• bert1
    1.3k
    Back to school! Here's a multiple guess exam. Good luck!

    We can argue about the right answers (if any) and this issues raised in the subsequent discussion.

    Instructions
    For each of the statements given, indicate if you think it is a theory or a definition. There is no third option, fence sitters shall be spat out. If I give a third option you'll all pick it and the poll will be boring. If you want to moan about that, do so loudly.

    There's lots of interesting questions I could have asked but didn't think of, of course. I don't have time to do a really nice job of this. Many of the questions revolve around consciousness, but that's just because it's a preoccupation of mine. Feel free to add interesting cases.
    1. Consciousness is integrated information (12 votes)
        Definition
        58%
        Theory
        42%
    2. The sun is that thing (points at bright yellow disc in the sky) (12 votes)
        Definition
        92%
        Theory
        8%
    3. Consciousness is something brains do (12 votes)
        Definition
        17%
        Theory
        83%
    4. The Glasgow Coma Scale of consciousness (12 votes)
        Definition
        75%
        Theory
        25%
    5. Sentience is the capacity to feel or know (12 votes)
        Definition
        92%
        Theory
        8%
    6. A bachelor is an unmarried man (12 votes)
        Definition
        100%
        Theory
          0%
    7. The sun is the shield of Lunkar the Sky God of clarity, not a giant ball of hydrogen and helium (12 votes)
        Definition
        33%
        Theory
        67%
    8. The sun is a giant ball of fusing hydrogen and helium (and other elements) (12 votes)
        Definition
        42%
        Theory
        58%
    9. Water is H2O (12 votes)
        Definition
        67%
        Theory
        33%
    10. You know what water is! It's that wet stuff in the glass you just drank. (12 votes)
        Definition
        83%
        Theory
        17%
    11. Wood is lignified cellulose (12 votes)
        Definition
        50%
        Theory
        50%
    12. Wood is that stuff chairs are made of (12 votes)
        Definition
        67%
        Theory
        33%
    13. Good is that which is willed (12 votes)
        Definition
        67%
        Theory
        33%
    14. Evil means not getting what you want (12 votes)
        Definition
        75%
        Theory
        25%
    15. God hates fags (12 votes)
        Definition
        8%
        Theory
        92%
    16. A guitar is a six-stringed musical instrument that directly alters the shape of a person's soul-ears (12 votes)
        Definition
        42%
        Theory
        58%
    17. A symbol is a record or carrier of information (12 votes)
        Definition
        58%
        Theory
        42%
    18. For any x, x is either alive or dead (12 votes)
        Definition
        50%
        Theory
        50%
    19. Meaning is use (12 votes)
        Definition
        50%
        Theory
        50%
    20. The true is the useful (12 votes)
        Definition
        42%
        Theory
        58%
    21. There is something it is like to be a seagull (12 votes)
        Definition
        33%
        Theory
        67%
    22. There is something it is like to have an experience (12 votes)
        Definition
        50%
        Theory
        50%
    23. Human walking is the action of a body moving itself by way of balancing on top of its legs (12 votes)
        Definition
        75%
        Theory
        25%
    24. An internal combustion engine is never conscious, even when it is running (12 votes)
        Definition
        33%
        Theory
        67%
    25. Rocks do not have experiences (12 votes)
        Definition
        17%
        Theory
        83%
    26. "Less than 7" is not a vague predicate (12 votes)
        Definition
        42%
        Theory
        58%
    27. Rights are legal, not natural (12 votes)
        Definition
        67%
        Theory
        33%
    28. Different species cannot produce viable offspring (12 votes)
        Definition
        25%
        Theory
        75%
  • fdrake
    5.3k


    Amazing work. :up:
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    It seems that most of the "is" statements are definitions. The theories are more vague and require definitions to make them less so.
  • fdrake
    5.3k
    The Glasgow Coma Scale of consciousness (4 votes)bert1

    This was the only one I wasn't torn over when I voted.

    But I'm torn over it now.

