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Why are there laws of nature?
Posted: 25 September 2011 12:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I think this is just another example of the Mind Barrier.  Philosophers can easily and successfully argue that obvious, readily viewable phenomena are subjective.
So what do you think we can attribute to these far-out, far-flung “question/perceptions.  Questions and perception?  It’s the same thing! 
The mind barrier renders everything subjective.  Or even worse maybe-wrong!

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Posted: 25 September 2011 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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dougsmith - 25 September 2011 11:59 AM

If they break down then they aren’t laws of nature, by definition.

Yes, what I mean is imagine two possible worlds one in which past regularities cease at midnight tonight and the other in which they don’t cease. It’s more likely that they will cease, without some reason to explain why that is not the case.

And yet I believe that is not the case and so believe in some reason though I don’t know what it is.

I assume by “laws of nature” you mean “past regularities”, and what you’re doing is re-running Hume’s (or Goodman’s) problem with induction all over again ...

I expect you’re right.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 September 2011 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 12:16 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 11:59 AM

If they break down then they aren’t laws of nature, by definition.

Yes, what I mean is imagine two possible worlds one in which past regularities cease at midnight tonight and the other in which they don’t cease. It’s more likely that they will cease, without some reason to explain why that is not the case.

And yet I believe that is not the case and so believe in some reason though I don’t know what it is.

I assume by “laws of nature” you mean “past regularities”, and what you’re doing is re-running Hume’s (or Goodman’s) problem with induction all over again ...

I expect you’re right.

Stephen

OK, but then your question in the OP should really read, “Why have we seen regularities?”

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Posted: 25 September 2011 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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dougsmith - 25 September 2011 01:47 PM

OK, but then your question in the OP should really read, “Why have we seen regularities?”

I’m not sure about what the question should have been but I’m happy to play along.

So, why have we seen regularities?

Stephen

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Posted: 25 September 2011 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 02:06 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 01:47 PM

OK, but then your question in the OP should really read, “Why have we seen regularities?”

I’m not sure about what the question should have been but I’m happy to play along.

So, why have we seen regularities?

Either (1) it’s a brute fact, or

(2) because there are laws of nature.

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Posted: 25 September 2011 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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keithprosser2 - 25 September 2011 08:55 AM

I think ‘Why are there laws of nature’ is an intriguing question.  One thing is for sure - we don’t know the answer today.  We could ask if it is conceivable that we ever will.  Well, ever is a long time (if we don’t blow our selves up with nuclear weapons or destroy ourselves by AGW, that is).  I’m not sure if it is completely impossible we might know one far off day.  It seems that we may have reached the end of the chain of ever smaller or more fundamental particles.  There does not - AFAIK - seem to be any internal structure to electrons, or quarks.  We may not be doomed to discover end endless chain of ever smaller and more fundamental particles. 

The only possible reasons for the laws of nature I can imagine would be some necessary self-reinforcing truth, something like a physical axiom, a property of reality that must be be true.  Not so much a theory of everything, but an axiom of everything.

Of course that is just words.  Human brains (or at least my human brain) seems very reluctant to give up the idea that everything has an anteceent cause, or a reason.  But can the chain of antecedents be truly infinite?  If there are no infinities in nature, it would necessitate an end point somewhere.  Can we really go a million years - or a billion years - just finding more and more levels of antecedent?  Or would we eventually find a non-supernatural ‘causa sui’? 

Of course there is always the cheat of invoking the anthropic principle - if there weren’t laws of nature, we would not be here to discuss them!  But I’ve never liked the AP - it always seems like a ‘clever dick’ answer rather than a proper explanation of anything…

But I think we can’t answer the question posed right now.  Come back in a million years.

Seems to me that the Universe evolved the way it has because it must. Laws of Nature are just that. Things of this Universe behave in accordance with what we have observed. The answer to the “why” can be as simple as that. Must there be a still deeper “why”?  Would that not become wooo?

I could propose that my Potential paradigm contains the answer to everything (but I have no qualifications)
But better, Renate Loll’s work on CDT seems a serious candidate for a fundamental property of this Universe. 

Until we start observing irregularities with regularity, we need not ask why. Now the recent CERN FTL particle is a noteworthy irregularity and many are asking for the how and why this is possible, if at all.

[ Edited: 25 September 2011 03:16 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 25 September 2011 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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dougsmith - 25 September 2011 02:34 PM
StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 02:06 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 01:47 PM

OK, but then your question in the OP should really read, “Why have we seen regularities?”

I’m not sure about what the question should have been but I’m happy to play along.

So, why have we seen regularities?

Either (1) it’s a brute fact, or

(2) because there are laws of nature.

Which is most likely to be true?

Stephen

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Posted: 25 September 2011 03:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 03:05 PM

Either (1) it’s a brute fact, or

(2) because there are laws of nature.

Which is most likely to be true?

