Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Falsifying meta-theory

Joe asked about falsifiable criteria for the likes of IT, SR, OOO. I replied:

I suggest Edwards' article in the current IR. He has been a huge proponent of how to falsify meta-theory, which all of the above seem to be. The article goes into how to apply the scientific paradigm to the meta-level. Interestingly he says this of Bhaskar:

"Bhaskar also stresses this capacity of social science and particularly of metatheoretical science to adjudicate on the half-truths and false forms of knowing and acting that emerge from this 'demi-reality' of entrenched ideologies" (179).

Of course he caveats this with the following:

"Metatheorising is the attempt to ground big picture models on extant scientific theory. It is not a philosophical process of working from first principles. Rather, it is a scientifically grounded activity of developing overarching views from the integration of other respected sources of valid cultural knowledge and verified streams of scientific research. Metatheory is essentially the study of other theory and its uses middle-range theory as its source of data" (180).

Nonetheless meta-theory uses the falsible theories that use first principles. And Edwards lays out how meta-theory itself has some falsifiable principles different from first-order theory. It's rather involved and I don't claim to understand it all but he is well researched and it seems to make sense. Anyone else read it and have comments?

Also recall this post from the IR thread, an article which claims that Lakoff & Johnson’s “convergent evidence framework” brings together empirical data from “theoretical constructs un-falsified by six or eight independent methods.”

[Layman then responded that such meta-theory may not require such falsibility, being more abstract, self-validating tautologies.] My response:

Note that L&J's "convergent evidence framework," highlighted in their seminal text Philosophy of the Flesh, uses various un-falsified paradigms to show that a priori (i.e., metaphysical) philosophies are not grounded in the empirical and thus guilty of false reason. Whereas their, well, philosophy in the flesh is based on un-falsified empirical findings from various fields, image schema being such evidence from among them. Thus this also answers Layman in that even highly abstract thought, as well as mathematics, is so grounded as well; they are not just self-validating tautologies. Lakoff did a meta-study of math with Nunez called Where Mathematics Comes From.

I'd add that the likes of OOO, SR and CR all engage with dynamic systems theory, nonlinear calculus, and some with quantum mechanics,* highly validated (un-falsified) paradigms. Bryant for example is constantly harping that the Imaginary and the Symbolic have to be grounded in the Real, the latter being such 'evidence.' Which, by the way, is akin to L&J, though I'd say that while L&J are stronger on the Real, Bryant is stronger on the other two.

Also one might check out Nunez's article "What Is Mathematics? Pauli, Jung, and Contemporary Cognitive Science." He also happens to go into Pauli's relationship with Jung, and how they both viewed archetypes (and math) as 'involutionary' or metaphysical givens. Well, at least some of the time!

* The OOO thread's first post in fact is Morton on QM as evidence for the withdrawn, contingency and so on.

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