## Problems In Philosophy • 12

JFS:
C.S. Peirce made a very clear and sharp distinction between formal or mathematical logic and logic as semiotic.
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Short summary:  When Peirce uses the word ‘logic’ by itself, it’s important to check the context to see whether he’s talking about formal logic or logic as semiotic.

Dear John,

The first post of this series was prompted by a post 4 years ago on the Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP blog which jumped from the frying pan of problems in programming to the fire of problems in philosophy.  Then last week two more posts, linked above, made the leap to two of the most flagrant problems in politics, namely, (1) the passage from effective and efficient algorithms to ethical algorithms and (2) the perils of navigating turbulent seas in a ship of state guided by elective representation, where the people pick their pilots from among themselves to represent their collective will and whatever wits they can muster.

Bearing all that in mind, I would like to keep exploring the ancient issues of aesthetics, ethics, and logic from our contemporary algorithmic perspective.  There the descriptive and normative orientations to knowledge parallel the systems-theoretic dimensions of information and control.  And there we find normative sciences appearing under the banner of “design sciences”.  In that frame the art of crafting a ship of state becomes a question of optimal design for a human society.

When it comes to logic, then, a generic conception will do for now, leaving Peirce’s definition of logic as formal semiotic and fine points of the difference between mathematical logic and mathematics of logic to another day.

### 1 Response to Problems In Philosophy • 12

1. Poor Richard says:

Jon, you may be tired of this but I’m still stuck on the is-ought problem.  I don’t think the dichotomy is valid.  Ignoring the distinction between morals and ethics I’m going to use them interchangeably.

I suspect morals evolved as a kind of Golden Rule analog that rewarded good behavior with fitness payoffs in the form of minimizing net suffering, going back to the earliest living cells.  Minimizing net suffering may be the common axiom underlying both the descriptive and normative sciences and eliminating the line between is and ought.

This would clearly have relevance to ethical algorithms.  Whatever else they may be intended for, an ethical algorithm should not increase net suffering.  In fact if its good for anything it should reduce ns.  Of course the problem is in the externalities unknown to the algorithm.

I hope this doesn’t go too far afield of your own train of thought.

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