk about that when we talk about morality, because I don't think that's a great conversation have, but here was still we're getting bogged down on the concept of truth, I think you can't have a concept of truth. That is subordinate. Two well being you want. Well being, I will grant you that an end. My definition of well being is quite expansive and it just remains to be done what, in the end, will conduce to that the greatest flourishing of sounds like our own and minds beyond our own, as you say when we integrate ourselves with with our supercomputers, who knows what beauty will
periods in what meaning will be available to us. I'm interested in all of that, and I want out and, as are all to survive, and I dont want to be annihilate, by true facts that were dangerous to know by so. But it seems to me correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me and then believe me. This point on pushing is part of the reason I got to where I got it's exactly this issue because I realized that it was necessary for for our attitude towards sides to be nasty in something else, which was a higher moral conception. If, if I'm not mistaken, you this made the claim that you know if there are scientific things that we could mess with.
It might destroy us all. It would be better if we didn't know yes, but by what standard we will get there, but ok, but there will be no less true. You clearly have to have a conception of facts and truth. That is possible to know that exceeds what anyone currently knows and exceeds any concern about whether it is useful or compatible with on survival even to know these truths cable, then I would say that I dont think that sites are necessarily true. So I don't think this scientific. Even if the correct from within the domain that they were generated? I dont think that that necessarily make some true. And I know that I'm gerrymandering, the definition of truth, but I'm doing that on purpose, because I'm trying to nest truth within the darwinian framework, which I think is a moral framework, and I think that you're, the logic of you,
argument about. Morality is going to put you in the same direction. Inevitably your choosing following nature here, your choosing to use the word. True, you choosing to it with some moral concerns. That's what it very difficult for people to understand what you mean and for you to understand what they mean when you use truth as a sin, for, as you just said, correct a fact may be correct, but it's not true right. It seems to me this is this is counterpart. Active and you lose nothing by granting that's the truth. Value of a proposition can be a valley waited whether or not this is a fact. Worth, knowing whether or not it's dangerous to know. No, but that's the thing I don't agree with, because I think the that's the kind of conception of what constitutes a sound, that does in fact presented more danger to peep a mortal danger people, and I also think that that's partly why the scientific endeavour as its
More. The traditional undertakings of our moral systems has produced an emergent nihilism and hopelessness among people that makes them more susceptible to ideological possession. I think, is a fundamental problem. Look and I do believe that the highest truce- let's put it- that way- highest truths, are moral truths. I'm thinking of that from a darwinian perspective, I want to go, there were there, because I think, that's the centre, the balls I, but we have to nail down some epistemological so. I will state a few or even salon tall g. Yet so I just wanna make a few claims which I think are unobjectionable, and I can see whether were on the same page here. This is gonna probe you for my pissed miles each yours, it seems me that I can make statements about reality neither of us can judge to be true. We just don't have the tools or when it we're not they take the time to do it, but
We know there is a fact of the matter whether or not we can get the data in hand, so I could say, for instance, you haven't even number of hair is on your body right now. I don't know that's true, but I know I have a fifty percent chance of being right about that and This is not a non binary possibility. This is a binary one. When you have any hair on your body, I'm not going to tell you you get yes, oh so! Presumably you dont know this about yourself. I dont want to envision what it would take to know that about oneself. All the time in any case is susceptible to change. Now What do you think about that? We don't know whether you haven't even her odd number of hairs on your body. While I would agree with that, but I would say that the reason for that is that the definition of truth that you're using to make that statement true, is nested inside the question itself and all except the definition and the question for the sake of pursuing that we're
side of any kind of darwinian imperative here, there's no reason to know this. You would better off knowing this one way or another, you can do nothing, but this knowledge. This is one reason you wouldn't seek the knowledge, but but it won't hurt or kill me and is no less true inside the Darwin framework and so unwilling to go along with it. Ok but let's say, could hurt or kill you. Let's say, that you know now. You're a hostage and your hostage takers have a bizarre our religion of their own invention, where, they they will kill people who have odd numbers of hairs on their body, and they will venerate people who have even numbers hairs. So now your life depends on which is true about you and perhaps, if you haven't even number of hair as you, you want to find out, if you have an odd number you don T want, you find only then surreptitiously pluck one so that you can be now. I a safe member of this moral emergency, so nothing has changed
with respect to truth value about the claims we might make about the hair on your body. Right is just a different situation. Your concept of truth can't be hostage to these superficial changes in context. I think it's inevitably hostage to them. I don't think you can help it be hostage to. I think that even the choice of what you're interested in is, as a scientist is subject to contextual factors that are that are part of the parameters within as you will. You asked the question during what does that mean in this context? I am talking again. This is is a bizarre example that just it may seem strange to talk about for any length, but I think it reveals, at the very least, an awkward commitment to revising our language. I think what it means technically, is that the old- The final way of sorting out whether a scientific claim is sufficiently who is through darwinian means, because I
that the darwinian process is the only way of Judah gaining truth. Now Udall, you know, except that in that's fine, I mean it's not like why'd you do it yourself, oh Harry. I'm just confused at this point is not that I don't accept. It is just I don't see how you can accept what you sound like you, you want to accept here. So you just agreed that if I were to assert that you have, and even number of hairs on your body. I would be making a truth claim which one I'm clearly not qualified to make, but it's basically a coin tar bet. You know soon, as I get to my saying. The coin you just flipped and haven't revealed to me came up. Heads is, it importantly, similar claim to that. If I'm a rational person, it's a
a truth that I would have assert only probabilistic. May I have a fifty percent confidence that I'm right here. I will not be surprised to be right and I won't be surprised to be wrong, and it seems to me that you are now claiming that this change is totally. If someone comes into your office with a gun and says, I'm gonna kill you if the point came up heads or I'm gonna kill you if you have an odd number of hairs on your boat. What's your situation, changes there is that in the ones it's a really stupid game to be playing and are not being are not being what would you call it dismissive making that argument see what you're doing is that you're taking her away. Looking at the world and yet making our a micro example out of it, and your
saying that, within the context of that micro example, truth is not malleable by situation like ok I buy it, but the problem is that micro example isn't separate in the actual world from the macro examples which would be, let's call it. The scientific method as such, and there may be local applications of the scientific method where the local fast generated are sufficiently in a context. Independence, so that you can't make any contextual claims, but I could say well well, turned out in a thousand years that that entire empirical game was fatal. And so then I would say, while the micro parts of it were fatal to you just couldn't see it. I agree about the the now, and utility of plain fatal games right. So we don't want to play games that will get us all killed reliably. Certainly, if there's no
