focusing on the word “causality” (in relation to “free will”)
Posted: 22 May 2011 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]
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inthegobi - 05 May 2011 07:17 AM

‘Uncaused’ free will only is nonsensical under some interpretations. For example, if you only have one kind of cause as worthy of being called ‘cause’ then radical free will is rejected. But that means the real argument is not about free will but ‘cause’. That’s just a small example of the somewhat - well, juvenile - rejection of free will in this forum. And what paper has proved there’s only one kind of cause? many philosophers, naturalists too, believe there is no such thing as cause at all!

chris

I was interested by this comment from chris, and hoping to hear more about what definitions of “causality” could make for a coherent description of contra-causal free will.

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Posted: 23 May 2011 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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isaac - 22 May 2011 03:35 PM
inthegobi - 05 May 2011 07:17 AM

‘Uncaused’ free will only is nonsensical under some interpretations. For example, if you only have one kind of cause as worthy of being called ‘cause’ then radical free will is rejected. But that means the real argument is not about free will but ‘cause’. That’s just a small example of the somewhat - well, juvenile - rejection of free will in this forum. And what paper has proved there’s only one kind of cause? many philosophers, naturalists too, believe there is no such thing as cause at all!

chris

I was interested by this comment from chris, and hoping to hear more about what definitions of “causality” could make for a coherent description of contra-causal free will.

I agree with chris.

Causality is a complex issue which cannot be simply defined as “the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first” and that’s all there is to it. QM is one realm where causality breaks down. OTOH, in biology, causality thus conceived, is problematic.

From this essay on

cause and effect in biology

From the conclusions:

(1) Causality in biology is a far cry from causality in classical mechanics.

(2) Explanations of all but the simplest biological phenomena usually consist of sets of causes. This is particularly true for those biological phenomena that can be understood only if their evolutionary history is also considered. Each set is like a pair of brackets which contains much that is unanalyzed and much that can presumably never be analyzed completely.

(3) In view of the high number of multiple pathways possible for most biological processes (except for the purely physicochemical ones) and in view of the randomness of many of the biological processes, particularly on the molecular level (as well as for other reasons), causality in biological systems is not predictive, or at best is only statistically predictive.

(4) The existence of complex programs of information in the DNA of the germ plasm permits teleonomic purposiveness.

Finally, causality in biology is not in real conflict with the causality of classical mechanics. As modern physics has also demonstrated, the causality of classical mechanics is only a very simple, special case of causality. Predictability, for instance, is not a necessary component of causality.

With this caveat in mind wrt causality in biological systems, now consider mental causation wrt to human agency. From this essay in the SEP

From the section on Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind:

This suggests that, rather than let a priori conceptions of causation (or properties, or causal powers) lead us to regard mental causation with suspicion, we should reason in the other direction: revise our conception of causation to fit our actual scientific beliefs and practices. If the metaphysicians were right about causation, no science would be possible beyond basic physics (biological properties, for instance, would not be causal).

Now, from this article on agent-causality

Agent-Causality is the idea that agents can start new causal chains that are not pre-determined by the events of the immediate or distant past and the physical laws of nature.

And this article on non-causality

Non-Causality is a variation on Agent-Causality, the idea that agents can start new causal chains that are not pre-determined by the events of the immediate or distant past and the physical laws of nature.

The author of “non-causality” is Carl Ginet. He maintains that no cause is needed for human decisions.

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