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When is a lie not a lie?


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#1 coberst

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 04:32 AM

When is a lie not a lie?

The word “bachelor” is a noun for those individuals defined as being an unmarried adult male. Most people would not say that the Pope is a bachelor even though he is an unmarried adult male.

Let us examine the process that is called “framing the issue”. We see an example of this when one side calls it self ‘pro-life’ and the other side calls it self ‘pro-choice’. The pro-choice individual is framing the issue about that beautiful concept ‘freedom’. The pro-life individual is framing the issue about that beautiful concept ‘life’.

Framing the issue is about choosing categories based upon often ideological and self-serving purposes. However, we do also frame the issue by categorization with or without ideological or self-serving motivations. Frames are one type, among many, of cognitive models.

What day is this, it’s Monday, the worst day of the week! Monday can only be defined in reference to what might be called an ICM (Idealized Cognitive Model). The concept ‘week’ is an ICM. The week is a whole that has seven parts. The model of the week is idealized, meaning that the seven-day week has no concrete existence, it is an abstract idea that we humans have created. It belongs to our culture; other cultures may have all kinds of different ICM for dividing up their cycles of the sun.

Back to the category of “bachelor” and the question ‘is the Pope a bachelor?’ There is generally a social context when using this word. We do not consider a gay male couple to be a set of bachelors. Catholic priests are not generally considered to be bachelors. I suspect that we do not think of Tarzan as being a bachelor.

Bachelor is an ICM like ‘week’ and in this case it does not fit even our culture in a complete and exact manner. “An idealized cognitive model may fit one’s understanding of the world either perfectly, very well, pretty well, somewhat well, badly, or not at all. If the ICM in which bachelor is defined fits a situation perfectly and the person referred to by the term is unrequitedly an unmarried adult, then he qualifies as a member of the category bachelor.”

When is a politician lying?

The category ‘lie’ can be a very important category especially when perjury is a question; perhaps it is even more important when citizen confidence is at stake. When is a lie, a lie, and when is it something more innocuous and can we know the difference?

There are a number of conditions that classical categorization of ‘necessary and sufficient’ place upon a statement before we catalogue it as being a lie: falsity of belief, intended deception, and factual falsity. A good example of a lie wherein there is little or nothing in which we might quibble is ‘when I steal something and then deny doing it’.

Empirical research has turned up a surprising conclusion about this matter of lies and liars. Most people consider that Fred is lying when Fred says something that Fred considers to be false, regardless of its factual falsity.

Bachelor, bird, and lie are example of prototypes. While some cognitive models are classical; that is to say, that they share rigid boundaries and are characterized by necessary and sufficient conditions, many are not.


Often there are is a prototype of the category by which we judge whether something belongs to a category. In the case of the three categories mentioned we use prototypical characteristics to judge whether a man is ‘really’ a bachelor or a liar. In the case of dinosaur I suspect most of us recognize that for zoological science the dinosaur is a bird but we would ordinarily not consider that a dinosaur is much like a sparrow or robin, which for many of us is a prototypical bird.

This business of categorization is what President Clinton was talking about when he replied “It all depends on what is is!”

Quotes from A Clearing in the Forest: Law, Life, and Mind by Steven L. Winter professor of Law.

#2 Rade

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 07:35 AM

I would think that 'ignorance of facts' is the source of all examples of "when a lie is not a lie".

Suppose I hold X to be true, but my knowledge of X comes from false facts about it given to me from others. Then, if a go around the world saying X is true, X is true, .... it is in fact (objectively) a lie, but conceptually for me (subjectively) not a lie.

Thus I do not agree at all with this statement above:

..... Fred is lying when Fred says something that Fred considers to be false, regardless of its factual falsity.....

I find that Fred is not lying in this case, and if research shows that "most people" think he is lying then it is because "most people" act out of 'ignorance of facts', in the same way Fred so acted.

Thus I think it reasonable to conclude that the answer to the OP question: 'when is a lie not a lie" , is 'when actions are based on ignorance of facts'.

#3 lemit

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 07:48 AM

Intent is everything. Mistakes don't count. I have no children, but if I had any I'd try to have taught them that by the age of four.

--lemit

#4 lawcat

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 01:06 AM

--

#5 coberst

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 03:45 AM

It appears that very few responders ever read beyond the OP title.