huge benefit on the law of airline different perspective. Why not? But then you're just saying that is very scientific reason to want to exist or to want your kids to live happy lives as opposed to die in their sleep tonight. Yes, that is partly what I'm saying. Yes, we can talk about that, but suits me. We can't just skip over this question of truth, because it anchors everything else. We end other. I am we're going well enough. Well, but another thing to do with our luck. Fair enough and we they argue about it for quite a while, and I think that brought the danger. Is that will side tracked the entire conversation doing this and that that won't be so useful? So when I would recommend is that we could recognised for the moment that were starting with different claims of truth, but it, but I don't think we are, I think, you're you're simply deciding, at the end of the day to say that any truths that led us down a path,
where we suffered unnecessarily or died. Weren't. True right, you have, to choose what you mean by true. You have to and are not accepting the the same definition of truth that you operate under me and it's partly because I believe that Darwin trumps real, isn't. Let's say I believe, the pragmatism, trumps, realism, but even the truth of Darwinism. Here not anchored to a darwinian conception in your view of truth, is anchored to a realistic one, so Darwinism will not prove to be false. If knowing about Darwinism gets us all killed, that's entailed in your claim. Darwinism would bite its own tail there and disappear, but not necessarily not necessarily because our conception of darwinian evolutionary processes
these laws as well and probably is I mean the recent developments in that goes without saying yes, we do not have a complete scientific picture of reality, but if evolution is true in any sense, if cosmic rays initiate point mutations in genomes and you get genetic diversity on the basis of that, and things get selected, were based on regularities in the environment and you get species asian. If any of that is true, if DNA has any connection to Herod ability right, we have good reason to believe that we are on unusually solid ground. There Angelo all of that these things we don T yet know about biology if any of its true, it's not true in this sense that you are describing darwinian truth lustrous, stick! that, knowing all that about ourselves, no mean about evolution, knowing about molecular biology in twenty five,
Here's that will allow us based on perverse social changes that are kindled by that self knowledge and technological breaks, synthetic biology that are empowered by it. We will annihilate ourselves if marsh, and came down and had to assess what went on here. The honest description of what happened is we have a species of apes that understood something about evolution and it was fatal to them. Let's just say it. It's true. Ok, if that's true on your analysis, we would then have to say that evolution wasn't true. No, we have to say our theory of evolution wasn't true, but if Then, when I had to look at the ways in which it was false, yeah you wouldn't be able to find any way was false up until the moment it killed us. Oh that's, plausible, that's possible!
and you know, I think, you're making a subtle asylum and and useful point- I mean because you're here playing with the idea of nesting again is like Darwin, darwinian theory, Red nested, in a realistic worldview? Or is it the other way around? You know you're, making the claim that Darwinian theory is a variant of realism theories. It's good claim, but it has to be this way because it just imagine two counterfactual situations bullet. Ok, here's awaited might not be true. It might be that the world of selects, let's call reality that which selects so let's say that our scientific theories there is some approximation to a description of that which selects that informs our darwinian theory those, all begin sufficient error, so that their fatal noise in, I think see when I think of wood
we'll see you think of reality that I believe this is. This is what I meant meant by Newtonian. Do you think of the world wide web. Of reality like a materialist, realists and- and I think of reality as that which selects and though, things are the same, because the materialists realist description of that which lacks is very insufficient and that insufficiency undermines the accuracy of our darwinian knowledge, so it s. The only way I can respond to what you said is that I would
That is why our knowledge of Darwin of the evolutionary process was true. Then it wouldn't it, wouldn't it wouldn't be fatal. Now, that's that's a strange claim and I'm not sure that is true, but but but I think it might be. I think that, because its let's say that our theory of the genesis of life than the genesis of the world and all of that became comprehensive the accurate comprehensively accurate. I would say that we would find that would give us a place in the world that would bolster our problem. Ability of surviving rather than undermining- and I guess that's partly because You know- and this is another claim of faith I suppose, but we don't want.
Started to met mess around with the definition of fact, and truly you get down to the place where you have to make as him presuppositions You know I would say that reality is not opposed to our existence. I don't need to break in here drink, as I just think, you're not noticing the price you are paying for redefining a word like truth and IRAN, Actually it's probably even steeper price. Then what these Gender pronoun maniacs are attempting to pay for asking that everyone use their favorite word to describe their identity. Truth is a bedrock. Conception is not just a scientific one, it say journalistic one, it's a interpersonal one and it is a donkey. The lawless list, foot that it's that too, which are very sanity, is anchored
and I think you well. You talk at the anchor at your peril. Right definitely believe me. I am perfectly aware that its put me in peril many times, but I would also point out that people were getting along just fine without an imperial conception of the world for millions and millions of years and animal still manage it. So there yes operating on some level of represent taken of reality that doesn't require articulate. Empirical investigation is possible to survive. Without having a clear notion of truth, but it's probably not possible the beer reliably understood in a conversation bout, scientific reality or they relationship? between mind and matter, or anything else that we're trying to talk about here. And so let me just point out a few things: it's. To me. What you're doing here as you are Marin, the concept of truth, which is a epistemological one, also to the concept of
goodness, and maybe maybe one- I afraid it even more- with the concept of beauty, you're, gonna, fuse, truth and goodness and perhaps even beauty together as this cut a jewel that can't be spoken about in its terms of its separate parts, because they are fuse now. But this creates a few problems so Francis you, if you are going to talk about truth as being, separable from goodness and goodness being a matter of what happens in the end, but We never really reach the end. Necessarily we just we're just move forward in time. So what happens here will have all of these descriptions of reality and ways of talking about in things, we can do technologically on the basis of these this advancement in our conception of things. All of that can be going forward quite nicely. All of it can see true and beneficial and tending toward the good. But then something happens which
on the basis of what we know and when what we perhaps only dimly understand just wines up killing us right and then what you now have to do is go back and I'm in say all of the things we had good reason to believe were true warrant because of this. This fatal episode at the and and then, if you had another a separate population of people who believe all the same things, but because of some contingent difference in their situation. Those truths now and scare quotes. Those truths didn't windup killing them, but they went on to flourish perfectly by their light. While then, I would say that the condemned the contingent difference that you're describing would be significant, is clearly significant for their survival. But how can it be significant for the truth and it could be just an don't accept? The prom position that a contingent of their it wasn't related to definitions of the truth.
