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Compare: “what is X” or “is there X” to “what test will establish that there is an X”.

We think that the criteria for what will count as something are prior to the thing. This is not even true of games or artifacts.

The filter idea of the mind: criteria are prior to things; establishing “what will count as an X” is prior to “what is X”. It is not clear that this is true except in very rare and contrived circumstances. It’s not as simple as agreeing to what will count as a foot and then going out and measuring.

Consider the standard as an abstraction of the thing observed, or a way of understanding it through a proxy. For a security system, “a burglar” is “one who interupts a light beam under specified conditions X” and “burglary” is the physical event of doing so. There are benefits to defining burglary in this way – one can certainly “show the results” of doing so. How can such results ever measure up to defining burglary as “illegal entry into a building with the intention of theft”?

“Wanting to get testable results” will smuggle in some vague notion of what the thing is. It in fact will be conditioned by the vague understanding, and be a certain extension of it.

A laser beam is interrupted or not. We reduce the burglar to a yes/ no condition, physically verifiable. We catch him. Now what?

 

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