#6 HydrogenBond

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Posted 14 September 2009 - 08:13 AM

I like to define a lie objectively, using the objective principles of science, with a lie being analogous to the falsification of data. A black lie would be blatant data falsification. The experiment was never run. A white lie is like adding false data because one is trying to help a fellow scientist. The heart is in a better place but it is still false data. The curve shows this, what does it hurt to add a few more data points.

Lying can also be the omission of data. When we omit data, the best curve will go through only the data we present. This can lead to the wrong curve or conclusion. This same curve may not go through all the data, if we added the omitted data. In this case, the data is not a lie, but the lie is connected to the conclusion one will be expected to infer because of the omission. Political parties use this form of lying to help draw one-sided conclusions. We start with a framework and stack it with actual valid truthful data. But we omit data, so the curve appears to be valid. That is another no-no in science.

Another subtle framing effect for lying is an empirical correlation. In this case, one includes all the data, which is good. This sets the framework for a premise based on the best curve. The lie relative to this curve is the data that is outside the curve. That data lies with respect to the frame work of correlation making the relationship partially true and partially false.

For example we have ten data points, five black and five white. The average is gray even though there are no gray data. This is the best straight line. In this unique case, it might be better to draw two curves instead of one to reduce the lie. But if we do that, we might decide to pick sides and omit half the data to set the framework to prove only our favorite color curve is valid. The single curve of gray now seems better in comparison to this double lie. Maybe we will need to rephrase the framework so the curve actually touches all the points, and not just in an average way with math massage.

#7 lemit

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 08:06 AM

It appears that very few responders ever read beyond the OP title.


I did. I thought that although some of your original post extended the meaning of the title, what I said was responsive to your post, which seemed to me to be an elaborate statement of a simple proposition.

You did read my post, didn't you?

--lemit

#8 coberst

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 08:15 AM

The point of this post is to illuminate the importance of categorization and how little we know about this very important matter. We know so little about this matter because our culture teaches us only the rationalist model for categorization.

What is important here is that SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has empirical evidence to support theories that show us that our traditional mode of categorization is completely inadequate. Categorization is very important aspect of our comprehension of our self and of our world. Few people recognize this fact and it will take generations before this level of knowledge filters down to DickandJane.

Our world is changing rapidly and if we do not find a means to change our comprehension of the human sciences we as a species will be unable to adapt to our changing world sufficiently to survive.

#9 lawcat

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 09:34 AM

The point of this post is to illuminate the importance of categorization .

:evil::hihi: :naughty: :confused:

traditional mode of categorization is completely inadequate. Categorization is very important aspect of our comprehension of our self and of our world.



I suggest that the mods change your title to "When is categorization inadequate."

if we do not find a means to change our comprehension of the human sciences we as a species will be unable to adapt to our changing world sufficiently to survive.


Great Relevance.

#10 lemit

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 09:35 AM

Sorry. I don't know how I missed that.

I hope we can somehow get away from dwelling on categorization and focus more on the things that need to be done. The social sciences are particularly bogged down in language.

Who cares whether it's a tornado or a foehn wind that is threatening your house? (My house has had both and has got a lot more damage from the foehn winds.) Also, you might not want to spend your time checking the temperature differential to be able to identify the wind as a foehn.

In other words, the world around us, however it's defined, is what we need to deal with. But I have a feeling I'm veering even further away from what you wanted to discuss. Sorry.

--lemit

#11 Theory5

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:09 PM

[b]When is a politician lying?

oooh! I know this one! When they open their mouth. :hal_jackolantern:

#12 coberst

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 01:13 PM

Sorry. I don't know how I missed that.

I hope we can somehow get away from dwelling on categorization and focus more on the things that need to be done. The social sciences are particularly bogged down in language.

Who cares whether it's a tornado or a foehn wind that is threatening your house? (My house has had both and has got a lot more damage from the foehn winds.) Also, you might not want to spend your time checking the temperature differential to be able to identify the wind as a foehn.

In other words, the world around us, however it's defined, is what we need to deal with. But I have a feeling I'm veering even further away from what you wanted to discuss. Sorry.

--lemit


Therein we see the dimension of our problem.

Our (American) educational system has prepared us to become good producers and consumers. One aspect of this preparation is to kill curiosity and the desire to learn. After our school daze are over we must first restore curiosity and the desire to learn.

Categorization is meaningful. Meaning is not a thing; something is meaningful for a creature only when there is an association between that thing and the creature. “Meaningfulness derives from the experience of functioning as a being of a certain sort in an environment of a certain sort.”

There is nothing more meaningful for a creatures’ survival than correct categorization of the world in which that creature lives.

