What? You see, these vary by discipline, though, some viewpoints seem to think that their's is the utmost (actually, we get this from all sides - balancing these, in a very full sense, is one motivation for truth engineering).
We'll need to look at this very closely. Who are the best-and-brightest is one question?
Take this bit from the Economist (There was a lawyer, an engineer, and ...), as an example. They're talking about different paths to the top. Well, they actually say that lawyers argue from 'first principles' whereas engineers build. Say what? Any good engineer has to resolve serious problems using techniques that consider first principles. It cannot be any other way.
Whose 'first principles' are better? Depends upon to whom you're talking.
Oh, wait! Was that an economist talking? Gosh, how do we rate these: lawyer, engineer, economist, ... (hint, this blog and the other are both inter-disciplinary, in scope)?
Anyway, using Posner (he of the Failure of Capitalism, 4th bullet and Remarks) as an example of a particular viewpoint will allow a full discussion. Hopefully, he'll keep up his side of the discussion.
09/15/2011 -- These will be updated as they are put to use.
04/27/2010 -- Need to add the political set of truths, such as cat and mouse.
09/09/09 -- We'll need to look at UUUN, as a framework.
08/10/2009 -- As promised, FEDaerated is here.
06/17/2009 -- A fresh look will be needed.
05/10/2009 -- In mathematics, the first principles can be axioms. But, we have to look at definitions, too. In any case, that particular discipline doesn't have direct influence on the world, as in, who can eat a theorem? In the history of the planet and the peoples, first principles are varied (by culture and a whole long list of things). A modern view that wants a lawful society (with balances for important factors, such as basic human rights and such) would see first principles coming from several places, such as the US Constitution.
In that case, we would then have laws codified, interpreters in roles such as we see Posner functioning, enforcers, and similar. Yet, that game must not be wonderfully clear, as look at the extent of enforcement monies that is necessary.
And, how this relates to finance is that the bubbles and busts seem to appear, as if each generation re-learns the pitfalls. Yet, what we're seeing now is that computation (as enabled by mathematics) has turned things into a much greater complicated mess. Granted, Merton talks that even simple things can be problematic; basically, then, what we're facing is not an easy task. It'll be fun to watch Posner unfold his opinion and offer his solutions.