Tuesday, January 04, 2005

salubrious emetic

In a post entitled "Finally," AKMA applies a sense of emergence to the notion of truth within a community:
such a firm conscience will leave little room for the unexpected, and (to belabor a point) “unexpectedness” constitutes one of the touchstone features by which we recognize emergent phenomena.
But what would Rush do?


Blogger Jon Husband said...

Touches off a firestorm of thought for me.

What if we flipped that ... if one stays conscious reasonably consistently that there are always "unexpected" things occurring, does it change the recognition of emergent phenomena ... or of our understanding of what the word 'emergence" means.

What I always wonder is how we came to the widespread sense that the arrangments in which we live and work today and the linear, predictable evolution of those arrangements are what we should expect.

1/05/2005 9:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

I share your wonder - that "widespread sense" puts the kibosh on imaginative possibilities, and seems an entirely passive mode, as if we were watching tv and it was always the same show, and it didn't occur to us to change the channel. But to be fair, it's not easy to live in a mode of constant expectation of the unexpected - in certain forms it can seem like a sense of the miraculous, or at least a kind of magical thinking, and thereby become accused of a nonserious irrationalism. How does one, after all, "reasonably" maintain expectations of the unreasonable?

1/05/2005 11:08 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

But to be fair, it's not easy to live in a mode of constant expectation of the unexpectedGood point that. And wrt reasoning about the unreasonable (and I suppose being unreasonable about reasoning) I suppose that's why there is in law this widely accepted notion of "what a reasonable person would expect" .. .at least in Canadian law, which I suppose means its derived from British law.

1/06/2005 11:37 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Would Canadian courts be a good place to study whether what a reasonable person would expect can be determined to be identical inthe cases of French and English persons, in their respective courts and contexts?

1/06/2005 5:09 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

There are two differnt code of law operating in canada .. in Quebec the basis for the law is the napoleonic Code, whereas I don't know the name of what operates in the English provinces, tho' I'd be nmighty surprised if it is not a direct descendant from englad .. after all, Liz is still our Queen.

1/06/2005 6:02 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

I apologize for the over-hasty typing. Readers of one's comments deserve more attention from the author. I'll be more fastidious from now on.

1/06/2005 7:53 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Interesting. I'd be curious to know whether there is a single national Supreme Court that addresses cases from both judicial systems, and what model of reasonableness they use, or how they deal with the differences in legal systems.

1/06/2005 11:55 PM  
Blogger The Gluon said...

Tom, thanks for this puzzle. Also writting hastily, never have looked at emergent 'truth' in quite the same way before reading your post.

Perhaps a bit out of sync, but a first thought was the image of some Buddha-type-guy holding a lotus flower in front of a crowded audience -- and seeing that only one guy gets the 'message'(the newly emerged truth). So he smiles. (Perhaps there was a baby in a corner where he salubriously emeticed his morning Gerbers all over the place, and so distracted the wisdom-truth away from others in the crowd? :)

When a potentially truthful phenomena begins to emerge from a gang, how do us proselyters determine it's momentousness? Do we a) vote b) follow a moderator, or other type of authoritarian body, c) engage in some type of scientific method, that is

1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

Or, do we use a different method for picking the sweetest smelling lotus flower, like, say ... financial markets? Surowiecki, on page 74 of The Wisdom of Crowds looks at how various systems go about selecting the really sweet ideas. Writes Surowiecki, ... a "system can only produce genuinely intelligent results if there's a means of aggregating the information of everyone in the system. Without such a means, there's no reason to think that decentralization will produce a smart result. ... In the case of the free market, that aggregating mechanism is obviously price. ... The price of goods reflects, imperfectly but effectively, the actions of buyers and sellers everywhere, and provides the necessary incentive to push the economy where the buyers and sellers want it to go. The price of a stock reflects, imperfectly but effectively, investors' judgement of how much a company is worth."

Should our scientific method, financial markets, catechistical traditions and pantomimic ways of picking nobel prize winners and Miss American beauty queens be discarded? How do we figure out the meaning and worth of newly emerged lotus flowers? (btw, I haven't finished Surwiecki's book -- perhaps a better understanding of wisdom-emerging-from-crowd methods is in one of the closing chapters, or there is no method or system.....).

