[FRIAM] abduction and casuistry

Nick Thompson nickthompson at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 22 00:40:39 EDT 2019

Hi, Glen, 


Almost missed this in the email litter.  Glad I didn't.  Please see larding, below. 




Nicholas S. Thompson

Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Biology

Clark University




-----Original Message-----
From: Friam [mailto:friam-bounces at redfish.com] On Behalf Of u?l? ?
Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 6:06 PM
To: FriAM <friam at redfish.com>
Subject: Re: [FRIAM] abduction and casuistry


Admittedly without more context -- and in my ignorance, my first reaction is to accuse you (and Gladwell) of a category error.

[NST==>Ach! Hoist by my own petard, again! <==nst] 

The criminologist doesn't sound like he's advocating anything like casuistry (or what I'd argue is the inferential purpose of abduction). He seems to be arguing for something closer to non- or anti-deontological reasoning ... The only rule is that there are no rules.

[NST==>Yes, I wondered about that.  Can a casuist be Rigorous.  Now, Glen, do you and I agree, or disagree, on the value of [and also on the perils of] rigor.  I think of rigor as something one tries out to see where one arrives.  One does something forced, automatic and counter intuitive for a while (think mathematics) in the hope that when one is done, the rigor delivers one to a more integrated, intelligible, articulable state of thought.  So, if casuistry is incapable of rigor, I probably don’t want any part of it. I am less certain about “meta-rigor”.  Do I have any fixed rules for when rigor “should” come into play.   Do you agree with any of that? <==nst] 


It's reasonable, of course, for a self-described monist

[NST==>Ach!  No!  See below!<==nst] 

 to hunt for the Grand Unified Rule of Reality, the master equation that need only have all it's many (even countably infinite) variables *bound* to values for the answer to bubble forth like from an oracle.

[NST==>Hang on thar, big fella!  Are you confusing monism with monotheism?  There is nothing ethical about monism.  It is simply the position that we will think more clearly if we postulate only one kind of stuff (“experience”, in my case) and deriving all other “stuffs” from organizations of that single basic stuff.  <==nst] 

 But people like me might react: "Of COURSE, you have to look at the particulars of every situation because *any* predicate you infer (by hook or crook) will always be wrong." This is why I'm a supporter of jury trials, as I've argued here in the past.

[NST==>Glen, could you spell out for me how one reasons from a particular, full stop? I can see how one reasons from the assignment of a particular to a category, but I genuinely, honestly, non-argumentativly cannot see how one argues from a particular without knowing what it’s a particular OF and/or having some rule to apply. <==nst] 

 [NST==>For me, you raise here, explicitly for the first time, the relation between the terms “ontological” and “deontological”.  I have always been confused about them, and your message has goaded me to figure it out.  It turns out that THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ONE ANOTHER!  Here from etymologyonline.com. 


DEONTOLOGY: "science of moral duty, ethics," 1817, from Greek deont-, combining form of deon "that which is binding, duty" (neuter present participle of dei "is binding") + -ology. Said to have been coined by Bentham, but it is used in a wider sense than he intended it. Related: Deontological.


ONTOLOGY: metaphysical science or study of being," 1660s (Gideon Harvey), from Modern Latin ontologia (c. 1600), from onto- + -logy. ONTO- word-forming element meaning "a being, individual; being, existence," from Greek onto-, from stem of on (genitive ontos) "being," neuter present participle of einai "to be" (from PIE root *es- <https://www.etymonline.com/word/*es-?ref=etymonline_crossreference>  "to be" 


They come from entirely different Greek roots!  One is not the opposite of the other.  So, there is no hidden tension invoked by these words, however ever tempting it may be, between the world as it should be (deontology) and the world as it is (ontology).  I supposed if one believed that existence consisted entirely of obligations one would be a monist deontological ontologist.  Reminds me of that joke about the kid who could never understand the meaning of Dog.  




Is the criminologist truly engaging in an inferential process by which he builds rules to (completely, perfectly) shrink-wrap multiple particulars?  Or is the criminologist more of a pluralist, open to the failure of any given predicate he may infer?

[NST==>Glen, I wonder if you are thinking of abduction as inferring principles from particulars.  That, of course, is induction.  Abducing is inferring the identity of something from one or more of its characteristics.  You see a flash of blue on your feeder: “bluejay”.  All the criminologist is doing is suggesting that this death is not an instance of police brutality but, in fact, is an instance of “suicide by cop”.   Of course, now that I reread your message, the shrink-wrap metaphor does apply to multiple-abductions.  So, I suppose, “flash of blue, large aggressive bird, long beak, loud “jay” call” is all shrunk-wrapped by “bluejay”.  But the original step, the “I have here a blue jay” step, is the abductive step. This is part of what is mysterious about abduction – it is unclear what it gets you unless you have a really clear and powerful idea of what a category is … which I don’t.   <==nst] 


Thanks, again, for answering.  I guess you and I are the only ones who are going to engage on this one, so I am particularly grateful. 




On 8/20/19 12:19 PM, Nick Thompson wrote:

> Once you become aware of abduction as a mental operation, you start to 

> see it everywhere.  I saw it in Malcom Gladwell’s three part series (   <https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-standard-case/id1119389968?i=1000444756825> https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-standard-case/id1119389968?i=1000444756825;  <https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-rocks-taxonomy/id1119389968?i=1000445285031> https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dr-rocks-taxonomy/id1119389968?i=1000445285031;  <https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/descend-into-the-particular/id1119389968?i=1000445850049)on> https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/descend-into-the-particular/id1119389968?i=1000445850049)on Jesuitical casuistry.  I always thought of casuistry as a form of sophistry or hypocrisy, but apparently it began is as method for incorporating the new experiences that global travel brought to the 16^th Century Catholic World.  As an inquiry into the identity of a particular case, it looks a lot like abduction to me.  Because many of you live in NM, you may take particular interest in the third episode, which presents an analysis of the Angelo Navarro shooting by Albuquerque police. Was it case of a violent man charging the police with a weapon?  Or was it the case of a racially motivated firing squad of unarmed men by heavily armed police?  Or, ….? You would get a lot of benefit from just listening to this one episode, but to fully understand its philosophical impact, you need the other two to set the context.



☣ uǝlƃ


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