Theory

Fundamentals

We must balance theory with

  • data, or
  • practice.

[In theory, “data” and “practice” are just different ways of saying the same thing, but as a practical matter, it seems like a good idea to separate them, at least for now. (And I guess we should include “experience” in there too, somewhere.)]

Of course, theory is necessary for progress, but if we rely on it too heavily, we'll be led astray. There seems to be a certain mindset that jumps immediately to extremes, to edge cases, which tend to be problematic. I see this more often with men than women (systematizing brain?), and more often with libertarians than other folks.

It is as well not to push an inquiry too quickly towards the limits of the possible, but to spend more time surveying the centre of the field. The ordinary non-controversial possibilities need to be analysed and distinguished from one another. This is just as much the task of philosophy as the more controversial demarcation of the frontier, which is usually begun all too soon.

- Ian Pears, Motivated Irrationality

Theory vs data

If we believe, as we must, that Zeno's arrow reaches its target, we want to know what is wrong with the argument purporting to prove that it cannot reach it.

- Ian Pears, Motivated Irrationality

Theory vs practice

[A]n ethical conception that commends relationships, commitments, or life projects that are at odds with the sorts of attachments that can be reasonably be expected to take root in and vivify actual human lives is an ethical conception with—at best—a very tenuous claim to our assent.

- Moral Psychology: Empirical Approaches (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

To do

  • relates to: systematizing male brain?
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