Find the interview here. I was surprised to hear Ned Hall referring to predictive systems as a patch of truth. I am skeptical about this framing which I will get into shortly. As a preliminary aside, Newton thought some wacky things about what space is, and what forces are. This led Hume and Berkely to make some equally wacky claims about forces and space. Worth looking into if anyone is interested. Anyway, this conversation made me think about what we're doing when we do science. I am skeptical of the suggestion that what we are doing is something like "bootstrapping towards the truth" or finding "patches of truth." I say this and my STEM friends immediately get very defensive, but I don't think they need to. A "good" prediction comes apart from what's "true" basically immediately, Newton of course being a prime example. Newton made excellent predictions in the sense that they allow us to do a great many useful things, without corresponding to what we now think is metaphysically true. So it doesn't look to me like the goal is truth, but rather something much more pragmatic. I think this came up during the interview, but I would have been interested to hear more of Alyssa's thoughts, as a scientist, about what is truth and what relationship science has to it. I do think the pragmatic type of program is very unpopular, and there are certainly good reasons to think it is wrong, and that science really is discovering objective truths. For my part I am not so sure either way.
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