[OPE] Science and scientology

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Jun 06 2009 - 05:28:43 EDT

Imre Lakatos (and other philosophers of science, such as Paul Feyerabend,
Thomas Kuhn and Larry Laudan) provided many examples in the history of
science where scientists hold on to their beliefs (or a "paradigm") despite
contrary evidence, and they refer explicitly to "scientific dogma" in this
sense. In other words, scientists do not immediately abandon their theorems
at a drop of a hat, in a dilletante way, when confronted with bona fide
contrary evidence; instead, they try to develop new explanations and new
tests for why this evidence is compatible with their previous theory, and
meantime they continue to defend their previous theory. Obviously no real
theoretical development could occur, if core assumptions would be
continually changed and replaced, since the whole inferential system would
in that case constantly change in unpredictable patterns.

The "fallacy of composition" actually has two main variants. The logical
form of the first variant is similar to a pitfall of inductive

Some X's are Y, therefore all X's are Y

The assumption here is simply that characteristics which apply to a subset
of an object class apply to the object class as a whole, but, although this
is logically always possible, the point is that "no additional premiss" is
provided to prove that it really is the case, hence it is an illegitimate
inference as it stands.

The logical form of the second variant is slightly more subtle:

Elements{X, Y, Z} of the whole {A} share characteristics {P, Q, R},
therefore the whole {A} must have characteristics {P, Q, R}

Here the assumption is, that characteristics of the elements must
necessarily apply to the whole too, "without provision of any justification
or reasoned inference for why this must be so", given that the whole could
be qualitatively different from the sum of its parts (in the same way that 1
an 3 are odd numbers and 4 is an even number, so that we cannot infer from
1+3=4 that 4 is an odd number).

Now, in reality Jerry, our dispute has nothing to do directly with either
fallacy. You, as the self-proclaimed, patronising Legislator of Logic, just
start accusing me a "fallacy of composition" in order to evade my argument,
but nobody can really take that seriously for a minute.

I have never denied that there can be Marxists who are very good people, as
well as Marxists who are manipulative exploiters. On average, Marxists are
probably no better or worse than anybody else. But I claim two things:

(1) Marxism is a non-scientific, quasi-religious ideology;
(2) Marxism "can function as" and "has functioned as" the ideology of a new
exploiting class seeking to transform the world after their own image.

I have distinguished carefully between Marxism as an ideology, and Marxian
or Marxological scientific research (research which shares Marx's "goals").
They are different, because Marxism as an ideology does not accept
scientific criteria to adjudicate the truth, and is immune to scientific

Why I mention the fallacy of composition is, that the ideology of Marxism
(in various variants) in fact utilizes these fallacies all the time, even
although you are not aware of it: for example, just because e.g. Mao,
Stalin, Trotsky and Pol Pot were brutal dictators, does not mean that there
is anything at all wrong at all with "Marxism as a whole" (sic.).

In this way, you can justify anything, because "at a certain level of
abstraction" the whole is different from the parts, while at another "level
of abstraction" the whole and the parts are the same even if they contradict
each other. If the evidence supports Marxist ideology, you accept it, and if
it contradicts Marxist ideology, you reject it because it is "irrelevant" or
a "fallacy". And that is, consistently, how the "dialectics" of Jerry Levy
operate. It may be a harmless, shallow ideological activity, and I am not
saying it is necessarily wrong, but it is not scientific, that is the point.


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