Produce the divergent outcome that you, but I called I just gave you- want- I'm getting granted glottal the cockamamie example, but it's yeah I, but that's the problem, take my terrorist. We could put you in a situation where no when something or not knowing something would get you killed, and yet the fact that it would get you killed doesn't reach into the the truth. The value of this I if there's someone going around Toronto, killing people for not being, well name all the: U S President's in sequence, and what's a he's wrong about what the sequence is. So if you give him a sequence that is in fact inaccurate. That is untrue but it works for him and you survive. It doesn't make it true. Right Emma you. You need a concept of truth that fully three of us. It makes a true enough to survive. Yes, it makes it useful It's a good thing. You got the wrong sequence, but we can do. I did. I didn't tell you at the beginning that I was a pragmatist nested in Darwin Darwinism and look
I've got one more thing here, you know use. You drive me down this pathway, claiming that I to run into all sorts of troubled by conflicting truth and beauty, goodness, but you're doing exactly that, same thing when you claim that there could be a scientific basis for morality, you're, just inverting there you're just averting the causal order, I doing it from a pragmatic perspective and you're doing it. The scientific respect, but it's not pragmatic, but I think it is because I don't think that you can come up with a bar of deception that isn't brag mad at you think you can, but I don't think you can so like it or not, that it's not like you to put your arguments forward with with power and coherence, it still powerful arguments and I'm not I'm right, you are saying that you are right in the sense that you're not persuaded by the argument here. It seems to me that you have to grapple with this or at the very least
I need to move forward knowing exactly what you're claiming here that I dont believe that I do so. I just want to come back to this example that I just stumbled upon which seems to me to get it. They issue nicely. If you are in a situation, where someone asked you to rattle off the sequence of: U S, presence and You rattled it off Lena swapping of the order of a few, but that were they perfect, in order to keep you alive because now you're in the hands of some evil genius, who'd himself has confused about the order of. U S presence and he will kill you if you your orders diversion from his well. Then it seems to me that you have to be able to say that that was useful right. You survived, but in fact act. The order you have of? U S president's is wrong. It was wrong but useful, the flip side is also true, imperfectly safer. But I said already that you can set up micro examples where
the claim that you are making is valid, but I'm not concerned with the micro examples. I'm concerned with the macro examples, the totality of the of the theory of fact and truth. The macro example is no difference. If we have a if we take the macro example where you take all of molecular biology and all of science and all of human history, some aiding to a moment where some nefarious person synthesizers smallpox on the basis of an accurate you're standing of how to do that. Not an inaccurate one right accuracy here is just stay. Furthermore, I would say that our science was insufficient in so far as it didn't managed to deal with this. We have no serious scientists, sure short in there is a big problem. It is a big mistake if you think about actually true and I
say yeah, it's actually true in so far as it goes, but it wasn't sufficiently true to solve a fatal problem which would be the problem of the nefarious scientists, so it was deeply flawed despite its local apple applicability, deeply flawed in its let's say the way we used it. Morally, we didn't know enough to correct fur humans. Derivatives yes, so we want to know more exactly, but none of its falsity. My grades back to the biology that described smallpox. You can't then say Well sure I couldn't. I can say what you shouldn't be looking at the biologists more popular in solving the problem of the nefarious scientists. Ok, but that's just to say that certain truths weren't worth knowing or they were dangerous too. Or dangerous in the wrong hands. But what you seem to have been saying, and now I feel, like we may be seen dry land here. What you seem to have been saying What I think you probably
we are not saying. I don't want to say is that the conception of truth, local to the smallpox virus has to be rewritten there, because it turned out not to be useful. It turned out to be fatal to us, yes in its, partly because the narrowness of the this is what point I was making with the Damn KGB like yeah, You know they they managed to synthesize are Ebola smallpox, thus demonstrating the scientific truth of their effort. Well, ok, fine, but how? But if we take the context into account, perhaps were ignorant even scientific, but more so morally etc. Sound way that while we go chasing those contention, scientific truth, we miss Something really large and obvious, like true or not general a hybrid of smallpox and Ebola is, you know,
let's call it ill advised and so see. This is this is the point that I'm making Is that not everything turns on that? Less call it ill advised, I'm I'm with you there right. So again, there are things that are not worth knowing, there are things that are gains there is to know there are things that will never know and wish we could know, but we could be surprised about the consequences of knowing that they could turn out to kill us in the end right at me. So every variant of that is possible to say, which is to say true, but our concept of the truth, value of any given statement can't be held hostage to its ultimate result for the survival of the spy she is in the end. Yes, I think it can that's where we disagree. I can be sitting in a room in my house and say well: there's fire in this in this room and the rest of the house could be on fire and its factually true that
there's no fire in this room, but as a theory, it's a pretty stupid one. That's as an incomplete and consequentially incomplete description of usage, Malaysian, but you when nothing. But that's exactly my quite though that's exactly my point, but it was still true to say that there was no fire in your room, though the fire was outside your room, It's a global approach that doesn't get you in a room. It was true nested in a larger truth or falsehood, because the relevant issue is: is there a fire around? That's going to kill me while there's no fire in this room, while I suppose that's trivially true, but I would say I certainly adopted adobe framework of reference within which to ask that question again, this is this is something we can understand. You are asking the wrong question, or there is a better question the issue. Well, so, I would say Look here is another way of thinking about it. Instead
Fish moral people will ask deadly scientific questions, sure, ok, but Jordan. Honestly, that is a different topic. That I completely agree. The reason why you are conception of truth here is so unhelpful is because your? U will continually be buffet it back and forth. Between good and bad outcomes- and you are your notion of scientific truth- will be we re written and overwritten and rewritten again in the process needlessly so again to take smallpox as an example. The same conception of smallpox, true or not, let's say true to a first approximation- allows us to cure babies who get the disease or stop the other babies from getting it and at all, also allows us to synthesize it and kill. Everyone is the same description of reality, and so you have to say in the one case, Europe is tomorrow's Europe,
Why are you to sit around counting dead babies re all? No? No it doesn't it read it requires so, let's say fine, I'm perfectly willing to go along with that particular example. Then I would say: well that's a very dangerous tool and then we the bloody well make sure that the people who are wielding it have the wisdom to do so, and so, like one of the things that I learned for breeding Carl Young, for example, was that his claim was that we were the logical giants and moral moral instance ass, a really bad. So really bad there, what would you call it combination and silver, the morally? She starts to become paramount and, of course, you, I believe that to some degree before recital yes exactly, but don't I see how does a different topic? That's the thing that I just can't get passed here, because if we were to say that smallpox is not a virus, it say a multi celled organisms, this getting people sick right, that's
a conception of it right and presumably we would be quite wrong at any point in human history to a form that conception right, but it is certainly possible to have thought that for a good long time, that is, we can make them distinction whether or not we a hundred years from now annihilate ourselves with a proper understanding of the smallpox virus. Well, I already admitted, as far as I can tell that you can make micro claims. Ok, but they are all that might around us into our end of time. That's not what I'm document, which is all no! No! It's not it's, not at all micro planes, because those are there's like the scientific. The materialists real is perspective is a kind of ethic, and if it is it
it doesn't help people look at the world. It's a philosophy is a mass of philosophy. It's a framework of reference. It's not it's not, regulation of Michael of, although it is also that- and I would say that the problem of part of the problem with the scientific world. You as its currently constituted, is that it doesn't. It doesn't provide reliable guide for the development of the kind of wisdom that would allow us to use our technology like grown ups. You had made wisdom. Of course It is a case of everything I would say well in here is another thing that an enormous problem, but but that is in my view, that is a change of topic. I may I think we should get onto that because change of scale anyways, but it's not really because so again, this is why I say all micro claims. We have all of these micro claims about reality, and this extent
