SUO: Re: Question about Example in KR Book
That is a good question:
GDA> And so.. the problem is: what is the research activity?
The foundation for all learning is trial, error, and survival
of the methods that have proved to be successful. That criterion
includes everything from instinct (genetic learning by evolution)
to individual learning "in the school of hard knocks" and the most
refined methods of scientific research.
The primary difference between genetic learning and individual
learning is whether the results are encoded in DNA or in neurons.
The principles, however, are the same: what works is preserved,
and what doesn't work is forgotten. And the question of what
works is answered by survival in a hostile environment: finding
food, avoiding danger, and successful reproduction.
The fact that a species of organisms (ranging from bacteria to
humans) has survived is proof that its genes encode information
that enable individuals of that species to survive and reproduce.
Successful reproduction over millions of years demonstrates that
there are *real* aspects of the environment to which the genetic
information provides a key to survival.
For individuals of a species, brains have proved to be valuable
organs for more rapid learning than is possible with genetics alone.
But neurons don't replace DNA. They build on the genetic information
to enable more rapid adjustments to changing environments. But the
successful use of a brain depends on the individual's recognizing
and adapting to *real* features of the environment.
As brains get bigger, cultural learning becomes important as adult
members of a species teach their young the lessons they learned for
themselves or from their ancestors. With language, human cultural
learning has expanded more rapidly than any of the other animals.
And books have enabled cultural learning to be preserved over
Science is just the latest refinement and extension of the learning
processes. Science is built on cultural learning, which is built on
neural learning, which is built on genetic learning. And the final
criterion for all methods of learning is the same: successful testing
against what is *real*. Any knowledge that survives the tests of
life and death must ultimately have a fairly accurate correspondence
with what is *real*.
Summary: Every successful organism, species, culture, or scientific
theory must be able to survive the test of trial and error against
reality with life and death as the criteria of success or failure.
Bottom line: I would never trust a true nominalist with the keys
to a car.