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Why are there laws of nature?
Posted: 09 October 2011 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 166 ]
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Bertrant Russell,
We may therefore now assume it to be true that nothing mental is presupposed in the fact that Edinburgh is north of London. But this fact involves the relation ‘north of’, which is a universal; and it would be impossible for the whole fact to involve nothing mental if the relation ‘north of’, which is a constituent part of the fact, did involve anything mental. Hence we must admit that the relation, like the terms it relates, is not dependent upon thought, but belongs to the independent world which thought apprehends but does not create.

We shall find it convenient only to speak of things existing when they are in time, that is to say, when we can point to some time at which they exist (not excluding the possibility of their existing at all times). Thus thoughts and feelings, minds and physical objects exist. But universals do not exist in this sense; we shall say that they subsist or have being, where ‘being’ is opposed to ‘existence’ as being timeless. The world of universals, therefore, may also be described as the world of being. The world of being is unchangeable, rigid, exact, delightful to the mathematician, the logician, the builder of metaphysical systems, and all who love perfection more than life. The world of existence is fleeting, vague, without sharp boundaries, without any clear plan or arrangement, but it contains all thoughts and feelings, all the data of sense, and all physical objects, everything that can do either good or harm, everything that makes any difference to the value of life and the world. According to our temperaments, we shall prefer the contemplation of the one or of the other. The one we do not prefer will probably seem to us a pale shadow of the one we prefer, and hardly worthy to be regarded as in any sense real. But the truth is that both have the same claim on our impartial attention, both are real, and both are important to the metaphysician. Indeed no sooner have we distinguished the two worlds than it becomes necessary to consider their relations.

Returning now to the problem of a priori knowledge, which we left unsolved when we began the consideration of universals, we find ourselves in a position to deal with it in a much more satisfactory manner than was possible before. Let us revert to the proposition ‘two and two are four’. It is fairly obvious, in view of what has been said, that this proposition states a relation between the universal ‘two’ and the universal ‘four’. This suggests a proposition which we shall now endeavour to establish: namely, All a priori knowledge deals exclusively with the relations of universals. This proposition is of great importance, and goes a long way towards solving our previous difficulties concerning a priori knowledge.
The only case in which it might seem, at first sight, as if our proposition were untrue, is the case in which an a priori proposition states that all of one class of particulars belong to some other class, or (what comes the same thing) that all particulars having some one property also have some other. In this case it might seem as though we were dealing with the particulars that have the property rather than with the property. The proposition ‘two and two are four’ is really a case in point, for this may be stated in the form ‘any two and any other two are four’, or ‘any collection formed of two twos is a collection of four’. If we can show that such statements as this really deal only with universals, our proposition may be regarded as proved.

ty, Stephen for the Russell link.

I am trying to stay away from the method (inductive, deductive) as to me it is irrelevant to the fundamental question of “are there Universals”? Certain immutable properties inherent in the “being” of the Universe.

IMO Russell proved that even without any physical presence, there are still universals, ideas which are true within themselves and need no proof per se. Some universals can be observed (known) in reality, some can be known without any observation being necessary. Universals are “common denominators” of (to) all things in the universe.

Space/time is a Universal (all things share space/time). Potential is a Universal (all things, including the universe have inherent latent energy).  Mathematics is a Universal (2+2=4). CDT is a Universal (the simplest possible form of 3D geometric progression, yielding unlimited variety with mathematical precision).

If those propositions are true, then we can mentally fashion a matrix (a physical structure with metaphysical (latent properties) in which all things behave as they must, in accordance with their “particular” unversal properties, physical interactions and influences, i.e gravity is an expression of a spacetime matrix formed by physical objects with specific properties (potential). The results of these gravitational warps in spacetime can be observed throughout the universe, i.e confirmed by observation.

To imagine that these Universals could somehow cease to be Universals seems like asking if there can be spacetime without motion.