to every branch of science and mathematics, but also extends to just ordinary facts like the fact that you- and I are talking on Skype now now. That is true. As far as I can tell the only way, I was attempting to talk to you and I I see The Skype logo on my computer, but this is a claim about I could be right or wrong and the rightness her wrongness of the claim is not going to be a Jew, led by whether or not we survive. Another million years has a species, and you take leave functionally infinite number of micro claims like that, and you carry them forward in time and you build technology on their bases and yes, this whole effort can be wisely, guided or not, but whether it's, why as guided or not does not change the factual legitimacy of any one of those
claims that has proceeded yours already, because it yes, it might because it might highlight what they left out, because I, like you,. Claim your claim about Skype is a local claim. You know when and as a local claim, I would say, as a pragmatist, its directly but it's also grounded in the metaphysic, and so is the technology, and so but Jordan, whether you leave something out there all kinds of things we can we that first of all, we will always be leaving something out, but second of all we can leave thing. Out that are worth knowing. That would add to our well being and survival, we can leave things out that have absolute we know value one way or the other negative or positive butter, still none the less true, and we can leave things out that we should leave out because they would be dangerous to know now. We need a concept of truth that allows us to make statements like that, but your concept of truth is collapsing
everything back to whether we survive presumably whether, when that whether we survive happily right, no just whether we survive their things that are worse than not sir, I then we can survive and away where everyone has a life. That's not worth living. Ok! Well, that be bad too. I would agree we could create a kind of prison planet for ourselves where everyone gets tortured as long as possible, even the torture and nobody likes it. Yes. Well, I would say that the probability that that game would sustain itself for very long is low. You know it would we D generate hell. You know why hell is a bottom was tat right, it's because, no matter how bad it is, you can always make it worse, and so I would say is that you like that would either improve or it would. You know spiral down to the ultimate and which would be fatal. My point is that that survival, isn't the only value right is
can we, not you could argue, is not even the deepest value in then moment, you form a conception of a life that would be worse than not living at all. It seems to me that you have trumped mere survival. You can easily imagine a situation where you would say of your of the person you love most in the world, that they would be better off dead right that I think, a morally and factually and intelligible claim, given the possibilities of human suffering and given that there are certain situations where there is no remedy other than death. So even survival as an anchor here seems a somewhat. Whimsical one, but is one that granted. It has a direct connection to Darwin evolution because the survival of an organism is crucial. At least up to a certain point is crucial to whether or not it gets its genes into the next generation, but again I'd It's so obvious that you need to be able to say you need to Billy
is the word true and false, and not continually to dance around this free it, meaning and and swap in synonyms like accurate or correct, and you just have to acknowledge that that something can be true and dangerous, I would say, is objectively true as far as our scientific theories are accurate at this time in this local context. Ok than that and as far as I am willing to go and- and there are other reasons for this, like I'm perfectly aware of the pit, this produces end and all of the complexities that it that it entails I'm not so sure that you're aware and- and I dont mean this- is and so, by any stretch of the imagination, I'm not so sure that you are aware of the consequences of the rational realists,
that you're putting forth in your books, because I would say that they produce causative complexities. Better least as serious as the ones that you pointed out with my position. Let's move on there with the proviso that think we are impressively capable of of its understanding one another while overflow well were definitely disagreeing. I think you understand- and I think I am think we are disagreeing. I think you are committed, two elevating the concept of truth or what imagine to be elevated it into this the moral stratosphere. Where is it entail goodness it is. That is precisely and exactly what I'm doing. There is no doubt about it, but the problem with that is that then it makes it very difficult to talk about ordinary truth. Claims
And to acknowledge that now you have a situation where your conception of factual accuracy either has to completely break apart from your conception of truth, or it itself is continuing a vulnerable to changes in human history, which could happen in a million years, when do we finally get the cash this check? Epistemological, let's say we survive for a million years. I dont know ever get to cash? It! That's! The problem with the darwinian perspective. Is that you're never right you're only sufficiently right to go ahead I'll, give it all of those differences insufficiency matter. Hugely rights of your kid gets sick and you go to the hospital and the doctor, says we have no idea what's wrong with their child. That's one situation to start confession of ignorance right now for most of human history, there is obviously no harm,
They'll go do and if you, if you had gone to anyone one else, why is my kid sick? You would get either a stark confession of ignorance or some crazy idea, the utility of which you yourself Logically, we might want to debate, but it would have nothing to do with, biological reality of wire. Kid was sick now that ignorance, through a lot of hard work gets overcome Nineveh. Peace, piecemeal way and and no one's real satisfaction? Yet? But this question that we have made progress in our conception of human disease, for instance the germ theory of disease, knowing something about, that has been very useful now, sir, but along with that, has come on. Ability to produce the hydrogen bombs and the birth of course, in all sorts of other things that could easily be fatal. If somebody rights down a hundred digit number in front of you and it ends in a one and they say
this number is prime and what is more, as the largest prime number, any human being has ever consciously beheld right. That is either true or false, and its truth or falsity has absolutely nothing to do with the ultimate survival of the species or Your personal! Well being I know, that's what you think I understand perfectly well, but I don't agree but you're, not agreement hasn't, I would say it said sufficiently true for all likely com, tax that are to arise in the next while end, but the problem is that it's based in metaphysics that might be fundamentally flawed in a way that we don't know that would turn out to be Jordan ordinary dangerous Jordan. It could continually change these again. This check never gets fine cached unless ere, I won't eyes, I know. Well, that's part of the door
www problem. Imagine riding these waves where this society becomes better, her and worse and better and worse and and much better than much much worse, all would this price number claim running right through it right on the up. Slope you'll see all is looking more and more true is looking more more sufficient and then on the down, so obvious laths fatally flawed Lot we weren't considering now you know no you'd have to draw closer connection between the two, like the relationship now a tiny little claim and the Pope underlines metaphysic is pretty tenuous, and so I am not going to do. You know the act as if claim about a particular prime number is the causal back in may in all rising civilizations, up or down. I'm not making a claim on making the point. That there's a metaphysic underneath that plan and it could well play a crucial role in those rises or else, but it doesn't play a causal role in adjudicating the question
about whether or not that number is prime well, that's where I suppose, that's where we get back to some degree to the problem poverty, and these language gate issues is like There is the rule that the game of prime numbers falls, we'll call it a game and, according to the bridge, of the game. That is a reasonable move. You know Don't start about Liechtenstein, conceptualize, the meaning of words. You know he thought about those tools, and so I would say well, if I accept the under claims of the mathematical game in which that's a reasonable. Proposition. Then, yes, that's true is the only way you can talk about a prime number and sure that's fine, and it might be useful to talk about prime numbers, but that does not necessarily mean that their true in the way that I'm defining truth, which you already pointed out. It is associated with something like this
