Infallible Skeptic?

AuthorTopic: Infallible Skeptic?
Guardian
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Alright, so today was my first day of classes (blows raspberry at all the early-starters), and one of my Arts options is a philosophy course on gaming theory. After spending about half an hour telling us that the course is a real philosophy course and giving us a pep talk to keep us motivated through the year (which made me apprehensive; why not let the content speak for itself?), the prof made us swear the following pledge:
quote:
I will not believe anything you say because you say it; I will believe it because I have figured it out for myself.

I will not disregard anything you say until I have given it a fair chance and have reasons for doing so.
I get what he was saying, but it got me thinking. I'm wondering what other people think of this:

I have made mistakes in my ideology in the past. I will undoubtably continue to do so in the future. I am not infallible. I have left mistakes go uncorrected for a long time, even when other people tell me to fix them. So why should I hold myself as the final judge to what is true or not?

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What if they run out of ammo?
- Question from an Art major in response to a well-defined gaming question.
Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
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The obvious answer is because as the decision maker you are obligated to process information and decide whether it is true or false. You can accept everything you hear as true, but that's still a decision that you're making.

Since you have to do it one way or another, your best starting point is assuming you can at least determine what is true, what is false, and what you cannot determine. That last category can be appealed to people who are likely to tell you the truth based on previous judgements.

—Alorael, who is sure a famous philosopher has attacked this subject usefully. It seems fairly fundamental.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
? Man, ? Amazing
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quote:
Originally written by Dintiradan:

I have made mistakes in my ideology in the past. I will undoubtably continue to do so in the future. I am not infallible. I have left mistakes go uncorrected for a long time, even when other people tell me to fix them.
I'd love to help, but I just can't seem to relate to any of this.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
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At least you recognize that you make mistakes. Some people go through life with the infallibilty of the Pope or the view that even if I'm wrong it doesn't make a difference.

Your professor is trying to get people to think about what he is saying and not blindly accept everything to regurgitate it back for exams. Most philosophies have some flaws or contradictions that made critical thinking important.

You'll probably have a point early in the class where you have to argue against something that you are taught. It will come down to your ability to find reasons why what you heard is wrong.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
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Infallibility isn't a requirement to be one's own judge. In fact, if you were infallible, there would be no need for discussion or lecture, and you could stay away from the course and just figure out all the answers for yourself.

Believing only what you realize is true is, however, required to make discussion and lectures effective - you increase your own understanding by listening to what people say, thinking about it, arguing, then listening to counter-arguments, etc.

Of course, this scepticism must be accompanied by openness for new ideas - that's the second sentence. If you only accept what you have already figured out yourself, then you are neither infallible nor able to learn. But if you accept an idea as true based only on authority, then the wrong idea can stay around for quite long - and what is more, a right idea can stay around long after becoming outdated.

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A friendly reminder: even if you don't believe what your professor tells you, it's important to act like you believe it when exams come around.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
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Ah, but you aren't learning for the course, you're learning for life. :P

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Posts: 8752 | Registered: Wednesday, May 14 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
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quote:
Originally written by Dintiradan:

a philosophy course on gaming theory.
.....!??!?!!!!

Where is this course and how can I take it?!

(Seriously, any chance of a correspondence option?)

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
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Actually, that's interesting. Game theory usually falls under the purview of mathematics or economics. How does it become a philosophy course, especially one that isn't dependent on complicated math?

—Alorael, who invites you to consider the course a game in which a good grade is winning. How do you optimize your chances? Apply the right degree of skepticism and wide-eyed credulity. Explain to the teacher that you're doing so and maybe he'll even be impressed by your quick grasp of the philosophical underpinnings of his class!
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Guardian
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By Ephesos:
quote:
Where is this course and how can I take it?!

(Seriously, any chance of a correspondence option?)
PHIL 325: Risk, Choice, and Rationality, if that helps any. For Alorael, I'm guessing the philosophy aspect comes from rationality.

Anyway, to maintain this thread's usefulness:

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Larry, Moe, and Curly are having a pistol duel. Larry has an accuracy of 0.3; Moe, 0.8; and Curly, 1.0. Each round, everyone must fire one and only one shot. Larry fires first, then Moe, then Curly. Where does Larry's best chance of winning the duel lie: shooting at Moe or Curly?

(And please: don't say things like Larry runs away, or Larry disobeys the rules and doesn't shoot. Art majors seem to think of this as 'creative thinking'.)
Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Board Administrator
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"How does it become a philosophy course, especially one that isn't dependent on complicated math?"

Here's my guess. A good chunk of Game Theory is based on finding ways to partition a set based on some idea of "fairness". But what is "fair"?

Actually, that's pretty lame. How about this. I bet they could get a lot of mileage about real world applications of the Prisoner's Dilemna and the Tragedy of the Commons. A lot of modern philosophers are struggling, understandably, to develop real world uses and applications for their field. And this is a natural place to start.

- Jeff Vogel

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Posts: 960 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Triad Mage
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quote:
Originally written by Dintiradan:

By Ephesos:
quote:
Where is this course and how can I take it?!

