Aug 17 2011 11:22 am

the conceptual foundations of Pennsylvania

When the first notice came in the mail it was hard for them to believe. “Due to a dramatic increase in commercial demand for city water, we are implementing a mandatory water usage restriction plan for residential customers beginning July 1. City water is not to be used for watering lawns, plants and gardens. The use of city water for washing vehicles is also prohibited. Violations are punishable by fines of up to $1000.”

Logging has not been a good way to make a living on the Allegheny plateau for some time. Quality black cherry is scarce and the average family operation is too small to make pulpwood profitable. Exactly where the old logging trucks went is unclear, but the new water tankers came from Pittsburgh, they came from Buffalo, they came all the way from Philadelphia.

Uncle Russ has been robbed twice in two years. The second time was at knife point. They knocked on the door and he is an old man so when he answered they forced their way in, pushed him to the ground, held a large knife to his throat and screamed in his face “where is the money?” People like Russ keep thousands of dollars in their sock drawer.

He never locked his doors. Nobody ever did. But there is a new desperation and all the old people are scared. By complete coincidence Russ’ ex-daughter-in-law moved in across the street about six months ago. Her son is in prison for armed robbery. He gets out in a month. He is going to move in with his mom. All the old people suspect that he is their robber.

An algorithm is a sequence of functions f1 to fx such that {f1…fx} is countable and each fn is distinct.1 In one model, f1 inputs natural resources and outputs greenhouse gases. f2 inputs oil wells and outputs money. f4 inputs mean age and outputs mean birth rate where age is negatively correlated with a higher incidence of babies. f5 inputs socio-cultural-economic status and outputs drug use. f6 is unemployment. I will leave the description of the other functions as an exercise for the reader.

The operation of these functions is temporally extended. The machinations of a function are at least metaphorically causal, right? RIGHT? Thus it is useful to employ such a model to represent the causal world and to thus provide explanations of causal phenomena, provided we accept certain assumptions about the nature of explanation.2

Let us then map the set of all functions to the set of all causal interactions in the world. This mapping will proceed in a one to one manner where each object is mapped to one and only one causal interaction and thus this mapping can provide some not inconsequential epistemological benefit. For example: here is the knife, here is the throat, here is the countable set of all natural resources. Is there an unmapped object in the model between those mapped to knife and throat?

If fracking fluid is mapped to the creeks. If poverty. If robbery. There are two kinds of infinity. Which one will make Pennsylvania good again?



1Though this distinctness criterion requires independent argument and will be established in 4.3.1
2Said assumptions will be argued for in 5.2.1. It should suffice now to say that clearly the representation of unobservables is a good first step towards explanation.

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