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A fundamental problem of causation
Posted: 14 April 2011 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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GdB - 13 April 2011 11:20 PM

The word “law” is a very confusing concept in this respect. The idea of “law” came from the Latin word “lex”, which was used for laws as they existed in states like the roman empire. But it was also used as closest translation with the Jewish word “Torah”, where Torah meant “theory”, or “system”, the way things are running. Not “forced to run”. So it is closer to the Heraclitian concept of “logos” or the Chinese idea of “Tao”. (Surprised, kkwan?)

Not really. There are similarities in their concept of nature as process.

So the natural laws are descriptions of how processes in the universe behave, not how they are forced.

Is it just so?

From the IEP on laws of nature

In the Twentieth Century virtually all scientists and philosophers have abandoned theistic elements in their accounts of the Laws of Nature. But to a very great extent – so say the Regularists – the Necessitarians have merely replaced God with Physical Necessity. The Necessitarians’ nontheistic view of Laws of Nature surreptitiously preserves the older prescriptivist view of Laws of Nature, namely, as dictates or edicts to the natural universe, edicts which – unlike moral laws or legislated ones – no one, and no thing, has the ability to violate.

[ Edited: 14 April 2011 06:21 AM by kkwan ]
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Posted: 14 April 2011 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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kkwan - 14 April 2011 06:19 AM

From the IEP on laws of nature

And the next paragraph continues:

Regularists reject this view of the world. Regularists eschew a view of Laws of Nature which would make of them inviolable edicts imposed on the universe. Such a view, Regularists claim, is simply a holdover from a theistic view. It is time, they insist, to adopt a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy of science, one which is not only purged of the hand of God, but is also purged of its unempirical latter-day surrogate, namely, nomological necessity. The difference is, perhaps, highlighted most strongly in Necessitarians saying that the Laws of Nature govern the world; while Regularists insist that Laws of Nature do no more or less than correctly describe the world.

Selective quoting again. (I propose to call this ‘kwanning’)

O, I really like it!

From the same Website (I will call this contra-kwanning: finding the opposed idea in kwanned links):
smiley-laughing004.gif

f. The Regularists’ Trump Card – The Dissolution of the Problem of Free Will and Determinism

In the Regularity theory, the knotted problem of free will vs. determinism is solved (or better, “dissolved”) so thoroughly that it cannot coherently even be posed.
...
To make the claim even more pointedly: it is only because Necessitarianism tacitly adopts an anti-semantic theory of truth that the supposed problem of free will vs. determinism even arises. Adopt a thoroughgoing Regularist theory and the problem evaporates.

Read the whole article with an open mind to get the idea.

[ Edited: 14 April 2011 06:58 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 14 April 2011 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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GdB - 14 April 2011 02:11 AM
StephenLawrence - 14 April 2011 01:52 AM
GdB - 14 April 2011 01:22 AM

The principle of induction has showed to work again and again. We know it works by induction.

I hope that was supposed to be a joke.

No.

rolleyes

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Posted: 14 April 2011 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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StephenLawrence - 13 April 2011 11:06 PM
Gnostikosis - 13 April 2011 11:09 AM

When we talk about human decision this is a more complex process then the causality of rain. A physical process doesn’t weigh benefits and costs. Until the individual goes through this choosing process, his future action cannot be determined.

It’s precisely because we view choice making as a weighing up of costs and benefits that choices appear to be deterministic.

Given the process there is one possible option we can select.

Going into the decision making process there are multiple options we could select. The option selected is not determined until after the selection process IMO.

That’s determinism, that’s choice making.

Stephen

No this, IMO, well in the opinion of SEP actually, is determinism…

Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law. SEP

So when we are talking “determinism” that is where the idea of a fixed (the way things go thereafter) future.

Freewill is compatible with determinism. Having alternate possible futures is not.
Moral responsibility according to Frankfurt’s counter-examples is compatible with determinism
A compatibilist need not concern themselves PAP. However I see this as fatalism in disguise.

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Posted: 14 April 2011 11:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Gnostikosis - 14 April 2011 04:43 PM

Freewill is compatible with determinism. Having alternate possible futures is not.

