Assurance about Plan B
The ultimate validation of Plan B ideology is direct examination and evaluation of implementations – performance. First-hand archaeology bypasses the hazards of bias and opinions. Other levels of validation practice have been in use from the outset to act as error detectors during knowledge development. Two mentors of ours, Chris Argyris and Karl Popper, established validation criteria for our Plan B conceptualizations that the 2013 implementation of Plan B proved to be on target. We were fortunate to have a master/student relationship with Argyris in the 1980s. We bought into Popper’s frame of reference for validating scientifiker concepts in the 1970s. Its all about social system ideology.
Ideology is the lens through which a person views the world. Within the field of sociology, ideology is broadly understood to refer to the sum total of a person’s values, beliefs, assumptions, and expectations. Ideology exists within society, within groups, and between people. It shapes our thoughts, actions, and interactions, along with what happens in society at large. Ideology claims to absolute truth, infallible, beyond falsification.
Argyris taught us the hallmarks of Plan A that signaled organizational dysfunction (OD). He counseled us on what Plan B would have to look like to be effective. Argyris was bumped off track by his non-negotiable top-down assumptions about hierarchical power and influence.
Philosopher Popper set forth the principles that showed how and why OD had to always come about. He provided the stringent requirements for validating Plan B as an authentic ideology for attaining social happiness. Popper’s framework encompass that of Argyris and provides a more comprehensive body of validation criteria. Popper made no assumptions about the social status of the participants. He abided Gödel’s doctrine of cause and effect, moving the problem up in abstraction that allowed for a system fix. The following excerpts selected from Popper’s documentation is organized by General, Plan A, and Plan B.
Consider the entire corpus of social dynamics knowledge itself as provisional. The statement under examination need not be true merely because the jury has accepted it.
Basic statements are governed by two requirements to be objective:
- The formal, that they must be both singular and existential
- The material, that they must be intersubjectively testable. Open to refutation.
- The first is formal, a testing of the internal consistency of the theoretical system to see if it involves any contradictions.
- The second step is semi-formal: investigation of the logical form of the theory, with the object of determining whether it has the character of an empirical or scientific theory.
- The third step is the comparing of the new theory with existing ones to determine whether it constitutes an advance upon them. If its explanatory success matches that of the existing theories, and it additionally explains some hitherto anomalous phenomenon or solves some hitherto unsolvable problems, it will be adopted as constituting an advance upon the existing theories.
- The fourth step is the testing of a theory by the empirical application of the conclusions derived from it. If such conclusions are shown to be true, the theory is corroborated (but never verified). If the conclusion is shown to be false, then this is taken as a signal that the theory cannot be completely correct (logically the theory is falsified), and the quest begins for a better theory.
Critical thinking is the very essence of social intelligence. For it is only by critical thought that we can eliminate false theories and determine which of the remaining theories is the best available one, in the sense of possessing the highest level of explanatory force and predictive power, which makes them highly testable.
A theory’s content is the totality of its logical consequences, which can be divided into two classes:
- The “truth-content”, which is the class of true propositions which may be derived from it, and
- The “falsity-content” of a theory, which is the class of the theory’s false consequences (which may be empty, and in the case of a theory which is true is necessarily empty).
Objectivity concerning reality frees you from all psychological constraints. The concept of objectivity requires neither the notions of subjective mental states nor even that of a subject “possessing” knowledge. Knowledge in its full objective sense is knowledge without a knowing subject. The origins of convictions, feelings of certainty and the like, are the province of psychology.
Human history has been strongly influenced by the growth of human knowledge and it is extremely likely that this will continue to be the case—all the empirical evidence suggests that the link between the two is progressively consolidating. However, this gives rise to a further problem for the historicist: no scientific predictor, human or otherwise, can possibly predict its own future results. From this it follows that no society can predict, scientifically, its own future states of knowledge. While the future evolution of human history is extremely likely to be influenced by new developments in human knowledge, no one can determine what such knowledge will be. The growth of human knowledge is an evolutionary process of exosomatic adaptations, which is ultimately a function of the interplay of relations between the physical and mental worlds and the world of objective knowledge or thought content.
From this it follows that if the future holds any new discoveries or any new developments in the growth of our knowledge, then it is impossible for us to predict them now, and it is therefore impossible for us to predict the future development of human history now, given that the latter will, at least in part, be determined by the future growth of our knowledge historicism collapses—the dream of a theoretical, predictive science of history is unrealizable, because it is an impossible dream.
- In many respects, human social groupings are greater than the sum of their members. Organizations act on their human members and shape their destinies all the while they are subject to their own independent laws of development.
- A society is equivalent to the integrated sum of its members. The actions of the members of society serve to fashion and to shape it. The social consequences of intentional actions are very often, and very largely, unforeseen.
“Background knowledge” must be taken for granted. But that is not knowledge in the sense of being conclusively established. Conjectures are imaginatively proposed and tested in order to explain facts or to solve problems. Background knowledge is questioned whenever difficulties in testing are encountered.
How can any basic statement falsify a scientific law, given that basic statements are not deducible from scientific laws in themselves? Scientific laws are always taken in conjunction with statements outlining the “initial conditions” of the system under investigation; these singular existential statements yield hard and fast implications when combined with the scientific law. Scientific theories are predictive, and consequently prohibitive, only when taken in conjunction with auxiliary hypotheses. Readjustment or modification of the auxiliary concepts is an integral part of scientific practice.
Do not conclude from the failure of my attempts to solve the problem that the problem cannot be solved.
