Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Truth versus utility

Instrumental and epistemic rationality tend to be correlated, because there is an objective world. Concepts are mental tools: don't ask if a belief is true, ask if it is useful.

Scientific theories are concepts, tools. The epistemic way to evaluate a scientific theory is to see how accurate its predictions are. This is epistemic rationality.

But the instrumental way to evaluate a theory is to see how adaptive believing it is. Is believing it good for your genetic fitness?

These are not the same. Science is a commitment to truth, but that is not necessarily good for you. Accurate predictions are not the same as utility.

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