the more goodness like it might not it's possible that it's not the sort of game, a wise someone play now. I'm not saying that I am not saying that. That's necessarily the case. No, but again I just don't see how that could be relevant, that, as they say, bread claim which is intelligible to me, and it's perfectly worth talking about in fact, it's its essential to talk about, because there's an infinite number of things we could be painted into, and some will that's it there. We go that's part of the problem, so why paying attention to the things that were paying attention to Britain. That puts you in the moral domain immediately. Exactly to another question is why do scientists choose to study the things that they study and then you might say well because it attracts their interest and then you might say why, and I would say, are all now you're back into the dimension of the morality that surround science, but your concern
turn about the misappropriation of human intelligence and science and culture all be a totally valid in a concern I share that is caused it. What you're doing with it based on its like nature is causing you to engage in a kind of potlatch with your scientific tools. Were now vitiating, the utility of being able to say things like a prime number is prime, whether or not any of us have you're that out and in fact whether or not there are people around who even have understand the concept of prime numbers, while I would say that that's true within that's true within this added implicit, axioms at its true within a set of underlying presuppositions. Do you accept the priest oppositions that its true sure, by about the presupposition you don't really really really really de yes, but you have to accept that precept position whether or not we all die next Tuesday, nor I told you can't wait around for next Tuesday. On the cusp of death to
Finally, we may hear a pistol Malagigi indelible. We do that all the time. You know, there's a scientific theory that everybody says it's true is true. The theory of either That's a good one! It's true! It's true! It's true all didn't account for this. Well, I guess it wasn't true even We thought it was all along happens all the time of course, but it doesn't happen on the basis of it Single variable witches There are not enough people survive may forget about the fact that this very this darwinian criterion willing to re, write the history of what's true. Based on far less evidence than that and that's a good thing. But you know you see yourself what science is always trying to correct and by the discovery of errors in the future. So I don't see why not sitting radical than what I'm claiming the Errors have to be relevant and causally connected to the thing you're talking about are mere survival and again that their vagaries. Here, then, the question is, as I said, before, survive
for what, if you're surviving only to be a misery did we could call that into question? But then there's the question of whether enough people survive right, like how many deaths would begin to erode our confidence in the prime minister of a given number right. Five hundred years ago, you are forced to re, write our intellectual history based on a single criterion, whether at terminates in bliss or death. That just doesn't make any sense. I bear we're going around and around on I'd always see. I dont really see how that's any different than your claim that science should be nested inside the search for well being now where we will move on to that, because I think k I know you want to get there, but I just need a plant a flag here. I think many people list into this I'll, be interested to see what these people have a similar reaction here, but I would expect many people will share my frustration that you're not granting what,
seem to be just fairly obvious, an undeniable facts, and now we're we're having to use this concept of truth. It a pretty inconvenient way right. Because it's I don't see how any one's gonna think that it makes sense that look fine. I can, of course it's going to be, is going to be, is going to be. Controversial I mean they claim I am making. Is that scientific truth is now did inside moral truth and moral truth. Is the final adjudicators and your claim is no moral truth visit is nested inside scientific truth and scientific truth is the final adjudicators like fine in all those are both coherent positions, but yours action He isn't coherent, because your then having to once we get into the fine, friend you're having to say, will of course, all of those micro instances they Billy upon, billions of which can be cited, don't get changed based on whether or not we survive. You seem to be having a both ways by pointing to a micro instance. You say: well, that's just my
for instance, isolated from everything else, but the moment I can did everything else. You seem to suggest that is going to change, but the mechanism by which it would change in that there is no causal connection between little. Let's look at it. This way. Look at it. This way, so let's take the Irish Elk as an example, so one of the things that have deny regime. We think because he went extinct was that sexual selection, when I got out of control and the females fixated on ampler wits than the poor, their milk ended up. Like a twelfth look rack and that didn't you know, this is obviously a coastal theory, but sexual selection can account for run away information like that and the poor ever gonna racks, obeying than it really wasn't commensurate with its survival. Well, though, this then we might say well, I guess, something wrong with what the female Elk decided to focus on But we didn't really know that till we went extinct and I see that is
cisely analogous to the point that I am making right now. We're going and training on certain things in a certain way and is the scientific way. Let's say which is flawed and insufficient, and although very powerful, and it needs to be subordinated to something else of mercy or it will be fatal, I can grant all of that again. There are certain that certain ways of paying attention that are dangerous right. There are certain things that we shouldn't be doing, which we are tempted to do right and I I think one of those things is defining the world is in a material in real terms. I happen to think that I have my reasons, but this clearly the utility, the pragmatism of behaviour in certain ways are spending our time in certain ways or thinking in certain ways has to break free of a conception of whether or not certain things are true that's the only way you can make a claim that there are certain things that are in fact true that are dangerous to know, there's no way
for you to say that on this darwinian conception, you which just have to say will know them, then they're not true, if their dangerous to know they're, not true, but there's so that is currently an inconvenient about Raymond it that way. You know that it's true, of course there is. There there are equal inconveniences with framing at the office that way we're not going to get rid of inconveniences. It's like you know you you're, criticizing my perspective and you're, doing it quite effectively, although I don't say thirdly- because I think my distinction between the micro situation and metaphysics stands, but I would say that it up- that's not exactly the issue, the issue is: can you off? nor alternative that has fewer metaphysical problems, and I we say no. I would say that your counter position produces just as many annoying paradoxes and complexities, as my position does thrilling. That remains to be discovered, but its again, just this
no doubt a flaw mine as an interlocutor. But this is the kind of thing that does just drive me nuts and I I just want to make one point I want to say one more has to be still for the philosophy as in the audience, I make one more pass just entertain this example. So you have your two labs that are studying the smallpox virus and they both have that the same conception of the smallpox virus in hand. They both are working with the same tool, they put the same physical tools, the same intellectual tools, one lab weapon eyes. Is it and kills five hundred people based on some motive that we would if they want to criticise and the other lab, creates a vaccine and immediately saves the the same number of lives. Now they both have the same description of smallpox rattling around in their brains known. They know better,
Otherwise, one wouldn't have weapon eyes that your expecting me to assume the initial propositions, which is these labs or identical, except for the outcome so acknowledge. I because the outcome identical, then? So so you know it's kind of my Joshua. Brings our moral moral store, I can fix it, I can fix. This was just does not go to green yet then, the the differences when the two land is not a difference in their motives, right we're not decide people in one lab and the opposite and another there's just some trivial, difference in their equipment or just good and bad luck, which causes one two accidentally. Let this virus leak out and kill people and causes the other to successfully produce of acts and whenever you ask members of these labs what smallpox is and what they're trying to do, they say the exact same sent. Says, but we are here for an outcome. Ok, what
that's a whole different issue, though, because they do not weapon rising it. They just made a mistake. They made a mistake, but they were playing around with smallpox and it was highly pragmatic? Given the fact that people are neatly died and of the other I hadn't produced its vaccine. Everyone could have died so here we ve got to linked conditions that share the same: a pistol ology they ve got the same truth claims about smallpox. One is inadvertently killing people highly non darwinian non pragmatic on your account. The other is saving people and in fact, as the only bulwark against the consequences of the ineptitude in the first lab right ok, well, ok, fine! You know! First of all, I don't think it's very good example, because it only involves the death of a few people. But let me let me counter with him world examine on another. Don't change example scale it up. Let's say we're: ok, they're, killing, half of humanity and the other lab is saving.