I don’t know how to determine likelihood with a metaphysical issue such as this. I believe (2) to be true. If (1), we have no explanation of why the future should be like the past, or regularities on Alpha Centauri (or India) like regularities now and here.

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Posted: 25 September 2011 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 03:05 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 02:34 PM
StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 02:06 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 01:47 PM

OK, but then your question in the OP should really read, “Why have we seen regularities?”

I’m not sure about what the question should have been but I’m happy to play along.

So, why have we seen regularities?

Either (1) it’s a brute fact, or

(2) because there are laws of nature.

Which is most likely to be true?

Stephen

I don’t think it is possible to know that; however, we do not need to in order to function.  As long as the underlying “laws” hold, we can make accurate predictions to our benefit, and if they do not, then we could not have predicted the change anyways.

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Posted: 25 September 2011 10:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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dougsmith - 25 September 2011 03:36 PM
StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 03:05 PM

Either (1) it’s a brute fact, or

(2) because there are laws of nature.

Which is most likely to be true?

I don’t know how to determine likelihood with a metaphysical issue such as this.


Nor do I but I know I believe 2) is more likely and I believe it wouldn’t be if regularities were brute facts.

Stephen

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Posted: 25 September 2011 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Mingy Jongo - 25 September 2011 03:43 PM
StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 03:05 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 02:34 PM
StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 02:06 PM
dougsmith - 25 September 2011 01:47 PM

OK, but then your question in the OP should really read, “Why have we seen regularities?”

I’m not sure about what the question should have been but I’m happy to play along.

So, why have we seen regularities?

Either (1) it’s a brute fact, or

(2) because there are laws of nature.

Which is most likely to be true?

Stephen

I don’t think it is possible to know that; however, we do not need to in order to function.  As long as the underlying “laws” hold, we can make accurate predictions to our benefit, and if they do not, then we could not have predicted the change anyways.


What I suggest is we come up with some alternative laws that the universe might start following from midnight tonight.

Now as long as these laws hold from then on for the next 100 years we can make accurate predictions to our benefit.

Why not? It gives us as much chance as any other method. grin

Stephen

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Posted: 25 September 2011 11:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 10:59 AM

there is no way we can tell that the universe will continue as it has done from induction itself.

You are completely right, if you fill in:
there is no logical way we can prove that the universe will continue as it has done from induction itself

Sure, logically seen, it is perfectly possible the sun does not rise tomorrow. Start reading Hume, then Kant, and then come back again.

BTW (I nearly think keithprosser2 had the same line of thought I had, seeing he started a new thread): the existence of natural laws might be one of the few topics where the anthropic principle is useful: if there would be no regularities, we would not exist. As he says, we learn nothing from that, except that an observation of an irregular world by beings in this world is inconceivable.

Slowly I am thinking your not only a dualist, but a theist too: God made the regularities!

I like the comparison with the turtles. If we would have good grounds why there are regularities, then you can ask about the grounds, why are these valid.

It’s time you put your feet steady in the air.

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Posted: 25 September 2011 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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GdB - 25 September 2011 11:36 PM

BTW (I nearly think keithprosser2 had the same line of thought I had, seeing he started a new thread): the existence of natural laws might be one of the few topics where the anthropic principle is useful: if there would be no regularities, we would not exist.

It doesn’t work because we could be going to cease to exist when past regularities break down in 5 minutes.

So the existence of natural laws is not necessary for our existence. (up till now)

Stephen

[ Edited: 25 September 2011 11:54 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 26 September 2011 12:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 11:48 PM
GdB - 25 September 2011 11:36 PM

BTW (I nearly think keithprosser2 had the same line of thought I had, seeing he started a new thread): the existence of natural laws might be one of the few topics where the anthropic principle is useful: if there would be no regularities, we would not exist.

It doesn’t work because we could be going to cease to exist when past regularities break down in 5 minutes.
So the existence of natural laws is not necessary for our existence. (up till now)

Stephen

Can you explain more fully please. I don’t understand that answer. If the dynamic forces which we call natural laws were to cease in 5 minutes we’d all explode very slowly…..just enough time to wave goodbye…. cheese

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Posted: 26 September 2011 12:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Write4U - 26 September 2011 12:06 AM
StephenLawrence - 25 September 2011 11:48 PM
GdB - 25 September 2011 11:36 PM

BTW (I nearly think keithprosser2 had the same line of thought I had, seeing he started a new thread): the existence of natural laws might be one of the few topics where the anthropic principle is useful: if there would be no regularities, we would not exist.

It doesn’t work because we could be going to cease to exist when past regularities break down in 5 minutes.
So the existence of natural laws is not necessary for our existence. (up till now)

Stephen

Can you explain more fully please. I don’t understand that answer. If the dynamic forces which we call natural laws were to cease in 5 minutes we’d all explode very slowly…..just enough time to wave goodbye…. cheese

That’s why I wrote up till now, it was an edit so it might not have been there when you first read it.

Stephen

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