No alternative futures, no free will, Gnostikosis.

A compatibilist need not concern themselves PAP. However I see this as fatalism in disguise.

That’s because you see that if there are no alternative possible futures then there is no such thing as making a difference.

If we don’t make a difference we can’t have moral responsibility, for instance strangling someone makes no difference to whether they live or die.  grin

Stephen

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Posted: 15 April 2011 02:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 April 2011 11:24 PM

No alternative futures, no free will, Gnostikosis.

LOL

There are alternative futures, in the imagination of the subject. And the imagination is causal effective, so what action will follow is dependent on the person. If that is not free will, I don’t know… The alternatives exist from the perspective of the person who is deliberating. You take the god view again.

I’ll tell you a science fiction fairy tale.

A spaceship with omniscient aliens aboard appears a planet I will call Earth-II. As omniscient species they see how everything is determined on the planet. Messages are exchanged between humanoids on the planet, and these are processed in a deterministic way.

Now they fly on and go to a planet I call Earth-I. They see exactly the same kind of humanoids, same hardware, but the messages somehow differ, and so does of course the behaviour of the humanoids, but all is of course also deterministic. The aliens put their best language interpreters on the case, and discover that the humanoids use words like “free”, “responsible”, “praise”, “blame” etc, which the humanoids on Earth-II did not use. Learning the language of these humanoids, and how they effect the humanoids’ behaviour, and then interacting with the humanoids, changed the species’ life forever… And happily they flew back to Earth-II, taught the new discourse elements to a few humanoids there. They did not tell some new scientific facts, just new language elements. From there the “joyful news” spread over Earth-II…

Some of those who directly learned the discourse from the aliens were crucified because some other humanoids did not want to understand what they were saying. wink

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Posted: 15 April 2011 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 April 2011 11:24 PM

That’s because you see that if there are no alternative possible futures then there is no such thing as making a difference.

If we don’t make a difference we can’t have moral responsibility, for instance strangling someone makes no difference to whether they live or die.  grin

Stephen

No, the question is whether or not the individual doing the strangling could have acted differently. That makes the difference in whether the victim lives or dies.

Truth is I don’t know. However it seems necessary that we believe this to be true.
That makes this whole human process a bit odd doesn’t it?

It’s necessary to believe in something that is not true in order to function as a human.  big surprise

Certainly keeps the politicians in business.  tongue rolleye

We are, as a result of evolution, geared to believe lies. So maybe the problem is, trying to get to the truth of things simply goes against our nature.

Be happy, be human, believe the lie.  grin

I suspect people are much happier believing in the shadows on the cave wall. A few bastards want to go screw with their happiness by telling those people in the cave they are just shadows.

[ Edited: 15 April 2011 09:13 AM by Gnostikosis ]
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Posted: 15 April 2011 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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GdB - 15 April 2011 02:13 AM
StephenLawrence - 14 April 2011 11:24 PM

No alternative futures, no free will, Gnostikosis.

LOL

There are alternative futures, in the imagination of the subject. And the imagination is causal effective, so what action will follow is dependent on the person. If that is not free will, I don’t know… The alternatives exist from the perspective of the person who is deliberating. You take the god view again.

I’ll tell you a science fiction fairy tale.

A spaceship with omniscient aliens aboard appears a planet I will call Earth-II. As omniscient species they see how everything is determined on the planet. Messages are exchanged between humanoids on the planet, and these are processed in a deterministic way.

Now they fly on and go to a planet I call Earth-I. They see exactly the same kind of humanoids, same hardware, but the messages somehow differ, and so does of course the behaviour of the humanoids, but all is of course also deterministic. The aliens put their best language interpreters on the case, and discover that the humanoids use words like “free”, “responsible”, “praise”, “blame” etc, which the humanoids on Earth-II did not use. Learning the language of these humanoids, and how they effect the humanoids’ behaviour, and then interacting with the humanoids, changed the species’ life forever… And happily they flew back to Earth-II, taught the new discourse elements to a few humanoids there. They did not tell some new scientific facts, just new language elements. From there the “joyful news” spread over Earth-II…

Some of those who directly learned the discourse from the aliens were crucified because some other humanoids did not want to understand what they were saying. wink

Obviously the ability to imagine creatively makes a difference. The belief that we can make a difference makes a difference. The hard part seems to be in trying to quantify that difference.