As quickly as they can the remaining half of humanity. Ok, but what would happen give me your conception of truth to describe what happened in her see your binding it again and because you you say well, one is exactly the same rights as the other, except there's a there's, the snake in one there was a whole and bodies glove right, whatever he could make a trivial, as you want sure how if we make it that the engineers didn't check the damn all rings carefully enough. So the space challenger blew up. Ok, so what would happen in a situation like that? But what would happen would be that there would be a tremendous investigation into the cause of the error. Would be moral, ah part of that investing. It would be. A more investigation were people being blind where they being carelessly following proper procedure, etc. So the first thing that would have and is that people would assume that there were genuine ray.
Since he had motivation that might have caused it. Now they wouldn't have been among the scientists, necessarily they might have been among the equipment suppliers, and so we might say well maybe that of equipment happened to be made by slaves in China. And they were too concerned with its quality. And so then, might say: well, you know. Maybe that's right, the whole moral validity of the church, any system into into doubt and saw that little mistake in the lab that you're describing them Has this horrible consequence ends up tied up into thoughts about other things, but it need not be grant me the possibility The of a little mistake that allows for smallpox to get carried home on somebody's brief case and spreads in epidemic is obvious that this is possible. This is the kind of thing well intentioned people guard against work in those labs. All the time Well, then, I would say that that was evidence that the moral notion that mucking about with smallpox,
was a bad idea, except in this case you can't say that, and you certainly can't link bad idea to the pistol, illogical truth about. You of our understanding of smallpox, while I think so, I think you can We have the other lab on the other side of the earth by the only possible method we available to us producing the vaccine that will cancel the negligence of the FAO. The lad and save human, reasonable. A reasonable person would look at that situation and say what, Well, we don't mock about a small box anymore, despite the fact that we got really lucky and the errors, and benefits, counselled one another out at sea. To anyone sensible, but that that was pure down flew. Roughly speaking, and the idea that we should be delving into that particular bit of knowledge is ill advised. That's what would happen in that way
I think about that example. Ok, but it was. It was a fluke in both directions, right sure, but don't you shows that just shows that that messing about with their substance to begin with was ill ill Ill conceived and he'd, like any logical, any logical investigator, would concern when would immediately conclude that it's like you're, saying well from a utilitarian perspective. The consequence was basically zero, so not that but began to say that it was ill conceived as a perfectly intelligible and defensible thing to say but that doesn't at all suggest that anyone in either lab was wrong about the physical character of smallpox. Ride we need a conception of truth. They were wrong in a more profound way. Don't they write about rearranging the chairs on the title? but they were pretty damn wrong about the fact that it might say, ok, but that has nothing to do with the truth value of any statement about smallpox. It has not
to do with, if someone's as well the this ay a retrovirus we're and always the way that it does the way that I define true work in a way to see if everyone dies or not before we answer that question. We can't think about scientific truth sense again for for many reasons, but certainly because we can't wait around to see if everyone dies to find out. If we're making sense in the present to the thing is the thing is SAM. We do think about it that we already, we think Are we all the time we think? Well messy round with small box is problem we about idea because it might be fatal any time we have any inkling that the outcome of a scientific experiment might be Qatar. Beyond the broadest possible scale, we immediately decided it's a bad idea horse, but then again it s not has nothing to do with a pistol quality that has to do with danger and survival and risk and thing
that worry us right, which I would say or higher truths, so it doesn't have something to do with it. You can call them higher values, but they are not there not truth in the sense that when it comes time to have an honest conversation about the factual accuracy of any state but whether or not something is likely to be true. When you talk about probabilistic truth, there you're not talking, mirror about the risk of species annihilation. I know that's because you leave that question out of there, Leave that question out of the realm of consideration and for good reason for good proximate reason, but maybe for bad digital reason But for most things we want to talk about, there is no implication. Of danger on that scale at all, and yet we still have to make strong truth claims. We can make us as prosaic ores or is weird you want it. If someone says that your wife is cheating on you, presumably that's within them. I'm a possibility, provided that you have a wife and you're going.
What evidence and what would constitute evidence? Well, here's here is evidence. I saw it in a dream. Well, that's bad evidence. Will here's evidence a hired? private investigator in here, or seventeen pictures of her at various locations with a man you ve never seen before, and he looks like Brad Pitt now, all of a sudden, Presumably you're interested right now the claim about whether or not she's cheating on you isn't intelligible claim? a drill down on what it might mean. Does it does she have to be having sex with this person to be cheating on? You will say: yes, she does okay, so then there's a calling about what she is actually doing with this person in a law room somewhere when you're not around. That's a claim. That has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you wind up killing yourself east. On your reaction to this unhappy truth. If you'd then wound up killing yourself, could say at the end of the day what we would be better if he hadn't known. That would certainly be better if she hadn't done that.