    The association of numbers with different states of consciousness seems definitional, but the ordering of them seems theoretical.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Hmmmphh! Don't we need to define "defintion" and "theory" first? :smirk:
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    Most are definitions, or descriptions, and a few are, it seems, in/direct explanations aka (testable) "theories".
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Either all are simply definitions or are fragments of theories. Speaking for myself, single sentences are definitional in almost all cases and if not express, clarify, expand upon concepts that are part of a theory, a theory being a set of ideas that are interrelated and designed to provide an explanatory framework for observed phenomena. :lol:
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.5k

    I can't see any "definition" or "theory" in all that. You must look up these words in a standard dictionary.
  • bert1
    1.3k
    Amazing work. :up:fdrake

    Could have been a lot better, but thank you! The results so far are fascinating.

    It seems that most of the "is" statements are definitions. The theories are more vague and require definitions to make them less so.Harry Hindu

    This was the only one I wasn't torn over when I voted.fdrake

    That's interesting. I thought it was perhaps the most straightforwardly definitional one.

    I'm surprised the sentience one is unanimous so far. And I'm surprised some of the others are split nearly half each. Very interesting.

    The association of numbers with different states of consciousness seems definitional, but the ordering of them seems theoretical.fdrake

    Hadn't thought of that. :up:

    Hmmmphh! Don't we need to define "defintion" and "theory" first?Harry Hindu

    Inevitably! Go ahead. Maybe we should also have a theory of definition and theory as well.

    Most are definitions, or descriptions, and a few are, it seems, in/direct explanations aka (testable) "theories".180 Proof

    :up: Did you do the poll?

    Either all are simply definitions or are fragments of theories. Speaking for myself, single sentences are definitional in almost all cases and if not express, clarify, expand upon concepts that are part of a theory, a theory being a set of ideas that are interrelated and designed to provide an explanatory framework for observed phenomena.TheMadFool

    Sure. You can still give a glib summary of a theory in a sentence, no?

    You must look up these words in a standard dictionaryAlkis Piskas

    Consulting a dictionary is never bad advice. Thank you. :)
  • fdrake
    5.3k
    Hadn't thought of that. :up:bert1

    I wouldn't've thought of it if last week's work wasn't ball deep in dealing with operationalised scales.
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    Did you do the poll?bert1
    Yes.
  • TheMadFool
    13.9k
    Sure. You can still give a glib summary of a theory in a sentence, no?bert1

    A sentence, to my knowledge, doesn't have a word limit. The convention seems to be to keep it short or rather short enough to understand. True, you could put down an entire theory in the form of a single sentence but that sentence would be very long indeed. You would've won as it were, proven that a sentence can be a theory, but only on a technicality.

    Definitions, on the other hand, are usually expressible in a sentence because the concepts involved are fewer.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    Inevitably! Go ahead. Maybe we should also have a theory of definition and theory as well.bert1
    A definition describes what something is. A theory describes why something is.

    A definition is used for identification while a theory is used for prediction.
  • bert1
    1.3k
    A definition is used for identification while a theory is used for prediction.Harry Hindu

    That seems quite good to me. With regard to consciousness it works well. Some definitions (but not others) of consciousness are completely neutral as to which objects can have it. It takes a theory to then predict which things can have experiences and which things cannot.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.6k

    I just looked at the results and there is a lot of disagreement on many of the questions. It shows just how complex the relationship between theories and definitions are. We use and need definitions to construct theories. However, the developments in theories alter our construction of theories. I am aware of this difficulty in my own threads on the self, evil. I think that what was also so interesting was that a few months ago a thread was started by @T Clark on what is consciousness? What became apparent was that how the many users on this site write about consciousness and have different meanings of the term, and how these are linked to our understanding of consciousness itself.
  • Harry Hindu
    4.9k
    That seems quite good to me. With regard to consciousness it works well. Some definitions (but not others) of consciousness are completely neutral as to which objects can have it. It takes a theory to then predict which things can have experiences and which things cannot.bert1
    No. In this sense, consciousness has been defined as not being limited to which objects have it prior to any theories being posited. What this actually means is a bit vague and a better definition would be needed in order to test it with theories. It seems to me that you need a definition first to then be able to posit a viable theory as to why consciousness is that way - not being limited to which objects have it.
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    I think discussions on your threads on self, evil, consciousness, mystery, etc more than most(?) other threads illustrate a metaphilosophical problem: how one can use philosophy (instead of science) in order to generate a "theory" which purports to explain – over and above describing (or stipulatively defining) concepts for – facts of the matter. The assumption that, in other words, 'philosophy is (like) a science' is what's problematic, and many conjure-up eclectic "theories" which are incomprehensible to others trying to clarify how the concepts at issue can be used more consistently and coherently, in effect, talking past each other philosophically. I've yet to be persuaded that philosophy is theoretical (vide Witty et al).
  • Jack Cummins
    4.6k
    I do think that on my threads and, others at times, it is a problem that people are often talking past one another. I was just looking at a thread started by @Pfhorrest today. This suggests that it would be good if people could begin their thread discussions with showing how their idea relates to previous ideas. I won't explain further because you can look at the thread. However, I think that it is useful when people write threads to do a certain amount of research, but the many ideas which we have come from such a wide spectrum of angles.