Quotes from Metaphors We Live By” George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

#13 Rade

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 09:50 PM

The point of this post is to illuminate the importance of categorization and how little we know about this very important matter. We know so little about this matter because our culture teaches us only the rationalist model for categorization.

Well, Coberst, you really do need to think in more detail the relationship of the title you use to what you want to highlight in the OP discussion. I for one am not trained in mind reading, and when I see a post titled "when is a lie not a lie" I simply assume there is a question of interest in the OP being asked in short via the title. Even after reading your OP again it is not clear to me you wish to discuss the 'rationalist model for categorization". I hope you can see how this may have been a much more direct title for the post.

...What is important here is that SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) has empirical evidence to support theories that show us that our traditional mode of categorization is completely inadequate

Well, this topic has not been much discussed in this thread. What exactly do you mean by 'traditional mode of categorization' ? Apparently you equate this term with a 'rationalist model'--how so ?

....Our world is changing rapidly and if we do not find a means to change our comprehension of the human sciences we as a species will be unable to adapt to our changing world sufficiently to survive....

What does this mean..."change our comprehension of the human sciences" ? What is our (your) comprehension ? Do you really find 'non-human sciences' to exist--if so, an interesting topic indeed. What makes you think "we as a species" will be unable to adapt to a changing world to survive ? What evidence do you now have of adaption of the human species over the past 100,000 years ? Why now, in year 2009, do you suggest this process will stop--especially if the traditional model of categorization has been so successful to get us to this point ?

Finally, rather than the multiple posts you have made with tid-bits of information about a new philosophy you apparently wish to discuss in this forum (e.g., your Second Generation Cognitive Science), how about you begin a new thread with the title: "Second Generation Cognitive Science", explain in some detail what exactly this means, and we can have a discussion of its merits.

#14 coberst

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 01:08 AM

We have in our Western philosophy a traditional theory of faculty psychology wherein our reasoning is a faculty completely separate from the body. “Reason is seen as independent of perception and bodily movement.” It is this capacity of autonomous reason that makes us different in kind from all other animals. I suspect that many fundamental aspects of philosophy and psychology are focused upon declaring, whenever possible, the separateness of our species from all other animals.

This tradition of an autonomous reason began long before evolutionary theory and has held strongly since then without consideration, it seems to me, of the theories of Darwin and of biological science. Cognitive science has in the last three decades developed considerable empirical evidence supporting Darwin and not supporting the traditional theories of philosophy and psychology regarding the autonomy of reason. Cognitive science has focused a great deal of empirical science toward discovering the nature of the embodied mind.

The three major findings of cognitive science are:
The mind is inherently embodied.
Thought is mostly unconscious.
Abstract concepts are largely metaphorical.

“These findings of cognitive science are profoundly disquieting [for traditional thinking] in two respects. First, they tell us that human reason is a form of animal reason, a reason inextricably tied to our bodies and the peculiarities of our brains. Second, these results tell us that our bodies, brains, and interactions with our environment provide the mostly unconscious basis for our everyday metaphysics, that is, our sense of what is real.”

All living creatures categorize. All creatures, as a minimum, separate eat from no eat and friend from foe. As neural creatures tadpole and wo/man categorize. There are trillions of synaptic connections taking place in the least sophisticated of creatures and this multiple synapses must be organized in some way to facilitate passage through a small number of interconnections and thus categorization takes place. Great numbers of different synapses take place in an experience and these are subsumed in some fashion to provide the category eat or foe perhaps.

Our categories are what we consider to be real in the world: tree, rock, animal…Our concepts are what we use to structure our reasoning about these categories. Concepts are neural structures that are the fundamental means by which we reason about categories.

Quotes from Philosophy in the Flesh by Lakoff and Johnson

#15 Rade

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 05:47 PM

....Our categories are what we consider to be real in the world: tree, rock, animal…Our concepts are what we use to structure our reasoning about these categories. Concepts are neural structures that are the fundamental means by which we reason about categories.

I would agree with you Coberst, and add that I find that human language evolved in order to concretize our concepts mentally (we call it talking to ourselves), and for communication between humans only secondarily. Individual humans tend to value objects of perception because awareness at this level is so direct and automatic, however, in terms of evolutionary importance for species survival, the conceptual level of awareness is far superior. Language allows us to take advantage of both modes of awareness (perceptual, conceptual) simultaneously as a dialectic. Thus I find it important that humans embody and hold mentally objects of perception that concretize as symbol the concept that life is worth living.