Been better. If he had married, a different woman, surely will would want to say that the great be a better if he would have paid attention to his damp marriage into tribute. The review the cause of his demise to the existence of the photographs. This was why brought up your screen. Is that investigations into this morality always framed it where's and wait for you have to grant one thing here, this one peace that doesn't get moved here. We cannot move the peace that because you killed yourself. It's not true that she was here. An affair that move is not open to you and yet you're acting like it is
Well, you know, I think we ve been going down this road for so long that I'm not exactly capable of them at the moment of making them my crew ample Macro example Lee, because you're making our case there that it set clause I associated with science than the phonograph evident and the realism that's associated with that, and then you make The claim that you know it's not true that she wasn't having an affair. I'd have to take out a part more. He killed himself like you're, throwing a lot of things into that example that I believe are contextual important to my unpaid. Seeing the ethics behind it. Does your equating the fact tat. She had a fair deal committing suicide, which in others All that story there and it also depends to a large degree precisely on
What you mean by the fair, which was something that you rushed over, so you know you're acting, that's the problem with these damn Michael Examples is that, and this is why dont trust Josh Greensward. It's because you you set up a narrative, that's completely fictional, and you act as if each of the sub components of the narrative are isolated truths that have no external context. You say, while the external context has no bearing on the issue at hand and that's just generally, not true. It has a lot of bearing on the issue at hand. Why bears on some of it and there's other parts which it obviously can't baron well here and I'm just asking that distinguish? Example: man, I've been in courtrooms. I've been in courtrooms, lots of time say with divorce cases, you no end, They d the issue of what constitutes an affair with you burst over. You know when you said
they depend on what kind of sex is going on, whether or not its technically in a fair, it's like the photographic evidence of her. In bed with another man would not now the assembly be enough to convict her of having it Savareen court you're, assuming that the photographic evidence is crime, facie evidence of the affair and the way you we noticed by certain grabbing the definition of a fair such that it fits with your notion of factual evidence. You might say: well it certainly the case that she was having sex. Another man, Jordan, I'm just using it to demonstrate that it doesn't make sense to subordinate our conception of truth. Though the fact will accuracy of any given description of reality to what happens perhaps in some distant future
Visa v, the survival of anyone. Now we can talk about the survival of people and of the species as our primary concern at the total valid thing to care about lack of why you think out? Why is it ballot if it doesnt, if it isn't, at the top of the hierarchy of truth, claim Why the hell? Would you border subordinating sides to it? As you point out there, there are things that are more important than understanding reality is scientifically hey great. That's exactly my point you're, not making that point by using this Nietzsche in conception of truth. What you're doing making it very difficult to talk about facts, smaller the darwinian conception of troops. That debate she had won. I may need you just referred to it obliquely, but you just admitted that there are. That is not even a darwinian conception of truth is certainly not a darwinian conception of Darwinism because the truth value
of a darwinian description of biology is not predicated on any harms that may come on the basis of people. Thinking in those that's an additional ling, we can be concerned about you're sure, but there's a clean inside Darwin when he had thinking which was recognised by all. The pragmatists were very, very smart people that you, the truth, metaphysic this treatment, the Physic nested in darwinian darwinian fairy, which is that you do You don't have access to the truth, even if you think you have the best, you have all the truth that support the probability that you will continue with your existence and needs since of the species, and there is no narrow outside that, and you say yes, the rest. There's a ruthless that is not the pragmatic conception of truth, they pragmatic this area of truth is not merely anchored to
the Darwin and logic of evolution and survival? No, they considered it a subset of pragmatic thinking as soon as Darwin published his work. The american pragmatists particularly do We could also will you, James junk daunted instantly. And said well, yeah what there is an example of the work of the other. The generalised ability of our claims about pragmatic truth, it's either the taste in the biological world and there's no way outside is that in that's not my invention or my particular interpreted. I mean that drove in entire, that drove the fundamental american philosophy. Pragmatism. Again, I've been very close to pragmatism, because I was just endlessly haranguing Richard Warty in person about these things, but most of what we talk about most of the statement We want to make about reality that have some truth value or not how
dimly. We can see that the basis of it or not most of this content has no. Obvious connection and may, in fact, as a matter of the history of the species, have no actual connection to our survival. Why do you, you're about well being there, like. You know you to me: you're, making two paradoxical moral claims at this. In time, on the one hand, Europe, yes, dear- wanting to move on to another topic, which is totally understandable this point, but I think it spreads its partly because the when you are talking about the other topic, I think that you're. You will necessarily land up in the position that I just described. If you, if you pursue its far enough, not if I can't make your position makes sense,
when talking about terrestrial reality or even fictional realities, like I could say, for instance, that in Shakespeare's Play hamlet, hamlet, was the prince of Denmark right now. That is a factually true statement about a fictional world. You talked about white lies right, Jordan. Please no not escape and off the topic and directly addressing it. Something can be true at one level of analysis and not true at another. That happens all the time. That's what a white lies It happens all the time and the reason we're stuck on this discussion is because You would allow me to make a distinction between provisional factual truce, which I don't wanna dispute, because it is self evident that their correct, but that isn't what I'm saying I'm saying that there an underlying metaphysics, that's a question here was two different claims you could be making when you call them provisional,
one of which is obviously valid and which every sane scientist makes wishes to say that we are working within a set of theories and a set of tools which don't give us ultimate confidence that our current description, reality is true and will never be falsified or making false, viable claims. The world in a pot parian since many of which have not yet been falsified and which therefore are still in good standing, Ok, when you say that one of those would you say that one of those forces claims is that the work there We're doing in the lab is banned, Let a man called with you need I make sure, because of that Jordan, I need not lay claim you could make their claim or you could make a claim that its harmful or you could make claim. That is neither beneficial nor harmful and yet is still intelligible in that context, to say that What I'm doing in a lab is no less true,
they may not be used as they did. They. People don't do that in the real world. They always claim that what they're doing is of benefit and that's because they recognise the fact that whether or not it's a benefit trumps, whether or not it's actually turned a bookkeeper Jordan. Now we ve been doing this for two hours in my only claim is that you have to be able to distinguish these variables. It is intelligible to say that in one lab they have a true theory factually accurate, is allowing them to do all kinds of things. Wouldn't be able to do if they were mistaken about what they believed, but they're doing things that are harmful because their bad people write or negligent people. That is, unfortunately, an all two common situation that we are air theory, then their theory about what you're doing is wrong. You think that you can take the theory there theory of smallpox apparently of their new seriousness, and I would say well, you can't you can't you