Belief in spiritual ideas makes a difference. But how do you quantify that into a predictable process?

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Posted: 15 April 2011 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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GdB - 15 April 2011 02:13 AM

There are alternative futures, in the imagination of the subject.

Right.

And the imagination is causal effective,

That’s the apparent mistake.

Because you also think that causal effectivness is to make a difference?

Make a difference to what?


Stephen

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Posted: 15 April 2011 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Gnostikosis - 15 April 2011 09:20 AM

Obviously the ability to imagine creatively makes a difference.

Perhaps not, perhaps we are deluded and fatalism is true.

The belief that we can make a difference makes a difference. The hard part seems to be in trying to quantify that difference.

Right, what is it to make a difference.

GdB says imagining different possibilities makes a difference.

So we don’t need alternative possible futures for the imaginings to be causally effective.

But his argument falls down at what making a difference means, as it seems to mean making the difference to which of the possibilities are actual, which is apparently an objective fact about the way the world works, rather than an imagining.

Stephen

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Posted: 15 April 2011 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Gnostikosis - 15 April 2011 08:54 AM

No, the question is whether or not the individual doing the strangling could have acted differently. That makes the difference in whether the victim lives or dies.

Right, it looks like that.

Causes by definition, in this case, are contingent.

That’s what I’m saying to GdB.

And really we should talk about the moon making a difference to the ocean and stuff to avoid the topic of free will.

It’s causal power we are interested in here, not free will.

Edit: So does the moon make a difference to whether the ocean behaves one way or another?

Could the moon have done otherwise?

Or can it make a difference without the ability to do otherwise?

Whatever is true for the moon will turn out to be true for us.

Once we get, at base, causal power, the rest follows effortlessly.

Except any denial that “luck swallows everything”

Stephen

[ Edited: 15 April 2011 12:43 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 15 April 2011 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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GdB - 15 April 2011 02:13 AM
StephenLawrence - 14 April 2011 11:24 PM

No alternative futures, no free will, Gnostikosis.

LOL

Learning the language of these humanoids, and how they effect the humanoids’ behaviour, and then interacting with the humanoids, changed the species’ life forever…

From what to what?  LOL

Stephen

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Posted: 15 April 2011 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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StephenLawrence - 15 April 2011 12:20 PM

Right, what is it to make a difference.

GdB says imagining different possibilities makes a difference.

So we don’t need alternative possible futures for the imaginings to be causally effective.

Probably not. 

But his argument falls down at what making a difference means, as it seems to mean making the difference to which of the possibilities are actual, which is apparently an objective fact about the way the world works, rather than an imagining.

Stephen

Makes a difference from the imagined universe were this causal effect does not exist.
For example you can imagine what the world would likely be like if say Christianity never existed. It would probably be a different world then the one that actually exists. Or like you said if the moon did not exist. Without the moon perhaps life would never have evolved on this planet.

Humans without the ability to imagine different possibilities would act different from those who do. Kind of inferred logical reasoning I suppose. However unless it happens to be the case, we couldn’t actually verify the truth of it.

If you car had no wheels, it’s likely you wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere. If you never tested the theory you’d still be pretty sure this to be the case. Probably accept this as true. However it would be all based on you imagining what would happen if this were the case. Probably would cause you not to try driving it without wheels.

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Posted: 15 April 2011 05:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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GdB - 14 April 2011 01:22 AM
StephenLawrence - 14 April 2011 01:08 AM

But what is it about the nature of reality that makes accepting the principle of induction the right thing to do.

The principle of induction has showed to work again and again. We know it works by induction.

This post made me cringe a bit.

Induction cannot be justified epistemically (one ends up with the circular argument above if attempted).  However, it can be justified pragmatically:
screenshot20100517at358.png

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Posted: 16 April 2011 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 15 April 2011 05:15 PM

Induction cannot be justified epistemically (one ends up with the circular argument above if attempted).  However, it can be justified pragmatically:
screenshot20100517at358.png

But that is not enough for Stephen…

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