1/07/2005 12:08 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

I'm tempted to suspect, dear Sem, that Sur's book got away from him. Neither is aggregation, which is necessary, analyzed much at all, nor does there emerge much of a theory. Just today I was thinking, perhaps Mr. Sur. surrendered the attempt at theory because at some level his thesis works against the option of successful unified understanding. The book sort of seems like a small astral squid staring us in the face, daring us to make sense of it. Scientific method would hope to include the most thoroughgoing critique of its own bases that it can imagine, no? (I lean to Popper, who sees only error, but also the rigor to detect it, a kind of Chaplinesque silly walk that we might at once find both risible and admirable.) Your researches seem wonderfully open, like a lotus flower.

1/07/2005 1:17 AM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

I don't know a lot about law, but I'll give your last question a laynmean's beginning try.

There is one Supreme Court in Canada. There's also a very important division of jurisdiction and subsidiarity of responsibility that is an ongoing process of discussion between the country, a federation of provinces. The provinces actually have a lot of power and are in many ways like nations unto their own, and have jurisdiction over many of the aspects of daily life.

federal jusrisdictions are over transportation, health, immigration (mostly, with Quebec as a pretty robust exception), financial services and defence. I'm sure I'm forgetting a domain or two. The rest falls under provincial jurisdiction.

I don't know what defines a provincial matter that would end up going to the federal Supreme court. I do know there are some things the Supreme Court would not take up, and I believe each province also has a Supreme Court for that province.

Thanks to Google, and with apology for the length of what follows, here's a glimpse of the structure of the Supreme Court of B.C. with a hint of the arrangement between the provincial court and the federal court structure:

There are three levels of court in British Columbia: in ascending order, the Provincial Court, the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court was originally the highest court in the province. In 1909 the Court of Appeal was created and is now the highest court in the province.The Supreme Court of British Columbia is the province's superior trial court. It is a court of general and inherent jurisdiction. There are 100 Supreme Court judges who sit in eight judicial districts: Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Westminster, Yale, Cariboo, Kootenay and Prince Rupert. There are also Supreme Court "Masters" who deal with pre-trial matters. The Supreme Court hears both civil and criminal cases and also hears appeals from the Provincial Court.


Another important distinction is that Supreme Court justices are appointed by the federal cabinet whereas Provincial Court judges, by the provincial government's Cabinet. Supreme Court justices make considerably more than Provincial Court judges; they are paid by the federal government whereas Provincial Court judges are paid by the government of BC.
So... the Court of Appeal is the highest level of court in this province. I can't vouch for the other provinces, tho' it's probably similar and all under the same legal code except for Quebec.

i suspect that the cases that are under provincial jurisdiction that make it to the Court of Appeal and are lost, if appealed then probably go through a process whereby the federal Supreme Court decides whether the issue is important enough (precedents, national interest, etc) for it to rule upon it ... and if the answer is no, well ...

This is probably more-or-less the same as the states and the fed in the USA.

What i don't really know is what happens when something that has gone to the highest level in Quebec under the Napoleonic Code needs to go to the Supreme court .. I suppose either they use the NC on it (tho' that doesn't really make sense for the national context and scope) or there's some mechanism defining that it's OK to switch to the Brittano-canadian legal framework.

No doubt it all very Canadianly sensible .. we tend to do sensible pretty well.

My step-daughter is a lawyer and went to a bilingual law school in Ottawa where they teach law in both codes. She'll probably know - I'll ask her and get back to you.

1/07/2005 1:27 AM  
Blogger Johnny Canuck said...

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I don't know how others feel, but I'm definitely looking into canadian immigration as an option, the good ól US of A aint what it used to be.

9/30/2005 2:59 PM  
Blogger Johnny Canuck said...

Now that's a post I can relate to. You really got me thinking, I enjoy reading this blog.

I don't know how others feel, but I'm definitely looking into immigration to Canada as an option. The good ól US of A aint what it used to be.

9/30/2005 3:25 PM  
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10/03/2005 4:55 PM  

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