    When looking at ideas it is almost like peeling back layers and meanings. For example, today I was just reading @"Josh's entry on page 5 of my evil thread, in which he wrote about personal construct theories and I realised how important that is in contrast to metaphysics of good and evil, and seen from that angle, the definitions would be so different from, say a Kantian approach. So, when we begin looking at terms and theories, sometimes it seems to me that it is like trying to dig up the earth and it could go on and on forever.
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    Because the discussions are freeform and "anything goes" as considered "possibilities" ... Perhaps it can't be helped. It often feels like searching for a needle of good philosophizing (distinct from science, history, etc) in a haystack of bad philosophizing (confused with science, history, etc).
  • bert1
    1.3k
    It shows just how complex the relationship between theories and definitions are.Jack Cummins

    Yes, I think that's right. I was very struck by how divided the responses are. There's only one where everyone agrees. It seems, however, that people do recognise an intuitive difference between theory and definition, even if, with some concepts/ideas they are perhaps difficult or impossible to separate completely.

    I'd be interested in @Pfhorrest and @Banno's views, and anyone else's.
  • bert1
    1.3k
    I think discussions on your threads on self, evil, consciousness, mystery, etc more than most(?) other threads illustrate a metaphilosophical problem: how one can use philosophy (instead of science) in order to generate a "theory" which purports to explain – over and above describing (or stipulatively defining) concepts for – facts of the matter. The assumption that, in other words, 'philosophy is (like) a science' is what's problematic, and many conjure-up eclectic "theories" which are incomprehensible to others trying to clarify how the concepts at issue can be used more consistently and coherently, in effect, talking past each other philosophically. I've yet to be persuaded that philosophy is theoretical (vide Witty et al).180 Proof

    Philosophy itself is an interesting case. I could have put as one of the sentences: "Philosophy is not theoretical" Definition or theory? I guess 'definition' can be further subdivided into a number of categories. As can 'theory'.
  • 180 Proof
    11k
    How about a caveat?
  • T Clark
    10.8k


    This is a really good idea. Upvote. I didn't vote because too many of them were "neither of the above" for me. Now I'm thinking about questions I could put in a poll like this one. Let's see:

    True or false:

    • Bullwinkle is a dope.
    • @180 Proof is a national treasure.
    • Psychology is a science.
    • The USA is the greatest nation in history.
    • pi = 3.14159265358971323846...
    • Emus and Ostriches are really the same thing.
    • This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.
    • 1 + 1 = 10
  • fdrake
    5.3k
    For anyone that kept being torn between them, what criteria did you decide between definition and theory?

    Mine was; the sentence should be a definition, if it unambiguously equates a word with an object or process or otherwise sets out how a word is typically to be used, I'll call it a definition. If it's doing anything else, I'll call it a theory.

    There was a lot of ambiguity in which was which for me; as I didn't know how to draw a line between setting out a typical use of words and setting out a connection/claim between a word (like sentience) and a property (integrated information). I imagine in general there isn't one - at least, the latter can do the former.

    "Call those oogyboogles which exceed the blimblam threshold pumps".
  • ToothyMaw
    1k
    Mine was; the sentence should be a definition, if it unambiguously equates a word with an object or process or otherwise sets out how a word is typically to be used, I'll call it a definition. If it's doing anything else, I'll call it a theory.fdrake

    Same here.
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