you're willing there's an archaeological dig. That's going on here was say: there's approximately then there's a claim underneath that and then is under the flower and then there's a claim underneath out, which might be a moral claim, which I would say is something like at the bottom and I would say: well, nefarious people can't have a truthful view of smallpox fibres nor possible, and, you might say, wait a minute just Picard world. If you just parcel there, the little empirical description is identical to the miracle description of the benevolent person, and I would say, well then you just drawing near borderline around your truth claim inappropriately it's a matter of debt. We could make it even worse for you than that, We could make the lab of good people. Fundamentally confused about the nature of smallpox, Reiser their good people? We need to be able to talk about their goodness because they have good intentions, but when you actually look at what they believe
without smallpox. It's wrong wrong. By what standard that standard can not be there goodness it can't be of the species it has today, to do with the details of molecular biology, if you put them in opposition to the lab of bad people who have an accurate. That is true understanding of smallpox again concept of truth floats free of anyone's intentions here and you it seems to me, you half a grant me. I just have an error. They just have an error at a different level of the archaeological dig, so they're good people will say, but they're they're, proximate definition of smallpox is wrong and ass also not- the darwinian perspective. I didn't say that good people nest certainly always make good decisions, said that or the error that being good necessarily provides you with, must make these the perfectly good, wise people who would make good decisions with an accurate understanding of smallpox. It just so happens, however, that their bad biologist, again the
crucial thing: is that you get you need the conceptual tools to be able to make these distinctions. Ok, then, I would say that the probability that their perfectly good people Andrew biologists and those studying small what is so negligible the example doesn't make sense this is the problem I have with these toy moral conundrums. Is that their you get to define the contents of the canal and leave out what you want, and that makes it easy easy to win the argument, but they're not real, like will now has its people and we ve been real world conundrums, a lot like a lot and the first problem. What's a real world conundrum? Is it's damn near impossible to find it? You have to dig and dig and dig and dig and dig it also. You have pictures of your wife having an affair. Okay, so fine, no problem. So then I spend like to
here's digging into the situation, and I find out that you know to call what she did an affair. Given your behavior entire ten years beforehand is such a perversion of the truth. Then it makes your photographic evidence not only irrelevant but positively malevolent. So it's not How do you see again your your size engines, your season, upon superficial features of my example that don't actually change the significance of these ample least. From my point of view, George, this is what I am tempted to do. This point we have because now I'm as a podcast host, I'm I'm worried about the the end product here and about the the patience of our listeners, a vast number of whom really want us to talk about these things. I think what we should do here is pause.
You and I have had a two hour plus conversation about epistemological, where we seem to differ. I honestly, I still can't convince myself there When push comes to shove, we really have a different conception of truth. Here I feel, like you, are committed to playing a language game by certain rules of Your own design here, which which are not helping you achieve clarity with interlock like me or or anyone else on this topic, it's going to be hard to talk about the connection between scientific truth and moral truth, which I know you want to talk about, and I want to talk about, but I'm not gonna be as good as I should be going forward if we just start from this place and log another two hours, and I and I know when Can I have an audience that wants to listen to a four hour podcast when, where the two our mark here, so what you think about this plan we break here. We release this conversation,
one thing we will be interesting for me is if anyone, can point out to me: what I am missing about your argument thus far you are reacting to me like there is. There is something you are saying that makes sense, then I'm not seeing the does, actually nullify the import of the kinds of toy examples. I have been putting forward and I don't see it if there can be a red thread that performs a post. More time on this, that shows me how I'm wrong. I would love to see that I will read it and I will take instruction from it and I will come back to a second conversation with you, duly chastened and revive How we proceed talking about this, but yes well, I might emerge duly chastened as well, but because I think we're different something fundamental, but less crowd sources, because I actually I'm not following the plot here, if, in fact that's true, so with your permission,
I recommend we pause here. We release this to arm sure fans they do a proud source postmortem on it, and then we see where we are. I think that's a fine idea, ok, ass of absolutely because yeah, I know, there's there's no sense, while we're circling the site, terror to no one had taking and take a game of the same problem from different angles. And you know it's it's. The question is obvious to me: it's obvious. Were approaching us from, I would say, almost different ontological perspectives now support the possibility is that there's something along with the way that I'm setting up this argument or others they flawed with the way that you're setting it up, although there there's nothing incoherent about the way using. But by no means part of it stems on How are you willing to conceptualize truth and and that, while it look man, it's not
When do we argued about that for two hours, because that really hard question. I don't think it's as hard as you are making it out to be, and I think that you will be surprised if we moved into the other topic. I thank you. Are assuming their implications my views about grounding morality in science say that you're here yeah, I think, don't exists. I think you think we're farther apart on, questions of morality and value than we are but we are and then your ploughing, that assumed difference into this part of the conversation and can grappling with it there. I just it's just not the case. We will find that I have no hesitation at all, for instance, in Seville, We need in the scientific project to questions of what will maximize human flourish in the end, and you can show me a line of research that is bad for people
I'm gonna be no more enthusiastic than you are, but again we can't reduce the concept of growth to that. Well does that is the question. Is that is exactly the question? It's it's. I don't think that you can make both those claims simultaneously and you thank you no problem in making them and that's fine. You know like it's a complex, it's a complex question was the result the mercy of our listeners and I think it was a fine idea. I really do listen. Thank you for your time, and and despite how wrapped around the axle we got here and how tight I might have sounded to you at various moments. I appeal nature taken the time to do this, and I remain open to further discussions. A ceiling is mutual. It's like you know, it's not like. I'm I'm under any illusions that this is an issue that easy to saw its a fundamental. It's a fundamental issue and I could well be wrong about it. You don't I
I am reasonably confident your use of truth here will prove unfair. Agnostic by your own standards. But let's see we'll call this part one of our conversation sounds good salmon, hey look. I really appreciate the invitation and wisdom and also the conversation. You know like it's you you, you are very good at generating a barrage of intelligent objections. You know one, that's that's that's great. No, because one of the things you want to find out about a claim is whether Nordic could stand up to jet genuine Chris You know you talk about making an iron man you're all right not your man, India, that was for a moment. Yes, precisely yes, and so you know you You're, pretty good steel man and that's the sort of person that I'm interested in having a discussion with. We both have many fans and detractors who will work this out for us and intervention to see what
happens. Neil say I wish you well in your collisions with social justice. Worry. And everyone else who are still at your doorstep. No doubt so. Keep up energy and our paths cross again thanks If you find this podcast, able there are many ways you can support, it. Reviewed on Itunes or stature. Where we happen to listen to it, you can share it. Social media, with your friends, you can blog about it or discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly and you can do this by subscribing through my website as samharris dot org and there you'll find subscriber only content which includes my ask me anything episodes he also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well as streaming. Video of some of these events,
Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.