Thursday, July 07, 2011

Subsetting

Human vocabulary is always less than sufficient to describe what it has to describe. The degree to which it is less than sufficient varies from 'greatly insufficient' to 'only by torturing logic can you see the narrow margin of insufficiency'.

We get around this problem of the insufficient subset by defining things so big (or defining so broadly) that they are actually no longer clearly defined or paradoxical to define. This is what Bertrand Russell discovered.

It leads to truths such as 'no scientists can be moral'.

For example, we can define scientists either objectively or subjectively — a scientist is someone who believes in X, Y and Z and behaves as such (where X, Y and Z are objective phenomena), or a scientist is someone who is observed by people who are qualified to observe scientists (i.e. they have to be scientists too) to act as in the former case. In the latter definition, we have scientists defining scientists, which leads to essentially a subjective situation.

But what is morality? Heh. Go through the same definitional process and you will see that morality eventually also turns upon itself and devours itself. Both 'scientist' and 'moral' are social constructs. But we have constructed 'scientist' to be 'reductionist' and 'moral reductionist' to be 'fundamentalist', and 'scientist' to be not 'fundamentalist'. So the only way out is for scientists to assert they are 'moral relativists'.

In which case, a single definition of 'moral' fails unless 'moral' is defined so broadly as to be meaningless to scientists. So... oh dear. I must be amoral. Or no longer a scientist. Haha...

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