(Seriously, any chance of a correspondence option?)
PHIL 325: Risk, Choice, and Rationality, if that helps any. For Alorael, I'm guessing the philosophy aspect comes from rationality.

Anyway, to maintain this thread's usefulness:

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Larry, Moe, and Curly are having a pistol duel. Larry has an accuracy of 0.3; Moe, 0.8; and Curly, 1.0. Each round, everyone must fire one and only one shot. Larry fires first, then Moe, then Curly. Where does Larry's best chance of winning the duel lie: shooting at Moe or Curly?

(And please: don't say things like Larry runs away, or Larry disobeys the rules and doesn't shoot. Art majors seem to think of this as 'creative thinking'.)

It has to be Curly, unless shooting and missing means that they will be more inclined to shoot at you during their turn.

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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
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I think that people's choices are determined based on their chance of survival, rather, and psychological whims like returning fire don't appear.

Ok, here's my analysis. If he shoots at Moe and hits, he's dead since he's the only target for the infallible Curly, so that's not the right choice (not shooting is better than shooting Moe).

If he shoots Curly, there's a 30% chance of hitting and being in a standoff with Moe where Moe shoots first. Call the probability of survival here x. We can compute this by noting that if they both miss, we're in the same situation, with the same chance of survival. Thus, x = 20%(Moe misses)*(30%(Larry hits) + 70%*x) = .06 + .14x. Solving, .86x = .06, so x = 6/86 = .07. This doesn't look good for Larry, eh?

If he misses (70%), then Moe will shoot at Curly, because Moe is the biggest threat to Curly, and Curly will eliminate him if he gets a chance to shoot.

If Moe hits (80% of this branch), we've got a standoff between Larry and Moe, but this time Larry shoots first, which is better for him. The chance of survival is 30% (if he hits) + 70%*(x).

If Moe misses, Curly kills him, and Larry gets one chance to shoot Curly, with a 30% chance of survival.

So, the chance of survival if he misses is 80%*(30%+70%*x) + 20%*30% = .24 + .06 + .56x = .30 + .56x. Even without plugging in the value for x, we can see that he's got at least a 30% chance of survival here, far better than the 7% if he had hit Curly. In fact, it's about 34%, better than his chance of hitting with a single shot.

Since he's much more likely to live if he doesn't kill anyone on his first round, his best move is to shoot the ground. Rather strange, eh?

(disclaimer: I've heard of this result before, so I knew what to expect)

Uh... I hope I didn't just do your homework for you. Thanks for the problem, though!

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Posts: 256 | Registered: Monday, October 8 2001 07:00
Triad Mage
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I think intentionally missing is the same as not shooting (which was against the rules).

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
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Nevertheless, in this case, the art majors who say, "Don't shoot!" are right. Actually, if everyone has only one bullet, not shooting means that Larry gets to survive no matter what happens.

—Alorael, who thinks that's the only answer that's useful. If the only choices really are to shoot Moe or Curly, the latter is the only real choice because Moe's death results in a 100% chance of Larry's death.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Shock Trooper
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The really question is: how did the Stooges get into a three-way duel, and why can't they resolve their issues with the usual wacky hijinks?

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Electric Sheep One
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Oh, a wise guy, eh?

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Law Bringer
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Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
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Guardian
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By Croikle:
quote:
Uh... I hope I didn't just do your homework for you. Thanks for the problem, though!
No, I had already posted two screens worth on the course's board. Then the prof signs on and says that you don't need any math to solve the problem. :(

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Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Agent
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It becomes philosophical when you realize that your decisions can't possibly be based on complete rationality. One of the underpinning ideas of some new developmental psychology is that it is impossible to develop rational decisionmaking capabilities without strong emotional development. Part of this comes from the study of autism and other developmental problems where emotional stunting stops further higher developmental faculties.

Descartes was wrong about splitting the world into rational/irrational so new models have to be developed based on decision making. Descartes essentially disproves himself in many situations. This is pretty controversial stuff.

A very good book on this is Descartes Error, Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. There is other material on the irrationality of perception.

Breaking down things into simple rational/irrational tiny pieces is not always the best way to solve large multi-causal problems.

[ Friday, September 08, 2006 15:35: Message edited by: I'll Steal Your Toast ]

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
Shaper
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quote:
Originally written by I'll Steal Your Toast:

autism and other developmental problems where emotional stunting stops further higher developmental faculties.
Autism does not imply emotional stunting. Just because an autistic person doesn't smile and hug his mother/spouse/etc. and say "I love you, Mommy/Sweetheart/etc!" does not mean said person does not love his mother/spouse/etc. Autism implies social dysfunction (dysfunctional in a society run by neurotypicals, at least), not emotional.

(I know I'm derailing the conversation, but I felt I needed to comment.)

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Posts: 2957 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by I'll Steal Your Toast:

Descartes was wrong about splitting the world into rational/irrational so new models have to be developed based on decision making. Descartes essentially disproves himself in many situations. This is pretty controversial stuff.
I'm not an expert in the field of philosophy, but the fact that your claims are controversial presumably means that a lot of very intelligent people think you're wrong. As such, I'm not sure you should be presenting your opinion as if it were fact.

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