[ Edited: 09 October 2011 06:59 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 09 October 2011 10:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 167 ]
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Just watched a episode of “Unlocking the Universe”, dealing with periodic tables and the amazing properties of elements.

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=mehndelaev+periodic+tables&qpvt=mehndelaev+periodic+tables&FORM=IGRE#x0y0

Mehndelaev first draft of a periodic table was incomplete, there were gaps in the table. But Mendelaev predicted that there should exist elements which fitted in the gaps of his table. With cooperation of others he predicted the type of element and its atomic weight for one of the gaps.
It turned out to be Gallium, a well known element today, but unknown at the time.
He predicted the existence of an unknown element from the uniformity in structure and properties of the known elements. He was able to do this because he was dealing with elemental universals which are fundamental properties of what comprises the universe. The properties of elements forces them to obey certain mathematical laws (constants). It is impossible for the universe to work in a different way it does now. Universals do not allow for deviation.

Periodicity is a Universal.

Periodicity,
Definition: In the context of chemistry and the periodic table, periodicity refers to trends or recurring variations in element properties with increasing atomic number. Periodicity is caused by regular and predictable variations in element atomic structure.

And “why” and “how” they combine the way they do. (Note the fractal structures of combinations in the picture).

[ Edited: 10 October 2011 12:36 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 17 October 2011 02:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 168 ]
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GdB - 08 October 2011 01:49 AM

Is speaking of ‘not assuming it is nomically possible’ the same as ‘assuming it is not nomically possible’? If I take the regularist stance, where am I in your example that I should go with your ‘nomically possible gravity-changing-tomorrow’?

It’s an interesting question. From how this is usually looked at it seems the answer is yes. The regularist stance is that Laws of Nature are brute facts. Normally brute facts are considered to be contingent, so you need to argue against brute facts being contingent.

The problem is if it’s a brute fact that gravity will remain the same tomorrow, that means it will remain the same tomorrow for no reason, which means it might do it might not but it so happens it will.

There is no obvious escape.

Stephen

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Posted: 17 October 2011 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 169 ]
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From this article in the IEP

Russell’s metaphysics.

Still, there are positions that he never abandons; particularly, the belief that reality is knowable, that it is many, that there are entities – universals – that do not exist in space and time, and that there are truths that cannot be known by direct experience or inference but are known a priori.

A Priori Principles

In Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (1940) and Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits (1948) Russell views the claim that all knowledge is derived from experience as self-refuting and hence inadequate to a theory of knowledge: as David Hume showed, empiricism uses principles of reason that cannot be proved by experience. Specifically, inductive reasoning about experience presupposes that the future will resemble the past, but this belief or principle cannot similarly be proved by induction from experience without incurring a vicious circle. Russell is therefore willing to accept induction as involving a non-empirical logical principle, since, without it, science is impossible.

Universals

Universals figure in Russell’s ontology, in his so-called bundle theory, which explains thing as bundles of co-existing properties, rejecting the notion of a substance as an unknowable ‘this’ distinct from and underlying its properties.

So, if there are universals and if induction is accepted as involving a non-empirical logical principle, science is possible and reality is knowable.

However, even though reality is knowable, are there “laws of nature” which exist and can human science discover or describe them truly?

Consider the problem of verisimilitude. From the wiki

The problem of verisimilitude is the problem of articulating what it takes for one false theory to be closer to the truth than another false theory. This problem was central to the philosophy of science of Karl Popper, largely because Popper was among the first to affirm that truth is the aim of scientific inquiry while acknowledging that most of the greatest scientific theories in the history of science are, strictly speaking, false.

Another approach after Popper:

A different approach (e.g. Tichý, Hilpinen, Niiniluoto, Oddie) takes the “likeness” in truthlikeness literally, holding that a proposition’s likeness to the truth is a function of the overall likeness to the actual world of the possible worlds in which the proposition would be true.

