plagiarizing borrowing Diego Gambetto’s work to set up the distinction.
The problem is that signals can be fraudulently manipulated. By lying, imitating, forging, or stealing certain signs, a signaler can mimic the state of affairs one associates with those signs. What is ultimately being mimicked is a certain unobservable property, k, that the mimic does not really possess. What is being lied about, imitated, copied, or forged along the way are the signs associated with k, which leave the impression of possessing k.
Codes of the Underworld
With respect to some person’s true qualities, let’s call S the countably infinite set of signs and signals s_i and K the set of countably infinite possible qualities k_j. The set of a person’s true qualities P is a subset of K. The set of observed signs and signals O is a subset of S. And the set of causes Y, which together explain O, is a subset of P,
The question we are usually trying to answer is which k_j are in the set of the person’s true qualities P, given O. “Discrimination” will be defined as the ability to predict whether k_j is in P as determined by the consilience of all s_i in O. Example: An venture capitalist wants to know which of ten startups he should invest in, based on the unobservable true quality k_1 = “likely to return a profit”. He is not concerned with any other k_j except insofar as they are subcomponents of k_1.
Another question we are sometimes trying to answer is, given P, what subset Q would most parsimoniously explain O. “Discernment” will be defined as the ability to populate Q from P with the most parsimonious k_j to explain T. Example: A juror wants to judge whether a defendant had a “guilty mind” (mens rea) with respect to a killing, or if it was self-defense, reckless manslaughter, etc.