Re: virus: pop quiz #14

Dan Plante (
Thu, 20 May 1999 15:19:04 -0700

At 03:40 PM 20/05/99 -0600, David McFadzean wrote:

>At 02:17 PM 5/20/99 -0700, Dan Plante wrote:

>>The difference between the two is therefore the differenve between
>>knowledge and understanding, so applying that translation to "descriptive",
>>I guess I would have to say.....
>>Hmmmmm. What is it you're trying to do, David?
>Differentiate models that represent the world as it is versus
>models that represent the world as it should be. Specifically
>a belief such as "people should be nice to each other" is a
>normative belief (in my understanding). How would you qualify
>the belief that "people are not always nice to each other"?
>What I'm trying to discern here is that beliefs of the
>former (normative) type don't have a truth value. You can
>agree or disagree with them, but you can't measure any
>correspondence between them and reality. Only representations
>that purport to describe reality in some way have a truth
>value (I claim).

Actually, I think statements like that can and do have a truth value. The problem I percieve in that example is a lack of context (here we go again). For instance, I would say that the context of the statement provided is: "Assuming that being nice to each other is what everybody wants, then...". In this case, "People should be nice to each other." would be a true statement. The trouble is, most people who make these statements don't realise that the context within which thay hold their statement to be true, is simply a construct of their own personal aesthetics, and that is anathema to them. They want their environment to closely approximate their aesthetic ideals, but they understand that if they present their demands in that context, it won't have nearly as much power to effect their ends compared to a context of objective invariance.

So, as I see it, the problem is not one of untrue statements, it is one of unstated context which, in most cases, I believe stems from the fact that most people don't know themselves well enough, or some people practice self-serving obfuscation (what a shock ;-).

Is this sort of what you were getting at?