Four (In)Determinabilities, Not One [chapter]

2009 Indeterminacy  
Rationale Like all chapters in this volume, mine, too, concerns itself with limits of knowing. What distinguishes this chapter from the others, however, is my accounting for these limits in terms of (in)determinability, not (in)determinacy: (in)determinability implicates a human being"s (in)ability to ascertain something; (in)determinacy refers to a supposedly objective condition, which assumes human involvement to be superfluous and dispensable. Also, I am suggesting that (in)determinabilities
more » ... n)determinabilities are not merely of one kind--permeating different fields in different guises, as some of the forgoing chapters are assuming (in)determinacy does--but that one needs to distinguish at least four. I contend that (in)determinabilities arise as a consequence of different ways in which humans choose to be involved in their worlds: spectators construct worlds that are very different from those of, say, builders whose actions are necessary parts of the world they alter. And designing artifacts entails a way of knowing that is quite different from that needed to use or consume artifacts made by others. Being a member of a corporation or community entails still other ways that are not derivable from being good at handling things. Not only do these rather different kinds of human involvement entail different epistemologies--different ways by which one comes to know--but they also bring forth different limits for what they enable. I am suggesting that these epistemologies are not superior or inferior, or better or worse, relative to each other. Their value depends on what one wants to accomplish in one"s world. And as I do not care to privilege one epistemology to the exclusion of all others; I can afford to move through them with ease. Observational Determinability Let me define: a system is observationally determinable if an observer can predict its behavior within reasonable computational resources and time constraints. My question is this: given an observer who is equipped with perfect measuring and recording devices and endowed with a state-of-the art
doi:10.7551/mitpress/8011.003.0015 fatcat:diqlmz57avakzfnr6ytrfglvdm