The question of methodology remains:

The following question remains: if the goal of science is to find out more and more verisimilar theories, what kind of methods must scientists follow?

However, if most of the greatest scientific theories are, strictly speaking, false and they are all verisimilar, can science ever truly describe any “laws of nature” at all (if they do indeed exist at all)?

Or is it just the human aspiration to make sense of the vagueness and infinite complexity of reality in human terms?

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Posted: 18 October 2011 12:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 170 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 October 2011 02:48 AM

It’s an interesting question. From how this is usually looked at it seems the answer is yes. The regularist stance is that Laws of Nature are brute facts. Normally brute facts are considered to be contingent, so you need to argue against brute facts being contingent.

The problem is if it’s a brute fact that gravity will remain the same tomorrow, that means it will remain the same tomorrow for no reason, which means it might do it might not but it so happens it will.

Think deep about what the word ‘regularity’ means.

Then, when you have it, think about what a ‘brute fact’ is.

Then, ask yourself what counts as an explanation for a ‘brute fact’.

And then ask yourself if every regularity has an explanation, what would count as an explanation. (Take a few examples. You could start with a pendulum, then the law of conservation of impulse, and then something in between).

And then ask yourself if every regulation needs an explanation.

Then come back, and we talk further.

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Posted: 18 October 2011 02:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 171 ]
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GdB - 18 October 2011 12:42 AM

Think deep about what the word ‘regularity’ means.

Ok, but I hope this is relevent to whether brute facts are contingent and the problem of induction.

Regularity is a repeated pattern.

Then, when you have it, think about what a ‘brute fact’ is.

Something that is the case for no reason.

Then, ask yourself what counts as an explanation for a ‘brute fact’.

Nothing it’s impossible.

And then ask yourself if every regularity has an explanation, what would count as an explanation.

1) Nomic probability of the pattern occurring is high.

2) Nomic necessity, the pattern is there because it must be.

Here is one of many examples of your apparent belief in 2)

Gravity is not a law of nature in your experiment, because you say it can change.

Regularist laws of nature can change but they won’t .

And a useful quote from Doug

Induction gives us the knowledge that there have been certain regularities.

The explanation of those regularities is that there are laws of nature which constrain how things behave.

edit: bold by me.

Looks a bit like 1) to me.

then ask yourself if every regulation needs an explanation.

In cases in which we know the regulation will continue into the future, yes, indubitably.

If the epistemic likelyhood of a pattern continuing into the future is raised by it occurring in the past there must be something that raises that likelyhood and that something cannot simply be it occurred in the past.

Stephen

[ Edited: 18 October 2011 12:11 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 18 October 2011 08:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 172 ]
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Stephen
If the epistemic likelyhood of a pattern continuing into the future is raised by it occurring in the past there must be something that raises that likelyhood and that something cannot simply be it occurred in the past.

I agree, if in the past there is a pattern of events occurring under certain circumstances (i.e if gravity caused an action in the past). If now a similar event occurs with similar conditions and gravity is still present we can say that the causality and result confirms the pattern and strengthens the theory.

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Posted: 19 October 2011 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 173 ]
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Writer4U

Write4U - 18 October 2011 08:20 PM

Stephen
If the epistemic likelyhood of a pattern continuing into the future is raised by it occurring in the past there must be something that raises that likelyhood and that something cannot simply be it occurred in the past.

I agree, if in the past there is a pattern of events occurring under certain circumstances (i.e if gravity caused an action in the past). If now a similar event occurs with similar conditions and gravity is still present we can say that the causality and result confirms the pattern and strengthens the theory.

I don’t think we are agreeing.

Imagine two competing theories.

1) Gravity remains the same for all time up to the 20th October 2011 and then changes.

2) Gravity remains the same for all time.

What it’s impossible to do is tell which is right merely from what has happened, because what has happened in the past is equally evidence for 1) and 2)

So theory 2) is not strengthened.