Popper Plan A
We have been socially conditioned with a system of dogmas designed to close minds and pre-empt the operation of our rational faculties in addressing social issues.
Acceptance or rejection of basic statements depends upon a convention-based decision on the part of corrupt organizations. Thus it is biased decisions which settle the fate of theories. A convention emerges to pre-empt the possibility of their empirical refutation. Highly resistant to falsification; these theories are “tenaciously protected from refutation by a vast ‘protective belt’ of auxiliary hypotheses” They are falsified, if at all, not by Popperian critical tests, but rather within the elaborate context of the research programs associated with them gradually grinding to a halt.
This doomed approach to social planning (which is explicitly based upon the premise that we do not, because we cannot, know what the future will be like) encourages attempts to put right what is problematic in society—generally-acknowledged social ills—rather than attempts to impose some preconceived idea of the “good” upon society as a whole. Accordingly, large-scale planning of social structures on the basis of historicism is misguided. Our future knowledge is not something which we can in principle now possess. The effects which such advances will have upon society as a whole cannot be predicted.
There is a critical difference between a trend and a scientific law: the latter is universal in form, while a trend can be expressed only as a singular existential statement. This logical difference is crucial: neither conditional nor unconditional predictions can be based upon trends, because trends may change or be reversed with a change in the conditions which gave rise to them in the first instance. The habit of confusing trends with laws, together with the intuitive observation of trends such as technical progress, inspired the central doctrines of historicism. Totalitarianism is based upon historicist and holist presuppositions, which are fundamentally incoherent.
- Be wary of hypothetical assertions stating that certain specified changes will come about if and only if particular specified events antecedently take place.
- Beware of those who couched their theories in terms which made them amenable only to confirmation. It is easy to obtain evidence in favor of virtually any theory. Such theory is not, and could not be, genuinely predictive.
The dream of prophecy
Why should we not conceive of a social science which would function as the theoretical natural sciences function and yield precise unconditional predictions in the appropriate sphere of application? This idea demonstrates a series of misconceptions about the nature of scientific laws and scientific prediction.
It is impossible in principle that unconditional scientific prophecies could be made in relation to human history. The fact that we predict eclipses does not provide a valid reason for expecting that we can predict revolutions. Large scale social planning to an antecedently conceived blueprint is inherently misconceived—and inevitably disastrous—precisely because human actions have consequences which cannot be foreseen. They accommodate it to their cause by eliminating the possibility of contradictory evidence.
Unconditional prediction in the social sciences is an impossibility. History does not evolve in accordance with intrinsic laws or principles. There is no such thing as historical necessity.
Popper Plan B
The growth of human knowledge proceeds from our problems and from our attempts to solve them. These attempts involve the formulation of theories which must go beyond existing knowledge and therefore require a leap of the imagination. The priority of problems in building knowledge is paramount.
Tests have to be designed to demonstrate the extent to which a given theory functions as a satisfactory solution to a given problem. Trustworthy validation can be obtained only from observations undertaken as tests (by ‘attempted refutations’); and for this purpose criteria of refutation have to be laid down beforehand. It must stipulate which observable situations, if actually observed, refutes the theory. A universal statement, such as Plan B, is falsified by a single genuine counter-instance.
Happiness science, like virtually every other organic activity, consists largely of problem-solving. Knowledge development about happiness starts with problems of unhappiness rather than with observations. There is no logical path leading to the paradigm of happiness. The goal can only be reached by curiosity, an intellectual attraction to the objects of experience, and the process of elimination.
The only logical technique which is an integral part of scientific method is that of the deductive testing of theories which are not themselves the product of any logical operation. In this deductive procedure conclusions are inferred from a tentative hypothesis and are then compared with one another and with other relevant statements to determine whether they falsify or corroborate the hypothesis. Such conclusions are not directly compared with the facts simply because there are no “pure” facts available; all observation-statements are theory-laden, and are as much a function of purely subjective factors (interests, expectations, wishes, etc.) as they are a function of what is objectively real.
The severity of the test to which a theory can be subjected, and by means of which it is falsified or corroborated, is of fundamental importance.
The growth of human knowledge is an objective evolutionary process which involves the creation and promulgation of new problem-solving theories, which are then subjected to the challenge of implementation, criticism, modification, elimination and replacement. The activity of problem-solving is as definitive of our humanity at the level of social and political organization as it is at the level of viability husbandry.
- The world of physical states and processes
- The mental world of psychological processes
- The world of the products of the human mind, such as languages; tales and stories and religious myths; scientific conjectures or theories, and mathematical constructions; songs and symphonies; paintings and sculptures. It is that thought content, when linguistically codified in texts, works of art, log tables, mathematical formulae, which constitutes world 3, to which objective knowledge relates. World 3 objects are necessarily more than the thought processes which have led to their creation.
In short, world 3 is the world of human cultural artifacts, which are products of world 2 mental processes, usually instantiated in the physical world 1 environment. Experimental corroboration is an indicator of verisimilitude.
An open society like Plan B is an association of free individuals respecting each other’s rights within the framework of mutual protection supplied by solidarity. Through the making of responsible, rational decisions, it achieves a growing measure of humane and enlightened life. In a genuinely open society, piecemeal social engineering goes hand-in-hand with negative utilitarianism, the attempt to minimize the amount of suffering and misery, rather than, as with positive utilitarianism, the attempt to maximize the amount of happiness. As the attainment of personal happiness is a private enterprise, only the organization itself can attain social happiness.