Stephen

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Posted: 19 October 2011 03:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 174 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2011 01:03 AM

Writer4U

Write4U - 18 October 2011 08:20 PM

Stephen
If the epistemic likelyhood of a pattern continuing into the future is raised by it occurring in the past there must be something that raises that likelyhood and that something cannot simply be it occurred in the past.

I agree, if in the past there is a pattern of events occurring under certain circumstances (i.e if gravity caused an action in the past). If now a similar event occurs with similar conditions and gravity is still present we can say that the causality and result confirms the pattern and strengthens the theory.

I don’t think we are agreeing.

Imagine two competing theories.

1) Gravity remains the same for all time up to the 20th October 2011 and then changes.

2) Gravity remains the same for all time.

What it’s impossible to do is tell which is right merely from what has happened, because what has happened in the past is equally evidence for 1) and 2)

So theory 2) is not strengthened.


Stephen

If (1) does not occur on October 20, then 1 is false, and (2) is strengthened.

With each passing day that (1) does not occur, (2) is strengthened. After some 14 billion years of evidence that gravity has functioned as we understand it to function, IMO a case for (2) can be made on the strength of overwhelming and persistent (constant) evidence for (2).

IMO, Gravity is a Universal in that it “describes” why and how the fabric of spacetime is affected in the presence of massive objects. This holds for all 4 forms of gravity.
From Wiki

Weak interaction (often called the weak force or sometimes the weak nuclear force), is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity.

There may also be other fundamental but latent forces in nature, but these 4 forces are observable because they correspond to the physical reality of this universe. They are part of the Potential of the universe.

[ Edited: 19 October 2011 04:01 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 October 2011 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 175 ]
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Write4U - 19 October 2011 03:26 AM
StephenLawrence - 19 October 2011 01:03 AM

Writer4U

Write4U - 18 October 2011 08:20 PM

Stephen
If the epistemic likelyhood of a pattern continuing into the future is raised by it occurring in the past there must be something that raises that likelyhood and that something cannot simply be it occurred in the past.

I agree, if in the past there is a pattern of events occurring under certain circumstances (i.e if gravity caused an action in the past). If now a similar event occurs with similar conditions and gravity is still present we can say that the causality and result confirms the pattern and strengthens the theory.

I don’t think we are agreeing.

Imagine two competing theories.

1) Gravity remains the same for all time up to the 20th October 2011 and then changes.

2) Gravity remains the same for all time.

What it’s impossible to do is tell which is right merely from what has happened, because what has happened in the past is equally evidence for 1) and 2)

So theory 2) is not strengthened.


Stephen

If (1) does not occur on October 20, then 1 is false, and (2) is strengthened.

This looks like Karl Popper’s answer. It doesn’t work because we are not interested in strengthening the theory against falsified theories. I’m amazed karl Popper doesn’t seem to get this.

What we’re interested in is strengthening the theory against as yet unfalsified theories!

So today theory 2) is no stronger than theory 1) and that is all that concerns us.

With each passing day that (1) does not occur, (2) is strengthened.

No, all we have is gravity hasn’t changed yet, that’s it.

After some 14 billion years of evidence that gravity has functioned as we understand it to function, IMO a case for (2) can be made on the strength of overwhelming and persistent evidence for (2).

No, that is just a mistake because again lets look at two competing theories.

1) Gravity remains the same for 15 billion years and then changes.

2)Gravity remains the same.

Gravity having remained the same for 14 billion years is equally evidence for theory 1) and 2) no progress is made whatsoever.

Much as there is resistance to this, I believe I’m doing no more than reporting the facts.

Stephen

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Posted: 19 October 2011 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 176 ]
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Come to think of it. The burden of proof falls on you Stephen.
You are making the extraordinary claim that (1) tomorrow gravity will end (and therefore…...). To make such a claim you must present extraordinary evidence that such an event might logically happen.
Else, the undeniable weight of the argument lies in (2), the present.

[ Edited: 19 October 2011 05:21 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 October 2011 05:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 177 ]
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Gravity ending?
Like someone pulling the plug?..... cheese

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Posted: 19 October 2011 06:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 178 ]
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Write4U - 19 October 2011 05:14 AM

Come to think of it. The burden of proof falls on you Stephen.
You are making the extraordinary claim that (1) tomorrow gravity will end (and therefore…...). To make such a claim you must present extraordinary evidence that such an event might logically happen.
Else, the undeniable weight of the argument lies in (2), the present.

I’m making an unextraordinary claim which in fact is the case.

We do not have evidence from the past alone that gravity will remain the same tomorrow, for the reasons already given several times on this thread.

So where does this “undeniable weight” come from? That’s the interesting bit, that’s why it’s such a good puzzle, if we answer correctly will understand laws of nature much better and how we come to have knowledge of the future much better.

Stephen

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Posted: 19 October 2011 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 179 ]
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StephenLawrence - 19 October 2011 06:27 AM
Write4U - 19 October 2011 05:14 AM

Come to think of it. The burden of proof falls on you Stephen.
You are making the extraordinary claim that (1) tomorrow gravity will end (and therefore…...). To make such a claim you must present extraordinary evidence that such an event might logically happen.
Else, the undeniable weight of the argument lies in (2), the present.

I’m making an unextraordinary claim which in fact is the case.

We do not have evidence from the past alone that gravity will remain the same tomorrow, for the reasons already given several times on this thread.

So where does this “undeniable weight” come from? That’s the interesting bit, that’s why it’s such a good puzzle, if we answer correctly will understand laws of nature much better and how we come to have knowledge of the future much better.

Stephen

Do we have to understand it?  Do we understand why 2 + 2 = 4?  Even if we don’t understand the why, it is still true. So it is with all Naturals (universal laws). We may not fully understand the why of gravity, but the fact remains that today gravity permeates the universe and has done so since the beginning. We can observe the effects of gravity wherever we look. Thus one thing is sure, gravity is alive and well today, which gives it “gravitas” as opposed to speculation if gravity can or will disappear tomorrow.
At a local level we know something about causality and how it may affect the future. At a Universal level we don’t know but “apparently’ gravity works at a universal level also. Therefore there is no imperative need to know inasmuch that it makes no difference.
Why do we need to pose the why as if some sort of motive is required for something to function?  Knowing the how is difficult enough and that is a mathematical/geographical inquiry, which is bringing us closer to the fundamentals each day. Perhaps when we get there mathematically, we shall also discover the why.

[ Edited: 19 October 2011 04:57 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 19 October 2011 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 180 ]
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Write4U - 19 October 2011 04:50 PM

Do we have to understand it?  Do we understand why 2 + 2 = 4?

The important point is 2+2 necessarily = 4.

So it is with all Naturals (universal laws). We may not fully understand the why of gravity, but the fact remains that today gravity permeates the universe and has done so since the beginning. We can observe the effects of gravity wherever we look. Thus one thing is sure, gravity is alive and well today, which gives it “gravitas” as opposed to speculation if gravity can or will disappear tomorrow.

The gravitas comes from the belief that it can’t change or at least it can’t change without a reason. Or at the very least it’s highly unlikely to change.

The gravitas does not come from simply it hasn’t changed.

Why do we need to pose the why as if some sort of motive is required for something to function?

 

Because if there is no reason why, gravity is a contingent brute fact. If it’s a contingent brute fact we seem to get a very perculiar result. Gravity might change at 9 am tomorrow and it might not, there is no reason that pushes the probability either way and so the probability is 50/50. Same goes for 9.30 am, 10 am and so on.

So we end up with, it is highly likley that gravity will change tomorrow. grin

So if gravity is a contingent brute fact how do we escape this conclusion? If we can’t escape the conclusion that tells us it isn’t a contingent brute fact.

Stephen

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